23 Nov Achenbach named 2015 Philanthropist of the Year
Scott Achenbach, owner of Scott’s Hometown Foods and Bethany Home Board member, was named the 2015 Philanthropist of the Year at the McPherson County Community Foundation annual ceremony on Thursday, November 19. Eric Edwards, Circles of McPherson County volunteer was named runner-up and Betty Jo Houchen, McPherson Arts Alliance volunteer was named second runner-up. The Super Morphing Ninjas Destination Imagination team received an honorable mention award for their efforts.
Awards were distributed during the ceremony at the McPherson Opera House Theatre. Each year, the Community Foundation requests nominations of local residents who demonstrate a philanthropic spirit “to help humankind as by charitable aid or donations” as defined by Webster’s Dictionary. In addition to the awards, the Community Foundation announced they have exceeded $5 million in grant funds being distributed since the first award in 2001.
Achenbach was given a plaque and $1000 to award to an organization of his choice. Edwards and Houchen also received plaques and awards of $750 and $500 respectively for organizations of their choice. A gift in the amount of $50 will be awarded to McPherson Special Olympics in honor of the Super Morphing Ninjas work.
“All of our nominees demonstrated the true philanthropic spirit the award was designed to recognize. We selected Scott this year for his support and contributions to multiple organizations in Lindsborg as well as throughout McPherson County,” states Becky Goss, MCCF President/CEO. “He is an icon in the community.”
Achenbach has served on the Bethany Home Board of Directors since April 2015, but was no stranger to the Home as his involvement in the community has made him somewhat of a local celebrity. Achenbach is known for his grocery or product donations through his store and his willingness to help for special events like the Bethany Home Ice Cream Social or Lindsborg’s Hyllningsfest. He is an active member of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Lindsborg as well as a supporter of school activities and sports.
Edwards was recognized for his work with Circles of McPherson County. Through his work with autistic students at USD 418, he recognized, in many cases, poverty has a stranglehold on his clients and their families. In an effort to find an outreach program to assist in getting completely out of poverty, he began facilitating the Getting Ahead class administered by Circles. Edwards has been recognized by the participants as committed, understanding and most of all trustworthy as they begin their journey towards a better life. Edwards is consider to be a bridge between Circles families and the school system having a tremendous impact on the student’s academic success.
Houchen was recognized for devoting over 40 years promoting artists in McPherson. She was instrumental in starting promotional events to showcase local work, including Art in the Park and Art in the Garden Dinner and Tour. One of her greatest roles was to help establish the McPherson County Student Art Exhibition and Scholarship competition 35 years ago. Art students from every high school in the county exhibit their creations and artwork in several categories. Seniors compete for scholarships to pursue art at the post-secondary level. Houchen was a founding member of the USD 418 Collection Advisory Board and is currently on the Exhibition Committee at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg.
“We were happy to recognize Eric and Betty Jo for their work as well. Eric’s selfless dedication to the participants in Circles should serve an inspiration to all of us. Betty Jo has always looked for ways to encourage young art students to follow their passion,” Goss states. “Our communities are better places because of the efforts by Scott, Eric and Betty Jo.”
Kylie Golden, Sam Houston, Lauren Rogers and Baylee Simmelink, Eisenhower Elementary students, aka Super Morphing Ninjas, were recognized for their efforts to support McPherson Special Olympics by planning and hosting “Pajama Wars 2015”. Working together the “Ninjas” researched potential projects and identified community partners. Their final decision of to raise funds for was driven by the desire to support a fellow student who was enrolled in the Special Olympics program. During the one day event, the group raised $1,011.33.
The Philanthropist of the Year award was established in 2008 by the Community Foundation. It was designed to recognize McPherson County residents for their efforts in supporting and promoting the mission of local organizations and the community. Each year, grants are awarded to organizations on behalf of the selected philanthropist. The award has grown from one $300 grant to three separate grant awards totaling $2,250.