story by stephanie johns
photos by jesse walker and contributed
Morgan Fund awards $35,000 to seven local nonprofits, one volunteer
Seven local non-profits and one dedicated volunteer were recognized last Tuesday during the annual Morgan Fund “Celebration of Community” event held at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center.
The Morgan Fund awarded $35,000 in grants to the following grantees: Action Ministries, Camp Twin Lakes, the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, Madison Morgan County Caring Place, Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Morgan County Foundation (dba Madison-Morgan Cultural Center) and Steffen Thomas Museum and Archives.
Bobby Mackey and Kim Jackson emceed the event. Morgan Fund Advisory Committee Chair Chris Lambert said she likes to think of the event as the “Nonprofit Academy Awards.”
Recipients were given a chance to share their nonprofit’s purpose and how they plan to use the grant money.
The Rev. Jannan Thomas, executive director of Action Ministries Housing, said that this is the group’s fourth year in Morgan County. They serve homeless families with children for up to two years while the families pursue self sufficiency.
The group has a 96 percent success rate, she said, and they also have a new program for veterans.
Dan Mathews with Camp Twin Lakes explained how the camp offers kids and adults with challenges the opportunity to have a camp experience.
He added that the grant will help support a new program in which every fifth grader in Morgan County will be able to visit the camp twice, once in the fall and again in the spring.
Betsy Wagenhauser with Ferst Foundation shared how they partner with local communities to put age-appropriate books in the hands of Georgia’s children.
They plan to use the grant to refine and prioritize their strategic operating plan as well as to conduct an organizational assessment to find strengths and areas of improvement.
Nancy Pluckhahn with the Caring Place said that they have fed families for years: they have been open just about every Friday for going on 16 years.
Ron Milton then shared some statistics: in 2012 they fed 1,120 families with a total of 3,330 different family members and prepared 9,800 boxes of food.
Based on the county’s population of 18,000, he said that means one in every five or six people in the county have been served by the Caring Place.
Robert Trulock shared the Conservancy’s mission: to educate the public on conservation matters and to preserve historic sites, greenspace, farmland, and timberland. He added that they have over 500 members in the county.
Chris McCauley, executive director of the Conservancy, then read a poem titled “Afterglow” written by Rose Koralewsky.
Steve Schaefer with the Cultural Center said that he had his life transformed by community programming as a child in Missouri. The center in Madison offers high quality exhibits, both permanent and temporary, as well as preserves its historic building, he said.
Ruth Bracewell added that they plan to use the money for their summer art camp, a children’s concert, professional theatre groups during the school year, and the annual art show featuring art by local school students called A Funky Little Art Thing.
Lisa Conner, acting museum director at the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art, said that they bring arts, projects, and workshops to the people of Northeast Georgia.
Their longest running program: Creative Teens Going Green, has artists lead classes once a week at CrossRoads, the local alternative school.
Other programs that will benefit from the grant include A Day at the Steffen Thomas Museum, monthly family workshops, College Connections, and Art on the Go with the Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club of North Central Georgia.
Lambert noted that she received a big push-back from the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year award. She showed those present a two-sided list of the recipient’s responsibilities that keep the recipient busy 24/7.
Joe Cardwell presented the award to Babs Johnston. Following a standing ovation, Johnston joked about her reasons for accepting the award.
“I only did it for the money,” she said, adding that her list had included the stipulation that she would not take on another responsibility without accepting $1 million in return. “Then Chris offered $2,000.”
Johnston received $2,000 to distribute to nonprofits of her choice. Her designees included: the Boys & Girls Club, the Ferst Foundation, the Cultural Center, the Madison Artists Guild, and the Morgan Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
Cardwell said that Johnston has been on the board of every organization in Morgan County.
Some of her current commitments include the Ferst Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Morgan County Board of Education Mentoring Program. He said that she has mentored up to 13 mentees at one time.
The Morgan Fund is a part of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (CFGA). The CFGA has invested nearly $2 million to organizations in the county since 2000.
Alicia Philipp, president of CFGA, shared a fundraising challenge: an anonymous donor has promised that for every dollar raised over $5,000, this person will match it one-to-one up to $20,000.
Their goal: $50,000.
The 2014 grant cycle will take place in the fall. Nonprofits interested in learning more should visit www.cfgreateratlanta.org.
Printed in the March 14, 2013 edition