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Leading Locally: Republic Community Foundation

Located at the intersection of past and present — evident through its place alongside major thoroughfares and only miles from Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield — Republic is growing through new industry with a focus on creating a greater sense of community

Affiliate foundations

Greene County affiliate serves local needs in area with great growth

It’s been nearly 20 years since the Republic Community Foundation officially came to be, a period of enormous change for the town that dates to the mid-1800s and nearly straddles the Greene-Christian county line.

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The Greene County community of Republic is home to nearly 19,000 people, but many others pass through on a daily basis.

Like its start, when it sat at the crossroads of industry and travel in a much different world, the community has seen great advances and today is proclaimed on the local chamber of commerce’s website as “one of the fastest growing areas of the state.”

“Republic has become known as the center of everywhere,” says Macy Mitchell, a board member for the RCF and executive director of the Republic Area Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s why you have the Amazons of the world coming. The industrial park is blowing up out there; that land is being bought up. Because you’ve got the highway, you’ve got rail, and you’ve got the airport right there. We’re almost creating our own identity; it’s like, ‘Hotels need to come this way. Culture needs to come this way.’”

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Republic's history dates to the mid-1800s.

That energy is also evident through the RCF. Its leaders — which, in addition to board hats, reflect commerce and community support — talk of a new chapter for the affiliate foundation, which includes focus on what events and efforts would most benefit the area.

“What you see around here is a lot of young entrepreneurs,” Mitchell says. “Businesses are starting, and they want to get involved in the community. All business owners want a way to give back; they realize this is a great way.”

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Online giant Amazon opened a fulfillment center in Republic in 2021.

The RCF administers an annual grant round to benefit local nonprofits because, despite the positive growth in the community, needs have not disappeared.

“There’s never enough for the need that is asked,” says Alexandria Holmes, president of the RCF. “This year was particularly hard, because we felt like we had so much increase in like basic human needs — like food.”

Its leaders share collaborations with local nonprofit groups to try and cover necessities, especially as they see an increase in gaps like food and clothing.

“I think it just speaks volumes about our town and our chamber and our school system because everybody works together,” says Britny Fulks, vice president of the RCF board. “And everybody is transparent, so if there’s a need, we know. We’ve all built these personal relationships, too, so everybody feels comfortable coming to one of us and letting us know what the needs are.”

Looking ahead: Greater awareness and enhanced fundraising

As the RCF enters its new chapter, momentum grows with the success of its first Philanthropic Society, a giving circle that allows for high-impact grantmaking in the community.

Members of the circle donated a set amount — in 2023, it’s $1,000 for individuals, $1,500 for couples and $2,000 for businesses — which gave members votes for which community causes to support with the collected funds.

In 2023, $13,850 was dispersed among Republic Community Kitchen, Tristen’s Hope Foundation and Tiger Theatre.

“If everyone gives a little bit, that equals a lot,” Holmes says. “I think that’s important. I think that’s why the Philanthropic Society is so darn cool, because we can get a really awesome group of individuals to give. It’s still a good-sized check, but still reasonable. And then when that all comes to fruition, it’s so cool.”

While funding has been distributed, those organizations and others receiving funding through the annual grant round were recognized at the RCF’s annual banquet on Dec. 1.

In their own words

Why do you serve?

“I just think on a personal level, that those that are given much must be called to serve. So even if you can’t give back with money, you can give back with time. I just feel like I have had a lot of blessings, and I need to share what I can.”

—Alexandria Holmes, RCF board president

“It’s awesome to see a need and then that need be met. I don’t have a ton a time, but any time I do have, I try to do whatever I can to make things better or meet those needs.”

—Britny Fulks, RCF board vice president

“I love the quote, ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.’ You may never see everything that you put into it. But you have to live every day, like lay your head on the pillow, with the belief that I did everything I could today with purity of heart.”

—Macy Mitchell, RCF board member

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