Volunteers are Vital to the Community Foundation’s Work

Without the commitment of volunteers, the Community Foundation would not be able to support Frederick County at the level that it does – just last year funding $7.1 million in grants to local nonprofits and $1.8 million in scholarships to local students. Community Foundation volunteers donate their time and expertise serving on a variety of different committees.

A group of professionals pose for an outdoor photo.

Trustees pose for a photo at a strategic planning session in September 2022.

The Community Foundation is governed by a volunteer, 25-member board of trustees, and there are close to a dozen other committees that help steer the organization including the Audit and Risk Committee, Community Leadership Committee, Governance Committee, Investment Committee and the Strategic Communications Committee, just to name a few. But the largest committees are those that help the Community Foundation determine how grant and scholarship funds are distributed.

The Scholarship Committee relies on the efforts of about 75 volunteers who give upwards of 20 hours in the spring to review more than 1,400 scholarship applications. The demanding work ensures that each application is reviewed with care and diligence in a process that includes donor participation and compliance with the IRS. The Grants Committee has fewer volunteers but also has a great impact, giving countless hours to review hundreds of grant applications in cycles throughout the year. These volunteers make difficult decisions knowing the need always exceeds the amount of funding available.

Veronica Lowe joined the Community Foundation as a trustee in 2019. She is one of more than 200 trustees that have helped build and steer the Community Foundation since its founding in 1986.

“I think volunteer opportunities shaped me when I was younger,” Lowe said. “I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and one of our mottos is ‘supreme in service to all mankind’ and I truly live that statement.”

Ms. Lowe, who is the deputy director of labor relations for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said that she does a lot of volunteering through the sorority in an effort to make “whatever community we live in a better place.”

She explained that she finds her work with the Community Foundation to be really rewarding, especially working on the Grants Committee.

“It’s a lot of work, but I walk away every time feeling really good about what we’re doing for the community, especially during COVID when all the money came in to help organizations,” Ms. Lowe said. “You just feel good that you’re giving your time to help other people.”

For 8 years, Taitia Elliott volunteered on both the Scholarship Committee and Grants Committee. Ms. Elliott just completed her term as a Community Foundation trustee and the Scholarship Committee chair.

“I truly enjoy the personal growth and learning aspect of [volunteering],” Ms. Elliott said. “Each season I got to read scholarship applications from students, many who have struggled or faced enormous challenges, yet persevered; and grant requests which were matched perfectly with donors who felt drawn to a cause.”

Giving back is contagious and the Community Foundation is fortunate to have so many community members who give of their time expertise to ensure our success. The Mayo Clinic cites research suggesting there are health benefits to volunteering including improving physical and mental health, providing a sense of purpose and teaching valuable skills, and nurturing new and existing relationships.

“Knowing there are so many people offering kindness makes me happy to find ways to do the same,” Ms. Elliott concluded.

Some committee members are appointed by the Board of Trustees, and some are open to those interested in serving. The Community Foundation works to ensure that there are diverse voices represented on our committees.

Learn more about volunteering with The Community Foundation.