The Stockton Community Foundation kicked off the first of its 10th anniversary celebrations Thursday night by marking the progress since its early trial by fire as a pivotal player in the community’s recovery from the May 2003 tornado.
Describing the devastation left by the storm that tore through center of town as “Stockton’s 9/11,” President Ginger Hendrickson recalled crawling out of the basement of her building on the Square and realizing it would be “a whole new world” in the days to come.
“We were this brand-new little baby community foundation and they (CFO) sent up city officials, emergency help … and we had a chance to make a new beginning,” she said of the Stockton affiliate established just a year earlier in May 2002.
Today, the Stockton Community Foundation holds more than $700,000 in assets in 34 funds and has distributed nearly $275,000 in grants and scholarships over its 10-year history. The schools also have created the Stockton Public Schools Foundation and the active Stockton Teen Empowerment Program, which counts the Tiger Tasters project among its community-service efforts.
The SCF will mark its first decade with a series of events, including a trail run/walk on May 5; a community picnic on July 4; and its first-ever float in the Black Walnut Festival parade on Sept. 22. It also has set a more serious and ambitious goal of raising $72,000 for several funds dedicated to fighting hunger – Christmas baskets, the SAMA Food Pantry, the Korth Center Senior Meals and the Tiger Tasters school backpack program.
The SCF Board decided to launch its own local hunger challenge following its successful participation in both Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenges made possible by grants from the Walmart State Giving Foundation for Ozarks Food Harvest’s work in CFO affiliate communities.
“We began to realize that the needs of the hungry in Stockton area were much greater than we realized,” Hendrickson said. “We’ve never tried to raise this much money before and I’m a little nervous.”
The SCF also is taking a leadership role in the Stockton Trails Initiative Coalition, a collaboration of the city, the Stockton State Park, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local runners and trail enthusiasts to build and expand its network of trails around the area’s beautiful natural resources.
Hendrickson encouraged guests at the annual banquet at the Korth Senior Center to consider these projects and Stockton’s other funds as they plan their charitable giving for the year.
“I have to thank every person who has given even one dollar to make all of this happen,” she said. “We hope you will just plan for your community like you plan for your family.”
Her comments were reinforced by the keynote speaker, Drury University President Todd Parnell, a former chair of the CFO’s Board of Directors and member of the state Clean Water Commission.
He recounted how much Stockton reminds him so fondly of his years growing up in another lake community, Branson, even though the two cities have since taken very divergent paths.
“The Branson I knew then seems like the Stockton I know now,” he said. “You have a wonderful treasure here and it is so worth protecting and keeping it the way it is.”
He drew an analogy from his many years in banking about the power of leveraging resources and the definition of “foundation” as the base on which assets are built.
“Think of the power of a community foundation as leveraging the good in all of us,” Parnell said. “A community can invest in its precious future and leverage a new generation.
“Stockton is a poster child for these projects.”