The Community Foundation of Greater Rochester is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year as the center for philanthropy and endowed funds in the area.
"The Community Foundation started with just a few people who wanted to give back and make a difference," said Mary Ann Reidinger, the organization's first executive director. "That is what our wonderful community is all about. That's what makes it so special. My hope is that more people will step up and partner with the Community Foundation to leave their legacy in this wonderful community where we've grown up and raised our families."
Reidinger said the foundation grew out of a group of retired Rochester Community Schools' teachers who wanted to leave a legacy for the students that would remain after they were gone. “The first funds in the Community Foundation were for a scholarship fund. We began to manage that endowment, making sure that we could do the most with those funds for the community," she said.
The small fund evolved as others saw a benefit to the foundation's ability to manage and distribute funds. Organizations, including the Lions Club and Kiwanis Club, were some of the first to partner with the Community Foundation.
The Community Foundation is designed to be the community's resource for endowment and grant making. It currently manages more than 150 funds, making it possible for non-profit organizations to maximize their work, and ensuring community donations are managed soundly. It's also a foundation of support for many community projects.
For instance, the foundation has been a partner with nearly every major project at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm, said Pat McKay, manager of the museum.
"The foundation was part of our fundraising efforts to support the adaptive reuse of the Dairy Barn and Calf Barn," he said. "The foundation also provided us with seed funding to replace the roof on the Bull Barn and Milk House, and they provided us with the technical knowledge and professional expertise that allowed us to accept philanthropic support and to be successful."
As the Community Foundation celebrates its 35th Anniversary, it will be sharing 35 stories of community impact.
"The Community Foundation is such a unique piece of this community," current Community Foundation of Greater Rochester Executive Director Jo Allen said. "Organizations and individuals in this community play an amazing lead role in giving back. We get to be the supporting actor, ensuring they have what they need to manage their fundraising and legacy planning efforts."