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The Finley River Community Foundation and the Finley River School

Since May of 2001, the Finley River Community Foundation has distributed over $120,000 in grants to organizations and individuals in need in Christian county. Among them is the Finley River School. Mike Smith has the story.

KSMU’s quarterly series Making a Difference Where You Live introduces you to people in the Ozarks whose programs and projects enhance the quality of life in their communities, and to citizens of those communities who with grants, endowments, and scholarships through the Community foundation of the Ozarks, support them. I’m Mike Smith. This morning and this afternoon, we take a trip to Ozark Missouri for a talk with those who are Making a Difference in the lives of adolescents and victims of family violence. We’ll also talk with these members of the Finley river community foundation: (Karen Miller, President of the Finley River Community Foundation; Janis Creek, Secretary for the FRCF, and FRCF board member Elise Crain introduce themselves).President Karen Miller says the FRCF formed in May 2001, inspired in part by a friendly cross county rivalry. “Carole Collins called me and said Nixa’s doing this, (formed the Nixa Community Foundation) why don’t we do it too. From there we got about 10 people together to listen to CFO President Gary Funk. We were figuring out if this would be a good for Ozark and it obviously was so we went from there.”Elise Crain remembers the first FRCF meeting being held in the “Old Ozark Mill.It was not long after 911 and so it was a challenge to put together. As you will recall, out whole atmosphere in the country changed, but I think our sense of giving where it counted was enhanced. We might not have had as much to give as we wanted but we simply said OK, It’s going to be important to focus on where we put this money”. Janis Creek tells KSMU “Some of our first recipients included the Christian County Child Welfare Advocacy Committee and Least of These. We’ve also given to the Sparta Community Betterment Association, and Hilandville Elementary school for playground equipment”. “Yes”, Karen Miller says, “Quite a bit of our money has gone to the schools. I’m a retired teacher and have had the privilege of meeting with teachers and administrators reminding them that the FRCF is taking grant applications”. One of the schools receiving funding from the Finley River Community Foundation is the Finley River School, the alternative high school in Ozark. Frances Gooden is the Director of the Finley River School: “This year we applied for and received $550.00 for our Bowls of Hope program. The money helped purchase a pottery wheel and supplies to make ceramic bowls, and for our fundraiser we are going to sell the bowls filled with soup at a special luncheon”. It may come as a surprise to some that in a role reversal of sorts, the students of the Finley River School have also participated in a fundraiser to help raise money for a FRCF scholarship, and in a big way. Frances Gooden tells KSMU the alternative school raised over $500 in an annual Bowl-A-Thon which was added to prize money the school received for being one of the winners of KSPR’s Oprah’s Big Give Away” contest. All totaled, the Finley River School was able to donate over $14,000 to the Matt Stoelb Continuing the Journey Scholarship. Frances Gooden says “It’s important for our students to be productive members of the community and it benefits all of us when they do become productive. It’s better for all of when we can work together with the FRCF and the city of Ozark. To raise self esteem, we need to get these kids out doing things for others. If they feel better about themselves, that increases their attendance. In turn, that will increase their scholarship here, their grades”.At 4:30 this afternoon when we continue this edition of Making A Difference, we’ll hear more from FRCF board members Miller, Creek and Crain, and from Renette Wardlow, director of the Christian County Family Violence Center.Support for Making a Difference where You Live comes from the community foundation of the Ozarks. For KSMU, I’m Mike Smith.