Our Top Five Moments of 2022
For the Waukesha County Community Foundation, 2022 has been an exciting year filled with moments worth celebrating! As we close out the year, we’d like to take time to reflect on what made this year memorable.
These key moments of growth and change were made possible through our generous and compassionate community members. It is their willingness to give back with time, treasure and talent that truly makes these moments possible.
In no particular order, here are the top five moments we want to remember together:
Celebrating the Fotsch Family
The Foundation’s annual Celebration of Giving award, established in 2006, recognizes a member of the community that exhibits exemplary philanthropic support for Waukesha County.
This year we honored the Fotsch Family who certainly live up to what they call their family motto: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
The family generously donated a $1 million match for gifts to the United for Waukesha Community Fund.
Beyond that, the Fotsch Family Foundation distributes nearly $2 million in grants each year, supporting Catholic and educational causes, as well as social services throughout Waukesha and Milwaukee.
Community Grants Impact
The Waukesha County Community Foundation hosts a competitive grant process each year. The Foundation’s grants committee, a dedicated group of volunteers, reviews applications and ensures grant dollars are used to maximize impact in the community.
It was a highlight and a pleasure to grant over $170K to 31 local organizations this year in these four categories: Health & Human Services, Arts & Culture, Environment & Conservation, and Education & Youth Development.
Throughout the history of our competitive community grants process, the Waukesha County Community Foundation has given more than $3.3 million to nonprofits directly serving Waukesha County.
The Spirit of Community
This year, the Foundation witnessed the spirit of community grow beyond our geographic area. Over 15,000 donors in all 50 U.S. States and 17 additional countries came together to show their support for the Waukesha Community after the horrific events of the Waukesha Christmas Parade in late 2021.
In addition to this outpouring of generosity, the Foundation staff joined the Waukesha Christmas Parade for the first time ever. The team walked to thank all the United for Waukesha Fund donors from over the past year and to show support for the Waukesha Community and continued healing.
During the Foundation’s Giving Forward Breakfast, friends and fundholders were moved by these inspiring speakers: Mike Lermer, Ken Stowell, and Melissa Songco.
Mike Lermer shared the story of his son, Kai Lermer, who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest. The Kai Lermer Memorial Fund was created in his honor and has since awarded scholarships, granted funds for AEDs, and educated others about the importance of EKG testing for athletes.
Melissa Songco, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County, inspired event attendees by sharing Habitat’s mission and impact. Melissa also disclosed the organization’s audacious goal of building 20 homes a year, repairing 30 homes a year, in 3 communities within Waukesha County by 2033.
Lastly, Ken Stowell shared the impact of the Stowell Family Scholarship fund. Ken and his wife, Judy, created the fund four years ago since they are passionate about supporting students’ journey to find their educational dreams. He challenged others to give to their passions as well.
In 2022, the Foundation saw incredible growth in terms of capacity. As we wished some dear friends goodbye, we welcomed new ones with open arms.
Melissa Baxter became the Foundation’s fourth president after the retirement of Shelli Marquardt, who served in the role since 2016.
The Foundation expanded with two additional full-time staff members: David Salmo, Director of Donor Development, and Emily Gillingham, Communications Specialist.
In addition to staff, the Foundation’s Board of Directors welcomed new additions Julie Glynn, Sean Scullen, and Ramona Thornton. To former board members Karin Kultgen, John Matter, and Dave Provancher, who left the board this year, we wish a fond farewell with gratitude.