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Devin D. Thorpe

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$100,000 Centre Inspires Grant and Oak Tree Award Announcements Made at Centre Foundation’s Annual Dinner

State College, PA – After weeks of waiting and months of preparation, New Leaf Initiative in partnership with the Food Reclamation Network of Centre County celebrated as their grant proposal, “Food Centres,” was named the 2015 Centre Inspires $100,000 grant recipient during Centre Foundation’s Annual Dinner on Wednesday, October 28th at the Nittany Lion Inn.

“This year, the Centre Inspires granting cycle was focused on community engagement through health and social services,” explained Molly Kunkel, Executive Director at Centre Foundation. “This program encourages collaboration among different sectors in Centre County in an effort to transform an element of our area.”

The “Food Centres” project aims to make healthy, local food accessible to all Centre County residents. Retro-fitted shipping containers will hold cold-storage units for fresh produce. The proposal outlines three of these mobile Food Centres to be located throughout the county at places where there can also be a programming space for things like kids’ cooking classes and farm-to-table workshops. Volunteers will collect extra food from farms, grocery stores, and restaurants to store in the cold-storage units in order to allow local relief organizations to distribute the reclaimed food to their clients.

“New Leaf is honored to be selected as the 2015 Centre Inspires recipient,” said Galen Bernard, Executive Director at New Leaf Initiative. “We love how the ‘Food Centres’ project demonstrates what economic and cultural boost occurs when we inspire, connect, and equip young innovators like Jessie (Pierce) and Kevin (Sims) to solve community challenges. An exciting number of partners have joined this project to address local food insecurity and we all appreciate the Centre Foundation’s support.”

On hand to help New Leaf celebrate was last year’s grant recipient, “Book Benches of Centre County,” which was the inaugural Centre Inspires project. Four of the ultimate 25 fiberglass benches in the shapes of open books were on display for guests to view. Centre County scenes depicted on the benches by local artists included Grange Fair, trout fishing by a barn, childhood imagination through reading, and nature through the seasons.

A prominent supporter of the arts herself, Barbara Palmer was recognized at Centre Foundation’s 2015 Oak Tree Award recipient. Through her fund at the Foundation, Palmer has continued making an impact in the community and is firmly committed to its future.

With a look of delighted surprise, Palmer accepted the award surrounded by many friends. Friends who had lived on her street for decades, raised children with, and even one whom she has stayed in touch with years after the friend moved to Arkansas

Indeed, by Sandra “Sandy” Keiser Edwards, has maintained many treasured friendships in the area. As the evening’s keynote speaker, Edwards was welcomed back during the dinner, which took on a reunion-feel. Edwards and her late husband, Clay, worked in development for Penn State for many years.

Now the Deputy Director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – the free public art museum in Northwest Arkansas that was founded by the Walton Family Foundation, Edwards understands the total impact that art can have on a community. Edwards’ keynote address was entitled “Community Engagement through the Arts,” and highlighted how art can not only raise the cultural awareness in a community but can also act as an economic driver.

No matter a donor’s specific interest, Edwards encouraged local community donors to “tell their story.” In her opinion, it’s important to share one’s philanthropic passion, the story of the fund a donor created, and how it helps the wider “ecosystem of a community.”

“Sandy’s love of place really shined throughout her presentation and we were so happy to welcome her back,” noted Kunkel. “Sandy knows that our community has all the components necessary to flourish – dedicated community members and a caring network of organizations. She challenged the community to keep trying new things and collaborate with the Foundation on innovative projects.”

Over 200 community members attended the dinner, which is thrown each year in appreciation of donors who have utilized Centre Foundation as a way to make an impact in our area by establishing non-profit organizational endowment funds. Donors can also be engaged and make an impact through the Foundation’s giving circle, Centre Gives, Centre PACT – Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens, or by joining the Campbell Society for future gifts.

Centre Foundation is committed to helping donors fulfill their philanthropic goals by building and maintaining a permanent collection of endowment funds. The Foundation champions the betterment of Centre County for both present and future generations with trustworthy leadership in shaping effective responses to community issues and opportunities.

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