Harrison and Muriel Dauer Stackpole Family Fund awards grant to PH Auxiliary

Penn Highlands Elk President, Brad Chapman; Chris Lynn, Stackpole Family Advisor; Paula Fritz Eddy, ECCF Executive Director; Therese Skryzpek, Auxiliary Board member; and Jane Chapman, Secretary of the Penn Highland Auxiliary

The Harrison and Muriel Dauer Stackpole Family Fund, held at the Elk County Community Foundation, (ECCF) recently awarded a grant of $5,000.00 to Penn Highlands Auxiliary.  The Grant will be used to help support the 2020 Project Pinecrest Christmas Cheer. This grant will provide the dollars to purchase individual gifts for the residents and make available other holiday activities held at Pinecrest Manor.   

The Penn Highlands Elk Auxiliary supports a variety of projects throughout the year that benefits the health and well-being of the Community.   In addition to the annual holiday activities at Pinecrest Manor, they fill the Jaxon Bags (goodies and activities for families who are being transferred to Children’s Hospital); a Scholarship program (an award for high school students entering the medical field) and other programs as needed for the Hospital community.  The Auxiliary is able to do these projects annually with the support of the Peppermint Stick Gift Shop proceeds, in house Uniform Sales, the Penn Highlands Annual Christmas Giving and Angel Ornament Trees Campaign and grants like the one from the Harrison Muriel Dauer Stackpole Family.

Applications for the Harrison and Muriel Dauer Stackpole Family Fund are accepted and reviewed quarterly.  The next deadline is coming up January 15, 2020.  Please contact the Elk County Community Foundation at 814-834-2125 for specific deadline dates or check out their website under open grants at www.elkcountyfoundation.org.   The Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that manages over 175 endowed funds established by donors to support  area nonprofit organizations and scholarships. Donor gifts to the Foundations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Rockstar board presidents led 20 years of growth: part 2

Tom Jesberger, on left, is congratulated on his election as Elk County Community Foundation Board President in 2019, by Gennaro Aiello, outgoing Board President.

While the first ten years of the Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) established the framework for the organization and spearheaded its initial growth, the second decade has seen outstanding growth and expansion. Board Presidents who served during the last ten years expressed their strong support and belief in the mission of organization.

Dan Straub, serving as Board President in 2011, 2012, stated,”20 years ago I was invited to the St. Marys Country Club to hear a presentation from William Conrad, Jake Meyer and Rich Masson regarding the creation of a Community Foundation. It seemed like a worthy endeavor and I remember thinking to myself that such an organization could be very beneficial to our community.  I was eager to become involved and from that day forward did just that. Fast forward to the present day and it is with great pride that I see what has transpired to be not only a very positive part of Elk County, but also the surrounding communities.”

Don Valone, a Ridgway resident, took over as president in 2013 and 2014. In reminiscing about his term, Don said, “As a past president of the Foundation I find myself feeling the gift of satisfaction and reward. We started with a contribution from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation and continued to grow for the next 20 years from many donations from the wonderful giving people of our area. Many different funds and scholarships have been established to assist different groups and individuals to achieve their goals. It was during my presidency that we began talking with McKean County about joining us as an affiliate. This affiliation was finalized early in 2017. Our administration’s main challenge was to ensure the ground work was put in place for the governance of the affiliates in its formative years. I am happy and encouraged to see this new partnership flourish as it has.”

ECCF’s next Board President was local attorney, Jake Meyer. “I learned the value of giving to the community from my parents, particularly my father who served on many boards. I tried to follow in his footsteps in helping to establish the Elk County Community Foundation and to serve as a board member since its inception and president in 2015-2016. When president, I wrote that ‘the strength of a community is determined by its members’ who create a mission and vision, develop relationships and make commitments. It was true then and is true now, particularly in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic.  Our local community is strong. When I was president, 18 new charitable funds were created, and 74 grants and 187 scholarships were awarded. Executive Director Paula Eddy, the staff and board members worked diligently to make that happen. The ECCF community was strong then and continues to be now as the number of funds, grants, and scholarships grow.”

Gennaro Aiello, a resident of Ridgway, was Board President in 2017, 2018. “It was an honor and a privilege to serve as Community Foundation President. I was fortunate to witness the tremendous impact Foundation grants have on the quality of life for our region. The Community Foundation affords everyone the opportunity to be part of this philanthropy and create a legacy of their own”, said Gennaro.

Tom Jesberger, current board president, has served in the role during 2019 and 2020. Tom stated, “the Elk County Community Foundation, although well known in certain circles, is still unknown to a large number of individuals.  I was in the latter group until I became a board member.  The foundation, being in existence a young 20 years, has helped numerous individuals through scholarships and grants. ECCF has given away over $6 million dollars in the last 20 years, and has reached a threshold where it gives out over $500,000 every year to help local non-profits and students wanting to further their education.  A large portion of the dollars in the foundation were donated by ordinary individuals, so ECCF is a great way for anyone to leave a legacy and pay it forward to the future of Elk County and the surrounding area.”

Today, the Elk County Community Foundation is a highly regarded community institution due to the dedication and expertise of these board presidents and all members of the foundation’s board and staff, along with the acceptance of the mission of the foundation by the general public. The mission of ECCF is to strengthen our region through development, stewardship, and grant making as donors achieve their philanthropic goals. Contact ECCF at 834-2125 or eccf@elkcountyfoundation.org for more information.

Rockstar board presidents led 20 years of growth: part 1

Six of the Elk County Community Foundation’s past Board Presidents are captured in this 2007 board photo. Front Row; Jake Meyer, Charlie Constable, Judy Stager, Don Valone, all served as president. Richard Smith, board member is also pictured. Back Row, Bea Terbovich, past president, board members John Dippold, Bill Conrad, and Charlie Stager, past president Dan Straub, Paula Fritz Eddy, Executive Director, board member John Kocjancic, Karen Lewis, Finance Director, and board members Paul Bierley and Ham Johnson.                      

The Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) Board of Directors is made up of a group of community-minded individuals who have a mix of outstanding people skills, the talent to manage, and a curiosity and willingness to develop a keen understanding of the non-profit organization.

The ECCF Board of Directors has been fortunate to be led by nine outstanding Board Presidents over its 20-year history. In celebration of ECCF’s 20th anniversary, the Board Presidents who served during the Community Foundation’s first ten years are reflecting on their time in office.

Richard Masson was called upon to be the first president of ECCF in 2000, and would retain that position for 2001 and 2002. Rich said, “While the Elk County Community Foundation began its existence 20 years ago, the idea to create a foundation was germinated by the likes of Bill Conrad, Jake Meyer, and other forward thinkers who understood the need to create a conduit of philanthropy to channel the generosity of our citizens.”

Given that the concept was new to our area, the Erie Community Foundation, which itself had been created in 1990, was contacted for input and guidance. The two foundations agreed to affiliate, an arrangement that existed for a number of years until the Elk County Community Foundation disengaged and continued as an independent stand-alone entity. The evolution from concept to new affiliated organization to a highly regarded community institution was enhanced by the dedication and expertise of the members of the board of the foundation and the acceptance of the mission of the foundation by the general public.

 “Today, the success of the foundation is abundantly clear, but the measure of its success is not the funds accumulated, managed, and distributed, but the enhancement of the lives of the people in our area. While my affiliation with the foundation was relatively brief, I was honored and privileged to have served as the first president of the board”, Rich stated.

In 2003, Bea Terbovich took over the reins and served as president for 4 years. Bea stated, “I had the privilege of serving my term as President during the early days of the Foundation’s development. These were exciting times as we explored opportunities, learned how to function, and built a firm base upon which we could grow. Getting certified by PANO (Pennsylvania Association of Non-profit Organizations) helped to assure us that we were on the right track.

Among the other things we accomplished during those years, we fine-tuned our by-laws and board membership structure.  We were determined to maintain the board as a fluid reflection of the diverse personalities representing our area.  By establishing and enforcing term limits, we continue to allow for a comfortable flow of new faces holding seats on the board, thereby keeping a fresh look on what’s going on in Elk County.  ECCF truly is a community foundation with strong representation from the people who live here. After our structure became sound, our energy turned more towards growing both in funds and in distribution. We celebrated hitting the one-million-dollar mark in assets during my tenure.  Our 20-year history is proof of our continued success!

Charlie Constable became the third ECCF Board President to serve in that role in 2007 and 2008. “Having seen how the Elk County Community Foundation has made this area we live in better in many ways, I am especially proud to have served as a past president and a member of the Board of Directors for several years”, stated Charlie.

In 2009 and 2010, Judith Manno Stager served as Board President. Judy shared her memories of her time in office: “ECCF’s 10th anniversary was celebrated with many accomplishments during my term as president. We increased our grants by 58%, granted our first million dollars and increased our assets to 5 million dollars. We were recognized as the St. Marys Chamber of Commerce 2010 Small Business of the Year, expanded beyond Elk County with the incorporation of the Community Foundation of North Central Pennsylvania, and welcomed the establishment of the popular Women Who Care organization. A special memory during my Board tenure was working with Dan Straub to enlighten the community about ‘What is a Community Foundation’ by organizing a very successful Red Fern fun and festive St. Patrick’s Day Event”.

The Board Presidents of the Elk County Community Foundation have been ambassadors and advocates for the organization for 20 years. The tremendous success of the foundation is a shared achievement for the board, staff, and members of the community who have embraced the mission of the Community Foundation in improving the quality of life in our communities through charitable giving.

Building our youth for the future

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” The Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) helps drive social impact in Elk County. ECCF believes that our youth are our future, and it’s important for us to invest resources in initiatives and programs that have a positive impact on the youth in our community.

Since 2000, the 176 charitable funds at ECCF have invested millions into programs that impact our youth, helping our area’s thinkers and dreamers create meaningful change through the funds they established. Children’s programs in many different categories have been supported by ECCF grants over the past 20 years. These grants have had a major impact in life in Elk County, providing a generation of our youth with programs that directly affect the physical, social and emotional well-being of our children and their families.

Many community and school libraries have received grants for creation of programs like children’s areas, story hours, book collections, technology equipment, teen reading lounge, and early reader programs. Funding was awarded for a Rosetta Stone software license, books for Dickinson’s Literacy Van, a homework club at the Boys & Girls Club, and SMAHS Certified Nursing Assistant Program.

Our park systems and school playgrounds have grown and thrived with financial assistance for playground equipment for Ridgway YMCA, Johnsonburg Borough, St. Leo School and Johnsonburg and Ridgway school districts, the restoration of Kaulmont Park in St. Marys, Borough of Ridgway skate park, Johnsonburg Knothole playground and park, Memorial Park Playland, maintenance at Angela Huey Park, picnic tables for Highland Township, batting cage at Sandy Park, pavilion construction at Ridgway Community Pool, and a portable ice rink for St. Marys Recreation.

Youth sports received much needed funding at various parks and schools for renovation of backstops, dugouts, fences, gates, restroom construction, court lighting, batting cages, press box for girls’ softball, archery program, and a basketball funnel. Grants were awarded to the St. Marys Sportsmen for their Youth Field Day, to Ridgway schools to refurbish the gym floor, and to St. Marys Little League to send their senior team to districts.

Music and the arts were supported with grants for the Missoula Theater program, a trailer for band equipment, band camp, a fourth grade instrument program, artist in residence, drama club support, funding for live performances, and the establishment of a Creative Corner.

Our students have benefited from technology grants for their schools and clubs for digital streaming, robotics club, I-pad lab, video conferencing equipment, computer carts, wireless connectivity, technology upgrades, interactive whiteboards, STEM lab, elementary school science lab, foreign language computers, LCD projectors, and drafting technology. 

Social issues were addressed with grants for programs by CAPSEA, the Guardian Angel Center, the Christian Food Bank, the United Way’s Success by Six program, Dickinson’s Autism program, American Red Cross First Aid Class, the DARE program, Camp Flutterbye, Special Olympics, a teen obesity feasibility study, after school programs, and other community programs.

Grants have support Rails to Trails in both Ridgway and St. Marys, giving families a beautiful walking and biking area to enjoy. Friends of Twin Lakes are utilizing grant dollars to repair trails and conduct a study to help ensure the future of the park.

The list could go on and on. Our youth, our families, and our communities have benefited from the generosity of the donors who established their own funds, and those who have donated to the general funds of the Elk County Community Foundation. Our future lies in ensuring that our youth have the education and community resources they need to help them develop into caring, responsible adults.

By connecting donors, community leaders, and nonprofits, the goal of the Elk County Community Foundation is to help build a thriving area where possibility and opportunity are available for all. For more information, contact the Foundation at 834-2125 or eccf@elkcountyfoundation.org.

Scholarship funds offer a lesson in caring

The family of Corporal Adam Wolfel created a scholarship in his memory after his passing in 2014

The Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) manages scholarship funds established by people and organizations with a passion for education, and many times, to honor or remember someone who has made a lasting impact in their lives and their community. ECCF administers 98 such scholarships, and has awarded two million dollars in educational aid to Elk County students in its 20-year history.

Anyone can establish a scholarship for higher education, including businesses, community groups, individuals, or groups of individuals. Scholarships take on many forms with eligibility criteria determined by the donors. These can include academics, financial need, student demographics, geographic, community involvement, overcoming adversity, athletic ability, career choice, etc. There are so many different reasons why people and organizations choose to start a scholarship.

Memorial scholarships are a wonderful way to remember a loved one who has passed. U.S. Marine Corporal Adam M. Wolfel was born in 1991 in St. Marys, the son of Michael and Jane Ritter Wolfel. His family and friends established the Corporal Adam M. Wolfel Memorial Scholarship fund in 2015 to honor Adam’s memory with a scholarship to be awarded to a graduating senior that will be attending technical trade educational program. Adam graduated from SMAHS in 2009 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a rifleman and machine gunner. His natural leadership qualities were evident throughout his deployments to Marjah, Afghanistan and Okinawa, Japan. After his honorable discharge in 2013, he was employed by Allegheny Electric Service and then enrolled in the Electrical Technology program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. After his passing in 2014, the family decided to honor Adam’s memory with this scholarship established in his name. The Wolfel family remains active in raising awareness in Elk County for PTSD and suicide prevention.

The purpose of a scholarship is sometimes targeted for a specialized area that was meaningful to the person for whom the scholarship is named. Music, the arts, medicine, and trade schools, are some of the areas of interest chosen by scholarship donors. For example, a few of the scholarships established at ECCF are: Taylor Schutz Lady Dutch Basketball, Golumbic Art Award, Michele M. Spence Nursing, Herbert Lenze RASD Marching Band, Nicholas A. Sinibaldi Music, Ram Gridiron Football, Jacqueline M. Renaud National Honor Society, the Greiner/Roof Law scholarship, the Gus and Helen Wolf Memorial Scholarship for St. Vincent College Students, and many more.

Creating a scholarship fund can be a great way to help students realize the value of a good education and reach their educational goals. In 2011, Dr. Francis Grandinetti established the Grandinetti Educational Scholarship Fund. Dr. Grandinetti is the former administrator for the Ridgway Area School District and wanted to help future educators from this school district. The scholarship is awarded to a Ridgway Area High School graduating senior who has been accepted to a university in Pennsylvania as an education major and plans to pursue a career as an elementary or secondary classroom teacher or specialist.

The beginning of the Johnsonburg Alumni & Friend’s Scholarship grew out of the group’s initial thought to have all graduating classes from Johnsonburg Area High School come together and enjoy the evening with classmates and friends, an idea that became a reality and has met with great success over the years. They also chose to establish an annual scholarship that would be offered to a graduating senior to benefit the student’s college funding. The group stated, “the scholarship will give our future graduates a start for their continuing education. We are inspired that our goal will give them opportunity for success.”

Many local companies and organizations create scholarships to help increase their philanthropic presence in the areas they serve. ECCF holds scholarship funds established by several American Legions, Rotary Clubs, and Lion Clubs throughout Elk County. The Ridgway Rotary Club stated the purpose of their scholarship, “to recognize and reward students who have demonstrated outstanding service to their school and community. Scholarship winners will be inspired to build goodwill and peace in the world.” All of these organizations have a special interest in supporting their youth and are dedicated to providing service to their communities.

Although each of the 98 scholarships at ECCF tells its own story, all of the funds are designed for donors who are interested in helping students of all ages achieve their goals. The Community Foundation makes it easy for individuals, businesses and organizations to establish a scholarship fund. A fund can be created in as little as one meeting, with a short fund agreement, and a single gift. Or a fund can be set up with an initial gift that is added to in the future. A fund can also be started as part as your estate plan. ECCF manages all the administrative details of a donor’s fund. Contact the Elk County Community Foundation at 834-2125 or eccf@elkcountyfoundation.org for more information on scholarships.