Your community foundation recently had one of my favorite events of the year, our Annual Community Grants Luncheon on Nov. 15. At this event we announced grants to 46 local non-profit organizations totaling more than $170,000.

When you have requests for grants that total more than twice of what you have available to spend, it’s not an easy job to make tough funding decisions. Our grants committee, chaired by board members Doug Hammer and Helen Hatridge, did a great job leading in this challenging process.

Recipients of these grants provide a broad range of services with the Heritage Philharmonic, the Independence Square Association, the Jackson County Historical Society, the McCoy Park Inclusive Play Project, the Community Services League, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, Hope House, Habitat for Humanity and Uplift Independence as a few examples.

We also welcomed the Junior Service League as a new partner in our annual grants process. JSL participated on our grants committee and made grants from its charitable funds here at the foundation to Cancer Action Inc., the Community Services League and the Salvation Army-Crossroads. It’s great to have another opportunity to collaborate with one of our strongest community partners.

These grants were made possible through 18 charitable funds at the community foundation. Seven of these funds were established through estate gifts from individuals who had a great love of our community and wished to continue their support past their lifetimes. It’s an incredible legacy that they have left for our community. At our luncheon we recognized the now 95 members of our Heartland Legacy Society who have made plans for charitable giving in their estate plans through their fund at your community foundation.

We also honored a Heartland Legacy Society member who passed away on May 29, Dr. Carl Jelley. A long-time resident of Blue Springs, Dr. Jelley entrusted the Truman Heartland Community Foundation with a significant estate gift. His instructions were that we create a charitable fund to support children’s education, and we formally announced at the luncheon the Jelley Family Foundation Endowment for Children’s Education.

One of our most important responsibilities as a community foundation is to ensure that we closely follow the donor’s intent for legacy gifts, and our board has thoughtfully and carefully crafted grant guidelines for this new endowed fund. This endowment will provide approximately $80,000 in grants next year, and that amount will grow in the future as Dr. Jelley’s estate is fully settled.

A statement often heard from Dr. Jelley – “Education is the cure to all that ails us” – speaks to his love of education. What a tremendous legacy he has created, and we look forward to honoring him at each community grants luncheon for many, many years to come.

It truly is an honor for us to work with charitably minded individuals in our community to leave a legacy for their community.

Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.