Hoping to tap into Catonsville residents' traditional desires to donate during the holiday season, the Catonsville Community Foundation has begun a campaign encouraging those contributions be made to Catonsville area nonprofits.
The community foundation has "been around for 10 years, but nobody's heard of it because it wasn't doing anything because there was not any money," said Jim Himel, the foundation's vice president.
Himel said a key to raising the foundation's profile and impact on the community has been the recent contributions from several area families who have endowed funds for the foundation.
Bequests from the families of Steve and Nancy Whalen, Jack and Berchie Manley, Joe and Cindy Loverde, Joan Bender and Himel and his wife, Meg Tipper, now provide the foundation with a solid base for the future, Himel said.
Among the Catonsville community organizations that have benefited from the foundation's support are Catonsville Fourth of July Committee, Catonsville Historical Society, Catonsville mural project, Catonsville Tree Canopy Project, Comet Stadium Fund at Catonsville High School, Friends of the Catonsville Library and the Lurman Woodland Theatre.
Catonsville Rails to Trails, which promotes safe, accessible trails for hiking, jogging, cycling and walking, is the latest Catonsville group to partner with the foundation.
"It's a great feeling, to give back to the community you were raised in," said state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, who spoke on behalf of the foundation at a recent reception at the Rolling Road Golf Club. "And it's a great feeling to provide something to your community that it really needs."
Himel pointed out that the foundation's status as a nonprofit organization can help those groups that do not have that legal status.
"We'll try to work together so there is not a duplication of effort," said Maureen Sweeney Smith, the foundation's executive director. "If people are trying to get a grant, for example, we will help with that."
The foundation can offer a bank account and apply for grants and other funding on behalf of those groups, Himel said.
"The main thing that sets the foundation apart is providing that umbrella of a 501(c) 3 (legal nonprofit status)," he said.
For information about the foundation, go to http://www.catonsville.org/heritage/index.html.