Community Foundation luncheon honors philanthropists, explores community

More than 650 people attended the event, which is regarded as southwest Washington’s preeminent celebration of local philanthropy

VANCOUVER — The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington hosted its 2019 Annual Luncheon, themed Mosaic, on June 4 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. More than 650 people attended the event, which is regarded as southwest Washington’s preeminent celebration of local philanthropy.

The event honored local philanthropists like Vancouver residents Jim and Judith Youde, who received the 2019 Philanthropists of the Year award for their outstanding charitable leadership and generosity in southwest Washington. Alan Hamilton, president of the Clark County Food Bank, presented the award and noted that the Youdes “care deeply about their community and the needs of people.” Jim and Judith have used the knowledge and wealth gained from their  natural resource and economics consulting firm to establish and strengthen organizations like Farmers Ending Hunger and the Clark County Food Bank. In addition, they are generous supporters of women and children, environmental conservation and education and research at their alma mater, Oregon State University.

Accepting the award, Judith said, “Philanthropy is addictive. “There is always more to do, more to give, more people to help. You cannot stop once you start, and that’s part of the beauty of it — you want to do more.”

Community Foundation president Jennifer Rhoads announced that this year marks the Foundation’s 35th anniversary. During this time, the organization has assisted individuals, families and businesses with their philanthropic goals, establishing 330 charitable funds that are currently valued at $292 million and have granted more than $189 million to nonprofit organizations. In 2018 alone, combined grants totaled $15.4 million.

“This is incredible news for local communities and the organizations working on their behalf to advance the common good,” Rhoads said. “It also represents a bright future for southwest Washington as a whole.”

Jim Martin, of Vancouver, was honored as the 2019 Friend of the Foundation for his continued service to the Foundation’s mission of promoting philanthropy in southwest Washington. Martin was an early member of its investment committee and helped draft the grantmaking organization’s first investment policy, a service he has since provided to dozens of local organizations. He is also a member of the Community Foundation’s Professional Advisory Council, a group of estate planners, financial advisors, accountants and attorneys that provide advice and direction. Billy Henry, executive director of Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, said that the success and expertise of Jim’s 30-year career as the Chief Investment Officer at M.J. Murdock Chartiable Trust has bubbled over into our community.

Don and Margaret Fuesler of Longview, and the Ryan family of Vancouver, were both presented with Lifetime of Giving awards, recognizing their significant personal sacrifices for community, philanthropy and service.

Dr. Don and Margaret Fuesler have lived in Cowlitz County for nearly 70 years. Over the decades, they have supported local organizations serving children and families, providing education, health and human services and access to arts and cultural opportunities. Don, a World War II veteran who landed on Omaha Beach almost 75 years ago to the day, gave the shortest and most humorous acceptance speech of all.

Fuesler said, “I was told I could say a few words, so here they are: A few words,” and then exited the stage to applause and laughter.

The Ryan family’s giving includes scholarships, large-scale fundraisers and discreet volunteerism, like baking birthday cakes for homeless youth. By making giving a family value, the Ryans have contributed more than $1 million to local causes, including Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute, Christian Youth Theater, Clark County Food Bank and Courts for Kids.

The event also featured a talk from Dr. Debra Jenkins, an award-winning author, presenter and educator. She talked about what it means to live in a collective community. She drew upon her personal experiences growing up in Vancouver to demonstrate how we all rely on one another to achieve our goals and give our gifts to the world.

The event was made possible thanks to the generous and steadfast support from the organization’s Gold Sponsors: Columbia Trust Company, Leslie Durst and Russell Investments.

About the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington

Established in 1984, the Community Foundation helps southwest Washingtonians build a more vibrant community by inspiring investments in local philanthropy. The Foundation holds more than 330 distinct funds, which are actively invested to generate growth and income for charitable purposes. Governed by an esteemed volunteer Board, the Community Foundation offers benefits and services to donors, nonprofits and the community at large. Learn more at www.cfsww.org.

Information provided by Community Foundation for Southwest Washington.

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