SPRINGVILLE — Some of them are parents. Some had children go through the school system. Others are local citizens who, in the words of board member Kara Kane, “want to bridge the gaps and help the children and the families in the district.” This is the Springville-Griffith Community Education Foundation, a board of 10 residents who are working to support the community and its members, one grant at a time.
“We’ve given to the pre-K and the [Springville Concord Elder Network], so we really span the gamut,” said Kane, of the foundation’s grant recipients.
“We like to give to causes that are meaningful. We see those things that organizations might not be able to put into their budgets, that are still needs or wants. We don’t have a staff. We don’t have an office. Every penny that comes in [to our organization] goes right back out.”
The foundation has supported such organizations as the Bread of Life Outreach program; the Springville Center for the Arts; the clock tower fund, as its first corporate sponsor; Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and many other local organizations, as well as smaller grants for S-GI classrooms, special events and other projects and programs that “show that we are here for the community.
“We’re not a fly-by-night thing. We’re here for the long haul,” Kane said. The organization was originally founded by Mike Hannon in 2006, although Kane got involved some time later, as an activity she called “more meaningful than a hobby, but not as stressful as a job.”
The group of volunteer board members come from diverse backgrounds and include a lawyer, pediatrician, restoration worker, S-GI graduates and “those who have made Springville their home.
“Nobody has a fundraising background,” Kane said, of the members. “Whatever we haven’t known how to do, we figured it out. Many minds and many hands make light work.”
To date, the organization has distributed more than $150,000, and Kane said the group is always looking for other organizations in the community to partner with the foundation, to make a difference.
“Not many communities have something like this,” Kane said. “Some of our grants are large. Some were for $100, $500, for classroom projects. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means something to those kids. It’s nice to think that some random community members did this, for them.”
The foundation “leans a lot on the community” for support, according to Kane, and relies heavily on several fundraisers, each year.
The next of those is the annual steak dinner, to support the S-GI athletic program. The dinner will be held at Papa Jake’s Saloon on Aug. 28 at 6 p.m.
“[The S-GI varsity football] Coach Sopko has alerted us to some equipment that isn’t scheduled for an update, but that will make their football experience more memorable,” Kane said, of where the funds are scheduled to go, this season.
The group will also hold its sixth annual silent auction and wine tasting in November.
“As soon as the steak dinner is over, we launch right into the wine tasting,” Kane said. “These fundraisers are becoming an institution, in our area. We want people in the community to know we’re here, that they can rely on us, as a resource.”
The organization was recently recognized by the Erie County Association of School Boards, for its contributions to the community.
“It’s gratifying, to know that this can be a model for other communities,” Kane said, of her experience. “No member of our board wants to be recognized. We just want to make a difference.”