Give Care Share: The Community Foundation of South Central KY




Story by Emily Robertson

The Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky’s Executive Director Jennifer Wethington says that the foundation’s purpose is simple: To make our area better than we found it and leave a legacy for upcoming generations to build upon. And so many wonderful, local nonprofits get the benefit of that mission through much needed funds and support.

In 1995, the Bowling Green- Warren County Community Foundation was first established with an original committee of Paul Cook, Wade Markham, Ron Shewsberry, John Grider and Robert Kirby. Shewsberry was from West Virginia and was familiar with Community Foundations and the good that they do in communities across the country by bringing together local donors to support organizations doing amazing work in communities. Cook also saw the value in an organization here.

“As a group we knew as the community grew, the needs would emerge and the Foundation would be a lasting resource,” Cook says. In 2011, the board broadened the focus of the foundation to include Allen, Barren Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson and Warren counties, and the name was changed to the Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky.

“Through the Community Foundation, donors are able to maximize charitable gifts during their lifetimes and provide perpetual gifts through endowments,” Wethington says. “We exist to help people support the causes they care about most. With one gift, a donor can support multiple nonprofits, receive the highest tax benefit and have the flexibility of giving various types of assets as donations. The funds established by donors provide grants for dozens of diverse charitable organizations.”

Because the Community Foundation is focused on endowments, the money that is given is never actually spent. The gifts, both large and small, are invested into endowments and yield returns every year, which then goes to support local nonprofits. The earnings are given to organizations, from health and human services to art and culture, through the foundation’s unrestricted fund or Donor Advised Funds. The hope is that these types of funds will continue to produce high yields that can benefit the community for years and years to come. The Foundation has awarded grants since 1995 and the current assets of the organization are more than $14 million, consisting of 45 funds.

The Community Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and the group is passionate about the organization’s efforts and areas of focus. The foundation has three employees, with Jennifer Wethington leading the efforts since 2011. Before working for the Foundation, Wethington worked asDirector of Marketing for Rivendell Behavioral Health Services. It was there that she first started working with various organizations around the area and joined the board of the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center.

“That experience opened my eyes to just one of the many ways we can help in our community by giving back as a volunteer,” Wethington says. “My service on that board led to my involvement with other volunteer organizations such as Junior Achievement, United Way and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. I never thought of myself as a philanthropist, but by using what a person is blessed with, whether that is personal resources, expertise, money, time, influence or compassion, anyone can be a philanthropist.”

Wethington saw her role at the Foundation as a way to strengthen the community by inspiring philanthropy and promoting stewardship in community members.

“A job helping people leave legacies to support what they are passionate about while building a lasting resource that will be here long after we are all gone is very satisfying,” Wethington says. “I’m proud to be a part of helping the Foundation move forward in fulfilling its mission.”

The Community Foundation has one yearly event to raise funds for the organization’s operations: The South Central Kentuckian of the Year.

“The purpose of this event is to promote philanthropy through honoring an area philanthropist and to show the good that the foundation is doing through the granting process,” Wethington says. “The South Central Kentuckian of the Year Award honors an individual or organization for excellence in leadership as demonstrated by outstanding initiative, impact of work and inspiration of others. The award aims to honor ordinary people in our community who are making significant contributions through their life’s work.”

Past award winners include Charles M. Moore, Romanza Johnson, Kenny Perry, Laura Turner Dugas, Bob Kirby, Col. Robert and Cora Jane Spiller, Jerry E. Baker, John and Linda Kelly, Fred M. Higgins and the 2021 award went to Jim and Rita Scott.

Going forward, Wethington hopes to continue to help the Community Foundation fulfill its
mission and make the most impact possible by helping their donors and the community.

“The central purpose of your community foundation is to serve the needs and philanthropic aims of donors who wish to better their community, now and in the future. Our business is building community.”

To find out more about The Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky, go to www.cfsky.org

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