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It’s quiet around the house as my family is out shopping for the holiday. The only sounds of note are my Lab snoring as he sleeps next to the fireplace and the wind chimes softly ringing outside of the window. Seems like an opportune time to work on this blog and take a look back over the past year to reflect on what the Sonora Area Foundation has accomplished to make a difference in our community.

Whenever I am asked about the Foundation, it is always very satisfying to talk about our grantmaking – over $17 million since 1990 by the Foundation and our two supporting organizations, the Symons Family Fund and the Irving J. Symons Foundation for Tuolumne County. In 2012, our competitive program awarded $627,545 in grants to local non-profit organizations. Those grants not only support safety net services of food, shelter and clothing, but respond to grant needs across a broad spectrum of categories.

Our donors continue to be the heartbeat of why we exist as a community foundation. Whether it’s by establishing their own donor funds or making gifts to one of the 180 funds held by the Foundation, our donors continue to look to the Foundation to assist in accomplishing their charitable goals and giving back to our community.

In 2012, grants and scholarships from donor funds have been critical to meeting local needs. Examples include donor grants for school programs; assisting families caring for ill or injured children (Wings Fund); helping needy families cope with everyday needs (GRACE Fund); and just under $6,000 has been donated by you thus far to our Hurricane Sandy Fund and has been granted to Island Harvest in New York City and the Community Foundation of New Jersey to assist victims of the hurricane.

Leadership on community issues is a big part of what we do. For example, publication of the Tuolumne County Profile – Community Indicators Project 2012 serves to prompt and continue discussions about where needs may lie within our community and how to address them. During 2012, we participated in the inaugural Leadership Tuolumne Seniors program sponsored by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging. We also met with numerous community organizations and programs to inform them about the continuing commitment of the Foundation to strengthen our community.

By reflecting back on where we have been in 2012, it helps to define where we want to go in the future. The past year has not been without its challenges, but our community has responded well and we have high hopes that will continue into the next year.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Sonora Area Foundation, may you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – I look forward to seeing you in 2013!