CRYSTAL LAKE – One of the foremost priorities for the McHenry County Community Foundation is to help residents realize that it exists.
To that end, the foundation outlined a list of projects and delivered several announcements at a news conference Tuesday, including a partnership with the Chicago Community Trust and a commitment to veterans services.
“A very big priority for us this year is raising the awareness of who we are,” said Robin Doeden, executive director of the McHenry County Community Foundation. “It’s very clear to us that people in McHenry County don’t necessarily know that we exist or what we can offer.”
One step toward broadening awareness for the foundation is becoming an affiliate of the Chicago Community Trust, Doeden announced Tuesday. The Chicago Community Trust is the oldest community foundation in Illinois and serves the Chicago metropolitan area.
“The Chicago Community Trust can help strengthen the community foundation’s expertise and knowledge in philanthropy,” said Rick Schildgen, board chairman of the McHenry County Community Foundation. “Together we will all work with the trust to improve the quality of life throughout the region.”
The foundation offers community services such as a Cancer Survivorship Handbook, which is designed to answer questions for McHenry County residents who are dealing with cancer.
But if area residents do know of the 13-year-old foundation, they’ve probably heard of it in the context of giving away money, Doeden said.
“That seems to be what everyone knows us as,” she said. “[We are] the organization that gives money away, and that is absolutely going to happen again this year.”
The foundation announced that it will give away close to $600,000 during its 2013-14 grant cycle, up from $450,000 last year. In June, the grants committee will be recommending 57 organizations to receive grants.
Each year, the foundation selects one area of interest as a top priority. This year, the board has elected veterans services. The board plans to have a roundtable discussion with people already focused on veterans issues and examine how to further provide services to those in need.
“We’re going to talk about what services are currently being provided,” Doeden said. “Where are the gaps? Where is there overlap? What are things that we might be able to do to streamline services?”
The McHenry County Community Foundation also said it has launched a water well sealing rebate program, which will provide up to $500 per well for residents in need of the service. Abandoned wells must be sealed after 30 days of abandonment, according to the Illinois water well construction code, and can cost upward of $1,500.
Doeden hopes the increase in initiatives will raise awareness – and ultimately raise donations – for the foundation.
“The more money we can bring into the foundation, the more money is available to help the community and helps the projects, the organizations and the people that we care about,” she said.
More information on the McHenry County Community Foundation can be found at www.mccfdn.org.