Author Archives: Leanna

$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.

National Standards Accreditation Affirms Our Commitment to Excellence

LaGrange County Community Foundation is pleased to announce that we have recently received accreditation with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®. This accreditation, signified by the Seal shown here, indicates that LaGrange County Community Foundation meets the highest standards for philanthropic excellence.

This is a significant accomplishment. When people trust LaGrange County Community Foundation with a charitable bequest, to establish a fund, or set up an annuity, they do it knowing that we have met rigorous standards for donor services, investment management, grantmaking and administration.

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director

We’ve always worked hard to do good, right here in LaGrange County. And we’ll continue to work with you to achieve your charitable goals. National Standards ensures that we have policies in place for financial stability and longevity, affirming our continued commitment to our donors, grantees, and community.

In short: We are a proven place to give.

The process of earning National Standards accreditation is arduous. The program requires community foundations to document our policies for donor services, investments, grantmaking, and administration. Our documentation was reviewed by a community foundation expert from a panel appointed by the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C.

The National Standards accreditation says this house is in order. It is excellent validation of the work we do on behalf of our donors and our community.

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director

With your help, LaGrange County Community Foundation has become a more effective partner for impacting the causes you care about. Thanks for working with us.

LaGrange County Community Foundation was accredited with National Standards in September of 2021.

The Next 30 Years, Donation Matching Program

Since 1991, the LaGrange County Community Foundation has been a charitable partner in LaGrange County, helping connect donors to their charitable dreams and building permanent community funds.

In celebration of the Community Foundation’s 30 years, the Next 30 Years donation matching program will match one-for-one up to $30,000. The time is now, time to be intentional and compassionate, time to invest in your community for the next generation. The Next 30 Years donation matching program will run through December 31, 2021. Gifts of no more than $3,000 will be matched $1 for $1 to existing endowed funds.

A community foundation is a tax-exempt public charity serving thousands of people who share a common interest – improving the quality of life in a geographic region. Individuals, families, businesses and organizations create charitable funds that help meet those local challenges.

Our responsibility is to be a wise steward of the assets entrusted in our care. The Foundation works on behalf of donors who want to do charitable good in LaGrange County

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director

It is simple, choose from the endowment fund list that supports a passion you are interested in. If you are not sure give us a call we love to chat about what our funds support, 260-463-4363.

Domer, Staton receive 2021 Heart of Gold Award

Each year, we are honored to shine the spotlight on volunteerism in LaGrange County. We ask the community to share the stories of people making a difference in our community and honor the volunteers through the Heart of Gold Award.

We received nine nominations for our 12th annual Heart of Gold Award. For the first time in the award’s history, the Community Foundation selected two individuals for the top volunteerism honor: Dean Domer of Wolcottville, and Shanan Staton of Mongo.

We made the surprise announcement at our Annual Meeting on August 31 at the Blue Gate Garden Inn in Shipshewana.

For the past 30 years, Dean has been volunteering for the Little League as a baseball coach, the Lion’s Club Egg Hunt, BBQ, and numerous fundraisers and events. He has served on the LaGrange County Economic Development board, Wolcottville Town Board, the Lakeland School Board, and is a member of the Wolcottville Lions Club. Dean is recognized by youth as he has served as a sports official for decades.

Shanan is an active volunteer in the Mongo and Prairie Heights community. She volunteers for the Mongo Community Development Association, summer parks programs, Stroh Little League, H.O.B.O., the Community Harvest Food Bank, Reason 4 Hope, Mongo UMC Youth Group, NELCC car show, Mongo UMC Food Pantry, and Prairie Heights Athletics and Student Council.

From left are the 2021 Heart of Gold nominees: Lauri Couture, Matt Gingerich, Melissa Bateman, Shanan Staton, Dean Domer, Jamelle Godlewski, Linda Simmons, and Carolyn Hostetler. Not pictured is Brett Bateman.

All nine community volunteers were honored at the Annual Meeting, though, they deserve more than recognition. The time, energy, and commitment each of the nominees put into their volunteer efforts is beyond measurable. We are truly blessed to have such kind-hearted volunteers serving our community.

2021 Heart of Gold Nominees

  • Brett Bateman, Howe
  • Carolyn Hostetler, LaGrange
  • Dean Domer, Wolcottville
  • Jamelle Godlewski, LaGrange
  • Lauri Couture, Shipshewana
  • Linda Simmons, Howe
  • Matt Gingerich, Shipshewana
  • Melissa Bateman, Howe
  • Shanan Staton, Mongo

Each nominee was able to direct a $500 grant to the favorite LaGrange County charity of their choice. The Heart of Gold recipients were given the honor of directing a $1,000 grant toward their favorite charity.

Previous Heart of Gold recipients are Erica Cook, 2020; Richard Yoder, 2019; Larry Strayer, 2018; Kevin Lambright, 2017; Steve Sherck, 2016; Sue Keenan, 2015; Jack Miller, 2014; Randy Packer, 2013; Colton Strawser, 2012; Rhonda Bartlett, 2011; and Dave Clark, 2010.

Finalists announced for LaGrange County’s 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship

Five LaGrange County high school seniors have been named finalists for the 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. The prestigious award goes to an outstanding high school senior in LaGrange County. The 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship including a $900 book stipend per year, for four years to any accredited college or university in Indiana.

Finalists for the award are Lillian Eash of Westview High School, daughter of Cory and Vanessa Eash; Kaylyn Gates of Westview High School, daughter of Marty and Lora Gates; Jackson Minix of Westview High School, son of Douglas and Mary Minix; Isaac Rogers of Westview High School, son of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Rogers, and Lillian Schackow of Lakeland High School, daughter of Jason and Elisa Schackow.

The scholarship is awarded to a well-rounded LaGrange County graduating senior who exemplifies service and leadership in their community, while maintaining a commitment to academics.

The scholarship program is offered each year by the LaGrange County Community Foundation, and other Indiana community foundations across the state to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

After a competitive application process that evaluates academics, community and school activities, leadership, and written essays, the finalists are interviewed by the Foundation’s Lilly Scholarship Advisory Committee. The results of the interview round are combined with the application round to determine the 2022 nominees who will be submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana for final selection of the LaGrange County recipient.

Announcement of the recipient will be made in mid-December. The four remaining finalists will each receive a $1,000 renewable four-year scholarship from the Lambright Leadership Scholarship Fund, established by Kevin and Carrie Lambright in 2013.

To help students with the cost of tuition, donate to a local school’s scholarship fund.

Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship

LaGrange County’s 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship application opens on July 31.  The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program (LECSP) will provide 143 scholarships statewide and one (1) scholarship in LaGrange County.  

LECSP scholarships may be used for otherwise unreimbursed full tuition, required fees, and a special allocation of up to $900 per year.  The special allocation may cover the costs for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university.

2020 Lilly Scholar, Mary Hostetler

The program, administered statewide by Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) and locally in LaGrange County through the LaGrange County Community Foundation, is open to all Indiana residents who:

  • graduate from an accredited Indiana high school by 2022 and receive their diploma no later than June 30, 2022;
  • intend to pursue a full-time baccalaureate course of study at an eligible college or university in Indiana; and
  • meet the criteria specific to their local community foundation.  Students applying in LaGrange County must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0; be a LaGrange County resident; and be graduate from a LaGrange County high school.

Students can learn more about the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship in LaGrange County and apply for this scholarship by visiting Applications must be completed and submitted by Sept. 15, 2021, at 5 p.m. to be considered.

Applications will be evaluated on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • academic achievement
  • demonstrated service to others
  • leadership ability
  • commitment and motivation to succeed
  • employment history
  • extracurricular involvement and essay responses

Two recommendations must also be submitted with the application. A personal interview will assist in determining the scholarship recipient.

Five students will be selected as finalists and be interviewed in October 2021.  Following the interviews, the LaGrange County Community Foundation will nominate one local graduating senior for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship; their name will be submitted to ICI for final approval. The scholarship recipient will be announced in December.

The finalists not selected for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship will receive a $1,000 four-year renewable scholarship from the Lambright Leadership Fund established by Kevin and Carrie Lambright.

Lilly Endowment created LECSP for the 1997 – 1998 school year and has supported the program every year since with tuition grants totaling more than $424 million. Nearly 5,000 Indiana students have received Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships since the program’s inception.

The primary purposes of LECSP are

  1. to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana;
  2. to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and
  3. to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

LaGrange County Community Foundation is again pleased to offer LECSP for its 25th year in LaGrange County.    

We are grateful to be able to offer the LECSP Scholarship to our local students. It opens opportunities for the recipient to attend a school that otherwise might not have been possible. LaGrange County is home to exceptional student scholars who are committed, caring community members. We look forward to recognizing the hearts and minds of our community’s talented young people.

Octavia Yoder, executive director

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

Since 1997, Independent Colleges of Indiana has administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 30 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates. 

Lydia Has the Information

As the LaGrange County Community Foundation’s Marketing Intern, I have been working on fund biographies, putting together the 2020 annual report, the summer newsletter, an intern onboarding packet, and other marketing day-to-day needs.

I have been really enjoying gathering information for the annual report. This year’s report is very special because it is the community foundation’s 30th year anniversary. I have been looking at a lot of the history of the community foundation and that has been my favorite part thus far. I have learned a lot about how the Community Foundation was started and who was there from the beginning.

I think it is super cool learning about the history of the LaGrange Community Foundation especially finding out that my grandma was on a committee back in 1995. 

submitted by Lydia Johnston

$65,000 in Spring Community Impact Awards

The LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded $65,000 in Community Impact Grants to 12 projects and programs benefiting LaGrange County.
Through its Community Impact Grants program, the Foundation aims to support nonprofit needs and provide innovative programs and services in LaGrange County. The 2021 Community Impact Grant spring awards include:
  • Veterans Headstone Project, American Flag Holder Program 19th-21st Century Military Service Project, $3,500;
  • Lagrange County Habitat for Humanity, A Brush With Kindness, $10,000;
  • Science Central, Science 4U Outreach, Interactive Video Conferencing Programs and study trips, $5,000;
  • McMillen Health, Preventive health education for LaGrange County youth, $5,000;
  • Agape Child Care Ministry, Professional development and classroom materials, $2,500;
  • Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, Meat the Need, $1,500;
  • LaGrange County Miracle Tree, Stock the Storage, $2,000;
  • The Farm Place, Inc., Animal companionship supervised visitation center, $20,000;
  • Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Indiana-Kentucky, Hands-free drinking water fountain, $2,000;
  • Brightpoint, Covering Kids and Families of Brightpoint, $5,000;
  • Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope  House, Overnight accommodations for LaGrange families, $5,000; and
  • Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, Client Advocate and Client Services Program for LaGrange County, $3,500.
We will use this generous grant toward the construction of the Animal Companionship Center. Thank you again, we are so very appreciative! Keith James, board member
Each year, the Community Foundation accepts proposals for charitable projects and programs that help local nonprofit organizations provide services to LaGrange County families and individuals. The Grants Advisory Committee reviews the submitted grant applications and makes recommendations to the Board of the Directors who approve the grant awards. For more information on the Community Impact Grant cycle or to apply click here. The Caring Community Fund supports the Community Impact Grants to make a donation click here.

$77,000 in Scholarships to Graduating Seniors

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Community Scholarship Program, which aims to support the educational aspirations of students in LaGrange County.

Eightteen graduating seniors will receive $77,000 in scholarships.

Lakeland Seniors, (left to right) Tatum Retterbush, Madison Keli, Elizabeth Jennings and Catelyn McNamara

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

We look forward to awarding scholarships to high school seniors each year, and it’s exciting to be making these awards in person again. These scholarships recognize the accomplishments the students have achieved in the last four years.

Executive Director, Octavia Yoder

2021 scholarship recipients, listed by schools, are as follows:

Lakeland Jr. Sr. High School scholarship recipients:

  • Catelyn McNamara – Wolcott Mills Bulldog Boosters Scholarship;
  • Elizabeth Jennings – Ray & Ruth Culp Memorial Scholarship, Bruce Brown Memorial Scholarship;
  • Madison Keil – HOPE Nursing Scholarship, Lakeland Scholarship, Judy Gage-Keenan Memorial Scholarship, Olivia Bay Lemings Memorial Scholarship, Paul & Marian Krebs Scholarship, Virgil & Florence Hardin Memorial Scholarship; and
  • Tatum Retterbush – Schlemmer Scholarship, Waddell Memorial Scholarship.

Prairie Heights High School scholarship recipients:

  • Abigail Hantz – Craig D. & Ronda Neff Memorial Scholarship, Ellsworth Fanning Memorial Scholarship, Kevin Lewis Purdue Ag Scholarship, Ned Stump Memorial Scholarship;
  • Amelia Johnston – Craig D. & Ronda Neff Memorial Scholarship, Holly Petersen Memorial Science Scholarship, Joseph Willard Memorial Scholarship, Melvin & Marjorie Bricker Memorial Scholarship, Prairie Heights Scholarship, Lambright Leadership Scholarship;
  • Collin Keeslar – Ellsworth Fanning Memorial Scholarship, LaGrange County Farm Bureau Co-Op Scholarship, Stan Anderson Memorial Golf Scholarship;
  • Haylee Henderson – Holly Petersen Memorial Science Scholarship, Prairie Heights Scholarship;
  • Kiana Allshouse – Peggy Messer Memorial Scholarship;
  • Madelyn Wylie – Amanda Lou Crotts Memorial Scholarship, Beverly Todd Memorial Scholarship, Perkins Family Scholarship, Prairie Heights Band Scholarship, Prairie Heights Scholarship; and
  • Raegan Moore – Prairie Heights Scholarship.

Westview Jr. Sr. High School scholarship recipients:

  • Alexis Miller – Kerry Wilt-Spradlin Memorial Scholarship, Lambright Leadership Scholarship;
  • Ava Miller – Allread-Rife Scholarship, Morgan Hunter Memorial Scholarship;
  • Hallie Mast – Lambright Leadership Scholarship;
  • Nicole Miller – Allread-Rife Scholarship, Farmwald Scholarship, James F. Kalb Memorial Scholarship, Keith & Arline Davis Memorial Scholarship, Melvin & Marjorie Bricker Memorial Scholarship;
  • Nicole Stutzman – Rheinheimer Scholarship;
  • Timothy Brandenberger – Rheinheimer Scholarship; and
  • William Clark – LIFE Scholarship, Lyle Smith Scholarship, Lambright Leadership Scholarship.

If you would like to donate to the Community Scholarship Program:

Summer Intern – Lydia

Hi, I am Lydia Johnston and I grew up right outside of LaGrange with my parents and sister. I graduated from Prairie Heights High School in 2018. This coming fall I will be a senior at Purdue University, studying Agribusiness Management.

While on Purdue’s campus, I enjoy spending time with sisters from Twin Pines Cooperative, attending football and basketball games and playing intramural sports.

During my free time, I enjoy coaching an 8U girls’ softball team, hanging out with friends and family, kayaking the Pigeon River and driving down backroads in my younger sister’s Jeep.

I cannot wait to learn more about the mission and role of the Community Foundation in LaGrange County. I am so excited to be able to work with Octavia, Leanna, and Laurie!