November-December 2013 | DECADES OF DEDICATION




For 30 years, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore has played a vital role in the strong foundation of our communities

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Grant L. Gursky

Celebrating 30 years of service, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore reflects upon its history while charting its course for another three decades of unparalleled service to our region. What follows is their open to the letter to 
the community they’ve served so faithfully.

As the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore embarks on its fourth decade of dedicated service, we have managed to take a breath and reflect on how far we’ve come over these 30 years and how much we’ve relied on our amazingly generous and cohesive community in making that happen. No one knows better than we do that behind every 
successful community-oriented initiative, there is a dedicated and diverse group of founders, volunteers, donors and civic leaders who made it all possible. Without inspirational people like these, we couldn’t have accomplished all we have.

The seeds of the CFES were sown back in 1982, following a national conference in Washington D.C. on community foundations. Inspired and armed with the knowledge of what they must do, the pillars of the Salisbury community mobilized to create what we now know as the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. Leading the way during those pivotal early years were supporters like Herbert Fincher, David Stein, Richard Henson, Mike Abercrombie and Robert Cook, many of whom would also sit on the foundation’s first board of directors.

Today, we are proud to say that CFES has emerged as the region’s singular leader in community-based philanthropy, having distributed over $44 million in grants, scholarships and donations to nonprofit organizations that provide 
essential services to individuals, families and communities in the Lower Eastern Shore counties of Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset. We do this with our eager and energetic new president and CEO, Doug Wilson, who assumed the reins when Spicer Bell retired in 2012, following eight years of outstanding leadership. 

The energy and enthusiasm that Doug brings to CFES are such an appropriate reflection of the energy, vision and generosity of our donors, whom we regard as the primary reason for the foundation’s current level of vitality. We currently steward more than 550 charitable funds and last year alone provided more than $5.4 million in grants and scholarships. These funds support local nonprofits and faith-based and civic organizations that serve critical community needs. 

Additionally, more than 220 local students received scholarships, totaling nearly $300,000 this year through funds administered by CFES.  

The foundation provides a variety of ways to support the causes and organizations people care about. Donor-advised funds, for example, allow donors the personal, hands-on approach many prefer for their charitable giving. Working with key foundation staff members, donors make recommendations for grants in support of various charitable works and nonprofit organizations at their discretion. Other endowed options include designated funds, which benefit specific charities that the donor preselects; scholarship funds allow the donor to establish criteria that students must satisfy in order to receive a scholarship award; and community-needs funds provide CFES with the flexibility to respond to the most pressing charitable needs in the community at a given time.

Going forward, we are focused on deepening the engagement of our donors through our programs, projects and collaborative efforts. We also are committed to broadening and promoting our understanding of regional issues by convening local experts to identify challenges and leverage resources. 

Finally, we are intent on enhancing communications and growing partnerships in order to direct the attention of 
philanthropy to the causes that matter. Primarily through an interactive website and support services provided by the foundation, our ShoreCAN Volunteer Center will continue to connect people who want to volunteer with meaningful 
opportunities to serve local nonprofit organizations.  

But even as we take the launchpad in readiness for our exciting journey into the future, we at CFES vividly remember our roots and will never forget the past. As much as anything else, we have always been about honoring and paying tribute to those special, irreplaceable individuals who have been the bedrock of our community and the seeds of our limitless potential. Thus, funds are established in memory of such individuals, scholarships are given in tribute to loved ones and generations of families are connected through the funds that have been entrusted to our care.

We look forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary with our beloved donors and volunteers in May. In the meantime, we’d like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has participated in or contributed to our mission over that past 30 years, as well as remind everyone else that “Philanthropy is contagious… CATCH IT!“


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