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Leading Locally: Cabool Community Foundation

Located at the headwaters of the Big Piney River and at the crossroads of U.S. 60 and 63, Cabool’s history dates to 1878 and has deep ties with dairy and manufacturing industries

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Created in late 2020, the Cabool-based foundation has already distributed more than $64,487 in grants to the community

A legend says that Cabool may have been named for Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a country an ocean away from the Texas County community nestled among rolling hills and at the crossroads of two major highways. According to that story, there was a surveyor for the railroad who allegedly worked in the Middle Eastern country and was reminded of it when seeing the setting for the new Texas County town.

Regardless of what’s real, the story speaks to a long history in the town of about 2,000 people — a reality further proven through the Cabool Community Foundation, which was founded to help lead philanthropy close to home.

“We see a lot of good things for Cabool,” says Karl Janson, president of the CCF and superintendent of the Cabool R-IV School District. “We’re seeing a lot of economic growth; a lot of houses being built. We have several restaurants now, and we were at two forever and a day. We’re all excited about the growth potential. We’re out of space at the elementary school, so we are looking to expand there.

“Growth is always a good thing.”

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The Texas County community of Cabool was founded in 1878.

That progress is also seen through the start of the CCF, which was officially founded in 2020. The CCF exists in the middle of these realities, helping serve needs while supporting opportunities to benefit the town’s future. While the affiliate foundation operates its own grant rounds, it also serves as an umbrella for other local foundations.

“We, as a community foundation, can get access to grants and resources that the local foundations can’t,” says Janson. “We act as kind of a bridge for them.”

In addition to providing that connection for foundations, the CCF helps distribute grant funds throughout the community. An example is the Coover Regional Recovery Grant Program, through which $10,000 in funds were granted to six organizations leading local support efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are ongoing needs, too, and that’s where the CCF steps in to keep philanthropy local. The foundation offers a number of ways people can give back, ranging from donor-advised funds — where individuals or families can decide where to donate funds — and nonprofits, which can benefit from the administrative support the CFO offers.

“There’s lots and lots of good things going on,” says Janson. “I see a whole lot of growth in all kinds of areas of our community.”

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In 2021, the Cabool Community Foundation awarded total grants of $10,000 to six nonprofit agencies for recovery needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The town and surrounding area has seen change in recent decades. Once a hub for manufacturing — which is still a significant source of employment — jobs have decreased as plants have changed their business models. Those realities result in greater needs.

Yet the surrounding outdoor paradise offers significant recreational draws — especially in a world where remote work is becoming the norm, leading to growth for the community.

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Native-rock architecture is seen at various places throughout Cabool, including at its schools.

“It’s kind of exciting,” says Amanda Wilson, a board member of the CCF. “It’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. But I feel like we’re still close to all those conveniences for the people that want to be close to those things. I feel like it’s a perfect little spot.”

Looking to the future: Growing awareness

The CCF is still in the early years of its existence, making continued awareness and understanding key points to develop. There’s still work to do to educate and inform the community about what the affiliate foundation can do to serve.

“We’re just now starting to get the word out more or less, because of the two years of people not doing anything or going anywhere,” says Janson, pointing to efforts like a barbecue fundraiser that’s planned for later in 2023, and the CCF’s recent grant round.

“The last grant round we had was health-related,” says Janson, noting that funds went for chairs at the local senior center and equipment for the YMCA. Another example: “We started having hygiene stations in the middle school and the high school and they used grant funds for that to buy supplies.”

All those efforts support the community as it is, but also prepare it for the future.

“I’ve seen this town for the last 30 years, and just the potential that’s here, and to be a part of what’s happening (is amazing),” says Janson. “For me, the school is first and foremost. But a rising tide lifts all boats.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

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I’m not here to take credit or anything else. It’s just that Cabool’s time has come. I serve a big God, and he sent me here. I’m just excited to be part of it, and watch it happen.”

—Karl Janson, CCF board president

Amanda wilson cabool 4x5

“There are big needs everywhere, right? Having the ability to point people to an organization that could help them reach their goal and then seeing it turn into a long-term achievement, and not something just in the here and now — that’s what makes it worthwhile to me. It’s the ability to help others achieve their goals and promote the Foundation at the same time.

—Amanda Wilson, CCF board member

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