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The Allen Foundation

Our Founder, Marion Mathis Allen, was known throughout her life for her active participation in many organizations, and received warm acclaim and recognition for her genuine interest and philanthropic participation.  From her home base in Milton, Wisconsin, Marion’s influence was keenly felt throughout Milton and neighboring communities.  In 1992, her hometown of Milton honored her as the "Citizen of the Year," and her neighboring town of Janesville soon followed, with the Y.W.C.A. presenting to her their "Woman of Distinction" award.  Now, The Allen Foundation continues her legacy of generosity and community involvement.

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The Allen Foundation Charity Wisconsin
The Allen Foundation Charity Wisconsin

Marion was born October 9, 1908 in Athens, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1932 with a degree in education and psychology.  After a few years of elementary school teaching, and marriage to Harris Gibbs Allen, the couple moved to Harris’ hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, where Marion pursued further graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.  In 1953, the Allens and their daughter, Leah, permanently settled in the town of Milton, where Marion remained for the rest of her life.

Even before then, Marion’s pursuit in charitable activities had begun - as early as 1918!  That year, the ten-year-old Marion volunteered as a "Red Crosser," rolling bandages and knitting squares of yarn that were to be made into "Belgian Blankets" for shipment to the war-torn countries of Europe. Eighty-two years later, in 2000, Marion was honored for this early effort at the National Convention of American Red Cross, where she accepted the title of the country’s oldest volunteer still active.  Her charitable work impacted many other organizations (too numerous to completely list); with examples including Milton and Rock County Historical Societies, Wisconsin Trust for Historical Preservation, Colonial Dames, Junior League, Janesville Country Club, and Madison Club, Madison.

The Allen Foundation Charity Wisconsin

The Birth of The Allen Foundation

Throughout her life, Marion was a faithful member of St Mary's Catholic Church in Milton, and some of her fellow parishioners would meet regularly for lunch. In time, the group began to be lovingly referred to as the “Golden Diners.” Truth be told, this group was less about lunch and more about fostering comradery among the Seniors of Milton! Lunch hours extended into times of witty conversation and companionship – the Golden Diners Luncheon was the highlight of Marion’s (and the others’) day.

Of course, in keeping with her charitable spirit, it soon followed that Marion was volunteering at the lunch.  As she looked around at the group, Marion noticed that many of her Golden Diners friends were widowed, and the time they spent together helped to relieve feelings of loneliness. This got her thinking: What if the Seniors of Milton had a sanctuary and refuge of their own? A special place just for them, where one could go every day for companionship, friendship, conversation…and secret recipe sharing! A place that organized activities and weekend getaways, and could serve as a home away from home.

That dream became a reality in October 1991, when The Gathering Place of Milton, Wisconsin opened its doors. To this day, The Gathering Place serves the people of Milton as a successful, thriving refuge – it has been called the “best senior citizen center in the country.”

Marion wanted to make sure this special place remained as a community gem long after she had gone, as a legacy for her and her family, and a permanent gift to her beloved town, Milton. Thus, to preserve this legacy, The Allen Foundation was established; not only to continue supporting The Gathering Place, but also to help facilitate many philanthropic causes for which Marion and her family were passionate. Now, from Wisconsin beginnings, the “house built with love” has taken on new metaphorical meaning:  The Allen Foundation is a nationwide philanthropic organization, with Marion’s grandson, David Casarotto, serving as Chairman of The Allen Foundation’s Board. In this way, the family legacy continues with the Foundation keeping Marion’s memory alive and honoring her by helping multiple charities and causes each year.

The Allen Foundation Charity Wisconsin



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