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Less talk, but lots of action

Lesser-know collaborations still do a lot for community of Grundy County

When you first meet someone, it is common practice to ask their name and what they do for a living.  So it’s not surprising that I am asked that repeatedly.

However, when I say I work at the Community Foundation of Grundy County the response is typically “oh…that’s nice.”

Usually, after a long pause, I get the inevitable question, “What is that?”

In previous columns, I’ve given the ins and outs of the foundation, including grants, scholarships, and endowments. I have also spent much time discussing the Behavioral Health Alliance and Grundy Partnership for Children, two collaborations we began convening along with other entities, and still take part in.

Today I’m going to focus on some of the less-talked-about collaborations and programs we at the Community Foundation of Grundy County are involved with. 

The Business Education Council (BizEd) was originally brought together by the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry to bridge the education world with the business world.

BizEd aims to discuss issues and innovations in public education reform; share insights and information on effective policy and practices; and to promote a unique dialogue in support of the members’ efforts to implement systemic improvements in the public schools to promote workforce preparedness. We meet bi-monthly in the morning.

The Grundy County Interagency Council (GCIC) is a network of local organizations, both for profit and not for profit. GCIC meets the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Morris.

These meeting are great for getting to know what resources are available to Grundy County residents. Each month there is a short presentation by an organization to share the agency’s mission, services offered, and what is currently happening there.

The Grundy County Area Planners is an initiative coordinated by the Grundy County Planning & Zoning Committee, the Grundy Economic Development Council (GEDC), and the Community Foundation of Grundy County. The purpose of GC Area Planners is to give the area’s planning officials the opportunity to come together to discuss planning issues in our area.

Individuals from municipalities (mayors, planning staff, and planning commissioners), our state representatives, county planning staff and board members, school superintendents, GEDC, and Foundation staff typically sit at the table. This group meets quarterly.

The Grundy County Back to School Fair is in its fourth year. This one-day event is held in July for qualifying low-income families.

Families can take advantage of a “one-stop shop” for all school needs.  Students aged kindergarten through 12th grade will have access to school supplies, immunizations, dental exams, vision tests, physicals, shoes, and gently used books free of charge.  Although the fair is organized by United Way of Grundy County and Community Foundation of Grundy County, several partner agencies come together to make this event possible.

We Care of Grundy County and Operation St. Nick distribute and review all applications to ensure families qualify.  They also supply all the schools supplies.

Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers provides all physicals and the Grundy County Health Department provides immunizations. Vision screenings are completed by volunteers from Lions Club; Mobile Dentist takes care of the dental exams.

Keeping Your Kids in Shoes, a ministry of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church, provides new shoes for all children attending the fair. Illinois Central School Bus and Grundy County Transit System provide transportation to and from the event for families without transportation.

In addition to those services United Way collects used books for the event.  Because of the generous donations, we typically have around 2,000 books families can take home. We also have countless volunteers who help the day of the event registering families and directing families to services. 

It used to be that organizations worked in their own silos, only focusing on their mission and goals.  However, more and more, organizations in Grundy County are seeing a need for networking opportunities and shared resources.

Each of these programs is designed to improve the life in Grundy County by bringing together entities who share a common interest. For more information on any of the above programs you can contact the Community Foundation of Grundy County at (815) 941-0852. 

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