The Finley River Community Foundation began with the vision of Karen Miller and several others who saw a need in Ozark and surrounding area. Miller, who has a fund in her late husband’s name with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO), and her counterparts recognized an opportunity, and founded the Finley River Community Foundation to help solve problems in the community.
“When we first started out, we didn’t have much name recognition. People thought we cleaned the river because of our name,” said Karen Miller, President of the Finley River Community Foundation.
Five years later, the situation has changed considerably for the Finley River Community Foundation. Familiarity with the organization grew rapidly as Finley River Board of Directors members worked diligently to improve the quality of life in the communities nestled on the River’s banks. Today, the foundation’s market value for fiscal year 2006 stands at $484,055. Through the last fiscal year, they received more than $30,000 in contributions and made over $21,000 in charitable contributions.
Grant requests have increased substantially through the five year history of the Finley River Community Foundation. This year, Miller reports, was the first year that they were unable to fund all of the grant applications they received. The grants issued by the foundation had a far-reaching impact on the community. Grantees this year included the Children’s Smile Center, Least of These, Christian County Child Welfare Advocacy, and many others.
Recent distributions of seven grants totaling more than $4,000 helped expand learning opportunities for a number of Ozark students. Students at Ozark South Elementary will have the opportunity to further explore a featured topic from their curriculum when the Discovery Center’s (a CFO Endowment Partner, read more about the Discovery Center here.) education outreach program pays a visit to their school, thanks to one of the Foundation’s grants. Sharp new photos will soon appear in the Ozark Junior High yearbook and newspaper thanks to a grant that allowed the communication skills class to purchase a new digital camera.
Going forward, the Finley River Community Foundation will harness the momentum created in their most successful year to expand their presence in the community. Plans for the immediate future also include assembling a scholarship committee to help determine award winners for the growing number of scholarships being established through the Foundation. Already they are working with the local Chamber of Commerce to present grants. For others seeking a way to give back to the community, partnerships such as this will acquaint them with the Foundation and its important work.
“We started as a bunch of like-minded people who really believed that we could do something to make a difference where we live,” said Miller. “We want to get more like-minded people involved in the Foundation. That way we can help more people in the community.”