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We most often think of legacies as something left behind by those who have lived long, productive lives. Sometimes, though, legacies are created by some who are much too young.
Jeff Hayek was a happy 10-year old boy who loved baseball. Not only loved it but lived it as a pitcher and first baseman. He was a smiling, energetic competitor who strived for the big strikeout. And then tragedy struck. Jeff developed complications from a rare blood clot disorder and passed away.
Nicholas Jarvis was nine years old when his life ended unexpectedly from health complications. An easygoing and cheerful boy, he loved nature and the outdoors, animals of the land and in the sea, and science. He wrote about becoming a marine biologist or having a career in forestry or working with wildlife.
Dustin and Courtney Muse were siblings, ages 16 and 13, excelling in school, athletics, music and theatre. Dustin was known for his drive and determination in the sports he played, and Courtney loved dancing, acting, and playing the piano. Their young lives were cut short when they were involved in a car accident.
Nathan Farlow was described as “extraordinary” and “a person of boundless energy and commitment to excellence.” After graduating from college, he was hired by ExxonMobil and relocated to Houston, Texas. He married and was a new father when his life was taken by a drunk driver.
How did the families of Jeff, Nicholas, Dustin, Courtney, and Nathan turn their grief and loss into something that would help others?
Jeff’s family – his parents, Robin and Brian Hayek, and his siblings, Bailey and Evan, established The Jeffrey Hayek Memorial Fund to create and maintain a baseball field in the Urbana area that was greatly needed for youth. Their success in building “Jeffy’s Field” as a memorial to their son and brother captured not only his love of baseball but his love of life that he exhibited so well in his 10 short years.
Mary and Darren Jarvis, Nicholas’ parents, created The Nicolas B. Jarvis Memorial Scholarship Fund to help graduating seniors from Frederick, Urbana, and Tuscarora High Schools who want to study forestry, agriculture, veterinary medicine, marine biology, early childhood education, science, history, or sports medicine. Since 2004, more than 20 students have benefitted from Nicholas’ scholarship.
Dustin and Courtney’s parents, Pam Flickinger and Donald Muse, wanted to help other youth pursue interests that were similar to their children’s. Since 2007, grants from The Dustin and Courtney Muse Memorial Fund have provided college tuition, supported the Monocacy Middle School Chorus and athletic and theatre programs at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, helped faith-based youth groups, and provided athletic scholarships to participate in sports camps or music scholarships for private voice or instrumental lessons to more than 80 students.
The Farlow family – Nathan’s wife Jennifer, parents Arnold and Elizabeth, and siblings Catherine, Daniel, and Elizabeth Joy – also created a scholarship fund to create a legacy in Nathan’s name. Scholarship recipients of The Nathan W. Farlow Memorial Fund for Excellence are active in a faith-based organization and have demonstrated community volunteerism and leadership – all traits that exemplify how Nathan lived his life.
These families have turned tragedy into something positive. Through their loss, they have honored their children, ensured their legacies, and helped hundreds of others be better at doing the things they love to do. The Community Foundation is humbled to be part of helping these families honor their loved one’s lives.
Each year, the dollar amount of grants and scholarships has grown, and this investment into bettering Frederick County and its citizens exceeds $58 million.
Frederick County’s needs are much different now than in 1986. As one of Maryland’s fastest-growing counties, we have and will continue to undergo important demographic and social changes, spurred by our role as a commuter suburb to metropolitan areas.
The Community Foundation is committed to remaining a progressive influence for positive change. This means constantly seeking new and powerful ways to create impact by examining what we’ve been doing and then planning for the future. Our board of trustees has determined we need to be nimble and flexible, and most importantly, proactive to the needs of our community.
We’ve just announced our “Forever Frederick County” campaign. This is an effort to raise $20 million or more to build an unrestricted endowment fund that will provide grants toward Frederick County’s greatest needs now, in the future, and forever.
What do you want Frederick County to look like in 10, 20, and 50 years from now? We don’t know what the greatest needs will be going forward, but through our 2011 and 2018 Frederick County Human Needs Assessment studies, we know what they are now. Even in the short window from 2011 to 2018, needs have changed. The latest study identified supporting families with children, preparing for an aging population, and responding to substance use disorder as the areas of greatest need. We are preparing, with help from the newly created Forever Frederick County endowment initiative, to grant money to programs in these areas. However, we are focused on ensuring that the endowment will grow and provide grants to the needs identified by new studies in the future.
You can help. You can be a part of this movement. You can be an influence for change. You can be a leader by stepping forward to help ensure that Frederick County is forever. Please visit our “Forever Frederick County” web page at www.ForeverFrederickCounty.org and watch our video.
Grantmaking is a large part of the Community Foundation’s role. In FY2019 (July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019), $5 million was invested into our community through grants to local nonprofits, and other organizations such as civic and faith-based groups. Grants are both competitive and designated, meaning that some grants are created through a competitive application process, and other grants are “designated” by the donor specifically to support an organization or cause, and are provided annually. Our ability to do this starts with generous donors who want to make a difference and who use the Community Foundation as their conduit for their charitable giving.
Grantmaking is a process that comes with a variety of rewards and challenges. I recently talked with Dr. Amaris Little, Community Foundation trustee and grant committee chairperson, to get her perspective about our competitive grantmaking. Dr. Little has been a member of the grant committee since 2014 and has served as chairperson since 2017.
Reviewing competitive grant applications is the most complicated part of the process. “We see what great need there is in Frederick County, and we’re challenged to make difficult choices between many compelling grant applications and funding one program or another,” Dr. Little said. “We’re fortunate that our grant committee volunteers have a broad range of experience and expertise, which helps bridge the information gap. In addition, the number of applications increases each year, requesting larger dollar amounts. More organizations than ever before are relying on the Community Foundation for funding, and our board has stepped up and approved money from our reserve funds when needed.”
Our grantmaking process has evolved with the time, Dr. Little says. Technology has brought great advances in software and has helped streamline the review process and rating system dramatically. “The rating system is really important because it helps us answer the question about the request fitting the purpose of the fund providing the money,” she said. “Then, the group discussion and the perspectives shared help the committee determine how much impact a grant supporting one program or another can make for the benefit of the community.”
Our staff constantly reviews the grant process, and I asked Dr. Little what she thinks is unique about our grantmaking. “The Community Foundation has its finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community and what’s coming up. We do our homework so that we can anticipate needs. We’re not stuck in one place doing the same things the same way every year.”
Finally, I asked Dr. Little what advice she would offer for organizations seeking grants, and what she believes that donors should know. “We want to fund great programs, so the content provided in the application is really important. Sometimes that’s all the information we have towards making the decision,” Dr. Little said regarding organizations that apply. “Attend the grant information sessions provided and learn how to make your application stronger.”
“Donors should know that there are many people involved in the grantmaking decision process,” Dr. Little went on to say. “The grant committee members invest a huge amount of time to ensure we make the best decisions and that the Community Foundation is a good steward of their charitable dollars because we all care about what’s happening in our community.”
As a community, we continue to hear about accidents and deaths related to drunk driving. It is especially sobering when you know people who have lost family or friends this way. When a person’s life is cut short, it’s incredibly difficult to find comfort or offer comfort to those left behind. Some people turn their grief into preventative action, so others never experience the same loss.
One example of loss turned into action is The Garrett R. Petronchak Memorial Fund. Garrett lost his life in an alcohol-related accident in 1995. A graduate of Walkersville High School, he was enrolled in his second year at Frederick Community College. His death sent his mother, Peggy Waxter, on a mission to educate others about the dangers of drinking and driving. Her first step was to establish a fund at the Community Foundation for scholarships to graduating high school seniors and grants to nonprofits. The scholarship criteria included that students must be involved in substance dependence prevention programs and grants would support programs relating to the enforcement of underage drinking laws. The fund provides a way to fundraise and accept contributions that are tax-deductible.
Mrs. Waxter decided to organize a community run to raise money for the fund, and The Garrett’s 5K Run was established in 1996. She, along with family and friends, worked tirelessly for ten years to organize the race, with as many as 600 runners participating. Mrs. Waxter also partnered with Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for ten years to talk with high school students throughout the county about drinking and driving. Since 1998, more than 18 scholarships have been presented, totaling more than $35,000 in post-secondary educational support. Also, she shared her story by speaking at Frederick County Victim Impact Panels - a court-mandated requirement when a person was charged with DUI.
Since education is Mrs. Waxter’s focus, she recommends grants to Frederick Community College’s Police Science program to assist those studying law enforcement. Grants have provided books to police cadets enrolled in the program, to ensure they have the most up-to-date material available. GoPro cameras were purchased as additional training tools. In 2016 and 2017, grants to Frederick Community College Foundation supported the purchase of two Drunk Busters Pedal Karts and impairment goggles for the Police Science program. The Maryland State Police and Frederick City Police are using the Karts and goggles for community outreach to let people experience what it is like to drink under the influence and have reached hundreds in the community as a result. Additional grants from the fund in 2018 provided the Maryland State Police with three new Preliminary Breath Testers and other classroom equipment that demonstrates how alcohol affects the body and increases drunk driving risks.
How have these scholarships and grants impacted the community? Mrs. Waxter says she has created awareness of the devastation that impaired driving can cause. The FCPS high school students she spoke with were shocked when she described the horrendous car accident that took Garrett’s life. When presenting a scholarship in Garrett’s name to a student, she makes sure they know about the poor decision Garrett made to ride with an intoxicated driver, and that earning their college degree and being successful is important to her because Garrett would never finish college. She also says the grants have brought the message to a higher level, as the Drunk Buster Kart simulations have reached hundreds of people. “Knowledge is power, and the more information people have about driving under the influence will hopefully save lives,” said Mrs. Waxter.
How often do you meet people now who are born, raised, and live their entire lives in the same place? Frederick County is a place where this phenomenon is not uncommon, but increasingly unlikely as the years pass.
Meredith and Helen Young are two people who spent their entire lives here. In 2009, the year both passed away, they were well into their 90’s. Graduates of Frederick High School, Meredith was employed immediately following graduation by Fredericktown Bank and Trust (now PNC Bank) as a runner. He began learning many of the other bank positions, but his career was interrupted while he served in WWII as a Master Sergeant in the 146th Finance Section of the Army, experiencing both the European and Pacific theatres of war. Meredith returned to the bank following the war, and in 1957, became assistant vice-president. In January 1959, he became the youngest bank president in the City of Frederick, at the age of 46. He was active in the community, including Rotary Club of Frederick, where he became a Paul Harris Fellow; a charter member of the Frederick Jaycees; vice-chairman of the March of Dimes; a member of the board of trustees of Frederick Memorial Hospital; served on the Board of Associates at Hood College; a member of the A.F. & A. Masonic Lodge, receiving a 70-year Masonic pin; and a member of the Francis Scott Key American Legion Post 11. This list is slightly pared down due to limited space!
Helen Brown was hired by Fredericktown Bank and Trust after her graduation from Hood College in 1935. There she met Meredith, and they were married in October 1943. Helen’s bank career lasted 41 years until her retirement in 1978 as vice-president and trust officer. She was community-minded as well, as a life member of the Frederick Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and a 40-year member of the board of directors for the G. Frank Thomas Foundation. Both Helen and Meredith were 65+ year members of Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Youngs were generous with their time and resources and were described by a close friend as having spent much of their lifetime “quietly helping students acquire an education.” They were modest and didn’t want attention or publicity about their good deeds. They recognized the value of education and sought to ensure that studying at the post-secondary level was available.
Meredith was the second of the couple to pass away, and after his death, The W. Meredith S. Young and Helen B. Young Scholarship Fund was established through a bequest to the Community Foundation. Since 2012, more than $260,000 in scholarships have been provided to Frederick County students from the fund. The Youngs also made bequests to Rotary Club of Frederick and the Historical Society of Frederick County. Those organizations decided to create funds through the Community Foundation as a way of ensuring they could fulfill their goals. The Rotary Club of Frederick/W. Meredith S. Young and Helen B. Young Scholarship Fund was created, and since 2012 has provided more than $100,000 in scholarships to area students. The Historical Society created The Meredith and Helen Young Facilities Enhancement and Preservation Fund to support the maintenance and preservation of its buildings. Grants provided since 2012 exceed $125,000.
Meredith and Helen contributed immensely to the quality of life in Frederick County, both professionally and personally, during their lifetime. They continue to have great impact as scholarships will be provided annually, and the history of our county will continue to be preserved because of their foresight. They are a true example of For Good. Forever. For Frederick County.
April is the official month for recognizing the contributions, talents, time, energy, and resourcefulness of the millions of volunteers who contribute in countless ways to society. National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon established it via executive order. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush designated April as National Volunteer Month as part of the 1000 Points of Light Campaign. It’s estimated that 63 million Americans give volunteer hours, which equates to billions of hours and billions of dollars in economic impact.
Today’s column is dedicated to the thousands of volunteers who are giving back in Frederick County. More specifically, it’s dedicated to the hundreds who help the Community Foundation carry out its mission of “For Good. Forever. For Frederick County.”
There are more than 160 people who have served or are currently serving as trustees on the Community Foundation’s board since 1986 when the organization was founded. The average term length is six years, the board meets monthly, attends Community Foundation sponsored events, and represents the Community Foundation at other meetings and functions throughout the county. Every trustee also serves on one or more committees which means additional meetings, preparation, and “homework” to research, review, or follow-up on some aspect of the committee’s work.
Our committees have, as of our FY2018 Committee listing in our annual report, 185 positions, as some people serve on multiple committees. Our largest committee is the Scholarship Committee, where between 80 and 100 people give between 10 and 20 hours each spring to review the more than 1,300 scholarship applications received in March. This is truly a labor of love as each application is reviewed by at least three people in the decision-making process. (Each committee member doesn’t review all 1,300 applications – these are divided up, but some committee members might be reviewing and scoring between 25 and 50 applications.) The Grants Committee, while smaller in number, also contributes countless hours to review grant applications in our impact and strategic grant cycles – another daunting task when the dollar amount of grant requests always exceeds the amount of money available.
Other committees, such as the Development, Governance, Audit, Investment, Human Resources, Marketing, Professional Advisor, Real Estate, Trusts and Estates, and Strategic Planning, require great volunteer power to keep the wheels of the Community Foundation in motion.
There are also volunteers who are not part of a committee. These are the good folks who help stuff envelopes, make phone calls, assist in setting up for events, file name badges, and a whole list of other chores. We are so grateful for this help, as it frees up the staff for other work.
Have you considered adding to your legacy by volunteering? There are many opportunities in Frederick County that can make a difference, from mentoring youth, helping people learn the English language, serving meals to those in need, and much more. Volunteering is powerful – it brings people together for causes they have in common, and studies cite the mental and physical health benefits.
As you consider your volunteer legacy, here’s a message to every Community Foundation volunteer and every volunteer in Frederick County: thank you. Your efforts do not go unnoticed, your passion is contagious, and the impact for good that you create is priceless.
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