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BCF celebrates growth, grants at annual meeting

Table with informational materials
Bath Community Fund's third annual meeting drew almost 60 supporters and donors.

On March 30, nearly 60 supporters of Bath Community Fund gathered to celebrate the fund's growth and impact in the community at its third annual meeting.

In front of an audience of donors and volunteers at Victory Gallop, fund leaders announced the endowment had grown to more than $320,000, thanks to nearly 300 gifts from 149 individuals, families and organizations since BCF was established at Akron Community Foundation in 2014.

"Bath Community Fund was created to give back to this community, and in less than three years, we were able to do just that, thanks to all of you," said Jody Miller Konstand, chair of the fund's advisory board. "That's what we're celebrating tonight, and that's our springboard for what we want to do in the years to come."

In 2016, Bath Community Fund awarded its first grants totaling $14,500 to five nonprofit organizations in Bath Township. Representatives from each of the agencies spoke during the event about the impact those funds will have on the community. Jack Steele, treasurer of the Western Reserve Playhouse, publicly thanked fund leaders for their grant to upgrade the playhouse's aging air conditioning system and expressed his appreciation for their dedication to investing in the Bath community.

"This capital improvement made possible by Bath Community Fund will help preserve the playhouse and its longstanding history in this community," he said. "What you've done for the Bath community is awesome, and you should be commended for that."

The evening culminated with advisory board members announcing the official launch of the fund's "For Bath, Forever" endowment campaign, which aspires to raise $2.018 million by Bath's bicentennial in 2018. Konstand introduced three couples who have committed to serving as co-chairs of the campaign: Dr. Tom and Mary Ann Jackson, Thom and Lisa Mandel, and Brad and Amy Bowers, all of whom have deep connections to the Bath community.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to have the support of these three couples, and we are set to go to work," Konstand said, adding that reaching their goal of a $2.018 million endowment would enable Bath Community Fund to grant at least $100,000 to deserving nonprofits in Bath every year, forever.

"You just heard the impact of grants we gave for $14,500. Think of the impact of grants totaling $100,000 a year," she said. "That $100,000 a year can give back to so many people in so many ways."

The meeting also included the election of the Rev. Mark Frey to the Bath Community Fund Advisory Board. Frey, who recently retired after more than 25 years at The Bath United Church of Christ, is well-known for his service to the community. Prior to his work in ministry, Frey worked as a project coordinator for Habitat for Humanity and served as the national coordinator in central Africa. He is active with several other causes, including Family Promise of Summit County and the Millennium Fund for Children of Akron Community Foundation.

"I am excited to join the Bath Community Fund Advisory Board because we have the opportunity to create a community endowment to help future generations enjoy and thrive in Bath for the next 100 years and beyond," Frey said. "I have been intimately involved in the Bath community for the last 25 years, and I look forward to working with everyone to achieve our goal in the bicentennial year."

The slate of incoming advisory board officers elected at the meeting included Konstand as chair, Nancy Fay as vice chair, Kathy Sidaway as secretary, and Kevin Kroskey as financial officer. Their terms will commence July 1.

Before concluding the meeting, Konstand paid tribute to two friends and supporters of the fund who died in the last year -- Judy Read and Dick Krejci -- saying their generosity is an example of the lasting impact people can make on their community.

"They are why we are building a legacy in Bath Community Fund. Even when we aren't here, something bigger than ourselves will live on forever," she said. "That's what this fund will do, and that's what Judy and Dick and so many others have taught us."

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