Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation marks quarter-century with celebration

Jim Robinson was presented with the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation’s first Paving the Way Award for his efforts in getting the foundation started 25 years ago as well as service as an attorney and supporter in the community. He is shown with foundation Executive Director Betsy Hope. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN
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Jim Robinson was presented with the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation’s first Paving the Way Award for his efforts in getting the foundation started 25 years ago as well as service as an attorney and supporter in the community. He is shown with foundation Executive Director Betsy Hope. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

The Sigma Chi Foundation was recognized for its support of the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation (GOACF) by providing office space and utilities for the past 25 years, saving money for the GOACF which was used in its support of community programs. Accepting the award was Ryan Temby, shown here with Executive Director Betsy Hope. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN
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The Sigma Chi Foundation was recognized for its support of the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation (GOACF) by providing office space and utilities for the past 25 years, saving money for the GOACF which was used in its support of community programs. Accepting the award was Ryan Temby, shown here with Executive Director Betsy Hope. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

Jim Robinson, right, was honored with the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation’s Paving the Way Award and joining him for the evening were members of his family, from right, wife Pam, daughter Tara Jones and granddaughter Marin Jones. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN
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Jim Robinson, right, was honored with the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation’s Paving the Way Award and joining him for the evening were members of his family, from right, wife Pam, daughter Tara Jones and granddaughter Marin Jones. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

John Clements, left, served on the board of the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation for nine years and was recognized for this service at the 25-year celebration. The presentation was made by board President Bob Carmean. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN
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John Clements, left, served on the board of the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation for nine years and was recognized for this service at the 25-year celebration. The presentation was made by board President Bob Carmean. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

College scholarships, community improvements, educational enhancements, help for social service agencies and a host of other projects have received support over the past 25 years from the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation, which marked that quarter-century with a celebration and special awards Nov. 3.

The event was held in the Hueston Woods Lodge, moved on short notice from the planned location after the fire at the Hanover Reserve banquet center.

It was an evening of celebrating the past 25 years and looking ahead to the next 25 with awards recognizing contributions to the growth of the foundation as well as the announcement of a new fundraising effort called Impact25.

Foundation founder Jim Robinson was presented with the new Paving the Way Award which is intended to be given each year to someone who has markedly contributed to the growth of the organization.

A sheet listing Milestones for the foundation was found on each table.

The first item on the list was: “The brainchild of Oxford attorney James G. Robinson, seeds were planted for the Foundation in the spring of 1995. The Foundation was up and running in 1996, with the first awards being mini-grants to educators for creative teaching ideas, presented in the spring of 1997. K.E. Smith was hired as the Foundation’s first Executive Director.”

Robinson was cited for his work providing legal guidance as well as meeting with city leaders and community members seeking support and donations for the foundation.

The presentation was made by board member Heather Monson, who said the board wanted to honor the beginnings of the foundation.

“We are so proud of the 25 years of philanthropy,” Monson said. She related that the board was discussing the award and Robinson’s contributions to creating the foundation. “In discussions, one name became obvious as most responsible for establishing the foundation in 1996.”

Robinson spoke briefly, saying his daughter, Tara, had a poster in her room while still living at home, depicting Robert Kennedy with a quote about people with privilege being expected to help those without privilege.

“It is great to look out and see you and your giving to the community. We can’t stop here. We need to take the lead. I think of Oxford as a culture, a culture of giving, a culture of benevolence.”

He was also called on to present a special award to the Sigma Chi Foundation which owns the building at 22 E. High St., where the foundation’s office is located.

He said the two line items in any social service agency budget people look at first are rent and utilities.

“With the cooperation of Sigma Chi Foundation, for 22 years, we have never had to pay rent or utilities,” he said in recognizing that contribution and saving money for distribution in the community.

Accepting the award was Ryan Temby, the Sigma Chi, who said, “We couldn’t be prouder of what you do for the community.”

Board President Bob Carmean presented a certificate of appreciation to retiring board member John Clements. Thanking him for nine years of service to the foundation board.

Board Vice President Ray Mock noted the foundation got a big boost in its early years with a $1 million donation from John and Grace Dome, creating the first endowment in 1999. Those funds have helped the foundation to benefit youth, the city of Oxford and McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital.

Mock said the new Impact25 fund drive has a goal of $250,000 over the coming years which would provide $600,000 over a 10-year period to be given back to the community through its many funds and programs.

The foundation board voted in January to add the word “Greater” to its name to better reflect its full scope to its service area, the Talawanda School District, which is 144 square miles in geographic range. The name is now the Greater Oxford Area Community Foundation.

Assets are now at $13 million and include 200 named funds.

“Our potential for making our community a better place to live through charitable giving is a limitless as our residents’ imaginations,” Executive Director Betsy Hope said in a press release announcing the celebration. She noted the foundation has granted more than $6 million to nonprofits over the past 25 years including annual presentation of $55,000 in student scholarships.

She also said the foundation has the ability to meet unexpected local challenges.

“Community foundations have a unique ability to pivot and arise to current needs and challenges. In 1998, in response to an incident of racial violence, an anonymous donor seeded our Tolerance Fund with a $100,000, to support programs designed to reduce intolerance, bigotry and conflict. In early 2020, we began our COVID-19 Organizational Assistance Fund, and later that same year, our Diversity Fund to make an impact through funding of diversity related grants,” Hope said.

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