ImageThe Strongsville Rotary Foundation was created in 1994, 16 years after the Rotary Club of Strongsville was chartered. Unlike the club, the foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization funded through tax-exempt contributions. Dave Kolick, president of the club when the foundation was established, said the purpose of the foundation was to accumulate funds for worthy projects without having to pay taxes on that money.

Foundation President Rev. Ron Mowry, at the club’s meeting on October 12, led a discussion about the foundation’s history and structure. As a past president of the club, Ron is one of the foundation’s seven directors. The foundation’s board of directors is made up of the past three presidents of the Rotary Club of Strongsville, plus four elected directors at large.

The current board is made up of past presidents Ron, Jerry Balint and Bruce Keenan, along with directors-at-large Denny Daar, who also serves as treasurer, Dan Cricks, Jennifer McCoy and Rick Voigt. Dick Kiplinger serves as ex-officio treasurer.Over the past 18 years, the foundation has taken in $556,000 in revenue and has made $271,000 in contributions. After expenses of $54,000, the foundation has a current balance of $231,000.

Among the projects the foundation has funded over the years are:
* Establishment of the Backyard Preserve, including the construction a natural amphitheater, with a donation of $10,700 in 2002.
* Construction and subsequent funding for the maintenance of Safety Town from 2005 to president, with contributions, including construction money raised through fundraisers, totaling more than $102,000.
* “Welcome to Strongsville” street signs installed in 2007-2008 in partnership with the city, at a foundation cost of $15,200.
* A donation of $2,000 toward the installation of High Ropes at Camp Cheerful, in 2008.
* A 2009 donation of $2,500 toward the refurbishment of Old Town Hall.
* A 2009 donation of $3,500 toward the establishment of a War Memorial at the Strongsville VFW.
* The re-flooring in 2010 of the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds building that hosts the annual Chili Open Golf Outing, at a cost of $4,500.
* A $10,000 donation this year toward the expansion of the city’s soccer complex on Foltz Parkway.
* The purchase of thermo-imaging equipment for the Strongsville Fire Department at a cost of $15,000 in 1999.
* A donation of $3,000 for emergency assistance following an earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
* A donation of $2,000 for emergency assistance following a tornado in Joplin, Mo. In 2011.
* A $4,000 toward this year’s Savor the Flavor event. That amount covered the rental of the banquet facility at the Strongsville Holiday Inn. The facility had previously been donated by Holiday Inn.
The foundation also awards annual student scholarships and donates to the Strongsville Food Bank and other community projects.

In honor of Harry Fuehrer, first president of the club, the foundation presents an annual Harry Fuehrer Community Service award to a non-Rotarian who has made a difference in the community. A Harry Fuehrer Fellowship program has been established to draw contributions from club members and their families. Members can become Harry Fuehrer Fellows by donating $500 to the foundation.

The foundation is funded through donations and through fundraisers like the annual Scholarship Golf Outing. Proceeds from events like the Chili Open also have been donated to the foundation.

Ron said goals for the foundation over the next year include the restructuring of the Harry Fuehrer Award and the creation of a Harry Fuehrer Leadership program that will provide advanced degrees for higher levels of giving. The Paul Harris program of the Rotary International Foundation would be the model for the program.

Another goal is to build foundation funds up to $200,000 and to give 5 percent of that amount to worthy projects each year. To that end, the foundation Board of Directors is seeking to work with a financial management expert to develop an investment strategy and manage the funds.

Some club members have opined that the foundation should donate more of its funds than it is presently doing.
Meetings of the Strongsville Rotary Foundation are held on the third Wednesday of each month, at 7:00 a.m., at the Senior Center, and are open to all club members.