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Leading Locally: DACO Community Foundation

Dade County’s rich agricultural legacy shines through lush fields and vibrant, rolling farmland. Even its county seat — Greenfield — lives up to its name, which dates to 1841 and serves as the hub of the DACO Community Foundation. It’s also home to Buffalo Days, the town’s annual celebration dating to the 1970s.

Affiliate Foundations

Dade County affiliate helps support community services and enhances quality of life

Dade County has cultivated an agricultural legacy, with cattle and crops and even the presence of a significant seed company. It’s also a destination for tourists seeking relaxation at nearby Stockton Lake, which draws more than 1.3 million people per year — and some likely stop at Greenfield’s Dairy Isle, one of few remaining today of the once-popular chain restaurant.

Yet changing times have brought opportunities and challenges for the county. Since 2006, the DACO Community Foundation has served as a way for families to give back. The foundation has distributed more than $386,138 in grants to the community, serving needs from scholarships to dental care, health and fitness equipment, to food to combat hunger.

“A lot of people have brought funds to us, or have established funds using the tax-exempt status as a leverage,” says Board President Randy Meents. “I think that for our size, our major impact has been through extending the nonprofit status of DACO to local agency partners who have found CFO’s management to be of advantage.”

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The DACO Community Foundation serves Dade County, a largely rural area with agricultural heritage.

In addition to the funding and nonprofit organizations that DACO serves, another benefit of the foundation’s presence is greater awareness about the possibility of grants. Examples include local applications made for funding from the Coover Charitable Foundation, which recently made grants to improve the Dade County Senior Center and build a community garden space at the Greenfield elementary school.

Both of those initiatives help combat local hunger. Another program is a monthly stop by Ozarks Food Harvest in Greenfield, which brings food to those in need. Funds for subsidizing that effort — which costs around $1,000 per month — and more are raised at an annual golf tournament held in Lockwood.

“It’s really a community effort, because it comes to Main Street Church — they let us do it there,” says Renee Meents, treasurer of DACO, of the food distribution. “Then we just get community volunteers. It all goes out at one time, and we’ll probably average 175 to 200 families each time.”

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Greenfield is home to Buffalo Days, an annual festival that dates to the 1970s and brings the community together every May.

Another significant area of focus has been dental and wellness care, says Board Member Pam Cramer, who also serves as administrator for the Dade County Health Department. At times, care is needed because of an individual’s resources; at others, it’s because of the distance one would otherwise have to travel.

“There was limited dental care in Greenfield, so we brought it here and put it in the back of our building, thanks to DACO and other people,” Cramer says. The gap was particularly felt by patients on Medicaid, but was an issue for others simply due to the affordability of services. “If someone came in and couldn’t afford dental services, we allowed so much per patient to help them get a tooth pulled, or if they needed a filling but they didn’t have the funding to do it."

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Exercise equipment is one project the DACO Community Foundation has helped support.

There was such demand that a new clinic was recently built along Highway 160. Now, the Federally Qualified Health Center has a sliding payment scale to make services more accessible.

Cramer walks through the fitness center and shows other amenities that have been a result of DACO funding: A blood-pressure monitoring station, fitness equipment and more. In the next-door health department, other needs include GED classes for locals who wish to continue their education. A women’s clinic, supported by funding from DACO, also allows for routine tests and services to be performed on a sliding cost scale and close to home.

“I think everybody has a desire to make a difference,” Cramer says. “Some people have that just in their heart: They just want to see a difference in people’s lives.”

Looking to the future: Expanded awareness

When DACO began in 2006, one of the main priorities was to create a way people could leave legacy gifts to the place where they once lived. An ongoing effort, however, is helping others be aware of that opportunity.

“You’ve got to be able to have a vehicle available,” says David Cramer, vice president of DACO’s board. “As long as we get the word out, our endowment funds will grow over time because we’ve got the vehicle in place.”

That awareness should also include education and information, board members say, about what’s possible through the DACO for donors.

“It’s a legitimate way to give that is accepted by the government,” says Randy Meents. “I think one of the things that we had to overcome is the Ozarks skepticism; the natural Ozarks skepticism that says, ‘There has to be something behind this. What’s the hook here?’

“But I think we may be starting to get over that. People realize this is just another way to give and that it’s a legitimate, aboveboard, honest way to do it.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

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“We moved here in ’79, and we just kind of landed here. We grew up in the rural Ozarks, we both grew up on a farm. Landing here, this was just like home and it became our home. They’ve given us a good life, and this is just our way of giving back.”

—Randy Meents, DACO president

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It gives us an opportunity to help people and help groups. We don’t have a huge endowment; you can look at our amount of money that we have and compare it to others in the area. But if it’s available to give away, we make sure it goes out.”

—Renee Meents, DACO treasurer

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“I grew up and lived and still live in Cedar County. But I’ve worked here for 20 years now, so most of my waking hours have been here in Dade County. It’s been my way of kind of giving back to where I made my living.

—David Cramer, DACO vice president

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You just want to help make a difference for people; people that otherwise couldn’t do things without a little help — even if it’s just one person.”

—Pam Cramer, DACO board member

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