ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Almost 40 people came to the Hillsboro High School commons Tuesday evening, May 4, to hear the first public presentation about the recent formation of a charitable foundation intended to serve the Hillsboro community and the benevolent desires of its current and former residents.
Members of an initial five-person board of directors described the creation of the Hillsboro Community Foundation as “long overdue.”
Mike Kleiber, president of the board, said HCF will offer people who have ties with Hillsboro “a vehicle to give back to the community.”
The foundation, which was formally authorized April 12 to operate under the legal auspices of the Newton Community & Healthcare Foundation, will give people a tax-deductible way to donate cash and property for the benefit of the community.
HCF is operating under the umbrella of the Newton foundation to avoid the significant expenses of starting and staffing such an endeavor, Kleiber said.
Loren Friesen, former Hillsboro resident now working as director of the Newton foundation, will be overseeing the administration of the HCF.
Mayor Delores Dalke, a member of the board, said the creation of HCF grew out of informal conversations.
“We saw that it needed to be done, so some of us just started meeting,” Dalke said.
A group of five people began meeting weekly in October. Those five have formed the initial board of directors. In addition to Kleiber and Dalke, the other board members are Brad Bartel, vice president, Steven Garrett, secretary/ treasure, and Kirby Fadenrecht.
Two to five more people will be added to the board in the coming months, Kleiber said.
Officially, the foundation has four objectives:
— to advise and assist donors who could benefit by using the HCF to achieve their charitable objectives;
— to receive grants or bequests for the benefit of both specific and broad community charitable interests;
— to make grants from unrestricted community endowment funds to benefit worthy Hillsboro-area charitable, benevolent, cultural, religious, civic, health, scientific and educational purposes;
— to encourage and assist qualified not-for-profit organizations in establishing their own endowments and restricted funds as part of the HCF.
Kleiber said the Wiebe Media Center at the high school is a prime example of the good that can happen when private donations are invested for the betterment of the community.
The facility, which houses the school library, was built with the help of a substantial contribution from John A. and Harriet Kizler Wiebe, who are HHS alumni who became successful entrepreneurs in Nebraska.
Loren Friesen said the kinds of projects that could be funded through HCF are almost unlimited.
“It’s your imagination, creativity and generosity that can make this (foundation accomplish) almost anything you want,” he said.
Kleiber said HCF will be officially launched as part of the city’s 120th anniversary celebration during Memorial Day weekend.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first time information about HCF was shared publicly. Bartel said letters of invitation were mailed to around 100 people in the Hillsboro area that represented a cross-section of interests and professions.
Kleiber said the board is pursuing ways to spread the word about the foundation.
Near the end of the meeting, he invited participants to contribute seed money that will be used to develop brochures and other promotional materials.
In coming weeks, Kleiber said board members will present the possibilities of the HCF to civic organization and other groups.
“We want to have widespread community participation,” he said.
The board intends the foundation to serve “the greater Hillsboro community,” which he described as the area included in the local school district.
But the foundation will also focus on serving former Hillsboro residents who value the benefits they received while growing up in Hillsboro and are now in a position to give something back.
“There is a time when you need to pay back,” Kleiber said.