Foundation of Cornerstone Communities

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Foundation of Cornerstone Communities board members are from left Amy Speed, Dr. Robert Merrick, Bob Brown, Mindy Reimer, Hannah and Jake Wille, Roger Thomas and Jackie Lee. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Rural hospitals are often considered the beating heart of a local economy. They bring economic viability to rural America, providing jobs for community residents, and a vital boost to families and local businesses in the surrounding region.

Foundation of Cornerstone Communities

Jackie Lee, Foundation of Cornerstone Communities (FCC) board member, commented, "The Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Board has discussed the importance of rural healthcare for many years. In 2018 the board took a hard look at the core reasons hospitals succeed or fail. We have robust healthcare today, but what about tomorrow? One of the most important factors in the success of rural hospitals is a strong population base and the ability to recruit and retain healthcare professionals. Knowing that rural populations continue to decline and rural places struggle, a local task force was formed to examine reasons for our own population decline." 

The board consulted Bill Menner, former director of USDA Rural Development in Iowa, and others. "The task force identified community vibrancy, social engagement, or 'things to do' as a means to address both population loss and recruitment challenges," Lee explained, "In addition, the 'things to do' project focus would be on activities that promote both social and physical health of residents and the community as a whole. If our hospital’s service region was observed as a place where investments were being made in recreation, wellness, both indoor and outdoor social engagement, this would begin to address the idea of building a vibrant place to live." 

FCC Mission Statement

"The Foundation of Cornerstone Communities will support initiatives and programs that directly impact the health and vitality of residents of all ages in the region served by the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics including the areas of Guttenberg, Garnavillo and Edgewood and all communities in between."

The FCC will seek out relationships with community leaders in the region to raise funds and provide grants to partner organizations that undertake bold new steps to create a healthy and vibrant today for residents, including:

*Strengthen and grow recreational and social activities which support everyday health and vitality of the residents served by the hospital. 

*Drive community efforts to support local entrepreneurs who share our mission to promote a healthy and vibrant community. 

*Celebrate and enhance the historic and authentic character and sense of place in our communities, such as revitalizing signature structures. 

Formation of the FCC

Amy Speed, Director of Marketing & Development, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, was appointed Director of the Foundation. With the task force, Speed sought involvement from local leaders to form a board of directors. A working committee was formed to support the efforts of the foundation including marketing, membership, finance, grant making and community ambassadors who will share the message of the foundation in all communities served by the hospital. 

The Foundation of Cornerstone Communities will seek out involvement of citizens for both charitable gifts and project ideas within the service area of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics. "The Membership Committee has begun by meeting with stakeholders closest to the hospital’s mission including board members and long-standing supporters," Lee told The Press. In the future, that outreach will continue to other groups.

Speed noted, "Donors can make direct cash gifts to FCC which are used immediately for grants, or they can donate to the FCC Endowment which is held at the community foundation."

Tax advantages can be found through endowed funds. "Some donors prefer endowed gifts to capture the benefit of a 25% State Tax Credit on the gift which can be used the same as cash to pay Iowa income tax.  Endowed funds are invested and only the earnings are paid out annually," said Speed. 

The FCC objectives outline the types of projects the group wants to be involved in. Speed commented, "The first grants the foundation made supported new playground equipment at the Darwin Duwe Field, The Guttenberg Community Vitality Director position, and the Guttenberg promotional video."

“Although the first round of FCC grants had no submissions from other communities, the FCC has recently met with representatives from Colesburg, Garnavillo and Edgewood to encourage future grant applications. Ideas such as a splash pad in Garnavillo and winter recreation program support in Edgewood are both examples of projects that build a healthy and vibrant today in our service area,” Speed concluded.

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