Friends, donors, officers and board members (past and present), and grant recipients gathered in late 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shenandoah Community Foundation. The mood was festive as we remembered how far we’ve come and how many have helped to get us where we are today.
Special guests were Warren and Pat French, who were recognized both for Warren’s visionary role in founding the organization and for their generosity in creating one of the first donor-advised funds as well as making subsequent donations.
Guests mingled and enjoyed music by Bill Vaughan and a delicious buffet meal catered by Happenings Event Planning.
The program began with a warm welcome from President Michael Funk, who reported on the remarkable history of the Foundation. “Since our beginning, the Foundation has established 75 funds, grown the asset base to $5 million, and provided grants, scholarships, and charitable donations totaling $2 million.” The Shenandoah Community Foundation’s mission of “Connecting people who care with causes that matter” has had a powerful ripple effect over the years, and he expressed great appreciation to donors, staff, and volunteers at the Foundation—as well as other area nonprofits—who have made it possible to identify and meet so many community needs.
The Central High School String Ensemble—Joseph Haun, Violin; Sia Patel, Violin; Emma Boyden, Viola; and Brookelyn Strosnider, Cello—provided a wonderful repertoire of music for our program. Everyone was impressed with their talent and poise.
We were fortunate to have Lieutenant General (Ret) Ben Freakley as our guest speaker. As a native of Shenandoah County who went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and attain a master’s Degree in Advanced Military Studies, Gen. Freakley also has an outstanding record of military service and achievement. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, legion of Merit, Bronze Star for Valor, and ARCOM for Valor. He has played a major role in national and international leadership training.
General Freakley reminded us of the leadership roles we all play as individual members of our community and how crucial it is to come together to assess and meet the needs in our own backyard. This, in turn, makes a better society and a better world, and he encouraged us to take heart in the face of challenges and hold firm to the vision of our organization’s founders and believe in the difference we can continue to make.
President Funk expressed special thanks to MaryEllen Ruddy of Edward Jones in Woodstock for her generous sponsorship of this event.