CROWN POINT | What does a nonprofit organization which is on a limited budget do when a pipe bursts on a Friday afternoon flooding a large portion of its facility?
Mary Govert, executive director of St. Jude House, said when the children’s playroom, TV room and the adult TV room were flooded Jan. 31, she immediately called Pat Huber president of the Crown Point Community Foundation.
“When I talked to Pat Huber about my concerns about the deductibles and everything, she said she would talk to the grant committee and see if the Crown Point Community Foundation could help,” Govert said. “They presented us with a check within three days. It is going to help us to be able to replace things to the way they were prior to the damage.”
Govert praised the foundation’s generosity and community commitment.
“It was so wonderful that someone in the community, as soon as they heard about our plight, stepped up and within a few days we actually had the money,” Govert said. “It has been a tremendous help. It has been a relief in the midst of all the chaos. It took a lot of the pressure off. It just felt so good that people in the community wanted to ensure that the services that St. Jude House and other not for profits provide could continue even though we had the upheaval with the winter storm.”
Govert said the goal of St. Jude House, a family violence prevention center and shelter, is to provide a safe haven for its residents to start on their journey to a peaceful life.
“When the community foundation and Pat stepped forward it really was a blessing and it really made a difference as to how we can deal with this and can go forward,” Govert said.
St. Jude House is just one of numerous organizations which Crown Point Community Foundation has helped throughout the years. Established in 1990 as an outgrowth of the Crown Point Rotary Club, it is the oldest community foundation in the Northwest Indiana region, Huber said. The foundation has grown since that time to more than $21.5 million in assets. In 2013, the foundation awarded more than $723,000 in grants and scholarships to nonprofits, college students and projects serving Crown Point.
“Since 1990, over $7 million has been granted to help enhance the quality of life in our service area and beyond,” Huber said. “The foundation manages over 300 funds. These funds were made possible by donors wanting to do good things with their charitable dollars. The Crown Point Community Foundation makes that happen for them.”
At the end of 2013, the foundation received a special bequest through the estate of Manetta Manhart Gibbons. Prior to her death, Gibbons was very much a part of the planning process for her gift, Huber said.
“She met with me and established her endowment fund in 2007,” Huber said. “That was perfect because we were able to say thank you to her and because she saw the results of her gift while she was still living. Then, upon her death, the remainder of her estate flowed into her already existing fund.”
By contract, annually Gibbons’ fund pays a distribution that supports three things: the Northwest Indiana Symphony youth programming and concerts; a scholarship for a Crown Point High School student with a dedication to music; and unrestricted community needs.
Typically Crown Point Community Foundation grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations. The foundation has three grant cycles Feb. 1, June 1 and Sept. 1. Nonprofits application are reviewed by the grant committee and submitted to the board for final approval.
“The foundation has the ability to reach out to organizations, programs or projects that need their help. Recent examples are providing $50,000 to the Historic Lake County Court House Foundation and $10,000 to St. Jude House to fix the damage from the burst pipe. The foundation administers more than 100 scholarship funds, Huber said.
“But the foundation does other things as well,” Huber said. “On March 8 we will sponsor the fifth annual volunteer fair. We bring together nonprofits in a trade show atmosphere so that potential volunteers can find out more about the organizations serving our community. We will sponsor a blood drive that day, too.”
The Crown Point Community Foundation sponsors the annual summer "Symphony on the Lawn" concert, bringing the Northwest Indiana Symphony to Crown Point.
“The event is the highlight of the summer,” Huber said. “The event is free of charge thanks to the support of many sponsors and the Crown Point Community Foundation.”
Huber said it has been satisfying working with a dynamic staff and a dedicated board which believes in the foundation’s work.
“The board is hands on,” Huber said. “They work hard to make our goals and objectives a reality. If you serve on this board, expect to work. Many board members say it is the toughest board they have ever served on, but also the most rewarding.”
Dave Batusic, Crown Point Community Foundation board chairman, said the foundation’s philanthropy enhances the spirit of giving back to the community.
“I think our role is to go out and identify the needs in the community and direct our resources to those needs whether it is the school, whether it is the police or the fire or the small nonprofits,” Batusic said.
He said he sees the foundation’s role as reaching out to the community, “being a connector as opposed to just sitting back and waiting for organizations to come to us.”
Batusic said helping St. Jude House out in their emergency situation was a great example of the foundation’s ability to act quickly.
Huber said watching the growth of the foundation has been exciting both in assets and in grant work.
“But we could not do this without our donor base,” Huber said. “Our donors trust us, believe in us and want to do good works in our community. The foundation just tries to make all the pieces fit.”