Milestone Moments Recognized at Annual Celebration

With an attendance of nearly 200 people, milestone moments were recognized at the Annual Celebration held on Wednesday, November 15 at the Winona Heritage Room.

Community Foundation Board Vice-President, Steve Yeager, shared highlights from the fiscal year. “Five years ago is when I started working with the Community Foundation. When I would see a list like this, I don’t think I appreciated all the work that goes into it from the staff, the board, and the volunteers. A lot of them are big numbers, a lot of them are really impressive. But now I really see that a lot of hands go into this,” Yeager said.

He said 14 new funds were established and funded by donors during the fiscal year. Gifts to the Community Foundation totaled $8.6 million, and grantmaking from all funds totaled over $4.7 million. “Nearly $797,000 in scholarships were awarded to 209 individuals to help them pursue an education beyond high school, whether that was a vocational or trade school, a four-year degree or a graduate degree program,” Yeager stated.

The Community Foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to small towns to help them accomplish projects that aligned with the comprehensive plans they just completed as part of the KCCF’s Go Forward grant initiative. The towns receiving Go Forward grants included Claypool, Etna Green, Leesburg, Mentone, Milford, North Webster and Pierceton.

There were 303 volunteers who helped the foundation accomplish its mission last year.

The Community Foundation surpassed a major milestone when it comes to grantmaking. The Foundation exceeded $55 million in grants since their inception.

Becky Walls was honored as the Heart of Gold recipient. “Becky has served the Special Olympics for nearly 25 years in our community. These years do not include the years she helped her mother, Maxine,” said Jane Wear, KCCF Board Member. “Most do not see the long nights, the miles of driving, the amount of money she spends out of her own pocket, the number of meals she picks up for events, the endless phone calls and washing, loading, unloading uniforms after practices and games. The list is endless,” said Wear. As the Heart of Gold recipient, Walls received a Heart of Gold certificate, a pin, and a $3,000 grant to recommend to the charity of her choice.

Amy Cannon, Community Foundation senior program officer, talked about KEYS (Kosciusko Endowment Youth Services) and introduced members of the youth philanthropy program. “The mission of KEYS is to work together to positively impact and improve education in our community by providing aid now and for future generations,” Cannon said.

KEYS Co-Facilitator Evelyn Duncan and KEYS Treasurer Titus Taylor shared highlights from the KEYS school year. Taylor said they awarded 38 grants to different schools and nonprofit organizations for a total of $21,702. Duncan said they gave a total of 497 community service hours. KEYS also visited the local Head Start programs during the holiday season to provide new books, presented Read Across Kosciusko County, volunteered at Magical Meadows and brought author and illustrator Troy Cummings to the county for a second time to create stories with elementary students in Kosciusko County.

Stephanie Overbey, Community Foundation CEO, shared a video featuring Elizabeth Frantz. “Each year we like to focus on one grant opportunity to show you the impact that the work of the Community Foundation and its nonprofit partners are having,” Overbey said. She said Frantz was a true inspiration to her and a reminder of the many great resources available in Kosciusko County to help those in need. “As you’ll see in the video, Elizabeth is an example of a life that was changed because of YOU,” Overbey said. “Because while you may have never met Elizabeth, your dollars help support the programs that she needed during a difficult time in her life. Today we thank you for making this, and many other milestone moments, possible”

Alex Hall, Vice-President of Programs, shared what’s next for the Community Foundation. In his closing comments he shared that Lilly Endowment has offered a special gift match where they will match every gift given to the Community Funds between now and December 31, 2025. For every dollar given, Lilly Endowment will match it with $2.00 The goal is to raise $750,000 to take full advantage of the $1.5 million match.