-Article written by Linda Reiners-
The first annual meeting was held at the Carnegie Center in 1992 or 1993. At that time officers and board members were elected. The annual meeting then turned into an Annual Banquet for the Jasper Foundation. Early on the event was held at the City Office and Pub and attended by board members, committee members and later on grantee representatives from the different non-profits.
As far as the purpose, other Foundations had similar events, but I wanted to showcase our grantees besides what we had accomplished for the year. This was a great way for the board members to see what programs and projects the non-profits were able to achieve with our grants from the JC Unrestricted Fund. They each spoke about their grants. Also, very informative for the non-profits to hear what others were doing with their grant dollars in the county. This was more about showcasing our non-profits and their good work in our communities than the actual money we provided. After the Newton County Community Foundation was formed, we used the same template from the Jasper Foundation for their Annual Banquet. The location for the event was always the Colonial Inn in Kentland.
As time progressed we changed the name to Celebration Banquet in each county which we felt expressed how the evening evolved. There was much to celebrate as our endowments were growing and we had several new additions for the event. We added in each county the announcement and introductions of the new Lilly Endowment Scholars and their parents. Also, we added a donor spotlight that recognized a donor who had set up a named fund. They were in attendance and spoke about the purpose of their fund and their reason for setting it up. This was a very informative and meaningful addition to the banquet.
We always felt the Celebration Banquets were an important part of the mission of the Foundations. It was a way to define the work of our community foundations in enhancing the quality of life for our citizens. Everyone in attendance seemed to have a little better understanding on how the Foundations can truly make a difference in our counties. It all starts with donors and their charitable intent for their community through the Foundations. They can permanently support the charitable organizations and causes that mean the most to them by setting up funds from which grants and scholarships are distributed.