County community foundation celebrates five years

More than 200 people gave a standing ovation Saturday to Douglas County Community Foundation founder Tensie Oldfather during the five-year celebration of the public charitable organization.

“We’re all in this world together, and in order to get along, we’ve got to try to help each other as much as possible,” Oldfather said in video remarks, which the group viewed Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Oldfather, of Lawrence, is the widow of former Kansas University law professor Charles Oldfather. She started the foundation in 2000 with a $4 million gift.

The charitable organization now has a 10-member board of directors, and its assets exceed $9 million. In 2005, the foundation awarded $186,000 in grants to 38 nonprofit organizations in Douglas County.

Organizations that have received funding include the Broward Center for child development and The Villages housing for foster care.

Board chairman Michael J. Davis reported to members during Saturday’s program that the foundation’s gifts have also put more than $1 million back into the community for support of human services, health, youth, education and the arts.

Judy Wright and Michael J. Davis, chairman of the board for the Douglas County Community Foundation, share a laugh during the organization's fifth anniversary celebration. Saturday's event was at the Lawrence Arts Center.

The group also recognized Dolph C. Simons Jr., chairman of The World Company, his wife, Pam Simons, and their family for their recent commitment of more than $2.1 million to the foundation.

Davis said a future announcement would unveil part of the foundation’s use of the Simons’ gift.

As the foundation’s executive director for four years, Sara Corless said before Saturday’s program that she was thrilled with the increased donations and involvement.

“We really intend to work hard not only to help the quality of life in Douglas County, but to continue to improve it,” Corless said.