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Replacing a blue blazer with a white vest with a red “W” and grabbing a pair of home-made pom-poms, the executive director of The Community Foundation of Shelby County says the best advice she has for members of the Wapakoneta Area Community Foundation (WACF) is for them to remain cheerleaders of the community.
“What a wonderful community you have, and I enjoy coming through Wapakoneta because you have a wonderful blend of history and newness, just a very clean, tidy community,” The Community Foundation of Shelby County Executive Director Marian Spicer told board members during the WACF annual banquet at The Eagles in Wapakoneta. “When I accepted the invitation to speak, I knew this room would be filled with people who loved their community and who also understand a little bit about the Community Foundation because it is a wonderful vehicle for giving to your own community.
“I see you more as cheerleaders for your community,” she said as she put on the cheerleading outfit to a round of applause. “You want this to be a great place, a place where kids have opportunities — where you support learning, support history, help the less fortunate and provide a place to play.”
She cited the WACF’s 26 scholarship funds in 2012, with some having been in existence for years. The number of scholarships continues to grow. She then asked those in attendance to reflect on the number of lives that have changed because those scholarships are helping high school graduates further their education.
“Your gifts are sending a message that you support the youth of Auglaize County,” Spicer said. “You are also supporting wonderful places in the community like parks, the library and the Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Allen County and Cridersville historical societies.”
She cited scholarships for students involved in showing animals at the Junior Fair, for grants to help baseball, softball and other athletic programs.
Her words were backed by facts presented at the beginning of the meeting by WACF Treasurer John Johnson. Johnson shared WACF funds awarded $49,500 in scholarships for 2012 Wapakoneta High School graduates and the foundation has fund assets in excess of $1.7 million.
Sprinkling in a dash of reality, Spicer said the large foundations from the Motts, the Carnegies, the Rockefellers tend to provide funds for larger, metropolitan areas leaving the smaller communities to fend for themselves.
She shared her belief that the WACF members are answering that challenge.
“I am sure there is much more in your community that needs to be accomplished, so much more work for you to do,” Spicer said. “How do you find out what those things are — look around, drive around, see what is going on, talk to people, listen to people and hear what they are saying about what needs to be done.”
She ended her “pep rally speech” with her view of the future.
“What I see here is a community that pulls together — each gift, each charitable fund adds another asset to rally around,” Spicer said. “So you keep doing your great work, you keep cheering for your community, you have already done great things and you have much to celebrate.”