GREENSBURG – Hello, all my hunkered down friends!

I’ve started several columns, but I have a problem. When I write, it usually reflects how I’m feeling at the moment, and I’ve been worried about so many of you and what you’re going through. I feel guilty because I’m trying to pray for everyone that I know that needs it. It isn’t just COVID. So many people have things going on that I can’t imagine having to deal with. And then you throw the virus in on top of that! So, I’m going to work at being upbeat because we have enough negative around us.

First, I am now thoroughly convinced that I work at the best place ever. Times like these are what community foundations were created for. Even though no one saw this thing coming, my board has worked hard to help meet needs within the guidelines of how we were created to operate. Those of you in the community who have chosen to donate to the foundation throughout the years should be proud because you’re the reason we are able to do what we do.

Because of your trust in us, we were able to quickly put $25,000 back out into the community weeks ago. Grants to Meals on Wheels, Gleaners and Human Services helped increase the amount of necessities that those agencies were able to provide. There are several mask-making ladies out there who we’ve been able to donate fabric and elastic to, helping ensure that whoever needs masks will be able to have access while saving the official PPE for those on the front lines of this.

We can’t say enough about First Financial Foundation directing $30,000 dollars into our Disaster Relief Fund. Their donation came quickly enough that we could give $9,000 to help the Decatur County Community Schools get a network of hotspots deployed throughout the county to help students have better access to much-needed reliable internet to do their homework – and giving parents a much shorter commute to get to a hotspot. Kudos to First Financial for the much-appreciated donation and to Decatur County Community Schools for reacting so quickly to help make access a bit more convenient for our rural families.

In addition to First Financial’s donation to start our fund, Decatur County Community Foundation put up $20,000 to use as match money with every donation earning a dollar-for-dollar match. If you want to help do something to make a difference during this crisis in your own community, this is the best way to get it done. Every dime that comes into this fund is going back out into the community. We’ve stepped way outside the box on how we do business and have created a way to help, even though it seems small, our local small businesses. We’ve been able to help with some rent payments for small businesses as well as some utilities to help them get through while waiting on funding from the government to kick in and help. The heartbreaking part is that we can’t pay it all for everyone, but we are trying to help ease a bit of the burden.

To those of you out there that jumped in and made the #Devoted2DecaturCounty gift card project such a wild success, we may be the reason your gift card order wasn’t perfect! Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 812-662-6364 if your order wasn’t correct. If you can only sit back, close your eyes and imagine what nearly $75,000 worth of gift cards might look like; all sizes and shapes and types of gift cards and nearly 500 different orders to be filled. Pretty sure we made a couple of mistakes, but it was a whopper of a job. But, you, dear community, are amazing! We were blown away by how quickly the program had to end because we were out of sponsorship money to do the match. So, be on the lookout for a second round. We have to line up some more sponsors, but the injection of cash back into the local businesses that participated was phenomenal and you got $30 worth of gift card for $20. Everybody wins!

Kristi Jarvis is one of our board of directors members. She came in to lend a hand when we were stuffing envelopes. She said that her grown children were asking her what they could give her for Mother’s Day and she told them that there is nothing that she needs. She then told them there are so many who do need things, and suggested they just give to the community foundation in her honor. How about you? I have too much “stuff” and would far rather someone make a donation that could go towards making a difference in our community. Whether that donation goes into a specific fund for a specific reason, into the disaster relief fund or our community grant-making fund, it all circles back into making lives better right here in Decatur County.

If you’d like to do something, every little bit helps. You can always call and ask us if you have questions or you can go onto our website at www.dccfound.org and it will even let you look through the different funds we have. Maybe your favorite organization has a fund here and you can help that organization with its long term-planning by helping it grow its endowed fund. Or, right now, any donation to the Disaster Relief Fund is matched with a dollar and both of those dollars go right back into grants designed to help ease burdens on non-profits and local small businesses impacted by COVID. Or, if you’re sick of hearing about the virus, you can donate to our Community Fund, which is where all of the other grants that we make come out of. And, we’ve got a $2 for every $1 match available from Lilly Endowment on that particular fund until we use it all up!

Please, whatever you do, stay safe and remember that you might be fine and following all the precautions, but the person ahead of you might not be! My new habit is an obsessive use of hand sanitizer every time I get back in the car. My biggest fear during all of this is that I may be a carrier and make someone else’s life change in a bad way. I don’t want to be that person. Now, try to enjoy the every other day of spring/summer weather and let the sun hit you full in the face whenever you get a chance. Vitamin D is good for the soul! Be well and try to smile with your eyes because it is hard to see those smiles behind the masks!

Tami Wenning is the executive director of the Decatur County Community Foundation.

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