THORNVILLE — The Community Foundation for Perry County hosted a dinner on Thursday evening, Nov. 1 at the Barn at the Backwoods to celebrate the group’s accomplishments for the past year.

The evening highlighted Perry County’s past, present, and future. Eight groups who received CFPC grants were recognized. Representatives of each group made short presentations describing how the greatly appreciated funds would be used to improve their programs. The sponsor for the dinner was the Peoples National Bank.

Tony Fiore is the president of the CFPC. He currently lives in Columbus where he is an attorney in the Kegler Brown Hill and Ritter law firm, but he still considers Perry County home. That Perry County pride served as the genesis for creating a foundation for his home county. He wanted Perry County to have the same opportunities as the rest of Ohio.

“I saw other counties with foundations that were doing great things and I thought let’s start a foundation for Perry County,” described Fiore.

That was 2012 — CFPC has quickly grown to be able to provide $5,000 in annual grants. According to the CFPC brochure, these grants have generated opportunities in education, arts and culture, community, community and economic development, health and human services, and environmental stewardship.

One grant recipient was the S.P.IC.E. program in southern Perry County. Melody Borchers, representing S.P.I.C.E., explained its goals and how the newly acquired CFPC grant money would be utilized. S.P.I.C.E. stands for Southern Perry Incubation Center for Entrepreneurship. Borchers' office can be found on Main Street in New Straitsville.

The CFPC granted her program $600 to help fund a program that matches Southern Local students with a local small business owners who serve as mentors. Borchers noted that eight students are currently taking advantage of the program.

The students will spend one day shadowing their mentor on the job site to obtain a better understanding about how to successfully run a business. Each student will then be charged with creating a new marketing idea for their mentor’s business.

Borchers added that South Central Power matched the CFPC grant bringing her total gift to $1,200. She says that New Lexington and Crooksville school administrators have expressed interest in adding this program in the future.

Another appreciative recipient of a CFPC grant was Betsy Martin’s Perry County Calvary Arts Center. The center received a $600 grant that awarded scholarships to 24 kids who were able to attend summer workshops free of charge.

Martin conducted five weeklong workshops that ran all of June and one week in July this past summer. Topics covered in the workshops included dance, technical theater, keyboarding, recyclable art, and theater performance workshop. Her workshop instructors included Sophie Marolt, Abby Anderson, Keith Boyer, Katrina Carpenter, and Meagan Mason.

In additions to each grant recipient making presentations, two keynote speakers covered Perry County’s past and present. Rob Dishon entertained the audience with a colorful description of Perry County from its founding in 1817 to the inventory of the agricultural production in the 19th century. Dishon combed the county’s historical records for the information he presented at the dinner, but said that his research has just begun.

Judge Louann Cooperrider covered present day Perry County by taking the crowd on a “bicycle ride” from Corning to Thornville spotlighting each Perry County community’s best known features. Judge Copperrider concluded her presentation with a spectacular aerial video that spanned the entire county.

Fiore was the final speaker of the evening and he outlined the foundation’s newest initiative, Endow 200.

“We know the difference philanthropic investment can make, so we have launched a bold goal in celebration of Perry County’s 200th birthday,” described Fiore.

That goal is to grow the foundation’s endowment to $1 million by the close of 2018. With an endowment of that size, the CFPC would be able to provide approximately $50,000 in grants annually. The formula to reach this goal is simple math, according to Fiore.

“It’s our county’s 200th birthday so if 200 people donate $5,000 each, we would reach our goal,” he said. Such a gift not only creates what CFPC calls a “mindset of success,” it allows individuals to make a contribution that will become their legacy.

Megan Wanczyk, vice-president of Communications and Programs for the Foundation for Appalachia Ohio, said the progress CFPC has made in a short time is very impressive.

“The CFPC is making wonderful progress, especially with the ability to grow their endowment funds with the Endow 200 initiative,” stated Wanczyk. FAO covers 32 Ohio counties and has 10 foundations that fall under its umbrella of support.

To make a gift to the Community Foundation for Perry County, contact Sherri Simons at 740-753-1111 or ssimons@ffao.org.

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