Fairfield Community Foundation grant challenge runner-up receives a $2K surprise

The Fairfield Community Foundation awarded two $3,500 prizes in its annual grant challenge on Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center. Sleep in Heavenly Peace, at left, provides beds and bedding for children 2-17 living below the poverty level and do not have a bed, and volunteers build beds. Family Promise of Butler County, at right, runs day centers for homeless families to shower, as well as help with housing and job searches, and facilitate referrals to resources.

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The Fairfield Community Foundation awarded two $3,500 prizes in its annual grant challenge on Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center. Sleep in Heavenly Peace, at left, provides beds and bedding for children 2-17 living below the poverty level and do not have a bed, and volunteers build beds. Family Promise of Butler County, at right, runs day centers for homeless families to shower, as well as help with housing and job searches, and facilitate referrals to resources.

The runner-up in the third annual Fairfield Community Foundation grant challenge received a $2,000 surprise last week courtesy of the foundation’s first president.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace and Fairfield Promise of Butler County were the finalists in the grant challenge presented on Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center. Sleep in Heavenly Peace won the challenge, but Dick Niehaus wasn’t going to let the Fairfield Promise leave with any less than first-place money. Second-place won $1,500, but with Niehaus’ last-minute donation, both organizations won $3,500.

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“I thought both of them were very good. When No. 2 came in, I just decided to make up the difference,” said Niehaus, 81, who helped found the foundation. His wife, Marian, who died on Oct. 7 at 79, was instrumental in helping the foundation in its early years. There’s little doubt she’d be proud of her husband’s decision because Niehaus said, “She would have done it before I would. She was very good like that.”

Sleep in Heavenly Peace provides beds and bedding for children 2-17 living below the poverty level and do not have a bed, and volunteers build beds.

MORE: Goal of group: Build every child in need a bed

Family Promise of Butler County runs day centers for homeless families to shower and helps with housing and job searches, and facilitate referrals to resources. The families receive help in parenting and financial skills.

The Fairfield Community Foundation was incorporated in 1999 as a not-for-profit by a group of dedicated Fairfield and Fairfield Twp. residents, and since then it has grown to hold nearly $3.6 million in assets. Over the past 16 years, the foundation has awarded scholarships and grants amounting to nearly $3 million to deserving students and nonprofit organizations, which includes scholarships, grants and donations.

Fairfield Community Foundation President Linda Yarger said this “tugs at your heartstrings” because Niehaus hadn’t planned to attend the grant challenge event as he was still mourning the loss of his wife. Niehaus told Yarger after the event he was going to make a donation in Marian’s memory.

“Even in his grief, Dick knew Marian’s generous spirit would help others,” she said.

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