PARSONS - The Tucker Community Foundation Board of Directors and staff gathered Wednesday to celebrate a milestone - 25 years of service in Tucker and seven other counties.
Diane Hinkle, the foundation's development director, said the organization has moved from surviving to thriving over the years.
"Our community foundation belongs to everybody in this room and everyone in our community," Hinkle said. "It extends through eight counties, including Barbour, Grant, Mineral, Preston, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties in West Virginia, as well as Garrett County in Maryland."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
The Tucker Community Foundation celebrates 25 years of service in eight local counties Wednesday in Parsons. Executive Director Rob Burns, front left, and board member David Cooper celebrate with cakes made by Foundation volunteer Julie Kozma of White Grass Catering.
Hinkle said the foundation has grown both in funds and community leadership.
"We are a trend-setter," Hinkle said. "In 2005, there was a study about community foundations and they recommended we look beyond asset development and look more at community leadership and what our role is in that. The message here is that to look to the future, we need to look back to our origin. The flood of 1985 was our starting point."
Hinkle said as she travels to meetings and seminars, she can see that the concept of the Tucker Community Foundation is working.
"If you look at our event table, you can see it is more than public relations and bringing folks together for a meal," she said. "It's all about reaching out to the universe of prospects and the universe of donors. We are only as strong as our community makes us."
Hinkle asked how many people at Wednesday's event had said that "we have natural resources and human capitol - all we need is money to move forward."
"We say it all the time," Hinkle said. "What's the key asset that is missing? It is money. What else is missing? Local control. What do community foundations produce? Money and local control. There is a method to our madness."
Hinkle said 53 percent of Tucker County is owned by state and federal entities, and 28 percent is subject to reduced taxation from agriculture and managed timber; that leaves only 19 percent of the county to provide funding through taxes.
"So a community foundation has a huge role in rural counties such as Tucker," Hinkle said. "So it is important to build local assets. Community foundations provide locally controlled assets with long-term vision."
Hinkle said the foundation is a founding member of the state network of grant-making organizations.
"Our charter president, Sen. Sarah Minear, was the one responsible for launching the consortium of community foundations," Hinkle said. "We owe a great deal of gratitude to her for her vision."
Executive Director Rob Burns shared information about the Foundation's endowments.
"Our general endowment has gone up by 20 percent for the year, and the Harman Fund has gone up by 10 percent," Burns said. "That means our total endowment is over $20 million. I think that is very significant because there were days when we were not sure if we would have $20,000."
Burns said the endowment amount breaks down to roughly $193 per person for the communities they serve.
"That is quite significant," Burns said. "Compared across the state, we are about even with the Kanawha Community Foundation."
Burns said this is the first time the Foundation will give away more than $1 million in one year's time.
"I think that number is impressive," Burns.
Hinkle said the Foundation is working with many funds, including the Tucker County Economic and Community Development Fund and the Preston Community Fund.
Additional information about the Tucker Community Foundation is available by calling 304-478-2930 or online at 222.tuckerfoundation.net.