The Morning Sun

GIRARD — Seeds planted in the Girard community with the beginning of the Girard Area Community Foundation three years ago are beginning to show fruit.

The Foundation’s Grant Reception and Annual Meeting celebrated how far the foundation already has come and the hopes of where it will be in the not-too-distant future.

And, that celebration couldn’t have come at a better time.

"This happens to be National Community Foundations Week," said Cathy White, executive director of the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas. "More than 700 community foundations throughout our country celebrate this week."

White said foundations offer a variety of options to benefit the communities they serve.

"(They offer) the ability for people who are charitable to have some more options," White said. "Charitable giving happens in multiple ways with community funds."

White said the evening’s celebration included the making good on a promise made to donors to be able to give back to the community.

Three grants were presented by GACF marketing chairwoman Wilda Pentola.

Pentola said three years ago there was a realization that young people were leaving the community and questions about how to preserve the way of life within the community.

"The idea was that we could form a community foundation," she said.

At that time, the goal of grants was promised.

"Someday we will stand up in front of people from our area community and we will be able to give back to the community," Pentola said.

On Tuesday that promise became a reality as checks were presented to Angels Among Us, Live Well Crawford County and SEK-CAP/Girard Housing Authority.

Angels Among Us serves approximately 1,200 people each year during the Crawford County Fair and a grant was given to the organization to expand what they do there to raise funds for area residents fighting cancer.

Live Well Crawford County will be working to mobilize and engage citizens and requested a grant for signage for a three to five mile fitness path through the city and connecting with the downtown square.

The SEK-CAP/Girard Housing Authority began a community garden this year and received a grant to help expand that project and the educational opportunities it provides.

"We all share the same goal and the same cause - we want to help people," said Dale Coomes, president of the GACF. "We’ve had a pretty good year. We’re seeing some growth."

He said in the three years the GACF has been in place it has raised total assets of $227,700 and the goal is to raise $600,000 more by the end of 2017 through the "Preserving traditions for those who follow" campaign.

"At that time we could be talking a million worth of assets," Coomes said.

He added that a couple additional large contributions have been arranged and are not yet on the books.

Jim Vinze, vice president of GACF, said it took a year to really get the foundation going and was exciting to be able to give grants within such a short time of the foundation’s beginning.

"It’s a special moment for our foundation to see the results of the hard work we’ve done and to give back to the community."