Author Archives: Leanna

Community Foundation Awards $47,500 in Community Impact Grants

The LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded $47,500 to four nonprofit organizations during its 2022 Spring Community Impact Grants cycle.

The grants will address community needs in education and health and human services. One of the grants will support the development of the Community Health Clinic in Shipshewana. The Community Health Clinic is a nonprofit healthcare facility that focuses on research and specialized care for individuals with rare genetic conditions.

Pictures above left to right: Jared Beasley, Executive Director of the Community Health Clinic; Octavia Yoder, Executive Director of the LaGrange County Community Foundation; Dr. Zineb Ammous, Clinical Geneticist and Medical Director of the Community Health Clinic.

We are excited to support the Community Health Clinic’s new facility. The expanded clinic will help their organization provide better services to their patients and continue to serve the community with comprehensive medical genetics care. All of the nonprofits are providing important services and programs to the LaGrange County community. We are thrilled to support their efforts as they seek to improve the quality of life and help meet critical community needs.

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director of LaGrange County Community Foundation

The 2022 Spring Community Impact Grant recipients include:

  • Community Health Clinic, Community Health Clinic Building, $40,000.
  • RespectTeam, RespectTeam programming for LaGrange County, $3,000.
  • McMillen Health, Preventative Health Education for LaGrange County youth, $2,500.
  • LaGrange County Miracle Tree, Turn Up for Teens, $2,000.

Each year, the Community Foundation seeks proposals for charitable projects and programs that help local nonprofit organizations provide services in LaGrange County. The Grants Advisory Committee reviews the submitted grant applications and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors who approve the grant awards.

The Community Impact Grants are made possible by the generosity of donors who give to the unrestricted and field of interest funds at the Foundation.

Meet Chelsea Weaver our Summer Intern

Hello! I’m Chelsea Weaver, and I’ve been a resident of LaGrange County for twenty years. I graduated from Westview High School in 2020. I studied Elementary Education at Trine University for two semesters before transferring to Western Governors University. I anticipate graduating in November of 2022.

Since Western Governors University is an online school, I had the opportunity to work at Shipshewana Scott Elementary as an intervention assistant. There, I was able to see how my coursework plays out in a real setting. When I am not focusing on my studies or working, I enjoy walking my corgi, molding pottery on my pottery wheel, and hanging out with my friends and family.

I look forward to learning how LaGrange County Community Foundation works with organizations to impact the future of LaGrange County!

Community Foundation awards $99,500 to graduating seniors

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Community Scholarship Program, which aims to support the educational aspirations of students in LaGrange County.

Through the program, the Community Foundation awarded $99,500 in scholarships to 23 graduating seniors.

The Community Scholarships are open to graduating high school seniors who are pursuing higher education at an accredited university, college, or trade school. The program has grown to 45 donor-created scholarship funds, each with its own unique criteria. Funds are created by individuals, families and businesses and are managed by the Community Foundation.

The scholarship funds support a variety of career paths such as education, agriculture, health, science, nursing, and more.    

Scholarship recipients, listed by schools, are as follows:

Lakeland High School scholarship recipients

  • Brooklynn Olinger – Allread Rife Family Scholarship; Bruce Brown Memorial Scholarship; Lakeland High School Scholarship and Mary McGawn Memorial Teaching Scholarship.
  • Cole Schiffli – Chase Scott Memorial Football Scholarship; and Joseph Willard Memorial Scholarship.
  • Isabella Rasler – Schlemmer Scholarship.
  • Jason McBride Jr. – Terry Schmidt Memorial Basketball Scholarship.
  • Keylee Fleeman – Brian Evans Memorial Scholarship and Craig & Ronda Neff Memorial Scholarship.
  • Lucile Cook – Mattea Holton Memorial Scholarship and The Bulldog Spirit Scholarship.
  • Madi Targgart – Judy Gage-Keenan Memorial Scholarship and Waddell Memorial Scholarship.
  • Pilar Canedo – Olivia Bay Lemings Memorial Basketball Scholarship and the Paul & Marian Krebs Memorial Scholarship.

Prairie Heights High School scholarship recipients

  • Alexandra German – Prairie Heights High School Scholarship.
  • Breanda Sutton – Prairie Heights High School Band Scholarship
  • Colton Penick – Prairie Heights High School Scholarship and the J. O. Mory Company Scholarship.
  • Jaden Soller – Prairie Heights High School Scholarship and the Mory Family Scholarship.
  • Katelyn Eash – The Craig & Ronda Neff Memorial Scholarship; Virgil & Florence Hardin Memorial Scholarship; The HOPE Nursing Scholarship; the Perkins Family Scholarship and the Ray & Ruth Culp Memorial Scholarship.
  • Kirsten Norton – The Beverly Todd Memorial Scholarship.
  • Samarah Orr – The Allread-Rife Family Scholarship, Amanda Crotts Memorial Scholarship and the Prairie Heights High School Scholarship.

Westview High School scholarship recipients

  • Allie Springer – Kerry Wilt-Spradlin Memorial Scholarship.
  • Bohdy Bontrager – Ellsworth Fanning Memorial Scholarship and the Rheinheimer Family Scholarship.
  • Brookelyn Lambright – The Rheinheimer Family Scholarship.
  • Isaac Rogers – Lambright Leadership Scholarship, the Mike Farmwald Scholarship and the George O. Witwer News-Sun Journalism Scholarship.
  • Jackson Minix – Lambright Leadership Scholarship, the Melvin & Marjorie Bricker Memorial Scholarship.
  • Kaylyn Gates – Lambright Leadership Scholarship, the Lyle Smith Scholarship.
  • Lillian Eash – Lambright Leadership Scholarship, Holly Petersen Memorial Science Scholarship, the James Kalb Memorial Scholarship, the Keith & Arline Davis Scholarship, the LIFE Scholarship, the Melvin & Marjorie Bricker Memorial Scholarship and the Ned Stump Memorial Scholarship.
  • Penelope Eash – The Morgan Hunter Memorial Scholarship.

Anyone can give to current scholarship funds. For more information check out the List of Scholarships or call us at 260-463-4363.

Leadership LaGrange County class honors local heroes with banner project

Local heroes will be honored through banners placed throughout the town of Lagrange in a project led by the inaugural 2021 Leadership LaGrange County class. This community action project will build pride by highlighting the contributions of those who have served our country and community.

Leadership LaGrange County is a program of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation. Participants attended leadership sessions aimed to train and prepare them for community engagement, economic development, and economic growth. Upon the completion of the sessions, the group was challenged to brainstorm and implement a community project. LaGrange County Hometown Heroes is supported by a $2,000 grant from the Community Foundation.

The LaGrange County Hometown Heroes banner program will make banners available for purchase that honor LaGrange County heroes including current and former military, first responders, law enforcement, and conscientious objectors. The banners will be placed in town and will hang for one year. To honor an individual, applications can be picked up at the Community Foundation, LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation, LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce, LaGrange Library, LaGrange County Planning Commission, LaGrange County Veterans Affairs Office, American Legion, and the LaGrange Town Hall.

Completed applications along with a $100* fee must be submitted by June 14, 2022, and sent to the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation, 304 North Townline Road Suite 2, LaGrange, IN 46761.

For more information email hometownheroes.lagrange@gmail.com. Be sure to follow the story on Facebook at: LaGrange Hometown Heroes.

Want to support the Hometown Heroes program? Gifts to the LaGrange County Hometown Heroes Fund is fully tax-deductible, simply write “Hometown Heroes” in the memo line of your check to the LaGrange County Community Foundation. 

*Please make checks out to LaGrange County Community Foundation with Hometown Heroes Banners in the memo line. The $100 non-refundable fee covers the cost of the banner.

LIFE: Youth Philanthropy in Action

The LIFE program is a youth philanthropy group supported by the LaGrange County Community Foundation. LIFE provides an opportunity for young people to gain experience in community service and charitable giving. The students provide oversight to funds held at the Community Foundation. This school year LIFE offered two grant cycles awarding $11,926 to youth-serving organizations and school projects. For the complete list of LIFE grants click here.

We began our community service projects in November, serving lunch to the elderly at the LaGrange County Council on Aging.

In December students adopted a family for Christmas through LaGrange County Miracle Tree, providing funds from their own pockets as well as Community Foundation funds to support a child in need. In the spirit of Christmas, members also passed out cookies and provided in-person thank you to Sheriff’s department and local police departments.

In March the students attended Dekko Foundation’s Philpressionism, a youth pod retreat, in Kendallville. The retreat lasted two days and was packed full of community service ideas, leadership, and relationship building. They also performed a skit detailing what LIFE is.

As our LIFE program comes to an end for this school year we are headed to Miller’s Merry Manor to clean up their courtyard.

Our last meeting in May will be the retreat, where we will spend some time reflecting, team bonding, and participating in one last community service project, picking up trash along the Pigeon River as we kayak.

As we look ahead to the 2022-2023 school year, we will continue encouraging philanthropy in our community through LaGrange County youth.

For more information about LIFE, please visit, https://www.lccf.net/life.

Generosity, Leadership, Service

Community Foundation approves three-year strategic plan

We are pleased to introduce the next 3-year strategic plan for the LaGrange County Community Foundation. The LaGrange County Community Foundation Board of Directors and Foundation staff have worked together over several months to develop this plan.

With the assistance of Jen Pendleton from Aly Sterling Philanthropy, we hosted focus groups with LaGrange County nonprofit directors and community leaders, and surveyed key stakeholders, including donors, board members, nonprofits, community partners and volunteers in October of 2021.

Our Board of Directors and staff listened to the feedback and ideas from those conversations at our annual Board Retreat in November. We challenged ourselves to be open to new ideas, to strive for excellence, and to listen to community needs. After several months of evaluating our goals and initiatives, our Board of Directors approved the strategic plan in February 2022.

The Foundation identified four strategic areas that will guide the core of our work: Asset Development, Community Catalyst, Leadership and Strengthen Nonprofits.

  • Asset Development – We will proactively raise funds to increase impact around community needs. By expanding our outreach efforts, we seek to grow funds and engage new donors in supporting charitable purposes and community needs in LaGrange County.
  • Community Catalyst – We will define and develop the Foundation’s role as a community leader. Staying to true to our mission as a grantmaker, we seek to find additional opportunities for collaborative solutions and partnerships around our community’s greatest needs.
  • Leadership – We will foster, recruit, and retain people, resources, and knowledge to excel in our mission. By creating a leadership pipeline in the Foundation’s board and staff, we will broaden the Foundation’s ability to meet community needs and be more effective and efficient in our work.
  • Strengthen Nonprofits – We will align Foundation grant and education opportunities with nonprofit needs. By providing more resources to our local nonprofit community, we seek to build up their organizational sustainability and capacity to do more good work.

We will carry out these areas of focus by following the Foundation’s mission statement: To inspire and sustain generosity, leadership and service in LaGrange County.

We are guided by our core values: approachable, caring, catalyst, connector, empowering, trusted.

We will keep our eyes on helping generous people make a difference in LaGrange County and continue to support initiatives in LaGrange County that promote a better quality of life for all.

New scholarship fund honors longtime Westview teacher

Jean Seagly Crouse Memorial Scholarship Fund

Jean was an advocate for education, teaching for Westview School Corporation for 25 years. She had a passion for children and taught fifth grade at Topeka Elementary, retiring in 1988.

Jean was deeply rooted in Topeka, serving as a member of the Topeka United Methodist Church since 1950 and the United Methodist Women of the church, holding many offices and positions in both. She was a homemaker, Sunday school teacher, and Girl Scout leader. Jean received the Thanks Award for her 10 years of service in Scouting.

She enjoyed history and education, serving as a member of the Topeka Area Historical Society as Vice President. It was clear Jean had a passion for education and community.

The Jean Seagly Crouse Memorial Scholarship Fund will support a LaGrange County high school senior pursuing a degree in education. The scholarship fund will begin to accept applications in the fall of 2023.

Fund sparks LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition

A new fund at the LaGrange County Community Foundation will support community efforts to improve access to early learning and childcare in LaGrange County.

The LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition Fund will support efforts underway to improve early childhood education in LaGrange County. Early learning supports the need for childcare and access to quality care, for infants, toddlers, and young children.

In 2020, Parkview LaGrange spearheaded efforts to discuss childcare needs in the community with community leaders and businesses, leading to the formation of the LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition.

The coalition includes representatives from Farmers State Bank, LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce, Parkview LaGrange, Agape Childcare Ministry, Rainbow Years Learning Ministry, LaGrange County Community Foundation, LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., LaGrange County REMC, Lakeland School Corporation, and other community leaders.

The coalition is focused on improving access to care and understanding the needs around childcare and early learning opportunities for parents, providers, and businesses.

Parkview LaGrange contributed $10,000 to launch the LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition fund. The fund will support the coalition’s efforts to improve access to childcare and allows fundraising efforts to begin.

The LaGrange County Early Coalition will address these primary goals with the fund:

  • Conduct a feasibility study to determine the needs in LaGrange County for childcare and early learning facilities;
  • To acquire a facility to start a childcare and early learning program; and
  • To hire staff to run the facility and classrooms.

The LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition is dedicated to improving early learning in LaGrange County. We are excited to create this fund to support the needs around early learning and childcare.

Christina Blaskie, coordinator of the LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition.

To donate to the LaGrange County Early Learning Coalition Fund, visit lccf.net/donate.

Historic Gift from Howe School

LaGrange County Community Foundation received a $2.5 million gift from Howe School Board of Trustees to establish two endowments in honor of the school’s legacy.

Howe Military School Board of Trustee President Phil Malone signs an agreement establishing two endowment funds in honor of the school and donating $2.5 million to the LaGrange County Community Foundation. Looking on is Foundation Executive Director Octavia Yoder. In back, from left, are Howe Board Trustee Eleni Mitropoulous, Howe Board Treasurer Dave Houser, Howe Vice Chairman Bob Fanning, Howe Military School Superintendent Thurston Jones, and Foundation Board President Neal Wolheter.

The gift comes from the sale of the Howe Military campus after the school’s closing in 2019 – it is the largest contribution in the Foundation’s history.

Following the sale of the campus, the Howe Board of Trustees sought an opportunity to use the remaining funds to enhance the community of Howe and provide educational scholarships.

The Trustees began working with the Foundation in 2019 to identify their plans and the scope of how their charitable gift should be permanently managed. They settled on creating two endowments: the Howe Legacy Fund – a community grantmaking fund and the Howe Legacy Scholarship Fund – a scholarship fund for college, trade, or vocational education.    

The Howe Legacy Fund will support community development efforts in Howe and LaGrange County, with a significant priority on charitable projects and nonprofits in the Howe community. The Foundation will establish a committee of Howe community members who will be responsible for reviewing applications to the fund and making recommendations on philanthropic investments to the Foundation Board of Directors.

The second endowment – the Howe Legacy Scholarship Fund – will provide scholarships to the descendants of Howe School graduates and LaGrange County students pursuing post-secondary education. The core mission of Howe was education, and it resonated with the Board to carry on that vision.

It was important to us to continue the legacy of Howe School; we partnered with the Community Foundation because they understand the size and impact of this gift and could help us realize its mission.

Phil Malone, Howe School Board President

The Foundation anticipates both program funds will begin accepting applications in 2024 and make its first distributions that same year. The establishing gift will be endowed and protected; only the investment earnings will be distributed, ensuring the community and scholarship fund will have continual funding available.  

Howe Military Academy was founded in 1884 as the Howe Grammar School with a bequest by John Badlam Howe, a prominent banker, lawyer, and politician, who moved to Howe in 1833. His widow, Frances Marie Glidden Howe, took the $10,000 bequest left by John Howe, and with the help of the Episcopal church, established it as a preparatory school for young men seeking ordination in the church. The school opened in the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Howe, a Greek revival building still standing at the east end of the former campus.

The school became a military school in 1895. At its peak, Howe Military School enrollment was 458 in 1966-1967. As the climate in the world changed so did the attitude towards military prep schools, enrollment began to decline. The continuing enrollment decline and aging campus produced annual operating deficits that eventually consumed assets. The school closed in 2019, ending its remarkable 135-year history in Howe. 

We are honored to be able to offer community grants to historic Howe and provide educational scholarships to students seeking higher education. It was bittersweet for Howe School to close, and we plan to honor the legacy of the school and the vision of the school’s initial founders – John and Frances Howe – in using these funds to enhance the community of Howe and provide educational opportunities.

Octavia Yoder, Community Foundation Executive Director

$78,438 awarded in Fall Community Impact Grants

The LaGrange County Community Foundation presents a grant for $40,000 to LaGrange County Trails on Nov. 11. In front, from left are Octavia Yoder; LaGrange County Community Foundation Executive Director; Sherryl Rhinesmith, Vice President, LaGrange County Trails; Beth Thornburg, Secretary, LaGrange County Trails, and Fritz Helmuth, Board Member, LaGrange County Trails. In back, from left, are Jeff Wingstrom, President, LaGrange County Trails; and Bradd Giggy, Board Member, LaGrange County Trails.
The LaGrange County Community Foundation presents a grant for $13,000 to the Stroh Volunteer Fire Department on Nov. 16 to update its technology for volunteer training and field reporting. From left are Blaine Williams, Stroh Volunteer Fire Department; Mandy Williams, Stroh Volunteer Fire Department; Octavia Yoder, LaGrange County Community Foundation Executive Director; and Tyler Terry, Chief, Stroh Volunteer Fire Department.

The Community Foundation awarded $78,439 to seven nonprofits during its 2021 Fall Community Impact Grants cycle.

The grants will address community needs in recreation, education and health and human services.

“Some of the grants will support the development of the recreational Hawpatch Trail in Topeka, training and technology equipment for the Stroh Fire Department and the development of baseball and softball fields at Spreuer Park in LaGrange,” said Octavia Yoder, Executive Director.

“All of the nonprofits are providing important services and programs to the LaGrange County community. We are thrilled to support their efforts as they seek to improve the quality of life and help meet critical community needs,” Yoder added.

The 2021 Fall Community Impact Grant recipients include:

  • LaGrange County Trails Inc., The Hawpatch Trail, development of the trail, $40,000;
  • Stroh Volunteer Fire Department, Audio Video Technology Advancement, update technology including conferencing equipment and computers for ease of filing reports and access to virtual training and conferences, $13,000;
  • LaGrange Baseball League Inc., Spreuer Park Development, construction of baseball and softball fields at Spreuer Park, $10,000;
  • LaGrange County Department of Parks & Recreation, Delt Church Park Playground equipment, replacement of two current playground pieces, $7,439;
  • Junior Achievement of LaGrange County, Junior Achievement Capstone Experiences, sending Lakeland and Westview students to participate in JA Biztown and Finance Park, education on financial literacy, community, economy, and business management, $5,000;
  • Kate’s Kart, Book distribution at Parkview LaGrange Hospital, provides new books to patients in all areas of the hospital, $1,500; and
  • Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, LaGrange County Farm Wagon Mobile Pantry Program, serving families with fresh produce, dairy products and other healthy foods at no cost, $1,500.

Each year, the Community Foundation seeks proposals for charitable projects and programs that help local nonprofit organizations provide services in LaGrange County. The Grants Advisory Committee reviews the submitted grant applications and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors who approve the grant awards.

The Community Impact Grants are made possible by the generosity of donors who give to the unrestricted and field of interest funds at the Foundation.