Rotarians get update on Heritage Center, Community Foundation
by Jennifer Cohron
May 16, 2012 | 1101 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bankhead House and Heritage Center had 2,950 visitors to the various exhibits that it hosted in 2011. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron.
The Bankhead House and Heritage Center had 2,950 visitors to the various exhibits that it hosted in 2011. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron.
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Since 1995, the Walker Area Community Foundation has grown from an initial endowment of $6 million to current assets of more than $22 million.

The Foundation has received gifts totaling $16 million and has administered nearly $7 million in grants in its history.

However, numbers alone don’t tell the whole story of how WACF fulfills its mission of bettering the community, according to president Paul Kennedy.

“While we do make grants, I feel that our mission and drive is to help the nonprofits that we work with during the grant season in the off season too to help them be as effective, as professional and as efficient as possible,” said Kennedy, who spoke to the Rotary Club of Jasper Tuesday.

Kennedy announced that the Foundation, along with the Walker County Nonprofit Council, recently received an Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

A dozen local nonprofit leaders have been training with a UA professor for the past several months as part of a program called the Nonprofit Leadership Academy.

Kennedy also pointed out that WACF has been active in long-term recovery efforts since the April 2011 tornadoes.

Shortly after the storm, Foundation leaders allocated $250,000 for unmet needs, which Kennedy said helped secure more than $1 million in gifts and grants for tornado recovery.

Approximately 40,000 volunteer hours and $720,000 worth of labor have also been donated to Walker County storm survivors in the past year.

“Walker County has been held up all across the state as an excellent example of cooperation among agencies and people,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy added that owning and operating a heritage center also sets WACF apart from other community foundations around the state.

The Bankhead House and Heritage Center had 2,950 visitors to the various exhibits that it hosted in 2011, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Journey Stories.

The current display celebrates the area’s Native American history.

An exhibit dedicated to the late George Lindsey will also remain open through the end of the month.

Future plans include a quilting exhibit, which opens in July, a photography contest in October and a display of timeless toys during the holidays.

The historic house, built in the 1920s by former Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead, was purchased by WACF in 2008 and refurbished to be used for the public good.

“We want to be a place where people from all walks of life and all ages can gather,” said Mimi Hudson, director of community relations for WACF.