Doing Community Well: Ceremony Celebrates Not-for-Profits

On Tuesday, July 16, the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley hosted its Spring Grantee Recognition Ceremony at Baker Community Center in St. Charles. 
Supporters gathered at the historic building to celebrate the 20 agencies that were approved grants from the Foundation in spring of 2019. Among the approximately 90 agency and Board member guests were seven of the students participating in the CFFRV Youth Engagement in Philanthropy (YEP) Program.  
Jeff Hartman, president and CEO, welcomed attendees before announcing the Foundation's new partnership with the City of St. Charles on the St. Charles Initiative. This community initiative, the first of its kind at the Foundation, will support public projects that enhance quality of life for St. Charles residents. Given that the Baker Center itself is a focal point of the city, the venue was more than fitting.  
Hartman also addressed the Foundation's three-year strategic plan, which emphasizes partnerships and community engagement, visibility, growth, and above all, service to its constituents - a legacy established in 1948. 
"We are the 'community's foundation' - for 70 years we have served the Fox River Valley, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue to serve you," Hartman said. 
John Diederich, senior vice president of operations and COO of Rush Copley who also serves as the Foundation's Board chairman, spoke next. Diederich described his time on the Foundation's Scholarship Committee and how his involvement alerted him to the breadth of the Foundation's work in the Fox River Valley.  
In 2017, the Community Foundation awarded a grant to Waterford Place, Rush Copley's cancer resource center - and Diederich continues to champion the impact of these capital grants on the community. 
"The world needs more good right now - good organizations, good people, doing good things for our community," Diederich said.  
Among the agencies celebrated was Lazarus House, which sits directly across from the Baker Center; guests were invited to tour the at the end of the program. Their grant helped fund renovations that will provide greater safety and security for residents. 
Leanne Deister-Goodwin, Lazarus House's executive director, echoed Diederich's gratitude for those working tirelessly to create change. Deister-Goodwin moved back to her native Illinois two years ago and found that those in need were still being served with passion.  
"I am constantly amazed at how well this area does community," Deister-Goodwin said.  
Next, Julie Christman, vice president of community involvement and partnerships, took to the lectern to thank the generous donors who support the Foundation's discretionary grantmaking program. Christman then spoke about the Foundation's Youth Engagement in Philanthropy (YEP) program, which is funded by the Dunham Fund and will officially begin with an orientation on August 22.  
"YEP will take youth 'beyond the bake sale', invite them into the world of philanthropy, and provide them with an avenue to truly make a difference in our community," Christman said.  
Next, Christman discussed the Foundation's agency endowment matching grant program, a unique program that supports agencies' sustainability. These grants match agency contributions dollar for dollar up to $25,000. To date, 24 agencies have taken advantage of this opportunity, leading to a total of $600,000 in endowment funding. 
The ceremony ended with each of the 20 agencies being called up to the front of the room to receive a certificate.The agencies recognized at the ceremony represented nonprofit efforts across the Foundation's service area, from the TriCities to Kendall County. These organizations serve the community by providing food and shelter, arts and culture, youth development services, mental health services, and more.  
"It is our pleasure to play but a small role in the overall mission of these organizations, building their capacity, and hopefully creating greater impact and more sustainability," Christman said.  
The following agencies received awards during the Spring 2019 grant cycle: 
  • Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry 
  • Equine Dreams, Inc. 
  • Family Service Association of Greater Elgin Area 
  • Fox Valley Children's Chorus 
  • Geneva Historical Society 
  • Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley 
  • Kendall County Community Food Pantry 
  • Lazarus House 
  • Making Kane County Fit for Kids 
  • Markund Children's Home 
  • One Hope United 
  • Open Door Health Center of IL 
  • Pregnancy Information Center 
  • Public Action to Deliver Shelter, Inc. dba Hesed House 
  • Simply Destinee 
  • Special Stars INC NFP 
  • Suicide Prevention Services of America 
  • The Bucket of Love 
  • Water Street Studios 
  • Wayside Cross Ministries