CFInfo: October 2015

CFinfo provides quick updates on initiatives and grants, reminds you of upcoming events as well as news about philanthropy at its best in the region.  We hope you find this issue informative and welcome any feedback you would like to share with us.

Foundation Welcomes Two New Program Officers
Michaelheadshot2013The Foundation has recently had the good fortune of finding two highly experienced and capable program officers to join the team. We welcomed Colleen Kucinski on Sept. 28 as Program Officer for Scholarships, and Michael DeChiara will join the organization in mid-October as Senior Program Officer for Capacity.

Michael has recently been working as a consultant for a number of local nonprofits, assisting with program development, fundraising, grant writing, policy strategy, and much more. In addition, he was the Executive Director for Massachusetts Farm to School, and previously was the Director of the Community Impact Department for the Pioneer Valley United Way.

In his new role at the Foundation Michael will be responsible for supporting the Pioneer Valley’s charitable sector through the Capacity Program that supports the development and growth of the non-profit sector through training, grants and resources, including Valley Gives.

colleenColleen has spent the last 17 years in a variety of positions at Greenfield Community College, most recently as the Director of Admissions. She has also held positions at Western New England College, Springfield Technical Community College, and Springfield College. Her extensive experience in higher education will serve her well in managing the Foundation’s $2 million annual scholarship program.

She will oversee the Scholarship program, which includes managing the student application process, coordinating the teams of volunteers who read applications and make scholarship recommendations, and will be responsible for the ongoing analysis and evaluation that helps the program continually improve and grow.

Virginia Jahn Gives $2 million to the Community Foundation

Virginia Jahn first made the decision to start a fund at the Foundation back in 1999 to support the causes she cared about. She worked closely with the staff during her lifetime, so that after her passing last year at the age of 94, the Foundation could continue her legacy of Jahngenerosity for generations to come.  A member of the Foundation’s Legacy Society, she left a $2 million gift which was received late last year.

Virginia spent most of her life living and working in western Massachusetts. A longtime resident of East Longmeadow, Virginia and her husband Earl built a successful business together in Chicopee, Jahn Foundry, where she worked until 1997.

Over the 15 years that Virginia had been making charitable gifts through the Foundation, she gave to many local organizations, including the Pioneer Valley Red Cross, Johnson Memorial Hospital, Friends of the Homeless, YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Dakin Humane Society, and many others. Virginia was also a lifelong member of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Longmeadow, and the fund in her name will continue to support the church that was so dear to her, as well as other nonprofits. Virginia was a generous philanthropist in her lifetime, and has left an incredible gift to her community. Her desire to help people undoubtedly touched many lives, and now the Foundation is privileged to have a part in carrying out her legacy.

The Foundation’s Legacy Society is made up of generous families and individuals (like Virginia) who have a named fund, or an existing fund, at the Community Foundation as a beneficiary of their estate plans. There are currently more than 80 members of the Legacy Society. If you have made similar arrangements and would like to be recognized as a member of the Legacy Society, or want to learn more, please contact a member of our Philanthropic Services team.

Saving our Confetti for our 25th Anniversary in 2016

This year, the Community Foundation will not be hosting our annual meeting in October. Instead, we’re gathering our confetti and noisemakers for events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Foundation’s first grants.

Stars in the form of confetti with streamers on white

We’ve come a long way in the past 25 years, going from a small staff of just the president and her assistant and a few dozen volunteers to a staff of more than 15 and over 150 active volunteers. We went from distributing $311,526 in grants in 1991 to giving out more than $8.1 million in not just grants but also scholarships and loans in 2015.

We encourage you to be connected with us this fall and into 2016. Whether volunteering, donating to our Annual Pioneer Valley Fund or getting involved in other ways, you help us grow and strengthen the region.

Another exciting event coming in 2016 is Valley Gives Day. The 24-hour-giving-day, now an integral part of the Foundation’s Capacity grantmaking program, will be held on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Valley Gives will be part of Give Local America, where other community foundations and community partners throughout the U.S. bring tens of thousands of people together to make gifts that support vital causes in their local communities. Last year on Give Local America day, over $68 million dollars was raised for more than 9,000 nonprofits in all 50 states.

As we countdown to Valley Gives Day in May and our 25th anniversary, the Community Foundation will offer tips and resources to help strengthen and grow nonprofits up and down the Valley. We look forward to working with you as we head into our next quarter century.

David Bigda Memorial Fund Established
Born and raised in Chicopee, David Bigda lived all his life in western Massachusetts, with the exception of the time he spent pursuing college unnamedand graduate studies. When he passed away last year at the age of 81, he bequeathed a portion of his estate to the Community Foundation for the purpose of starting the David Bigda Memorial Fund, which will support organizations he cared about, specifically the WFCR Foundation and the WGBH Foundation.

An elementary school librarian, David enjoyed working with kids during his career and in retirement, and he loved spending time with his grandchildren. His family remembers him being at his happiest during the 20 or so years he spent living in Greenfield where he enjoyed “making the rounds at his favorite diners and grocery store eateries.”

David was also very involved with the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Greenfield. His designated fund at the Foundation is a demonstration of his generosity and fondness for his community. We at the Foundation are humbled, once again, by the spirit of giving so prevalent here in the Pioneer Valley, and we are honored to help carry out David’s legacy.

Thank you for your interest in the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. If you would like to learn more please join our mailing list.