gmhTODAY 19 gmhToday April May 2018 - Page 37

I n the early 2000s, then city-council member Greg Sellers and former mayor Dennis Kennedy dreamed up a vision of how to tap into the generous resources of Silicon Valley in a way that would funnel back to Morgan Hill’s community. Inspired by the work of the Silicon Valley Community Founda- tion they eventually formed a board with five others and birthed the Morgan Hill Community Foundation (MHCF), a non- profit philanthropic organization “that connects impassioned donors with local needs” as their website states. There were already a ton of “micro non-profits in the community,” Sellers told TODAY , “groups that wanted to do an event but didn’t want to wait a year for 501c3 status.” Thus, the MHCF was able to step in and bolster projects that might have taken years to come to fruition. The effort was a success, and the MHCF has gone on to be a major player in the success of non-profit projects ranging from the community dog park, to the community gardens, plus events like Senior Bingo Night, and Project Road Map at PA Walsh school, which helps kids with college prep. Current President, Pamala Meador, a local artist and real estate agent, is excited about the work the foundation is investing in now. She came on board two years ago after helping create a non-profit called El Toro Culture and Arts that raises money for the maintenance of local sculpture in town. “Of all the things I could do in town, this is the thing I’m incredibly passionate about,” she said. She explained that the function of the foundation is to be “the platform, the umbrella, the firm ground beneath the feet of so many organizations in town that do really wonderful things.” Meador said they are the “accountants and lawyers,” and while not a “sexy story,” they are necessary for any non- gmh profit organization to raise funds and do good work. Morgan Hill is already a deeply philanthropic town, with its share of fundraisers, but not every group that raises money has the desire or time to become their own non-profit. By piggy- backing under the foundation, they don’t have to. Meador explained that the MHCF is one of the few community foundations in the state that can give their fiscal partners nonprofit status immediately “and puts them on a path to get their own non- profit status.” They fund six areas of focus: recreation, arts and culture, agriculture and environment, education and lifelong learning, science and tech, and health and human services. If a group does not want or intend to become a non-profit but wants to raise money for a philanthropic cause, the Foundation takes away “the additional burden of a tax return, filing to get the raffle done, credit card machines,” Meador said. They help remove “all the stuff that that takes energy, focus and resources away” from the organization’s main goal: to raise money. “We’re that bridge,” she said. She went on to say that their partners essentially become one with the foundation, though how they fund- raise and put those funds to use is up to them. “Partners get a bucket under our umbrella. If they want to get a grant, they can write one under us.” Meador is also excited about another, newer facet, known as donor advised funds (DAF). Here, individuals in the community can set up a fund and “direct it where they want it to go,” she said. They can choose to have it be an endowment if they want. And, if you wish to create a DAF but don’t yet have the $10,000 minimum investment, they’re creating a program where you can build your fund over time. “If you don’t have a lot of money, but have some, if you can get a pathway to reach your goal in a certain amount of years, we’ll be your bank account and then it can get endowed,” Meador said. Or a family could come together and pool their money to create a fund. In the immediate future the MHCF’s next big act is taking over a wine action that used to be put on by the South Valley Athletic League to support athletic programs. Here in what would be its 20th year, the League felt they no longer had the volunteer power to pull it off. When they came to Meador to disband, she couldn’t bear to see a good thing go, especially on what would be its 20th anniversary. So, in partnership with the South Valley Wine Association, the newly revamped South Valley Wine Auction will take place May 11, the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend, at the Morgan Hill Community Center. 5 to 7 p.m. is VIP Tasting, and 6 to 10 p.m. is general admission and the wine auction.   “Instead of focusing specifically on athletics, we’re focusing on non-profits in the area. They don’t have to be a partner of MHCF to use this as a vehicle to fund- raise,” Meador said. Her vision is that the event supports “everything philanthropic in the community” and eventually goes on to become “the premier wine auction for our community.” Any nonprofit that wants to participate can do so, and will keep 75% of the proceeds from their auction items. “The non profits don’t have to have the risk of putting the event on. They don’t have to do anything but bring their stuff, hang their posters and contact people in their database,” she explained. Meador sees this as a time of great philanthropic growth in Morgan Hill, and she’s proud to be part of making non-profit dreams come true. PHOTOS: Back Row (l-r): Matt Wendt, Janet Librers-Leach, Mario Banuelos, Myra Kaelin, Amy Whelan, Rob Christopher Front Row (l-r): Nick Gaich – Vice President, Peggy Martin – Treasurer, Pamala Meador – President, Bob Lipscomb – Secretary Board Member not pictured is Steve Cox. Inset: Pamela Meador, President. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN APRIL/MAY 2018 37