Heartfelt and humble thanks for a rewarding beginning

Guest column: Heartfelt and humble thanks for a rewarding beginning

by Pamela Beckett

Pamela Beckett

January 11, 2019

As we complete the end of our third year serving Starved Rock Country, we are thankful for the partnerships we have created, the outstanding Board of Directors leading the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, and, of course, our many generous donors.

Our program of work is primarily three-fold: to provide a central vehicle for individuals to create a Donor Advised Fund, which is used to make charitable grants of their choosing to local nonprofits; to build the Leadership Fund for Now, which supports our infrastructure and provides an internal fund for grant-making throughout the community; and to create scholarships for donors who want to provide financial assistance to students in our community. The recurring theme with every type of fund is to make grants back to the three-county region; La Salle, Bureau, and Putnam.

In our first three years, we have opened 36 funds and scholarships, received more than $1.9 million in charitable gifts, and, more importantly, have returned over $625,000 to the communities we serve. We also provide philanthropic leadership throughout the region and engage in partnerships with other charitable organizations who serve so many in Starved Rock Country. The branding of Starved Rock Country to increase economic development opportunities remains a focus as well.

Some of our newest funds include the very generous MacAero Scholarship for Aeronautics and Aviation. Graduating high school seniors pursuing a career in either field are eligible to apply for this $10,000 scholarship. Applications for the MacAero Scholarship, along with the Dick and Carol Janko Scholarship for Promising Engineers, the Rising Star Scholarship and the Internet of Things (IoT) Scholarship for Engineering, Science & Technology, presented by B+B SmartWorx, are available on the Community Foundation website. All applications are due by March 29, 2019.

The Arts of Starved Rock Country Fund was recently created to provide financial support, networking, educational opportunities and interactive website availability for local artists, patrons, venues and donors in every genre of the arts. This new fund is currently being developed further, with updates forthcoming on our website.

The Green Stock*Teen Fund, created to provide holiday gifts to youths ages 13 to 19, accepts donations year-round. More than 65 teens received gifts last month as a result of the success of the fund, founded by the staff of Lady Di’s in Ottawa, which has provided new holiday gifts to area youths for more than 20 years. Referrals are made from the schools and the Youth Service Bureau to identify teens in need who are too old to benefit from the Red Stocking Fund.

In Marseilles, a new fund exists to support the activities of Illini State Park and the Illinois Fallen Soldiers Tree Memorial at the Park. The Crotty Park Inclusive Playground in Seneca was opened in May, months ahead of schedule, as a result of the generosity of so many donors to the Lamb Family Fund for the Crotty Park Playground.

The Robert M. Eschbach Endowment Fund honors the leadership and vision of Mayor Bob Eschbach and exists to support the aesthetic value and economic development of Ottawa. Another fund, Ottawa’s A Brush With History Fund, seeks to accumulate donations sufficient to complete the newest mural coming to Ottawa this summer and to provide for maintenance of the murals around town.

The Disaster Recovery Fund, restricted to serve those individuals and families affected by the tornado of February 2017, distributed more than $308,000 in financial assistance. And the Corbin Buress SuperHero Fund was created to support the needs of special education classes in Ottawa schools when there is an unmet need.

In Peru, the TBM Avenger Tribute to Veterans Fund supports that annual event; in Princeton, the Oakland Cemetery Preservation Fund helps to repair aging headstones, and contributions to the Danny Nelson Memorial Fund provide gifts to the Princeton community in memory of an outstanding young man who tragically lost his life, while a fund created in memory of Captain Thomas J. Heitmann by his family in Mendota made it possible for the new running track at St. Bede Academy to be built.

The Women Inspired Network, a region-wide women’s giving circle, has made grants totaling nearly $22,000 in just two years and has created the WIN Endowment to support the needs of women and children throughout Staved Rock Country in perpetuity. The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Noon Rotary and the Starved Rock Regional Center have all created funds in partnership with the Community Foundation to support their own good works for generations to come.

We hope you’ll visit our website to learn more about us and to view our Report to the Community, which provides a great deal of information about the activities of the SRCCF. You will also learn how to create your own fund, with as little as $1,000, to make gifts to the charitable causes you care about. You can also donate any amount to another fund. Contributions to funds created through the Community Foundation are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations and can conveniently be made through our website, srccf.org.

So yes, our first few years have been good, indeed, and we thank everyone who has placed faith and trust in us to fulfill philanthropy dreams to benefit our community. The opportunities really are endless! We are honored to be part of this worthy organization that truly does match people who care with causes that matter to them.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, our staff, volunteers and all those we serve, please accept our best wishes for a peaceful, joyful and prosperous 2019. We thank you for your caring hearts and your faith in the SRCCF to be here for good and forever.

Board Members of the SCRRF

  1. Tom Justice, Chairman

  2. Bob Eschbach, Vice chairman

  3. John McCormick, Treasurer

  4. Kris Zierke, Secretary

  5. Chuck Beckett, Co-Founder

  6. Tara Bedei

  7. Keith Cain

  8. Inga Carus

  9. Tom Heimsoth

  10. Tom Heitmann

  11. Jay McCracken, Past Chairman

  12. Boyd Palmer

  13. Susan Thornton

  14. Reed Wilson

  15. Larry Windsor

PAMELA BECKETT is the President of the SRCCF and can be reached by calling 815-252-2906, by email at pamela@srccf.org, or in person at 718 Columbus St., Ottawa.

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