A foundation of support

Article by Emaline Rodenas of MPC Media

KENDALLVILLE — Investing in the community pays dividends, a message the Community Foundation of Noble County delivered at its annual meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"In my mind, the community foundation is the manifestation of the amount of trust in the community. Trust is the most successful ingredient in any group setting," Jacob Benedict, Director of Research at AMI Investments and former Lilly Endowment scholar said during his address at the banquet.

Benedict was one of many representatives from Noble County organizations such as the Dekko Foundation, Noble County United Way, Kendallville Public Library who attended the event Wednesday at the Kendallville Event Center. Benedict documented his life journey as a result of opportunities made available to him through the foundation.

"I feel extremely grateful for the support the foundation provides. I wouldn't be where I am today, were it not for the Community Foundation. In eighth-grade, I was invited to join P.U.L.S.E, a youth-group which learns about philanthropy by doing service projects aimed toward helping the community. I loved it and attended conferences and seminars," Benedict said. Due to his involvement in P.U.L.S.E, Benedict was later offered an opportunity to intern with AMI Investments and a full-ride tuition scholarship to Notre Dame.

"It saved me from a mountain of student debt and gave me the opportunity to attend a school that cares about values. To be honest with you, I never thought I'd end up working in my hometown. Words cannot illustrate the profound impact the foundation has had on my life," he said.

In 2017, the foundation gave $874,855 overall in grant money. Recipients included books for Kate's Kart to make long hospital waits easier on children in the community; support for the Friendship Connection, so that Kendallville residents could find more than just a bag of groceries during their time of need; and various school-aged children who were able to participate in educational programming at the McMillen Health Center as a result of grant money.

The foundation also awarded more than $180,000 in scholarships to college-bound students and students interested in attending a trade school.

Five new funds were established in 2017: the Chester A. and Bessie C. Throp Scholarship Fund; the Cory A. Brown Memorial Fund; the Marilyn and Bill Emmert Fund; the David O. Kile and Marjorie B. Kile Scholarship Fund and the Noble County Community Organizations Active in Disasters Fund.

Marilyn Emmert spoke on behalf of her newly created fund. Emmert's goal is to create a recreational center in Albion, which currently has none close-by.

"The Community Foundation of Noble County has enabled us to give back to the community. A child is not raised alone by its parents, but rather by a village," she said. "We have the gratitude and we want to give back to the community. Albion has nothing close, so we went around the community and got a lot of ideas. In Linda's mind, every idea is worth working on in her mind. We have a long way to go, but don't give up on us yet."

In 2018, over $229,762 is available for unrestricted grant work in Noble County.

Executive Director Jenna Ott said 2017 was "a bit of a roller coaster" as the foundation went through some leadership changes.

"From the tragic loss of our friend and mentor, Linda Speakman-Yerick, to the bravery of interim director and board member Mark Demske, to the fumblings of a new executive director trying to stand on a pair of wobbly legs, your community foundation has endured," Jenna Ott, CFNC executive director said. She credited the foundation's success to the leadership of the board of directors and tremendous staff of volunteers that donated their time.

Joining the board of director this year are Dan Parker, Ashlee Guthrie, Candice Holbrook and Frank Tijerina. The foundation also recognized Dr. Craig Lichlyter, Josh Munson and Chuck Wysong for their years of service on the board. Gift bags were distributed to each one.

Rev. Doug Keenan of the Noble County Purdue Extension gave an invocation before the lunch meal was served.

"The community foundation has been part of my life with the Noble County 4-H endowment. I get to give and get from the Community Foundation of Noble County," Keenan said. He applauded the foundation's excellent programs and scholarships, and the board of directors for giving their time and knowledge.

At the end of the meeting, two $1,000 grants were raffled to participants. Ott led a game of "Yeah, here's mine," asking participants to take out certain items out of their bags. Each person who had said item in their bag received an additional raffle ticket to increase their chances of winning. The two grant winners were able to decide which Noble County charity would receive the grant.