By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — Community members who attended the Cass County Community Foundation’s annual “Thanks for Giving” reception did more than watch Friday night — they participated.
Attendees were asked to select a community project that would be awarded $20,000 in honor of the Cass County Community Foundation’s 20th anniversary.
The foundation received 34 proposals from Cass County charitable organizations and narrowed it down to five projects. Those who attended were allowed to select one community project. After votes were counted there was a tie, resulting in the foundation choosing to grant both projects money, totaling $30,000.
One of the projects is Plank Hill Park at Twelve Mile and the other is an art gallery in the Logansport Community School Corporation.
The Twelve Mile Lions Club, which owns and maintains Plank Hill Park, requested money to renovate the park. The club wants to pave the park, where several community events take place, and upgrade play equipment.
The second project awarded money is a student art gallery at Logansport High School and Century Career Center
There were about 84 people in attendance Friday night at Boondockers, including past and present Cass County Community Foundation board members.
Commemorating the foundation’s 20th anniversary was special for Deanna Crispen, the foundation’s president.
Since starting in 1993, $7.5 million in scholarships has been given in Cass County to more than 800 students. The foundation also manages over 163 and after the two new community projects, has awarded funds to 77 different organizations.
The foundation now holds more than $16 million in assets.
“The stories you hear from past board members, just make me cry – they’re special,” Crispen said. “It’s always important to look back to see where you are and where you’re going.”
Former board members spoke, including Paul Kroeger, Lisa Terry, Elizabeth Billman and Randy Head. Helen Monroe, a consultant for the Lilly Foundation’s “Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow” community development program who’s called the godmother of community foundations, was the guest speaker. She talked of Indiana’s implementation of community foundations.
Dr. Herb Price, who recently received businessman of the year, was master of ceremonies for the evening and introduced each speaker. Each speaker covered five-year increments.
Kroeger spoke of 1993 to 1998. He referred to himself as having a Forrest Gump moment, where he was in the right place at the right time. Kroeger received a press release about creating a community foundation and recalled going to Dick Cassidy and telling him they needed to start one.
Shortly after, a local community foundation was created and was first known as the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, covering Cass, Fulton, Miami and eventunally Starke and Pulaski counties.
Lisa Terry, former executive director, spoke of the second five years of the foundation’s history. Terry said it was important they celebrate the people who “rolled up their sleeves” and got people involved.
“The footwork, passion, planning and volunteering were all done by you or by someone you know,” Terry said.
Elizabeth Billman, former board of directors, spoke of the years 2003 to 2007, years of growth and attainment of sustainability. She spoke of Terry leaving and Crispen coming in.
“Lisa [Terry] was what we need to get started and Deanna [Crispen] moved the foundation to the next level and continues to move us forward,” Billman said.
Randy Head spoke of the last years, 2008 to 2012, which saw a troubled economy, and of how the community foundation continued to move forward.
Head also recalled receiving generous gifts at the foundation and being able to give gifts away more than once a year in the grant cycle. The foundation also began the GLOVE program and purchased a mobile community stage.
“It’s been an honor to serve,” Head said. “We’re going to continue to pass our legacy to the next generation.”
There were several smiles and laughter as attendees recalled stories of the foundation from the past 20 years. Crispen ended the dinner by thanking people for coming and asking them to sign a timeline banner before they left.
“It was a job I took until I figured out what I wanted to do,” Crispen said. “I’ve now been here nine years.”
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her: @PharosAES.