I just returned from “pahking my cah in Hahvah yahd.” I was in Boston last week for the Council on Foundations’ Community Foundations annual conference.
The event is always jam-packed with seminars and workshops on all types of topics. Some topics are basic for all not-for-profit organizations, such as board governance, marketing, and fiscal oversight. Other topics are specific to community foundations, such as working with professional advisors, youth in philanthropy, and updates in charity-related federal tax codes.
As always, some of the presentations are over my head – our community foundation is too small and too young to experience the scenarios we’re learning to address. On the other hand, it’s a fantastic feeling to talk with colleagues from across the nation who ask me for advice about how to conduct public meetings and make an impact in the community!
Come to find out, many of the older, established community foundations in the country have existed for many years as a conduit for accepting donor funds and granting them back into the community. True, that was the purpose of community foundations.
However, a new model of community foundation has emerged – one that actively engages the community in public discussion about issues, then directs the funds accordingly. So you can imagine our surprise and excitement when we discovered that the Morris Community Foundation has been acting in the new model – pretty much without even knowing it!
For us, the ultimate in public discussion occurred this past Monday night as we debuted “Connecting the Visions – a CommunityWorks Impact Plan for Morris and Grundy County.” We hosted 60+ guests in the Holiday Inn banquet rooms to present an executive summary for how we plan to maintain and improve the quality of life in Grundy County through philanthropic strategies addressing the issues of early childhood care & education, workforce development, and land use & protection.
Actually, Monday night was the wrap-up of “Phase I” of the CommunityWorks project. While meeting for two years to identify issues and brainstorm about projects was great, now the real fun begins in “Phase II” as we start to fund and implement projects to address the issues we’ve identified. It’s always great to see our labors come to fruition!
The first “Connecting the Visions” project will be the first-ever Grundy County Growth Conference (GC2) on Friday, November 17th, at First Christian Church. This event will bring together land owners, elected officials, developers, and advocacy groups to establish cooperation for planning the balanced growth of our county. The main topic of the 2006 GC2 will be stormwater management, but other topics will also be addressed. Please mark your calendar for this inaugural event!
In closing, I’d like to publicly thank the members of the CommunityWorks Advisory Committee who have met diligently for the past two years to develop this impact plan. Their expertise, patience, and cooperation have created an impact plan that is strong enough to live forever, but flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities.
We welcome everyone to take a look at our plan and give us your input. Please call me at 941-0852 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
CommunityWorks Advisory Committee:
Richard Allen Retired engineer
John Almer Grundy County Board
Chris Borgstrom McGrath Office Equipment
Rev. Bob Claus First Presbyterian Church
Noreen Dollinger Dollinger Farms
Dan Duffy Grundy Economic Development Council
Dennis Hackett Retired, First Midwest Bank
Jen Hamer USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Beth Hobby Retired, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Arthur Hornsby Retail consultant
Debbie Jo Kinsella University of Illinois Extension
Joe Kowsky Morris Marathon Canoe Club
Natalie Mahler Grundy County Soil & Water Conservation District
Betty Jo Milner Realtor
Ann Parrish-Rzasa JJC Workforce Services
Kristie Polk Grundy Area Vocational Center
Caroline Portlock Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Paula Steffen Child Care Resource & Referral
John Swezy Alderman, City of Morris
Valerie Vlk Grundy Economic Development Council
Ralph Wolter Retired chemical engineer