A community mixer will be held next week designed to draw greater awareness of the Ceres Community Foundation.
Recently the Foundation's board of directors agreed that the community is largely unaware of the Foundation and the work it does, said Dovie Wilson, who became its president in July.
The Ceres Community Foundation is not to be confused with the Ceres Unified School District Foundation. The non-profit organization's 501 (c)(3) status allows the public to make tax-deductible contributions to projects which enhance cultural, educational, artistic, and historic elements of the Ceres community as well as parks and recreational facilities or opportunities. Currently all of the funds add up to about $120,000. Such community projects as:
• Maintaining the Presidential Tree Grove in Smyrna Park;
• Ceres River Bluff Regional Park;
• Rotary Grove in Smyrna Park;
• Establishing the Howard Stevenson Memorial at River Bluff Regional Park and $13,000 for maintenance;
• Recreation program scholarships;
• National Night Out.
Recently, the Foundation board agreed to accept funds for the upcoming City of Ceres Centennial Celebration in 2018; and on behalf of the restoration of the Ceres Water Tower. Led by Brandy Meyer, a group of citizens is setting out to raise funds for the tower project since the city does not have the funds for the restoration. One bid from Cornerstone Company obtained by the city in 2010 pegged the project cost at $450,000. The cost includes cost analysis, testing plans, developing specs, structural repairs, repainting, project management and inspection. Those costs could be as high as $530,000 today.
Past President Steve Beaver said the Foundation was started in 1994 when Homer Jorgenson organized an effort to raise money in the community in an attempt to purchase the historic Clinton Whitmore Home for the Ceres Historical Society. Those efforts failed but later the city purchased the home for $325,000.
"Homer was actually the one who initially came up with the idea and created this Foundation," said Beaver. "That was the first big project that this Foundation supported. The concept was if somebody from the public wanted to help with that project and donate money into the Foundation, then we would appropriate that money back to the Historical Society so they could spend it."
Beaver joined the Foundation board in 2003 and remembers things being low-key with the expectation that the public would know about it and continue donating.
"A couple of years ago after the economy recovered, we decided we need to be a little more proactive and let people know who we are. There were a number of years there where nobody was really donating any money for any reasons when we went through those tough times."
The Foundation commissioned the creation of a logo through Ceres High School art teacher Kristin Swanky. Now the Foundation is finalizing plans for a brochure and a website. After the mixer, Beaver said the group will likely make the rounds to speak to service clubs in Ceres to get out the word.
Vice President Don Cool said the board meets every other month to discuss finances and mull over requests for funding. He gave the example of how Traci Farris, the city of Ceres Recreation Manager, requested approximately $4,000 for playground equipment at Whitmore Park. The request was approved.
"Anybody can make a donation to us and when they make a donation they'll put it in a category, like this is a donation for the Howard Stevenson Memorial, or a donation for one of the tree groves or rec fields."
The Foundation even pays for the "chalking" of the soccer fields, which is "really expensive paint," Cool said.
The mixer, set for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres.
Besides Wilson, the current board directors are Vice President Don Cool, Secretary Dale Singh, Treasurer Suzanne Dean, Directors Lou Toste and Ron Richter, Past President Steve Beaver and City Parks & Recreation Liaison Traci Farris. Steve Beaver is the Past President.
Persons wanting to make a donation to the Ceres Community Foundation may send them in care of the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres CA 95307.