Saturday, November 26, 2022

A Change for the Better


The Community Foundation of Howard County will be hosting a celebratory dinner this Thursday, December 1st, at the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville. Tickets for the event are one hundred dollars and can be purchased here.

It has been several years since the Foundation was able to hold this event, due to the pandemic. I smiled when I saw this alliterative phrase in the event’s promotional materials:

For the first time in years, we will gather in person for a joyous evening of food, fellowship and philanthropy.

Columbia/HoCo promotional alliteration lives on.

Have you ever wondered what folks actually do at fancy 100 dollar a plate events like these? I certainly have. Let’s take a look.

They’ll be awarding Philanthropist of the Year awards to Dr. Lillian Bauder (individual) and M&T Bank (corporate). Also on the agenda: The Leadership Council Award, which recognizes an up and coming nonprofit leader and the Casey & Pebble Willis “Making a Difference” Award, which is awarded to a nonprofit doing valuable community work. 

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Daria Willis, president of Howard Community College. The theme of her address will include her vision for HCC and the power of philanthropy.

That’s what the Community Foundation of Howard County is all about, of course: philanthropy. 

Our mission at the Community Foundation of Howard County is inspiring lifelong giving and connecting people, places and organizations to worthy causes across Howard County and beyond.

The Foundation, which originally began in 1969 as the Columbia Foundation, is:

…committed to building a vibrant, compassionate and engaged Howard County community. We encourage local philanthropy and offer individuals, families and businesses a variety of easy and tax-efficient ways to impact their community through charitable giving. CFHoCo assists donors in building an enduring source of charitable assets by allowing people to establish permanent endowment funds under the umbrella of one large foundation.

The real reason I’m writing about this today is not philanthropy, or the December celebration. It’s this:

When the Annual Dinner was first announced the venue was listed as the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel. I was shocked. I wasn’t the only one. You may recall that Lakehouse fired all of its union hospitality employees during the pandemic and refused to consider them for employment when the hotel reopened. I wrote about this most recently in a Labor Day post. 

I decided to send a tweet out into the universe registering my dismay.

Disappointed to see Community Foundation of Howard County patronizing Merriweather Lakehouse. Why would a nonprofit that’s all about helping people boost the social capital of a union-busting business?

Other community members soon chimed in, their concerns similar to mine. I never saw any public response from the Foundation and assumed it was a lost cause. Then, this:

Without any fuss or fanfare (that I am aware of) the Community Foundation of Howard County changed the venue for their event to the Ten Oaks Ballroom. Someone was paying attention, and legitimately listening. I don’t know how it happened but I’m grateful. An organization which is rooted in making our community a better place for all residents should not be shining a spotlight on a business that has behaved so dishonorably to workers.

They changed their minds. Large organizations don’t always find within themselves the flexibility to do that. It means a lot to me. 

The Foundation currently administers more than 300 charitable funds that reflect the philanthropic interests of their donors, and vary from unrestricted funds that support our Community Grants program to those for very specific purposes such as scholarships or the Arts. 

And so, if you don’t know much about CFHoCo, I’m inviting you to go and learn more. Maybe you’ll find something about their mission that resonates with you.

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