The Delaware County Foundation may have held its sixth annual “Evening of Generosity” at a new location, the recently-opened Renaissance Hotel in Westerville, yet the outcome was the same — several deserving recipients were honored, each a feel-good story in themselves.
The Lewis Center-based DCF granted more than $2.35 million to worthy organizations and individuals in 2017, said President and CEO Marlene Casini. “The work that is being done will leave a legacy today and in the future,” Casini said.
As a way to honor those people and groups who do good in Delaware County, the foundation puts on a glitzy Evening of Generosity that brings out all the sharply-dressed local movers and shakers for dinner, conversation and recognition. The evening included valet parking by Chesrown and music from the Erik Augis Trio.
Four prizes were awarded on Thursday, Oct. 25. They were, in no particular order:
The Outstanding Youth Group was the Big Walnut Middle School Student Leadership Council. Made up of 25 students, the Leadership Council puts the entire school — 560 students and 60 staff volunteers — to work on a community service day at more than 40 locations throughout Delaware County. They try to match students to projects they’re interested in, and even when that doesn’t happen, memories and lasting impressions are made in the work they do. “It’s like a small big family,” one student said. Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Angela Pollock said they let the students take the lead, and BWMS Principal Josh Frame said of the teens, “These are great kids. They’re the leaders of today.”
The Spirit of Philanthropy award went to husband and wife Charles and Betty Sheets. Married for 67 years, they have farmed in Delaware County since 1950, and their family has had roots in the Kilbourne area since 1835. Both have supported numerous organizations and events, including serving as an Oxford Township Trustee. The couple’s contributions to the county include agricultural drainage tile regulation; railroad crossing safety; and donating 210 acres of their farm to DCF, a $1.4 million gift which has included building the new Brown Township Hall. “It was a tiny school,” Betty Sheets said of the former hall. “Now this is a nice meeting place for the community.”
The Outstanding Business award went to Foertmeyer and Sons Greenhouse, which is on South Section Line Road in Delaware. Owner Mark Foertmeyer has used his business to help schools and nonprofits raise funds by selling “Mumkins” and other flowers. In addition, he has partnered with Autism Power to employ and pay adults on the autism spectrum to run the retail side of the greenhouse. “Some good stuff is going on in the county,” Foertmeyer said in receiving the award. “I believe The Bible. Jesus said, if you want to be great, become a servant to all. He’s the one that should be honored — he opened me up 40 years ago to things like Autism Power.”
Last, but not least, Jeff Robinson was named Outstanding Volunteer. This local funnyman put on a cancer-fighting fundraiser, Comics for A Cure, for 11 years. He has served on the DCF’s Grants Committee, and he has volunteered with the local American Red Cross, as well as the Common Ground Free Store in Delaware. “It is amazing to see what is being done in Delaware County,” Robinson said.
Robinson also provided comic relief for the Evening of Generosity, as was shown in a skit where he helped emcee Tom Bosco by cleaning his news vehicle and walking his dog. He also garnered guffaws on a bit about the potential Planet Oasis sports-entertainment resort in Berkshire Township/Sunbury. Robinson called it Planet Mirage, and thought its features should include a Little Brown Jeg race; virtual reality gear that permits left turns in Powell; and an escape room from an Orange Township Board of Trustees meeting.
For more information on the Delaware County Foundation, visit www.delawarecf.org or call 614-764-2332.