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Leading Locally: Bourbon Community Foundation

Dating to the 1850s, the mid-Missouri community earned its name due to the railroad (so they say) and has a legacy that longtime locals keep moving forward.

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Legacy meets future for community good

Legend says that Bourbon, Missouri, was named because of a distinctive wooden barrel on the porch of a business known as Turner's Store. On it was a single word — Bourbon — that drew attention from railroad workers and led them to say, "Let's go to Bourbon."

Today, a variety of notable historical moments are memorialized throughout the small Crawford County community, which marks spots of significance with wooden barrels (minus the bourbon).

It’s that legacy and hope for a great future that fuels the work of the Bourbon Community Foundation. Founded in 2003, the BCF has distributed more than $107,144 in grants to the community. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ affiliate also holds assets totaling $120,413 as of June 30, 2023.

However, community support began long before the foundation started. One example is the Bourbon Boosters, a club that began decades ago to support and promote quality of life in the small community — a place where people often wear multiple hats among organizations.

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Bourbon's history is highlighted by barrels that mark landmarks throughout the community.

It’s true for the group of BCF board leaders — Mary Heywood, Alice Bremer and Carol Hofstetter — who are also part of the Booster club.

“The two organizations work hand in hand. We’ve assisted with the community center several times, as they have upgraded and keep it where it’s presentable and top-of-the-line,” says Hofstetter, treasurer of the BCF, who notes that drawing people to the center for events has economic impact.

“While they’re here decorating, they may need a hammer or something and come over to the hardware store; they run and get a soda because they’re thirsty. Anything that we can integrate together is the whole goal of the foundation and the boosters.”

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Bourbon is located in Crawford County.

The BCF works to support those efforts as well as others as they evolve. When a mural was proposed to beautify Boubon’s downtown — which is adjacent to the Meramec River, a significant draw for tourism — the BCF helped fund its creation and purchased new banners for the town’s main street.

“We have the Bourbon Economic Development group, which we helped start,” says Heywood, a board member of the BCF, of another local effort. “They’re more like a chamber; they serve business needs and economic development.”

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The Bourbon Community Foundation led the planting of a portion of 50,000 daffodils in 2023. It was part of the CFO's 50th anniversary celebration.

The BCF has granted funds for local parks, the local American Legion Post, and the town’s senior center. It also sponsors Heritage Day, an event dedicated to remembering the past and preserving it for the future.

“We have a lot of tourists that come through during the summer,” says Hofstetter, noting outfitters and resorts tied to the Meramec River. “We have multi-million-dollar businesses that bring thousands of people through town.

“Anything we can do to make our community look attractive and make people want to stop is a huge advantage to all of our businesses.”

Looking forward: Increased awareness and legacy giving

While history fuels much of Bourbon’s reality, the BCF’s leaders are looking to the future. One way they hope to increase that potential is through increasing focus on donor-advised and scholarship funds, as well as endowments and planned giving — efforts that can make lasting impressions on the town long after someone has passed away.

“Over the past few years, I’ve always tried to impress people that whenever they’re giving a memorial or something to someone, it would be better to give it to the foundation than flowers,” says Bremer, vice president of the BCF. “The foundation goes on, keeps building and helps other people.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

“I think because we all three raised our families here and we want the best for our family and for all the other families that we’ve grown to know and love.”
— Carol Hofstetter, BCF board treasurer

“I think we just love the community and love the area. I don’t think there’s any place quite like it.”
— Alice Bremer, BCF board vice president

“It’s just one of those things: You take pride in your community. I know we’ve all said it, probably more than once that, you know, if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?”
— Mary Heywood, BCF board member

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