More than 70 people gathered for the Community Foundation’s annual Fall Donors Luncheon on October 18. The luncheon was held at the Black Box at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts.

Shelly Kasprzycki, our president and CEO, provided an update on some of the organization’s recent work. She spoke about the recent launch of the Housing Partnership Fund, which has awarded its first three grants to support local housing creation. She also highlighted the work of the Youth Advisory Committee and the Community Foundation’s continuing priority of increasing educational attainment.

“Philanthropy is always changing,” said Shelly, “But our most important constant is all of you.”

Shelly then introduced the first of three brief presentations from longtime partners of the Community Foundation. Dick and Carol Dunning spoke about the inspiration for the agriculture scholarship they created. Dick talked about being the fourth generation on his family’s farm and shared that “agriculture ran deep in my blood.”

Carol also talked about the influence of family.

“I grew up in a family where giving was the norm,” she said. “My parents established a scholarship at the Community Foundation, and I was so excited to tell my dad that we started a scholarship too, and that it was all because of him.”

Following the Dunnings, Todd DeKryger—a current trustee of the Community Foundation—spoke about the legacy of his parents, Dr. Maynard and Lavina DeKryger. After his father received a scholarship, “he was floored that people here would give their money to help him go to college,” said Todd. “He wanted to come back here and to give back to the community that helped him so much.”

Maynard and Lavina went on to create scholarships at the Community Foundation that help students pursuing careers in healthcare. They also mentored others in the community, including Dr. Jerry and Suzanne Van Wieren, who spoke at the conclusion of the luncheon.

The Van Wierens originally moved to the area as part of a commitment to work in an underserved area for two years after their medical training. However, they stayed on, opening their own practice when the Grant hospital closed.

“Our 41 years in Grant have been a blessing to us,” said Suzanne , a family nurse practitioner.

In the early days of their practice, other local doctors including Maynard DeKryger would cover for them when they took family vacations. When they offered to pay Dr. DeKryger for his time, he would tell them to consider donating to the scholarship fund instead. The Van Wierens have since included the DeKryger scholarship in their will to honor their mentors and to help the next generation of healthcare professionals.

“One of my favorite meditations is a prayer of Saint Francis: ‘For it is in giving that we receive,’” said Jerry. “We have received much from this community, and it is only natural we would want to give some back.”