The Grand Island Community Foundation, which was established on Sept. 12, 1960, marked its 54th anniversary on Friday.
The idea for the foundation began with Harold Null, a vice president at the First National Bank in Grand Island, who had studied the Cleveland Community Foundation. He shared his idea of establishing a fund in Grand Island with E.J. Wolbach and A.C. “Jim” Mayer.
In 1960 Wolbach bequeathed $5,000 to establish the Grand Island Charitable Foundation. Mayer drew up the original articles of incorporation.
“This one legacy gift from E.J. Wolbach 54 years ago has allowed hundreds of other members of our community to leave their own legacy,” said Tammy Morris, Grand Island Community Foundation chief executive officer. “The Jim and Norma Merrick and Alda Gunn scholarship funds have awarded scholarships to local youth for over 28 years.”
Serving on the first board with Null and Mayer were George Armstrong, W.J. Arrasmith, Irving Augustine, James Beltzer, Theodore Buechler, Helen Connell, Mabel Geer, Edward Huwaldt, Francis McLaughlin, L.E. Ray, Edgar Reynolds, R.E. Spelts Jr. and S.N. “Bud” Wolbach.
They and many other volunteers directed the foundation’s efforts for many years. Richard E. Spelts stepped forward in the early 1970s and managed the organization’s activities as a volunteer for more than 20 years.
The foundation hired its first paid, full-time executive director in 1997.
“Community” has been added to the foundation’s name as it continues to serve Grand Island and the greater Hall County area. Under one organizational roof, the foundation unites donors, large and small, who want to make the community a better place for all.
“I have a favorite quote from Margaret Mead that reminds me of the impact each one of us can make,” Morris said. “Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”
This year marks another milestone. One hundred years ago the community foundation concept was born in the Midwest, giving rise to a new philanthropy, a new way of participating in community and a new vision for the future.
The G.I. Community Foundation is at 1811 W. Second, Suite 480. For more information, call 381-7767 or visit www.gicf.org.