Golden day for foundation
A 15-year-old foundation that was established to aid western Coloradans struck a mother lode, both in terms of donations and in identifying people who regularly give money and time.
The Western Colorado Community Foundation on Wednesday honored two longtime Grand Valley residents each with a Heart of Gold award.
The award, which was named to acknowledge a gift in 2010 of a working and, of late, quite profitable gold mine, also marks the achievement of an endowment of more than $30 million to the foundation, said Anne Wenzel, executive director of the foundation.
“We went from $13 million to $29 million in one year” as a result of donations by Ellen Jo Waldeck and the family of Genevieve Clough, and the endowment has grown a bit since, Wenzel said.
About 240 people attended the foundation’s awards luncheon in the Colorado Mesa University Student Center ballroom.
The awards also recognized the spirit of generosity exemplified by Bruce Dixson, a Grand Junction inventor and entrepreneur, volunteer and regular-but-quiet donor to community causes and projects.
Carol Murphy, a donor and volunteer, and Gregg Kampf, a Grand Junction attorney and volunteer, were recognized as embodying the spirit of the heart of gold.
Waldeck offered royalties from a Nevada gold mine in time for the foundation to profit from the boom in gold prices, Wenzel noted.
The foundation’s natural-resource-related portfolio also benefitted greatly from a gift in the memory of Clough, who started college at age 50, according to her granddaughter, Stormy Anderson.
In that spirit of dedication to higher education, money from natural gas royalties is used to help students from Coal Ridge, Rifle and Grand Valley high schools go to college. Scholarships are awarded on a needs basis, and 50 scholarships were awarded this year, bringing to 250 the number of students benefitting from her grandmother’s gift, Anderson said.
“I’m trying to keep her legacy going on,” Anderson said of her grandmother.
Many western Colorado residents are in a position to help the foundation, which serves Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray and Rio Blanco counties, said Susan Diaz, one of Waldeck’s daughters.
“Whether you can leave $10,000 or $1 million, it’s nice to know you can leave the world a better place,” Diaz said.
Kampf, who has provided legal services for organizations large and small and for serving on multiple boards, has been known to clean up the soup kitchen at Catholic Outreach and stay overnight at American Lutheran Church when it houses homeless men, the foundation said.
“I’ve received more from volunteering than I’ve ever given,” Kampf said.
Murphy, known for thousands of hours of volunteer service at the St. Mary’s Hospital gift shop, as well as to her family’s Saccomanno Higher Education Foundation, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and other organizations, said she was inspired in part by her father, Geno Saccomanno.
“It’s a real honor and blessing to be of service to those in need,” Murphy remembers her father telling her.
Kampf and Murphy were recognized because of their long history of service and selfless, quiet giving that often flies below the radar, Wenzel said.
Each was given a bouquet and a “Heart of Gold” piece of original artwork by Boulder artist Bill Vielehr.
The foundation manages more than 200 donor funds and awarded $1.4 million in grants and scholarships in 2011, bringing the total of such awards to more than $5.5 million since the foundation began.