Three individuals were recognized for giving back to the McPherson community during the McPherson County Community Foundation's Philanthropist of the Year reception Thursday.
Three individuals were recognized for giving back to the McPherson community during the McPherson County Community Foundation's Philanthropist of the Year reception Thursday. Board chairman LaVon Ediger was given the title for 2012, allowing the ReUse It Center to receive $1,000 from the Foundation. The ReUse It Center began with an inspiration to start a nonprofit business that would receive building material donations, sell the products, and give the proceeds to local and global charities. Ediger began formation of the center in May 2010 with a group from the First Mennonite Church of McPherson and opened the building at 1060 W. Kansas about a year later. “He had the inspiration, a trusting creative intuition, good management skills, an ability to assess prospects of success, skill to find highly qualified volunteers, and a need to achieve goals,” his nomination form says. “His success has come from balancing his intuition with caution and being a very careful steward of time, volunteer help and financial resources.” Once the award was announced, Ediger insisted his board members join him at the front of the room for equal recognition. “To get a warm fire going, it first takes a spark to ignite,” he said after thanking the Foundation for its work in the community. “Then a fuel and a flame to provide warmth in a warm, cozy fire. I suppose I may have been the spark to initiate the fire of the ReUse It Center, but, and let me be very clear on this, the board of the ReUse It Center has been the fuel and the energy of this endeavor in this community. “I cannot adequately thank the board for their thoughts, time, energy, dedication and commitment in first of all exploring the concept, then developing the concept, and then initiating the concept.” He then recognized those beside him, including Bill Toews, vice president; Marianne Miller, secretary; Randy Goering, treasurer; and board members Duane Bender, Don Fast, Eric Litwiller, Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Gary Stucky and Kathy Goering. “I consider myself as only a representative for the board, who are in fact the true recipients of this recognition,” he said. First runner up for Philanthropist of the Year was Sondra Frank of the McPherson County Resource Council, which received $500 from the Foundation. The McPherson County Resource Council began about 20 years ago, with Sondra being one of the founders. A group recognized that there were county residents who fell through the cracks in qualifying and receiving financial assistance, primarily for medical purposes. The council was formed and began securing funding and setting up guidelines for disbursements. Among many layers of service in the community though the council, Frank helped start the Angel Tree project, which provides Christmas gifts for needy children. In 2011, the project provided clothing and gifts to more than 600 county children. Second runner up was David Nigh of the McPherson Opera House, which received $250 from the Foundation. Nigh has been a contributor for 17 years, volunteering many hours to restore the facility and giving tours since its completion. He is a frequent usher and ticket taker during performance nights, a financial contributor and a knowledgeable source for Opera House history. In addition to his work at the Opera House, Nigh also has been involved with various other community organizations, such as the McPherson County Historical Society, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees, the McPherson Lions Club, and the McPherson Museum Board. “It's really wonderful to hear from all of our philanthropists and to meet all of you and know each of the volunteers has made a difference in our community,” Becky Goss, president of the McPherson County Community Foundation said. “Nothing can happen without you.” The reception was the culminating event of national Community Foundation week. The McPherson County Community Foundation hosted several events throughout the week involving nonprofit organizations, professionals, donors, the Chamber of Commerce and community members.