Peter & Jone Hoffman

In June, the Foundation published a newspaper article listing the 2020 and 2021 recipients of scholarships managed by the Foundation. It also discussed the wonderful support our community provides for graduating seniors and addressed the need for additional Alumni Scholarship awards.

Unfortunately, student’s costs do not stop after the first year. The cost of post-secondary education continues to rise each year, while the number of scholarship opportunities for subsequent years of education drops precipitously. Each of these student applicants have a proven track record in their post-secondary education and have achieved much success. They are working hard to complete their education and many have a very real struggle with the financial burden.

Peter and Jone Hoffman read this article and wanted to help. They took action! The first thing Peter and Jone did
was to make a commitment to provide five $2,000 Alumni Scholarship awards each year, beginning in 2022. Next, they called the Foundation office and inquired about this year’s final scholarship statistics. There were 30 Alumni Scholarship applications. All were excellent applications from outstanding young adults. Peter and Jone decided that they would like to see each and every 2021 Alumni applicant receive financial assistance, and they again took action. Thanks to the additional ten scholarship awards provided by Peter and Jone, the Foundation was able to award a scholarship to each of the students that applied. Thank you Peter & Jone for taking action and for the very generous gifts!

Bobbi Kitowski & Annilese Eddy

Bobbi and Anneliese recognized a need and took action. They presented a grant request to the Foundation for start-up funds to create a new community resource. This resource will help foster families and children in the BRF area. The organization is known as the ‘Black River Area Foster Closet’ and will serve as a conduit to connect those in our community who want to help, and those that need extra support. The mission of the organization is to offer a free resource for caregivers of foster children in BRF and surrounding communities, and will be attained by utilizing space donated by the BRF Evangelical Lutheran Church to create a place for foster families to ‘shop.’ Community members can donate gently used children’s items, clothing, high-chairs, cribs, walkers, etc. Monetary donations will be used to purchase diapers, wipes, and hygiene items. Closet volunteers will clean, sort, organize, and set the ‘closet’ up in an efficient manner for easy, fast retrieval. Social workers will be able to obtain needed items for foster caregivers at any time, but particularly when they are receiving a new child into their care. Foundation Trustees were truly impressed with the thought, planning, organization, preparations, and level of support already shown for the project. They readily approved the grant to purchase shelving, storage containers, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other immediate needs. Thank you Bobbi and Anneliese for your superb work, your dedication to this project, and for taking action!

Tim & Kay Finch

After attending a presentation about Alumni Scholarship funds, Kay shared how strongly she and Tim believe donating scholarships is truly an investment in the future. Kay spoke with Tim and together they decided to match Peter & Jone Hoffman’s scholarship contribution. Each year, beginning in 2022, they will provide five $2,000 Alumni Scholarships. Thanks to this fantastic gift, the Foundation now has more than twice the number of Alumni Scholarships available for distribution every year. See what so impressed Kay and Tim that it motivated them to take action on pages 10-11. Thank you Tim & Kay for your investment in our youth and for taking action!

JC Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers

Roots of the Foundation and JC Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers are closely intertwined. In 1987, Ernie Holman, of Osseo, met with Foundation Trustees and shared information about a successful program similar to Interfaith in Eau Claire County. He said funds were available for this type of program from a private benefactor in Palm Desert, California. The Trustees took action and voted to accept the initial $5,000 grant from California, and hold the funds until a firm Interfaith program had been established.

Thirty-four years later, Lori Chown, Program Director, her staff, volunteers and the Board of Directors, accepted the fact that their current location is simply no longer capable of meeting Interfaith’s ever expanding needs. They know that Interfaith provides an invaluable service by helping people maintain independence and dignity when life’s difficulties make remaining in their homes more challenging. They also recognize the need to grow to an independent facility in order to sustain their program and to ensure their ability to meet the increasing demands of the community. Interfaith’s Team realized that by expanding their office space and adding a community room, they will be able to increase their staffing and volunteer outreach to meet the grocery delivery, transportation, dementia support, and respite needs that are currently being seen.

Interfaith’s Team took action and decided to move forward with a capital campaign to build a new home for their organization. The Lunda Charitable Fund graciously offered a matching grant, up to $800,000, to begin fundraising. The Foundation quickly took action and followed suit with a commitment of $200,000 to the project. The Interfaith Team continues to work diligently and the community has responded with resounding support of the project. Thank you Interfaith Team for taking action to ensure Interfaith’s future viability.

David & Marilyn Hoffman

Having served as the Foundation’s Vice-Chairman since its inception thirty-five years ago, David is very familiar with the difficult decisions Trustees face each year when awarding grants. There are always more requests and more need than there are funds. Determining which requests best serve the needs of our community is never easy. In 2021, Keith Cormican submitted a request on behalf of Bruce’s Legacy. Bruce’s Legacy is a volunteer organization that provides education on water related safety, as well as search and rescue/ recovery operations to fire and rescue departments and the public. Jackson County recently dissolved its non-profit Dive Team and turned its assets over to Bruce’s Legacy to service the Jackson County area. The grant request was for funds to purchase a 7’x16’ enclosed trailer to house the Remote Operated Vehicle and all related equipment, and to be kept in the BRF area, facilitating a much faster response time. David saw a way he could help, and took action. He informed the Trustees that he owned a trailer such as the one being requested, and he offered to donate the trailer to Bruce’s Legacy. Telephone calls were made and David’s trailer now has a new home serving a noble purpose. Thank you David and Marilyn for taking action and donating a personal item for the good of the community!

Jim & Kathy Powell

Jim and Kathy Powell have a soft spot for their home town, and for children in need, particularly those whom by no fault of their own have been placed into foster care. Kathy spent 24 years working, in part, as Juvenile Court Clerk for Jackson County. Her experience afforded a special awareness of the many challenges that arise when a child is placed in foster care. This type of event frequently happens during emergency situations. Often children arrive at foster homes with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing, leaving behind everyone, and everything, that is familiar to them. Foster parents have limited resources and must focus on satisfying the most urgent emotional, physical, and essential needs of the child. With assistance from Jenny Dormady at JCHHS – Children & Families Division, Kathy and Jim came up with an idea. Kathy contacted the Foundation office, explained the idea, and asked if the Foundation could help. The Trustees were enthusiastic, together they worked out a plan and Kathy and Jim created a fund to give back to their community.

Many years ago, relying on philanthropic lessons they learned from their father, Bill Millis, Kathy and her siblings began purchasing Christmas gifts for children in foster care. Imagine being a child placed in foster care at Christmas time! Each year, beginning in 2021, the Powell’s new “Warming Hearts Fund” will continue the tradition of the Millis siblings. The Fund will provide monies to JCHHS to purchase special Christmas gifts for ten children in foster care. In addition, at any time throughout the year, should a foster child have an urgent need that cannot be satisfied by traditional avenues, JCHHS may apply to the Foundation and Warming Hearts Fund Advisor for a special grant distribution.

The new Warming Hearts Fund is open to all donors. Several of Kathy’s siblings were eager to help and have also made contributions. If you like this idea and want to support the fund, donations can be sent to the Foundation office with ‘Warming Hearts Fund’ in the memo line. Thank you Jim & Kathy for your generosity and for taking action!

Barb Simonis, Jordan Nortman and Brad Dobbs

These three friends have several things in common, one of which is their commitment to the Black River Falls area. Earlier this spring, they shared a conversation including the topics of upcoming graduation, outstanding school lunch debt, families facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, and the question, “How can we help?”.

School policy requires that a student’s lunch debt be paid before they are allowed to graduate. Brad was aware of the Angel Fund, which the BRF School District created to help pay lunch debts for students in need. Barb, Jordan and Brad took action! Using their talents, Jordan and Brad’s knowledge and enjoyment of golf, and Barb’s super-strengths of organization and ‘getting things done,’ they decided to raise money for the Angel Fund by hosting a golf event. Brad reached out to the Foundation. He asked about the possibility of creating a temporary ‘Swing for Students’ fund to accept the donations they received and distribute the proceeds to the BRF School District. Realizing this was an excellent way for the Foundation to support smaller, informal groups of community members wanting to raise money for a local need, Trustees unanimously approved their request. Thank you Barb, Jordan, and Brad for taking action and helping BRF’s graduating Seniors!