83.2 F
Cruz Bay
Sunday, July 21, 2024


Dear Source,
Few people recognize how much the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands adds to our quality of life. Unfortunately, not everyone could attend their annual meeting last Friday at Frenchman's Reef to see the quantity of the generosity of so many people (names mostly unfamiliar to the common citizen) and the quality of the individuals and the projects that were rewarded and supported by that generosity. In spite of the valid and frightening headlines we read every day, this is truly a wonderful place to live with incredible people and community spirit that keeps us from sinking in the morass of our own stupidities.
In the past 12 years, under the guidance of several very admirable private citizens and the brilliance of executive director Dee Baecher-Brown, the Community Foundation (CFVI) has made public philanthropy worthwhile and not-for-profit organizations credible.
In the past, generous community members would make donations that were never allocated to the intended project or publicly acclaimed. It was because of such a donation experience that Henry Kimelman made the initial contribution that established the Community Foundation. Since then we all have benefited from focused and accountable benevolence.
The foundation helps to keep organizations honest by providing training in accounting procedures, grant writing and supervision and targeted contributions with written requirements and conclusion reports. They have managed to take the horror out of asking for money from an institution by simplifying grants and supporting groups with no experience, no official nonprofit status and loose structures. Their mini-grants and teacher grants have made possible many small but fantastically worthwhile projects.
Baecher-Brown probably knows more about the real priorities of this community than the governor does, and she has an absolute genius for choosing the most worthwhile projects and inspiring quality results. Her "Kids Count" project has shone the spotlight on problems that many people would rather sweep under the carpet, but it serves to keep us focused on the goal of providing better lives for our children. She recognizes that a small amount of money plugged into the right hole can yield the biggest impact.
Private foundations are set up under the supervision of CFVI because the donors know their efforts will be used most productively. And when a group receives a project grant from the foundation, they also receive an unofficial stamp of approval that elicits other donations of support.
Nonprofit organizations and private sector donations are now the grease that keeps the wheels turning in this community. Three major capital projects are slated to begin in the next year: The Cancer Center, The Humane Society Campus and a new public library. All are being fueled by nonprofit and private contributions (some motivated through the Economic Development Commission) and ready to move the economy forward. Donations for special projects and equipment give our schools, hospitals and libraries the surface appearance of much more adequate institutions. Scholarships, athletic programs, transportation and other educational experiences funded by generous citizens provide support for our most deserving youth.
We all need to give thanks to the many people whose generosity keeps our heads above the water … and then, while we are loudly protesting the distorted priorities of our leaders, we need to give some more of our time and money in the spirit of the Community Foundation.
Carol Lotz-Felix
St. Thomas

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