PITTSBURG — “Live minimally and give generously.” 

During the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas annual Grant Celebration on Tuesday, Ron Rhodes, president of the Community Foundation Board of Trustees, borrowed a quote to share the efforts of donors who help local organizations achieve their goals. 

He also applauded the many organizations which are recipients of grants made possible by the donations. 

“On a daily basis it’s the Community Foundation’s privilege to work with numerous nonprofit organizations and see the work you are doing to improve the lives of the people in our community,” Rhodes said. 

The CFSEK is a nonprofit foundation which was founded in 2001 by a “group of citizens who shared an interest in encouraging charitable giving in an effort to support our community,” Rhodes said. 

The foundation, along with its affiliate foundations in Fort Scott and Girard, have awarded $313,775 in 2019. On Tuesday, the foundation recognized the organizations which received grants from the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation, Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund Grants (Women’s Giving Circle and Circle of Friends), the Elm Acres Foundation, CFSEK General Funds (Basic Human Needs, Youth Activities and Arts & Culture) and the Future Fund Giving Circle. 

During the event, some of the recipients had the opportunity to talk about their organization. 

Through a Get Busy Livin’ Foundation grant the SEK Humane Society was able to create the Junior Humane Society program, SEK Humane Society Business and Promotions Manager Jasmine Kyle said. 

“Thanks to the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation we were finally able to create a program that the community has asked for us to make and it is the Junior Humane Society,” she said. “So with these funds we were able to create a once a month program for 10 to 20 kids from the ages of five to 13 years old to come out to our shelter and to our resale shop to do some activities.”

Activities that they’ve done so far include making homemade dog treats, talking to children and their parents about cat and dog nutrition, making homemade toys, and they recently brought in Good Boy Dog Training, which included a professional therapy/service dog to teach the participants about dog behavior and handling. 

Fostering Connections received several grants, including the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund Grants Circle of Friends. Fostering Connections is a local nonprofit organization which is “designed to make a positive difference to foster and adoptive families — for children in our community,” Founder Lacy Nickelson said.  

One of the organization’s initiatives is to create “healthy family bonds which provides mental health support to families providing foster and adoptive care to children in the southeast Kansas area,” Nikelson said. 

As part of the initiative, Fostering Connections hosts a monthly support group giving mothers a “night of encouragement, trading, support and prayer,” Nickelson said. 

Area athletes with Special Olympics Kansas now have the opportunity to play bocce ball thanks to the Elm Acres Foundation Grants, said Erin Fletcher, Special Olympics Kansas director of grants and development. 

“Tonight we’re here to say thank you to the Elm Acres Foundation and their generous grant that allowed many to participate in a brand new sport this year,” she said. “Special Olympics Kansas received funding to established Unified Bocce for people with intellectual disabilities and their peers without intellectual disabilities.”

According to Fletcher, these were the first ever unified bocce teams is southeast Kansas. 

Another grant, the CFSEK General Funds Grant, went to the Labette Health Foundation which went toward the Independence Telemedicine Project. Anthony Vaughan from the Labette Health Foundation, shared how telemedicine makes a difference in his hospital. 

“It’s there to assist all of our providers and our mid levels physicians there, if we have traumas come in, multiple codes, we want to make sure we are readily accessible to help each and every patient,” he said. “With that being said, we have immediate access for a physician to oversee any mid level that we have that is working that evening to help our staff and generate good patient care. 

“This is going to reduce transportation to other ERS, for unnecessary transfers, because we have the ability and adaptability to take care of those patients in our facility.”

An area school district, USD 234 Fort Scott received a CFSEK Youth Activities Grant for a student-driven courtyard design project at Fort Scott High School. USD 234 administrator Stephanie Witt, shared about the project, led by high school student Ella Beth. The project is part of Ella’s independent study. “She brought forth the idea that she wanted to revamp the courtyard of the high school, Witt said. From benches to shade, she has it all lined up and already has $40,000 raised in grants and in-kind donations toward the project and is looking for more donations to reach her $73,000 budget goal. 

Pittsburg State University Exercise Science Instructor Allison Barry and graduate student Mohan Perumal also received a grant, the Future Fund Giving Circle Grant. Exercise Science students through the Applied Physiology Laboratory at PSU will work with local firefighters on a Wellness Fitness Initiative. 

People can learn more about the CFSEK online at southeastkansas.org More opportunities for giving are right around the corner, CFSEK Executive Director Kit Parks said. CFSEK will host its fourth Match Day this year on National Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3.  

“This year $35,000 will be awarded from the foundation as a match contribution to local eligible organizations,” Parks said. Donations can be made online, or people can contact the foundation office or send donations by mail. 

“We are grateful for any contribution to any local foundation,” Parks said. “It helps them continue their mission and makes our community a better place to live.”