AURORA (July 16, 2018) – On June 28, the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley (CFFRV) hosted its 70th Anniversary Reception at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Supporters gathered at the 1,800-acre golf course and country club to celebrate the 23 agencies who received grants from the Foundation in the spring of 2018.
The evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as grantees, donors, past and present board members, and Foundation staff mingled in the club’s atrium. A display table bore photos and other artifacts from CFFRV’s early days as the Aurora Foundation, and vintage copies of the Aurora Foundation Memorandum painted pictures of the Foundation’s rich history.
Guests then moved to Rich Harvest’s car museum, which they were invited to peruse prior to the reception. CFFRV president and CEO Jeff Hartman took to the podium to recognize past chairs and the board of directors, share the Foundation’s growth in assets and number of funds, and honor the late community philanthropist William A. Greene. He then introduced Chairman of the Board John Diederich, who discussed his role at Rush-Copley as well as Rush-Copley’s role as a source of hope for the community.
Presentation slides highlighted the exciting growth within the Foundation as Hartman thanked those who shared the Foundation’s dedication to giving.
“From veterans’ organizations, to food pantries, educational and youth programs, and the fine arts, we don’t have to look too far these days to find an outstanding organization with a passionate staff providing exceptional service to our community,” Hartman said.
As the evening progressed, Community Foundation partners underscored the joy and importance of giving back to an organization that takes pride in its generosity toward others. Much of this generosity manifests itself in the form of scholarships. Scholarship Chairman Austin Dempsey shared that, in 1949, the Foundation offered four scholarships, each totaling $150. He then announced that, thanks to generous support, the Foundation awarded 381 scholarships this year, totaling nearly $836,000.
It was a scholarship like these, Dempsey said, that enabled West Aurora High School student Eric Whitaker to attend the University of Illinois for biology and community health education. After college, Whitaker served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and a Foreign Service Officer, and currently serves as the United States Ambassador of Niger. Inspired by the gift he received from the community decades ago, Whitaker started the Eric P. Whitaker Scholarship Fund for Aurora students seeking to attend a public university in-state.
“A son of the heartland, I seek to reinvest in the youth of the Midwest and am trying to do my small part to improve the future prospects of kids like me,” Whitaker said.
Darrell Jordan, former Community Foundation chair member, also spoke about giving back to the Foundation. Jordan currently serves on the Foundation’s Council of Professional Advisors.
Before recognizing this year’s grantees, Hartman walked guests through the history of the Foundation’s grantmaking program, adding that the annual discretionary grantmaking budget continues to increase thanks to the community’s generosity.
This upward trend has paved the way for countless success stories among the organizations the Foundation serves. Kids Golf Foundation, a junior golf association headquartered at Rich Harvest Farms, has been able to give more than 200,000 kids access to the valuable life lessons of golf by working with schools, churches, and other groups. Giant Steps, a Lisle-based organization dedicated to providing specialized services for individuals with autism and their families, enhanced their adult day program last year with important technology resources that streamline the adult learning experience.
In that spirit of positive change, Dempsey invited each of the 23 spring grantees to stand for recognition. The chosen grantees represent 10 cities within the Foundation’s service area and were awarded a total of $443,000. Grant purposes included a bus for easier distribution of winter clothes, three Paramount Arts Center projects, and expansion of a health center.
Dempsey said the Foundation’s goal is to meet the missional needs of these organizations, in addition to material ones.
“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,” Dempsey said.