Fayette Area Foundation board seeks support 1.7.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When the Fayette Area Foundation was formed in 1993, a story appeared in the Fayette Review and an alumnus living in Toledo read the report.

She donated $100,000 for college scholarships and another large sum later. Those donations helped the foundation flourish for years, but funds are now running low.

Board members aren’t expecting another Margaret Gruenberg to appear with an enormous gift, but they do hope that additional publicity might help bring in some new funding.

The beginning

Former school superintendent Joe Long recalls attending a conference in Columbus that included a workshop about foundations, pointing out the potential value to schools and communities.

“Within a few months of the conference, the Fayette Foundation was in operation,” Long said. “Several community members were willing to serve as trustees and were instrumental in creating the foundation.”

Through a combination of expertise and hard work, the board was soon in the position to award grants.

The first Gruenberg gift was directed toward scholarships and the second donation was pegged for school technology upgrades and the music program.

“Her generosity has had a dramatic impact on hundreds of Fayette students,” Long said.

He recalls some fund-raising efforts in years past and that’s on the mind of the current board members.

“We’ve been a little lax,” said vice president Sue Schaffner, who was a charter member of the foundation.

The board became well aware of that in November when the treasurer, Dave Metcalf—another charter member—challenged the group to become more ambitious in seeking funds if they wanted the foundation to survive.

“Everyone decided that we didn’t want to let it fall through,” Schaffner said.

The last major drive for funds occurred five years ago when letters were sent to alumni—an effort that didn’t result in much of a response.

The group has begun selling 50/50 raffle tickets at girls basketball games and other fund-raising efforts are under consideration.

Metcalf and Schaffner both expressed a hesitation in approaching local businesses, knowing they get asked for donations frequently, and the community’s industrial base isn’t as strong as it was when the foundation began.

“We’ll keep trying,” Schaffner said, hoping that alumni will see the organization as a good way to give back to the community and school.

Many people know the foundation through the Gruenberg-sponsored scholarships, Metcalf said, but several other programs have received funding.

In addition to school-related gifts—computers, chorus functions, band instruments—the foundation has given money to the local physician recruitment effort, park projects and equipment for the recycling center.

“When the markets were good, the fund was strong and it seemed like it would last forever,” Metcalf said, but that’s no longer the case.

The struggle to accumulate cash continues, both from the group’s own efforts and, hopefully, from donations—both large and small.

• Anyone interested in serving on the foundation board should contact a member listed below. Younger members, in particular, are welcomed to join, Metcalf said, to bring a new perspective to the group.

Board members are Dee Ferguson, president, Sue Schaffner, vice president, Dave Metcalf, treasurer, Sue Williams, Barb Bruggeman, Connie Wagner, Pam Hibbard and Tom Spiess.

In addition to raising funds for its own uses, the board is willing to serve as the administrator for other scholarship funds, such as its role with the William Humbert Memorial fund.

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