Wayne County Community Foundation celebrates 30th year

By LYLE T. GALLOWAY
Posted 8/17/21

HONESDALE, PA — During the past year, the pandemic has tested a lot of institutions and ideals. It has tested the way individuals look at charity and most importantly, it has tested the …

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Wayne County Community Foundation celebrates 30th year

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HONESDALE, PA — During the past year, the pandemic has tested a lot of institutions and ideals. It has tested the way individuals look at charity and most importantly, it has tested the strength of communities.

One local organization that incorporates both ideals of charitable giving and community strength is celebrating its 30th year of operation.

Established in 1991, the Wayne County Community Foundation (WCCF) was founded by a small group of community-minded individuals seeking to create a charity with deep roots within the community.

Much like a charity, the Wayne County Community Foundation is a nonprofit that seeks to help a specific area.

However, unlike charities, where money is often funneled into one specific aspect, community foundations like WCCF provide donors with more flexibility. Donors can control how much of their money will go towards a specific project and when it will go out.

“Instead of just having one bank account that you might make donations to, with a community nonprofit, you could invest it in the foundation and those dollars would work for you and therefore work for those nonprofits,” said Ryanne Jennings, executive director.

The organization also provides grants and various scholarships to Wayne County students and businesses.

In the past year, the organization has seen a significant uptick in donations. Currently, the foundation manages over $8 million in assets, as compared to $5 million when Jennings first started.

“At the beginning of COVID in March of 2020, I think there was a collective feeling of helplessness. People who had means to be able to support community members, neighbors, friends were kind enough in our local community to pool their resources and really make a difference,” said Jennings.

To commemorate its 30-year anniversary, the organization’s board of directors are funding $100,000 in creating 10 new donor-advised funds. The deadline to apply for any of these funds is December 31. Funds must have a balance of $10,000 and must distribute $500 annually, not exceeding more than $2,500 until the fund reaches $25,000.

In addition to the donor-advised funds, the foundation will also be taking part in a training program called Reinventing Our Communities, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The event will be a 10-month training program centered around addressing racial equity in the community. Wayne County will  be the smallest and most rural community to take part in such an endeavor.

“Being part of these conversations together builds trust. [The foundation] wants to be seen as a resource to bring people together for a common goal. [These conversations] are uncomfortable, and I get really excited about uncomfortable conversations because that means growth is happening,” said Jennings.

To further celebrate and discuss their history, the Wayne County Community Foundation will be hosting its annual Ben Franklin Dinner on November 4. This year’s recipient of the Ben Franklin Award is Henry Skier. He’ll be recognized for providing children and young adults from underprivileged communities with summer camp opportunities.

To learn more about the foundation, go to https://www.waynefoundation.org/.

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