Community Foundation celebrates first 20 years of assistance

By Steve Eighinger Herald-Whig

Posted: Oct. 28, 2017




Joanne Dedert is always quick to sing the praises of the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.

Dedert is executive director of Madonna House, which serves individuals and families in crisis and whose services are strengthened by financial support from the Community Foundation.

“Organizations like ours are like spokes in a wheel, and the foundation is the wheel that moves us forward,” Dedert said. “We couldn’t do the work we do without the support we get from the foundation.”

The Community Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary in November.

From day one — Nov. 26, 1997 — the Community Foundation has built upon and stayed true to a mission statement that is punctuated by “connecting people who care with causes that matter.”

Jill Arnold Blickhan is the president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation, a position that admittedly allows her a tremendous amount of satisfaction.

Blickhan enjoys pointing out the Community Foundation began with $1,050. She now manages a fund totaling $35 million. More than 2,700 grants totaling more than $4 million have been awarded in the last 20 years.

“The most gratifying part of this are the people, those donors who are looking far beyond themselves to make a difference,” said Blickhan, who has headed the Community Foundation for 16 years. “The donors, the board members, the team members are all working to make this region better, both now and in the future.

“People who give and invest in the Community Foundation are visionaries, whether they realize it or not.”

‘Planting the seed’

One of those visionaries is Dennis Everly of Quincy, who has had a key role in helping establish several different funds that serve a variety of needs on both sides of the Mississippi River.

“These funds will keep giving and giving,” Everly said. “(The foundation) is a great thing for the community.”

Everly said he became involved with the Community Foundation through the advice of his financial planner. He said he began to realize the importance of “planting the seed” for future generations.

The Community Foundation achieves a large percentage of its goals through endowment funds. Donations are grown through investments, and grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations, causes or communities that mean the most to foundation donors.

Most endowments are designed to keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income from dividends for charitable efforts. Endowments can be set up for purposes ranging from higher education to the well-being of pets.

The Community Foundation is managing more than 170 different charitable and endowment funds. Blickhan said more than $700,000 worth of grants have been awarded this year, a figure that includes more than $108,000 in competitive grants.

A Community Foundation grant committee, comprising volunteers and board members from the region, evaluates each application. Grants are awarded for needs and opportunities in the areas of arts and culture, community betterment, education and health and human services.

Projects or programs receiving grants must fall within the Community Foundation’s 12-county area of Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike counties in Illinois; and Clark, Knox, Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Ralls and Shelby counties in Missouri.

Building for future

Ralph Oakley, who was the founding chairman of the Community Foundation, oversaw the organization’s formation in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri after seeing the positive effects of a similar organization in Elkhart, Ind.

Oakley, who had lived for a period in Elkhart, invited representatives from that city to meet with civic leaders here to lay the groundwork for what eventually became the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.

There is one element connected with the Community Foundation that is particularly attractive to Oakley.

“People can give at any level, and for any purpose,” said Oakley, who is president and CEO of Quincy Media Inc., which publishes The Herald-Whig. “It has been gratifying to see the (Community Foundation’s) fund grow over the past 20 years. The foundation is doing good work today, and it will be doing good work 50 years from now.”

Amanda Goings, the business manager at Cheerful Home Child Care and Learning Center, said Community Foundation grants not only have assisted with physical needs but in other areas, too.

“The Community Foundation has also helped us focus on development, in areas such as fundraising,” Goings said.

William McCleery Jr. of Quincy is chairman of the board for the Community Foundation. He’s excited about what its future holds.

“The impact of the foundation will continue to grow as assets increase,” said McCleery, a partner in the law firm of Schmiedeskamp, Robertson, Neu & Mitchell LLP.

From the Community Foundation’s inception, it took 10 years for the organization to reach $1 million in grants, five more years to reach the second million, less than two years to reach the third million and two years to surpass the fourth million.

“The foundation has made a lot of progress the first 20 years, and will make even more the next 20,” McCleery said.

Tracy Hagman says the foundation’s name is apropos.

“The Community Foundation is exactly that — it’s all about community,” said Hagman, director of fund development and public relations at the Sunset Home care facility. “The community is lucky to have such (an organization).”

Hagman said the foundation offers individuals and groups the chance to offer support for a cause or a need they are passionate about.

“It’s a great way to serve,” Hagman said. “We’re all in this together.”


The Community Foundation’s online application is at

For more information about the grant program or to schedule an appointment for application review, applicants may contact Catherine Bocke, program and outreach coordinator, at 217-222-1237 or [email protected].

Applications for funding are accepted from 501(c)(3) not-for-profits, religious organizations and organizations classified as government units, if applying for public and charitable purposes.


The Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri is celebrating its 20th anniversary in November, highlighted by a Nov. 4 “Roaring 20th Gala” at Town and Country Inn & Suites in Quincy.

The celebration will showcase the organization’s inaugural Vision Awards that will pay tribute to “an extraordinary spirit of forward-thinking philanthropy” in the 12-county area the Community Foundation serves.

The inaugural Vision Award recipients are the Great River Economic Development Foundation, Marion Gardner Jackson Charitable Trust, Mercantile Bank, the late William Myers of the Elkhart (Ind.) Community Foundation, Thomas A. and Anne M. Oakley and the Oakley-Lindsay Foundation of Quincy Media, Inc.

All of the honorees are members of the Community Foundation’s Founder’s Circle and helped create the foundation on Nov. 26, 1997.

The Roaring 20th Gala will begin at 6 p.m. and will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dancing and entertainment by the Matt McCallie Orchestra.

The public is invited to attend. Tickets for the gala are $75 each. Tables of eight may be reserved for $600 and tables of 10 for $750.

Reservations may be made by calling 217-222-1237.

More information is available at or