HCF celebrates 20 years of accomplishments

Front row: Hillsboro Community Foundation (HCF) President Marisa Javier, former HCF board member Jayson Hanschu. Back row: HCF Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Groening, HCF Director Max Heinrichs, former HCF board member Mike Klieber, former HCF board member Brad Bartel and HCF board member Cord Cunningham. HCF celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.

While most people know the Hillsboro Community Foundation (HCF) is an organization that helps with money for projects in some way, they often have no idea what HCF does exactly or how much they have accomplished.

HCF was formally authorized as an affiliate of the Newton Community and Healthcare Foundation—now the Central Kansas Community Foundation—on April 12, 2004, after a group of Hillsboro residents (Delores Dalke, Steven Garrett, Brad Bartel, Kirby Fadenrecht and Mike Klieber) had been meeting for about two years trying to come up with some kind of community foundation. It was established to give interested donors a way to make a lasting impact in Hillsboro and the surrounding communities through long-term endowments and the funding of community projects.

“We were called together by Delores Dalke. She was really pushing to have it come together to see what we could do. We met at 7 a.m. at Olde Towne every week to talk about what we can do to get this thing moving forward. And fortunately we didn’t realize how big the project was, or we probably would’ve quit meeting,” said former board member Bard Bartel. “Because in our minds we thought we can get this started. We can do something to have a vehicle to have investment, community legacy gifts, those kinds of things go through.”

The group kept plugging along even though they were initially so short on funds that they chipped in from their own pockets to pay postage for various campaign mailing and other business they needed to do to get established. They had their first presentation to the public on May 4, 2004, and began raising seed money.

Efforts continued and were successful enough to award the first grant by mid-2005. HFC delivered its first-ever gift to the community by raising more than $10,000 toward the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the Hillsboro Fire Department. The camera was later credited with helping save the hospital from a near-disastrous fire on New Year’s Day in 2006.

Since that initial gift, HCF has continued to support and enable donor contributions to community emergency service needs including water rescue equipment, police dash cams, EMS training mannequins, a drone for the fire department, the purchase of armor vests for the police department and more.

On Nov. 6, 2006, the group kicked off the Impact Fund allowing the foundation to expand and add board members. It is believed that the success of that campaign firmly established the foundation and helped HCF grow into what it is today.

In January 2008, the first managed endowment of HFC was established to create a city park endowment fund for the Lehigh community. Proceeds received from the sale of the Lehigh Senior Center building were placed with HCF for the future maintenance and improvement of the park.

In 2010 HCF received their first planned estate gift (Marga Ebel) which has been used to support children’s health. That year, HCF also received a matching grant from the Kansas Health Foundation GROW II program allowing for assets to reach near the $1 million mark and for the foundation to hire its first part-time director.

The foundation has continued to grow and flourish. Over $1,150,000 has been given to the following areas: arts and history, child care, city services, community projects, education and youth programs, health and recreation, local charities, senior living and care and student scholarships. In fact, since 2012, HCF scholarship funds have awarded a total of $114,000 in scholarships to 80 high school graduating seniors. Donors have established 10 scholarship funds amounting to over $420,000 in endowed assets.

As of the beginning of this year, HCF had $3,483,000 in managed assets, 890 donors and 54 grantees and 80 scholarship recipients.

“In celebrating our 20th anniversary of service to Hillsboro, we are so grateful to the “founding fathers” of HCF, such as Delores Dalke, Brad Bartel and many community members that followed. Their vision and success in creating a way for needs to be met in the community through charitable giving continued with all who served on the board for the past 20 years. HCF has been successful in funding many needs and projects with the outstanding generosity and support from the people who live and work here,” said current HCF Board President Marisa Javier.

59 individuals from the community have served as HCF board members or directors over the past 20 years. Many quickly credit others—from former mayors and other key community people such as Joel Klaassen, Don Ratzlaff, Clint Siebel and many more to the people who chose to donate to the foundation.

“Through the generous support of individuals, families, businesses and other organizations, HCF has distributed more than $1,150,000 through the foundation to organizations in local communities over the past 20 years,” said current HCF Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Groening.

Current HCF Director Max Heinrichs is about to hand over the reins to whoever is hired as the new, first, full-time director since the foundation can finally afford one. As he wraps up his time, he is focused on educating everyone about HCF and talking about growth for the foundation.

“We want to celebrate 20 years. A lot of great things have happened and it’s all because of the original group that had a vision and put it together. We’re just trying to follow that vision now,” said Heinrichs.

While the foundation has many ongoing projects they are working on, two main projects have the most focus.

“We have two real big ones going on right now that will significantly drop us [financially] when they are done. The Bartel Stone House, which is an area museum fund. It’s about $230,000 I think. And then that we have there is H4C (Hillsboro Community Childcare Center) which will be started here pretty quick,” said Heinrichs. “Potentially by the end of the year, we could throw $600 to $750,000 out from our funds to get those projects going.”

Javier is also very excited about the future of the foundation.

“With the upcoming addition of a first-time-ever full-time associate director for HCF, the future holds exciting promise as we continue to grow by connecting caring donors to causes that matter,” said Javier.

To give to one of the Hillsboro Community Foundation’s many interesting projects or for more information, please go to hcfoundationks.org or call 620-947-0170. There will also be information about the foundation in the Free Press every week of 2024 in honor of the 20th anniversary.

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