One of the newest foundations in Marion County is the Tampa Community Foundation, which was formed in December 2017.
David Mueller, one of the foundation members, said two projects have already begun.
“An empty space on Main Street, Tampa, is being enclosed to house the Tampa Library, supporting the popular Duggan Free Little Library,” he said.
The project was to convert an “eyesore” empty space into a community library.
“The little library is a huge success,” Mueller said. “This new 500-square-foot space will now build on that success providing access to more reading material.”
Tampa has avid readers of all ages and hosts a book club, Mueller said.
“Partnerships with local libraries will be developed to bring in new titles,” he said. “Lending of electronic books will also be available.”
Construction has already started on the space and it is hoped to be open by fall, he said.
In addition, a scholarship program is being launched to support local high school graduates pursuing college or vocational education.
“Part of that application process will be an essay on what the Tampa community and Marion County can do to bring (graduates) back to our area. Their responses should be very interesting.”
The TCF is an idea that’s been simmering for decades, Mueller said.
“The right people came together and the timing was right for it to become reality,” he said. “Several other communities have been using foundations to the benefit of their citizens, and Tampa is so fortunate to have young families and so many volunteers helping each other create opportunities.”
Examples of that include the PRIDE organization, 4-H, Centre School District, Tampa Fire and Ambulance, churches, The senior citizens and Tampa Trail Stop.
“The TCF is a vehicle to support the many organizations in place and create opportunities that will encourage businesses and young families to remain in our community,” Mueller added.
In mid-December, the organization sent a cover letter to everyone on the Tampa Alumni mailing list and stockholders of the Tampa Trail Stop.
“In 45 days, $40,000 in cash and $25,000 in pledges has been raised,” Mueller said.
“Many former Tampa residents who grew up here and then moved on to success in other communities have great pride in their hometown and want to help support it. The TCF provides the means to meet that goal.”
Now that TCF has funding, the board is looking for opportunities to maximize the benefit of that money.
The foundation operates under the Marion Advancement Campaign umbrella.
MAC, he said, is a 501 c 3 organization enabling donors to make tax deductible donations.
“The funds are managed professionally, audited annually and meet all IRS requirements,” he said. “The partnership with MAC saves the TCF significant legal and financial hurdles.
Mueller said the foundation recently received a large, anonymous donation for the library, and it will now be named the “Paul Gooding Memorial Library.”
Paul Gooding, Mueller explained, was a longtime mayor of Tampa, and the building where the library will be located was his shoe repair and produce shop.
“He also bought eggs from the local farmers and shipped them out, plus he would sell chicks and feed,” Mueller said.
The foundation agreed it was appropriate to name the library after him, he added.
“It was located in a building that was a hub of activity for so many families,” Mueller said.
The foundation brochure was developed with Baker Bros. Printing Co., Hillsboro.
“They did a fine job,” Mueller said. “Our first step was getting the word out to Tampa people, and now we are reaching a wider audience through the newspaper.”
The foundation is planning more activities to create opportunities for young families to stay in the community and keep Tampa vital.
Tampa’s current population is about 100.
Mueller said, “When counting up volunteers for fire, EMS, 4-H, churches, rural water, co-op boards—grain, electric and telecommunications, school, PRIDE, store and more—there are over 100 volunteers.”