The Scott County Community Foundation is celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2017. Throughout the year, we will share stories from people who have been impacted by the efforts of our donors and volunteers. Scottsburg Mayor Bill Graham has been a champion of the Scott County Community Foundation and instrumental in several endowment funds being established. He shares his story on the history of the Community Foundation and its effect on Scott County.
“Twenty years ago, I remember meeting in the basement of the United Methodist Church. We had a community meeting for about six or seven hours with 40 to 50 people. It was very hands-on and everybody had a lot of input. The purpose was to determine what some of Scott County?s greatest needs were, and how we were going to meet those needs. Everyone was divided into teams of six to eight people who were challenged to envision the needs. There have been a few times in my life where I have felt there was a presence of God there guiding us, and at this meeting I really did feel that. There was openness and sharing, no agendas ? people were very honest about what they thought the needs were. Every table came up with the same thoughts about their priorities. I feel that this meeting was the stimulus to start the Community Foundation.
Becky Wolf was unanimously chosen to be the leader of the Community Foundation, which was certainly the right decision. With her leadership, and the community?s willingness and respect for her and her husband Joe, she was the perfect choice.
We started out under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana (CFSI), spending a few months understanding a community foundation, its structure, should we have our own Scott County Community Foundation, and if we did, how would we do that? Everyone wanted us to have our own community foundation, but everyone was concerned about whether we could fund it and nervous about being out from under the umbrella of CFSI. Lilly Endowment made several ?Godfather? offers ? they made an offer you can?t refuse. Lilly gave us matching challenges to meet that were very enticing. Lilly?s goal was to have a community foundation in every county and they put millions of dollars in this program statewide.
The original board of the Scott County Community Foundation was very diligent and did a lot of things to be successful and make sure they were very good stewards of the money, and to make the right choices for the community. This Board started with the same tone that we had in the basement of the Methodist Church ? there were no self-serving attitudes. Phil Martin was also very involved in the leadership of the Community Foundation ? he had the first ?office? of the Community Foundation with boxes in the back of his car. The role he played was instrumental and a lot of credit should be given to him, as he was always out in the community ?selling? the Community Foundation.
The Community Foundation continued to grow and has proven to be a very, very key part of our community growth and community planning. So much good has come out of the Community Foundation other than just money – the leadership that has come out of the Community Foundation has been fantastic.
When the Community Foundation was first formed, the Scottsburg Beautification Committee received an inheritance from the Otis Collier estate. We set up an endowment fund, which has more than met the needs of what we set it up for ? upkeep and maintenance of the Otis Collier Gardens at Lake Iola. It?s worked out better than any of us thought, and the Robin Eve Memorial Fund that was set up to benefit the Scottsburg parks will do the same thing. It will grow so it can be a perpetual funding mechanism. The comfort level of knowing money is there to take care of the parks is priceless.
There have been a lot of educational programs that have come out of the Community Foundation that have been very helpful for the community. The money that we have leveraged and the programs we have put on with the CAPE money have been unbelievable. With the Youth Grantmaking Council, our youth get to see firsthand how some of the decisions are made in the community. When they are making these decisions, it lets them know all the things that have to be looked at before they give money. They are developing leadership and a strong financial understanding. I don?t know how else they?ll get those experiences, and it helps build a passion in our community.
I think there are a lot of people who have felt the need to leave their money to national or statewide organizations because they feel those charities are good stewards and their money is best spent and utilized there. In my opinion, there is nothing further than the truth. Investing in the Community Foundation has proven the best choice over and over again through how much the money has grown, the excellent stewardship of the funds, and the board making good decisions on how to expend those funds.”