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Johnson County Community Foundation celebrates ten years

By Lacy Hilliard
On Monday, November 19, the Johnson County Community Foundation celebrated their tenth anniversary with a reception. The foundation, which was built in the spirit of giving, celebrated their decade of success by reminiscing about years past and planning for the future.
Original Johnson County Community Foundation member, Minnie Miller was asked to share her experience with the organization from the grassroots level. Miller informed the attendees that the formation of the Johnson County Community Foundation was inspired by former County Executive Curtis Sluder. It was Sluder’s goal to make Johnson County a ‘three-star’ community. The benefits of becoming a three-star community are numerous. State of Tennessee ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said of the program, “The Three-Star program is an important component of the state’s economic strategy that helps communities set strategic goals that will truly make a difference today and well into the future.” In order for Johnson County to achieve three-star status, the formation of a community foundation was necessary. To gain insight about how best to form the foundation, Sluder sent Minnie Miller to a meeting that catered to members of the East Tennessee Foundation and even members of The Dolly Parton Foundation. At the meeting, Miller learned that there would be extensive paperwork and fundraising involved in the creation of a community foundation. She also learned that instead of going it alone, the Johnson County Community Foundation would be qualified to operate under the umbrella of the East Tennessee Foundation. And so the Johnson County Community Foundation was born and Johnson County achieved ‘Three-Star’ status.
The organization’s current chair, Caroline Roark, perhaps best sums up the mission of the foundation, “The JCCF is a giving foundation,” said Roark at the reception. She then went on to read a letter from a former JCCF scholarship recipient, Lindsey Campbell. In Campbell’s letter she thanked the foundation for helping to ease the transition of an already stressful time by providing her with money for college. JCCF Board Member, Priscilla Davis, who is currently employed as a counselor by the Johnson County School District, is also a former JCCF scholarship recipient. Davis is an example of how a scholarship investment can provide hope for the future. Not only did Davis return to Johnson County in search of employment, she also maintains a residence within the county proving that the investment in the future of Johnson County’s youth will come full circle.
Senior Vice President for Programs and Regional Development for the East Tennessee Foundation, Terry Holley also took part in the reception. Holley was instrumental in the creation of the foundation. Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, Holley worked tirelessly traveling back and forth between locations and doing the necessary work to ensure the success of the foundation. In appreciation of Holley’s dedication to the organization, the members of the board awarded her a plaque. Holley’s enthusiasm for the foundation is apparent and it is the opinion of the board that without people like her, the county would not enjoy many of the fruits of the community foundations labor.
All of the funds procured by the Johnson County Community Foundation are guaranteed to stay within the county and go to fund local efforts like the Downtown Beautification Project as well as to sponsor community theater performances, and of course, scholarships. If you’d like to support the Johnson County Community Foundation, please keep an eye out for the many JCCF fundraisers. The Johnson County Community Foundation is investing in the future of Johnson County and its hope is that it inspires others to do the same.