Guided by Visionaries
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world: indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
This quote rings loud and true as we reflect on 25 years of strengthening and transforming White County at your Community Foundation of White County. It’s easy to look at a multimillion-dollar endowment today, witnessing hundreds of thousands of dollars going out into the community each year and be overwhelmed by the greatness and security that this sturdy tree provides.
But 25 years ago, the Community Foundation just was a small sapling, tended by passionate community visionaries to help it grow into the endowment we have today. Led by its first Executive Director, Connie Neininger, the Community Foundation of White County (then known as the White County Community Foundation) dove headfirst into building funds, researching the needs in the community, and creating partnerships across the county.
With the support of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT III Phase, the Community Foundation of White County quickly established a strong foundation through generous matching opportunities to begin immediately transforming the community through charitable giving.
Though when you start a new journey, or perhaps see that first straggly twig sticking out of the ground, it’s hard to imagine how tall or wide the tree will one day become. Can we expect blooms? How deep will its roots run through the community? Will there be broken limbs along the way?
I don’t know if anyone could have predicted how strong our foundation would be twenty-five years later in 2023: holding over $10 million in assets, partnering with hundreds of donors to bring their charitable dreams to life, awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to support nonprofits doing the good work, and leading initiatives and projects throughout the county that further enhance our world. That’s quite an impact!
In our humble beginnings, the CFWC Governing Council consisted of fifteen visionaries, all working together under Connie’s leadership. What did those first leaders envision for our community when establishing the Community Foundation of White County?
Well, I had to ask.
Greg Bossaer, one of our founding governing council members who just returned to the council this year shared his thoughts on CFWC’s beginnings: “When Lilly reached out with their matching funds in 1998, it was a no brainer. I thought the match was significant, and our community was able to do it. The neat thing is, when an individual or a company gives to the Community Foundation, they can see the benefit. Once they see something positive happening, they want to get involved.
“If we think about where we would be if the Community Foundation had not existed these past 25 years, we would have missed so much growth and impact. When you look at every community in this county, you can see a wonderful benefit from the Community Foundation.
“It couldn’t have been successful at the level it was done without the deep commitment, and continued commitment, from organizations and individuals throughout the community.”
The building blocks for success were lined up from the very beginning: the right leadership, a group of visionary volunteers, and a passionate community like ours. It’s no wonder that the community recognized this worthy mission and quickly offered support.
After twenty-five years of serving our community, we want to say thank you for believing in us, for supporting us, and for being such great partners. We invite you to donate $25 toward our “25 by 25” Challenge, a donation that will be matched 1:1 up to $25,000, making that a $50 impact. Donations toward this Challenge will go toward a special proactive grant to be announced at our Anniversary event in May. Help us reach $25K for our 25th. For questions, call Director, Lucy Dold at (574) 583-6911.