The Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF) acknowledged and honored the philanthropic work done by members of the organization throughout the past year and beyond at its annual dinner on Tuesday night.
“It seems fitting that we gather together as a community before we gather together as family to celebrate Thanksgiving and consider our blessings and freedoms,” Melissa Diers, executive director of FACF, said at the event.
During her address to the crowd, Diers posited a hypothetical about the possible impact that charitable giving could have on worthy causes around the world if everyone gave just a little during the holiday season.
“I recently heard that within the last two months of 2018 retailers expect holiday spending to exceed $700 billion,” she said. “What if this year we would instead use the holiday season to reallocate some of the money dedicated to gifts to a commonly determined cause. Imagine the result if each one of us pledged to donate to a worthy cause just 10 percent of what we would otherwise spend on holiday gifts, food and celebration.”
At the event, held at Fremont Golf Club, Diers also spoke about many of the causes that the foundation has championed throughout the year.
According to Diers, in the past year, the FACF reached $26.7 million in community assets, established six new funds to improve life in the Fremont area bringing the total number of funds administered by the foundation to 185. The foundation also granted over $300,000 to organizations and causes in the community like homelessness, school readiness, and generational poverty.
“Since 1980 we have been blessed to have hundreds of people give strategically with a purpose to better their community,” she said. “We have made grants totaling more than $20 million to address pressing needs and important local causes through the generosity of our many local donors.”
At the dinner, the FACF honored Martha and the late Richard Wikert with the Betsy Mulliken Award for Philanthropy for their many years of service to the community.
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“Fremont is a very special place and I am so honored to receive this award,” Martha Wikert said. “Dick was a great supporter of the foundation and he was always thankful that we had the ability to help the city of Fremont. My family and I miss his wisdom and his advice every day.”
During the award ceremony honoring the Wikerts, a video was played that featured various people who worked with Richard and Martha on various projects including the renovation of the Fremont Opera House and the many gifts given by the family to support Midland University—including their namesake, the Wikert Event Center on campus.
“It wasn’t more than about five minutes before Dick had his sleeves rolled up and we were underway,” Bill Vobejda said of the pairs work to make renovations to the Fremont Opera House a reality. “Frankly that work led to a very successful renovation and it was not only his ability to raise money but his relationships and his ability that he brought to the table. He really made things happen and brought people into the room and to the table.”
Midland President Jody Horner also spoke about the Wikerts longstanding relationship with the local university.
“Their fingerprints are all over this campus in many great and generous ways,” she said. “We are so appreciative to have the community support and Martha and Dick exemplify that really more than anyone.”
Along with the Betsy Mulliken Award for Philanthropy, the FACF also honored J.J. Bixby as the 2018 Professional Advisor of the Year.
“It was a surprise that my mother and father are here to see me win this award so thanks for coming,” he told his parents. “Charity does start at home and I learned not only to give charitably but to support your hometown—or where you are from—from them and we try to instill that in our children as well.”