“No matter where you go, there are people willing and able to donate, but maybe they don’t know how to do that appropriately,” says Melissa Combs, director of economic development for Dunklin County and president of the BRCF board of directors. “I hope that we’re able to find donors throughout all of the six Bootheel counties to help make a greater impact.”
“There are a lot of people in the Bootheel who have gone on to do great things, and a bunch of them have made a lot of money outside the area, but family ties are here,” Jim Grebing, executive director of the BRPC and a board member of the BRCF, told those gathered for the announcement. “This gives them an opportunity to pay back or honor their family, their heritage.”
A similar connection helped momentum build for the BRCF’s creation. Plans really began to materialize after a generous gift from Sam and June Hamra, Springfield business leaders and philanthropists, who contributed the initial $30,000 requirement to form the new foundation’s endowment.
Even though the Hamras have long lived and worked in Springfield, Sam Hamra hails from Steele, a community in southern Pemiscot County. Now in his 90s, Hamra recalls the area’s support of his father, himself a success businessman who owned a farm and a store.