By Chris Bavender
For the third consecutive year, the Community Foundation of Boone County awarded $1,000 grants to 10 nonprofits as part of the foundation’s annual Day of Giving Back.
This year’s focus ranged from parks to chambers of commerce to an organization that works to foster the revitalization and reengagement of its municipality’s downtown.
“This year we took more of a civic approach, if you will, and focused on our six park systems in Boone County. We are all about mental health and the impact COVID had on that,” said Jodi Gieti, CFBC president and CEO. “So, we wanted to make a concerted effort to get out and support them and (create) awareness of them, and then, also, a nice focus on our chambers who serve residents every day and make sure (Boone County continues) economic growth.”
This year’s recipients were the Boone County Chamber of Commerce, the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, the Boone County Economic Development Corp., The Heart of Lebanon and the county’s six parks departments — Advance Community Parks Association, Lebanon Parks & Recreation, Thorntown Parks & Recreation, Jamestown Parks Dept., Zionsville Parks & Recreation and Whitestown Parks & Recreation.
Gietl had the idea for the Day of Giving Back when she became CEO in 2019.
“I wasn’t even there a few days, and someone asked if we were doing a day of giving, and I sat there for a minute and said, ‘No, we are a granting organization, so instead of asking, we will give.’ Luckily, my grant committee said yes,” Gietl said. “We threw all the names in a hat that year and completely randomly picked them out, and off we went. And now this is the third time, and I can’t tell you how rewarding this is.”
The Day of Giving Back is about surprising recipients. Although each stop is featured on social media, Gietl said they always manage to pull off the surprise.
“We try to keep it as secretive as possible and try to wait until the very last minute to notify them we are coming by so (that) we make sure someone is there,” Gietl said. “A fun one this year was in Zionsville when we showed up to the parks department and the mayor was there and a whole group, and (parks staff) had no clue. It was super fun to watch all their faces.”
Gietl said while it’s not the largest grant the organization gives out each year, it’s a “fun one.”
“What I love most of all is the opportunity to give back and to bring awareness to nonprofits at a critical time of year,” Gietl said. “My staff are amazing, and I can’t do this without them. Mary Hatton, Julie Reagan, Ali Maxey, Jess Stokely, Crystal Dimiceli and intern Brynn Hensley, none of us is as good as all of us.”