November 20, 2011
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
Cancer patients who sit in eight special reclining chairs while being treated at The Ravenel Oncology Center are benefiting from the Martinsville Area Community Foundation.
So are the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge members who perform in its steel drum orchestra program, and the children and adults who take part in therapeutic horseback riding on the new trail through the woods at the Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy.
The list is long of people, places and things that have received some of the $2.7 million given out in grants and scholarships since the foundation started awarding funds in 2006.
The foundation is marking its five-year anniversary by talking about its accomplishments, objectives and goals to help the community learn what it does.
The foundation’s primary mission is to help people connect to causes they care about and build significant endowment assets that will benefit the Henry County-Martinsville area forever, according to information from MACF Executive Director April Haynes.
MACF was formed in late 2005 with a grant from The Harvest Foundation. Six permanent endowments totaling approximately $3.6 million were transferred to the new community foundation to form its base for operations.
In 2006, its first grants helped the YMCA buy physical therapy equipment, the Salvation Army start a free lunch program and Habitat for Humanity provide a “roll-in” shower for a child with cerebral palsy, among others.
Also that year, three educational trust funds were transferred to MACF from SunTrust Bank. As a result, MACF awarded 53 scholarships totaling more than $207,000 in September 2006.
In comparison, in June it awarded 245 scholarships totaling more than $313,000.
Both Haynes and MACF board President Eliza Severt say helping many students pursue higher education is the group’s biggest accomplishment in its first five years.
“I’m really proud of that program,” Haynes said. “The board does a tremendous job going through all the applications. It’s labor intensive. We’ve helped hundreds of students” pursue higher education.
That is gratifying, as is all the work done by the foundation, Severt said.
In 2007, seven new endowments were established with MACF, and the next year, its cumulative grant-making exceeded $1 million. Despite the economic downturn, MACF helped struggling nonprofit agencies with grants that enabled women to receive screening mammograms, enabled children to receive proper dental care, provided heating and cooling assistance to the most frail in the community, and others.
Also that year, it launched a “Friends of the Foundation” group, which honors donors who give at least $500 to the foundation to be split between its Martinsville Area Unrestricted Fund and the foundation’s Administrative Fund, which helps pay for the foundation’s work.
In October 2009, the Women In Philanthropy initiative was begun to encourage, increase and recognize women’s participation in philanthropy and to make “significant impact grants” here.
The goal was to have 40 members so it could award a $20,000 grant to a local nonprofit organization. At the end of the founding membership period in June, there were 55 founding members, so WIP awarded a $27,000 grant to Boys & Girls Clubs for its steel drum orchestra program. In its second year, WIP was able to award a $10,000 grant to SafetyNet for emergency assistance and a $20,000 grant to Family YMCA for a Girls on the Run program.
The WIP initiative has brought a lot of women together and had a big impact on the community, Haynes said. In addition, its members “can see where their money is going and the difference it made.”
Haynes provided an anecdote about the Tackfully Teamed trail that the foundation funded.
“One of the first riders to experience the trail was an 18-year-old boy. At the time, he was a high school student, who because of cerebral palsy, negotiated the halls with a walker. At the (riding) center he enjoyed getting around on a horse, but the day he got to ‘hit the trail’ was an unforgettable experience for everyone there.
“As the teen rode down the trail, he began looking around in awe. He noticed everything, from the size of the trees to the sounds of the birds. Then all of a sudden he looked at the instructor, his side-walkers, and his leader and exclaimed, ‘So this is the woods??!! This is the first time I have ever gotten to take a walk in the woods. I never want to get off. I could stay in the woods forever.’ This teenager was 18 and he was just getting to experience the woods.”
Another anecdote concerned “Mark,” a student who came to school each day hungry, wearing dirty, poorly fitting clothes.
“Mark is one of the children sponsored in Community Storehouse’s Food for Kids backpack program that MACF supports. He now has clothes that fit, new shoes and of course receives his weekly backpack (with food to get through the weekend). This year, he was all prepared for school with a backpack and school supplies (his first time ever arriving prepared). His grades have become better; he’s more active and participates in class.
“The last report we received from his teacher said: ‘Mark is a child with much potential. With his hunger seemingly under control, we see his personality shine. He’s no longer afraid to speak out in class and no longer gets in trouble for falling asleep. He’s gained some weight since the referral and his grades have continued to increase. Mark was being considered for special education classes and now, he has a B average. This is a testimony to food being fuel. Thank you for all you’ve done.’ There are a lot of children like Mark in the Food for Kids program.”
Such stories show the foundation’s efforts to improve quality of life in this area, Haynes wrote.
“We work diligently to help local families create a permanent charitable legacy that carries their name or the name of loved ones. And, as a good steward of the monies entrusted into our care, we effectively and efficiently make grants to nonprofits and educational scholarships to students, and we will do so for generations to come,” she added.
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