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CFO Stories

Leading Locally: Monett Area Community Foundation

The town with the motto of “pride and progress” has a history in manufacturing and a population growing in diversity. It’s also home to Jack Henry, one of the country’s leading financial services companies.

Affiliate Foundations

Monett affiliate marks quarter-century of support

It’s been a quarter-century since the Monett Area Community Foundation came to be, but the passage of time is seen in more than just years: It’s also evident in change for Barry and Lawrence counties through more than $3.7 million to improve the lives of those in the area.

“I have often said the Ozarks is one of the most generous places on earth,” says Robin Walker, a longtime MACF board member and past chair of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. “Based on the size of charitable assets under management and the activity of our organizations, I stand behind that statement. The generosity is evident and our responsibility is to provide the education and resources to facilitate this generous nature.”

That generosity helped form the foundation 25 years ago. Back then, Monett area leaders were considering options for local donors to leave estate gifts that would benefit the community in long-term ways.

Ultimately, the MACF was formed in connection with the CFO in September 1998. Work then began to have legacy discussions with families and community members about creating scholarship funds, endowments, and quality-of-life projects.

Monett area cf scenes 16x9 3

Monett dates to 1887. It was established as a trading post and shipping center for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, which eventually became known as the Frisco.

Today, the MACF has a list of nearly 70 funds under its umbrella. An early example was from the estate of Tom and Mary Dell Clark, mental health advocates and namesakes of Clark Community Mental Health Center. The fund was moved from the CFO to MACF years ago, allowing the Clarks' community service to continue years after their deaths.

“Since the inception of MACF, the board has maintained a representative of the Clark Center largely because of the role Tom and Mary Dell Clark’s estate played in the early development of the MACF,” says Brad Ridenour, CEO of the Clark Center and a longtime MACF board member. “Though the Clark Center is not endowed with Clark funds, many times in my 20-year tenure at Clark, MACF-Clark funds have been received to ensure staff have up-to-date equipment and staff and clients alike have nice places to serve and to be served.”

The Clark Center is only one on a wide spectrum of needs supported by the MACF. Others include services for children, disabled residents and senior citizens, and scholarships for students. Ten different funds are specifically designated for Monett students pursuing higher education.

“I think the biggest way people know about MACF is because of local scholarships made available to high school students. We’re a small community and it’s a big deal in the spring for families,” says Beth Nation, MACF board president and a former school counselor and teacher.

Monett area cf scenes 16x9 2

Monett's "Freedom Silo" is located in downtown Monett. Its design was created by "America's Muralist" Raine Clotfelter, who also led the installation of several other murals in connection with CFO affiliates in nearby communities.

That service of students is now growing in new ways through the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies program, better known as GO CAPS. The focused educational program is divided into subject-specific strands, leading to unique collaborative opportunities between MACF and local high schoolers.

For example, students interested in marketing are working to help get the word out about the affiliate on a new level through social media. Another recent example is through the agricultural stand of the program, which worked with MACF on the planting of about 1,000 daffodils in connection with the CFO’s 50th anniversary in 2023.

“They facilitated the entire project from start to finish,” says Emily Mettlach, affiliate coordinator for MACF. “They contacted all of the places in the community, they were responsible for planting the bulbs, they tracked everything and sent us a report.”

In addition to gaining professional experience, the students are also encouraged to observe MACF board meetings to learn more about nonprofit work and service.

“These are our children, and we want them to be involved and understand that philanthropic side of life,” says Mettlach.

Monett Area Community Foundation's next goal: A new vision and greater awareness

Guided by both new board members and others with extensive experience, the MACF board is working to grow new momentum and greater awareness for the affiliate in the community. One way is through an event, in its soft-launch this year, which is intended to become an annual key fundraising effort.

“One of our goals is to start a giving circle,” says Nation. “The MACF is hosting an evening of fellowship and friendship in hopes to educate and involve more community members in serving our community through giving. Guest speakers are invited to provide insight to our group of invitees and to inspire us to enhance growth in our community, as they have in their own.”

Part of it is social, while another element focuses on education and helping people see how the MACF might be an option as they consider estate planning and legacy giving.

Mettlach has personal experience with the latter that she brings to her service with MACF. A lifelong local, she became fully aware of the MACF’s opportunities when searching for a way to memorialize her parents-in-law.

“When my family and I decided to establish a foundation, I was blown away at the options that were available,” she says of news she now works to share with the world as MACF coordinator. “The things that you can do, where your money was making money, and that you’re able to help needs in your community. Then being able to set it up as a legacy for our girls. They’ll be able to take care of it one day in honor of their grandparents.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

Beth Nation Monett Area CF 4x5

I think serving your community is vital to where you live. We want to continue Monett's theme of pride and progress. As an educator myself, it’s my philosophy in life to make sure people are aware of the resources in their community and their surrounding area. It’s an honor to serve.”

—Beth Nation, MACF president

Monett area cf portraits 4x5 robin walker

I believe in the mission of the Monett Area Community Foundation locally and of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks regionally.”

—Robin Walker, MACF board member

Monett area cf portraits 4x5 brad ridenour

Folks in our area are among the kindest and most generous individuals you will ever meet. Often, these community members give to needs that they personally can see exist. But our residents know that there are so many needs in our communities that they will never personally hear about. Through their giving to MACF, they show a willingness to meet these needs that are unknown to them.”

—Brad Ridenour, MACF vice president

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