June 14th, 2022

2022 Family Partner of the Year Award by Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca

Cate Hackett, incoming Board Chair of Family & Children’s Service, shared these remarks during Family & Children’s Service Annual Celebration:

I have the distinct pleasure of presenting the Family Partner of the Year award to the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.  This award is presented annually by F&CS to an organization or business that has made a significant contribution to Family & Children’s Service.

Since its inception in the year 2000, the Community Foundation of Tompkins County has disbursed over $21 million through well over 5,000 grants in an effort to address emerging concerns and critical, unresolved problems identified by the community.

George Ferrari, CEO, Community Foundation

Over the past 20 years, Family & Children’s Service has received over $177,000 in grants facilitated by the Community Foundation.  These grants have been vital in supporting programs, services, and new initiatives.

But in 2020, the Community Foundation played a new role for F&CS and the people we serve: as a lifeline.

During the first year of the pandemic, while we were all still navigating lockdowns, remote work, and figuring out how we were going to deliver care, George and Janet reached out and asked what we needed and shared the Foundation’s commitment to help.  Understanding that resources would be available to support us, we were able to start procuring what we required to serve clients remotely.  The Community Foundation funded the purchase of laptops and webcams so clinicians provide tele-therapy. Another grant, in combination with donor advised funds, allowed us to upgrade our phone system to assist with remote work, and make it possible to stay connected with clients from the safety of their homes, and our clinicians’ homes.  Thanks to support from the Community Foundation through grants and donor-advised funds we were able to pivot to tele-therapy swiftly, and continue to provide essential mental health services to our clients.

In 2021, we also saw the Community Foundation embrace this more adaptable approach to funding by making the very big decision to transform their grant cycles to provide flexible funding to applying organizations. This lifting of funding restrictions was a lifeline for organizations that were constantly having to change and adapt as the effects of the pandemic rippled through our community, allowing them to quickly respond to emerging needs. At F&CS, grants from the Community Foundation helped staff develop and launch new programs to respond to increased community need, like the new Group Therapy program, and to bolster the KINECT program, that became a critical support for so many families during the pandemic.

Philanthropy, as any other sector, is imperfect, and requires constant vigilance and commitment to continuous improvement. The Community Foundation’s recommitted focus on centering racial equity and justice modeled an approach for other organizations to assess their own programs, policies and practices, with a goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion. Their work has also lifted up the importance of expanding voices, redefining inclusiveness in philanthropy, and setting new standards and practices for social justice.

We applaud the work of the Community Foundation to center this critical work in sharing resources and power with accountability, and a goal for dismantling systemic racism and inequality.

I’d like to invite George Ferrari, CEO of the Community Foundation, to come up to receive this award on behalf of the Community Foundation.

George Ferrari, Cate Hackett, Alicia Kenaley, Scott Heyman, Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca Annual Celebration