BROOKVILLE – "We've been here 20 years!" announced Franklin County Community Foundation executive director Shelly Lunsford to about 40 well-wishers at the annual open house Dec. 5.

"I've been here 13 of those 20 ... it's just amazing to me what we've been able to accomplish in that time."

"We've just been approved to receive $500,000 in matching funds as part of another Lilly Endowment GIFT (Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow) initiative. The board of directors and myself are still learning about this program and its rules and restrictions, so stay tuned as we figure out how the matching funds will be used."

She reported, "We also received news throughout the year that we were named partial beneficiary of four different estates and just learned recently that we are sole beneficiary of another large estate. It is such an honor and very humbling to know that people think highly enough of our organization to put us in their estate plans."

Two new endowment funds have been established since the last fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2017, bringing the total to 138, according to Lunsford.

The Claudine Rader Scholarship for Outstanding Citizens created by her family will help a Franklin County High School graduate with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The recipient must have at least 50 volunteer or community service hours during the year prior to applying and must write a one-page essay describing efforts to improve the community.

The Dallas Nobbe Memorial Endowment was founded to help families who have lost a dependent child with funeral expenses.

Other achievements: "We awarded another Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. We gave 103 FCCF scholarships from our endowed funds during the year. Scholarships were awarded to students at Batesville High School, Franklin County High School, Oldenburg Academy and St. Michael School as well as to current college students and adults continuing their education.

"We also awarded 76 FCCF grants from our endowed funds. All totalled, since we began in 1998, we have awarded almost $6.7 million in grants, scholarships and Lilly scholarships locally!"

Lunsford was particularly thrilled to start a new youth in philanthropy program called Learn. Lead. Lift. She explained, "We awarded a $250 grant to each of our county schools – Brookville Elementary, Laurel, Mount Carmel, St. Michael, Franklin County Middle School and Franklin County High School. The students could coordinate fundraisers of their own to add to the grant money and do something to improve the community."

"It's never too early to get our youth involved in philanthropy," the executive director believed. The program also helped students acquire skills: decision making, teamwork, time management relationship building, communication and personal giving.

Mount Carmel kids asked businesses to sponsor $20 backpacks for kindergartners. In exchange, they did chores for the sponsors, ranging from dog sitting and scraping wallpaper to cleaning chicken coops. FCHS teens provided a meal to Student Council Yard Sale attendees. Brookville Elementary School students had a “penny war” as a moneymaker for the Franklin County Humane Society, raising $1,663. Laurel School kids had a Cutest Pet Contest. Students voted for their favorite pets with change, collecting $847 for the Franklin County Animal Shelter. St. Michael School students hosted a charity walk to raise money for Indiana Women In Need (IWIN), which supports individuals statewide receiving breast cancer treatments.

Of the program, she said, "I love this .... I want to do it again this year."

For 16 years, foundation officials have been taking eighth-graders on a college visit as part of an early outreach program. Last year, more than 250 students toured Miami University for "A Taste of College." In addition, the foundation hosted a fourth annual college fair in Brookville along with the county's College Success Coalition and FCHS guidance counselors.

At the open house, the director gave an overview about foundation finances. "There was a little bit of a deficit this year," due to the former Goldfinch restaurant (now Skyline Chili) sale, which ultimately was FCCF income. Income from Sept. 1, 2017-Aug. 31, 2018, was $451,621, she reported. After expenses of $477,799, FCCF had a net loss of $26,178. Net assets total $5.07 million.

Close to 100 attended the annual Legacy Social recently to thank those who have been instrumental in establishing endowments within the foundation. As they enjoyed appetizers, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Clay Kellerman revealed facts about the true "Head and Hands Murder" case. A play to be presented in Brookville is in the works.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

FCCF details

• Over the past year, the foundation board, which meets monthly, was led by President Linda Rosenberger, Brookville; Vice President Chad Mears, Brookville; Treasurer Jake Linkel, Batesville; and Secretary Rhonda Hofer, Brookville. Other board members include Molly Brier, Carrie Gillman, Paul Moster, Mark Oglesby, John Seale, Andrea White and Patti Wilhelm, Brookville; Rhonda Kerr, Cedar Grove; Laura Frondorf and Andy Schultz, West Harrison; and Dr. Michael Fain, Oxford, Ohio.

• The director and office manager Jackie Harvey are at the office, 527 Main St., Brookville, Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. On Fridays a volunteer is there from 9 a.m.-noon.

• The 2018 annual report has been mailed. Persons not on the mailing list who would like to receive copies and also periodic updates may e-mail requests to fcfoundation@yahoo.com or call 765-647-6810. Additional copies may be picked up at the FCCF office.

• More information is available at www.franklincountyindiana.com.