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We can keep you in The Loop

Our Fox Valley Giving Matters blog has been replaced by a regularly updated information service about nonprofits and giving in the Fox Valley region called The Loop. You can view it on our redesigned home page at and subscribe here.

Exhibit gives visibility to homeless

Walk into the new exhibit on homelessness at the History Museum at the Castle in downtown Appleton and the large photo you see is by a man named Del. Turn the corner, and Del stares back at you in a larger-than-life portrait, his face painted and topped by a fuzzy red and black hat that appears to be a pretty permanent fixture. The photo caption quotes him explaining the paint: “Pharaohs do it, women do it, Indians do it, why can’t I?”


Del with the photo he took of a friend.

Del is one of the faces of homelessness on display in “(In)visible: Homelessness in Appleton,” an exhibit that opened April 29. He lives in an Appleton-area motel — not physically homeless, but half a step away from it. Curator Nick Hoffman said the exhibit of photos taken by 15 homeless or near-homeless people adds the human side to the statistical picture painted by Project RUSH, a collaborative survey of homelessness conducted in April 2015 by 125 volunteers who interviewed 600 people.homeless-wall-WEB

For three months, Del shot photos of his daily life using a camera given to him as part of the museum’s project, done in collaboration with four area homeless advocacy nonprofits. Grants of $15,000 from the Arts and Culture Partnership grant program, $5,000 from the Robert Dohr and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund within the Community Foundation supported the exhibit. Grants of $30,000 from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership and $18,000 from Community Foundation discretionary grant money supported Project RUSH.

The exhibit features more than 150 photos. A traveling version of the exhibit, made possible by a $6,000 grant from the Mielke Family Foundation, is available free to display in schools, libraries and other public places for two to three weeks. Contact Hoffman at or 920-735-9370 Ext. 112. Also involved in the project were Homeless Connections, COTS, Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities and the Fox Valley Warming Shelter.

Grants celebrate Earth Day

The Community Foundation is celebrating Earth Day by announcing grants from our Environmental Sustainability Partnership grant program totaling nearly $50,000 to improve water quality in the lower Fox River and build an amphitheater at Waupaca’s Eco Park.

The Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance received $23,900 to develop a database to keep track of what works in reducing the runoff of phosphorus and suspended solids into the Plum-Kankapot Creek sub-watershed near Kaukauna.

Plum Creek

Plum Creek as it enters the Fox River.

The Fox River tributary was previously identified as the largest contributor of agricultural runoff in the lower Fox watershed. The money will be used to hire a consultant to guide Fox-Wolf in creating the database, which it will share with area county soil conservation officials. Fox-Wolf’s partners for the project are Outagamie, Calumet, Winnebago and Brown counties.

The information will contribute toward research work for a major Great Lakes Regional Initiative grant Fox-Wolf received to find ways for wastewater treatment plants to meet tougher pollution regulations, possibly including by paying farmers to engage in conservation practices that can achieve better results at lower cost than technical improvements at the treatment plants.

Eco Park

Waupaca’s Eco Park is the future site of an amphitheater.

“This innovative data-storing system will increase the likelihood  for future (runoff) reductions in the Lower Fox River watershed and the opportunity to impact nearly 500,000 people living in this watershed,” Jessica Schultz, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance executive director, said.


CAP Services received the maximum $25,000 grant for construction of an amphitheater in the Eco Park on Waupaca’s southeast side.

The natural amphitheater will be built using locally sourced, natural materials by teens enrolled in the nonprofit’s Fresh Start program. The program offers an alternative route to a high school degree for students who have been in trouble at school or with the law. As many as 6,000 students per year from Waupaca schools will hear environmental presentations in the amphitheater, and it will be available for other public uses. CAP Services is partnering with the city of Waupaca, as well as the Waupaca Foundry.

“With the help of this grant, CAP Services Fresh Start participants will have opportunities to learn about environmentally sustainable practices related to constructing and using a natural amphitheater,” Mary Patoka, president/CEO of CAP Services said.

The Environmental Sustainability grants come from unrestricted endowment funds donors have established to address community needs as determined by the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. Smaller environmental grants of up to $2,500 are awarded from the Environmental Stewardship Fund. It is supported by an endowment fund started in 2004 by 54 founding donors and a matching grant from the Community Foundation. Give online to support this fund.

10 Things Heard at Celebrating Our Volunteers

Nearly 600 people gathered in the grand ballroom of the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel April 19 to honor volunteers in eight award categories at the Celebrating Our Volunteers gala. Here are some of the highlights of the things they heard. See photos

  1. Leah Witthuhn, Youth Volunteer honoree, on her nonprofit Music Mission:
    “To be able to have an impact on someone’s life, to be the cause of something great, that is what we’re here for.”
  2. John McFadden, Health Care Volunteer of the Year honoree with wife Susan, on the Fox Valley Memory Project:
    “We believe that when we view dementia as a disability that can be accommodated with patience, understanding and kindness, our community becomes a better place for everyone.” Read more

A week to praise volunteers

We are coming to the end of what is — by nothing less than a presidential decree — National Volunteer Week. The Community Foundation celebrated by naming as our Volunteers of the Year two people whose volunteer work has included the promotion of volunteering on a grand scale.


John McFadden

The Rev. John McFadden and the elegant Karen Laws are our choices. John has served ably as emcee for the annual Celebrating Our Volunteers Gala since 2000, while Karen has been running around behind the scenes as event-day coordinator for just as long.

The gala runs smoothly thanks, in large measure, to their talents. They keep things running on time – John with a just-noticeable lean toward the speaker when it’s time to wrap things up or, on one occasion, an affectionate bear hug that the speaker didn’t realize was serving as the Vaudeville hook. He makes the breaks between the awards as enjoyable as the stories the award recipients are telling.


Karen Laws

From instilling the fear of a former New York news producer’s icy glare for going overtime, to making clear which way to enter and exit, and what to do with the box that will protect the glass award on the way home, Karen attends to all of details of what’s happening on stage. Even the quality of the throw rug on the stage is not too small of a detail for her to correct.

John and Karen are integral pieces in the building blocks of this important event and valuable volunteers that this event and this community are blessed to have. They are worthy of a week, a month or a year dedicated to thanking them, and all of our local volunteers, for their service.


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