Volunteering was celebrated at the Delaware County Foundation’s “Evening of Generosity” awards gala at the Hilton Polaris on Wednesday.
Four awards were given to local individuals and groups.
Louise Warner received the “Spirit of Philanthropy” award. Warner and her family donated the land for the Stratford Ecological Center, a 236-acre educational farm and nature preserve in Delaware. She continues to serve as a volunteer board member at the center. Warner was also recently inducted into the Delaware Agricultural Society’s Hall of Fame.
Warner said a $16,000 grant from the foundation led to the center establishing a “Giving Garden,” where children have grown 3.5 tons of produce over the past seven years and donated it to People In Need. About 13,000 people visit the center annually.
“Please come on out and bring your kids and your grandkids (to Stratford),” Warner said during her acceptance speech.
Bonnie Ristau was named “Outstanding Volunteer.” Ristau founded the Common Ground Free Store following a trip to southern Ohio. She served as its executive director for five years.
“Nine years later, the Free Store continues to provide free clothing, household items, diapers, books and toys to those in need of some help,” stated the event flier. “A warm meal is prepared and served by volunteers for the 60 to 80 families who visit the store on one of the four days it is open.”
Ristau is now attempting to eliminate generational poverty locally by creating the STEP program, which stands for Support Through Empowerment and Partnerships. She is also a board member of the United Methodist Community Ministries, the William Street Foundation, Family Promise and the Free Store.
“What a joy it is to get to know our neighbors in need,” Ristau said upon receiving the award. “I feel so blessed.”
The YMCA Teen Leaders Club of Delaware were given the “Outstanding Youth Group” award. The club is a national YMCA-sponsored program for youth in grades 6-12. The Delaware chapter was founded in 2012 and has 60 members.
“Leaders are made, not born,” said the Delaware Y’s Roger Hanafin, who leads the group. “Leaders volunteer. They are the ones that raise their hands, who stand up, who commit their time and full energy to make our community stronger.”
Three teens discussed their experiences with the group, saying they are having fun while volunteering. They participate in a number of Y events, including Calls from Santa, Easter Egg Hunt, Family Nights at the Y, Father-Daughter Dance, Healthy Kids Day, and the Mother-Son Superhero Party. They also help at local events, such as the Dave Staley Triathlon, Pumpkin Run, Riptide Triathlon and Turkey Trot.
The “Outstanding Business” award went to the Delaware law firm of Manos, Martin and Pergram Co., LPA. The firm’s founder, the late Peter Manos, helped to create the Delaware County Foundation 20 years ago and gave it its first gift. Since then, the firm’s attorneys and staff have provided pro bono legal services for local non-profit organizations.
Delaware County Foundation President and CEO Marlene Casini thanked donors Charles and Betty Sheets, who were in attendance at the “Evening of Generosity.” The couple donated farmland to the foundation, the second-largest gift in its history. The sale of that land made it possible to build a new hall for Brown Township that will open in 2016, and create two charitable funds.
“Gifts given today grow and help those in the future,” Casini said.
“The Delaware County Foundation is a community foundation assisting individuals, families and business with their charitable giving,” states the organization’s literature. “Charitable funds held by the foundation support a variety of needs throughout Delaware County and beyond. In 2014, more than $743,000 was awarded by the foundation in grants and scholarships.”
It was the third year the foundation has held the event. The presenting sponsor was Chesrown Chevrolet Buick GMC.
In related news, the Delaware County Foundation assists the Healthcare Foundation of Delaware County with grant-making. Last year, the Healthcare Foundation awarded more than $20,000 to five non-profit organizations. The Healthcare Foundation is now accepting grant applications in the amounts of $1,000 to $5,000, with a deadline of Oct. 30. For more information, visit www.delawarecf.org or call 614-764-2332.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.