My View: Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan is Mid-Hudson’s Center for philanthropy

As the season of giving approaches, it should be a time of reflection – about the great needs that persist in our communities – and action – to be a part of the solution. That is an important part of the work of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan.

For 12 years we have been “connecting people who care with causes that matter,” and we are our region’s center for philanthropy. We have awarded more than $6.5 million in grants and scholarships through the charitable funds we administer.

There are more than 140 compelling stories behind each fund at the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan – stories that illustrate the differences that can be made in the lives of others when a charitable fund is established.

Nov. 12-18 is Community Foundation Week in America to raise awareness about the increasingly important role of the more than 700 community foundations working to enhance philanthropy to realize a better quality of life for all. Nov. 15 is National Philanthropy Day.

Community foundations are independent public entities that steward philanthropic resources from institutional and individual donors to local nonprofits that are the heart of strong, vibrant communities.

The beauty of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, and all community foundations, is that no one is excluded from contributing to a community’s betterment. You need not be wealthy to have the satisfaction of knowing you are making a positive difference in the lives of others.

The Community Foundation makes it easy for you to support your particular area(s) of interest. Almost any type of asset – cash, stock, real estate, artwork – can be used to create a donor fund. The Community Foundation can advise you on how best to maximize your contribution, no matter its size.

Two examples of charitable funds in the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan:
When Patrick Carfizzi, a Valley Central alumnus and a regular performer with the Metropolitan Opera who performs throughout the world began to think about how he would realize his charitable dreams, he thought about his roots and looked to the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan. There he created ArtsLEAF, a charitable fund that is growing and will award mentoring grants to emerging artists – mentoring that will empower generations of artists and strengthen the arts community as a whole.

And when Marian and Christian Hammaren lost their only child, 19-year-old Caitlin, on the morning of April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech, they found a way to celebrate her life and keep her memory alive and vibrant by creating the Caitlin M. Hammaren Memorial Foundation and Arts Institute Fund through the Community Foundation. This fund has awarded grants and scholarships since it was created in 2007.

How we choose to respond will determine the pace we set and the impact we have in realizing meaningful solutions to our most pressing challenges in our communities. Community foundations are on the front lines of this change, leading the charge, demonstrating simplicity, flexibility and cost-effectiveness by helping individuals and organizations establish funds that can support multiple charitable interests within one simple fund.

It will soon be Thanksgiving. Enjoy the richness of our American heritage. Give thanks and support the causes that are dear to you. You don’t have to be a Bill Gates or a Rockefeller to be a philanthropist.

The Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan makes it simple for those with charitable dreams and modest incomes to fulfill their charitable dreams. You can be a part of this new and exciting era of philanthropy.

Karen VanHouten Minogue is executive director of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan.