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Leading Locally: Cassville Community Foundation

The seat of Barry County technically dates to 1845, but its history goes back years earlier, to a time when Native Americans and fur traders came through the area. It’s also seen history as a location along the Old Wire Road, for the Butterfield Stage and, tragically, as a spot on the Trail of Tears. Today, Cassville and the surrounding area have attracted nearly two million visitors annually to Roaring River State Park, a trout hatchery and popular fishing spot.

Affiliate profiles

Barry County foundation serves through economic development and community initiatives

Since its inception in 2004, the Cassville Community Foundation has distributed more than $1 million to causes throughout the Barry County seat — but, in some cases, its work is felt beyond the folks who live in the area.

An example is Roaring River State Park, which has attracted upwards of two million people annually. The CCF facilitated fundraising for a fish cleaning station, which opened in 2022. Another is the installation of playground equipment at the park, which benefits both visitors who come from great distances, as well as those right down the road.

“It was like 20 years old and it didn’t pass inspection and they had to close it down,” says Rachael Freeman, affiliate coordinator for the CCF, of the previous fixtures. “We had money to go buy new playground equipment, and we worked with the state park so we would buy it and they would install it.”

That play equipment at Roaring River, which was a destination for locals even before it became a Missouri State Park in 1928, is also an example of how the board works to allocate financial resources for projects. That funding came through the Rural Ozarks Health Initiative, a partnership between the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Missouri Foundation for Health.

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The Cassville Community Foundation facilitated fundraising for a new fish cleaning station at Roaring River State Park, which opened in 2022.

Another partnership includes work with the Barry Electric Cooperative, which offers matching grants for community needs that are distributed by the CCF.

“We call it our Sharing Success program,” says Laura Holycross, a CCF board member who also works for the electric cooperative. “It is a committee of representatives from each of our three districts in our service territory. The board makes recommendations, we invite people, and then we just sit down annually to decide how to allocate the money.”

Some of those funds serve local education efforts, which is a priority of the CCF. Every year, local teachers are encouraged to apply for funding through the Cassville Education Fund, which helps support needs but perhaps aren’t possible in the school budget.

“It’s an endowment fund that initially started with a large donation, and we are able to give to core education needs. It will help the teachers in the classroom — maybe it’s not in the school’s budget to get new microscopes,” says Board Member Skyler Bowman, giving an example the fund recently helped support. “We are able to get those things so the teacher doesn’t have to pay for out of their pocket.”

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Cassville is the seat of Barry County.

From pickleball courts to overall community betterment, the list of other examples of CCF’s local support is long. They all go back to helping enhance quality of life for folks who live in the area through greater resources, but also to support economic development.

“All of us wear multiple hats, and a lot of us work on economic development, so we can see how it all works together,” says Freeman. “You want to keep that nice, because you’re proud of it, but then you want people to also keep coming up here to spend money.”

And that sense of community support goes beyond funding.

“My husband’s a teacher, I started off as teacher and community colleges pay the same as teachers or less. We’re not the ones that can just write the check,” says Board Treasurer Angela Seymour. “But I’ve always felt like I was contributing by being part of the board and the community.”

Looking to the future: New efforts and sustained visibility

As the CCF’s work and impact evolve, the affiliate foundation’s leaders hope to continue to educate the community — both about its resources for funding, and as a way for positive change and growth.

“I just get really excited when people are like, ‘I have this idea,’” says Freeman. “We’re still trying to get our name out there, but we’re starting to get where people are like ‘Oh, I’m going to call them, they’re with the Cassville Community Foundation.’

“I think just growing that role in the community is important; that they know of us, and they recognize the changes that we’re making and that we’re to support the community. It’s not raising awareness, but maintaining awareness, and becoming an even bigger aspect of the community.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

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“It’s an amazing community, I’m blessed to be part of it, and glad I can give back.”

—Angela Seymour, CCF board treasurer

Leading locally cassville laura holycross 4x5

I just feel called to serve. I feel like I should continue to help others because others have helped me. I think that’s my biggest thing: People have needs, and I’ve been blessed, so I want to share it. It’s an opportunity to help people and share what I’ve been given.”

—Laura Holycross, CCF board member

“I think it’s important to me, because — I don’t know this for sure — but I’m pretty sure I’m never leaving. I’m raising my kids here and want to see it succeed. I don’t look to leave because I like it here, and I want it to thrive.”

—Skyler Bowman, CCF board member

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