The Gorge Community Foundation is one of the title sponsors of the 2021-22 Sense of Place lecture series, hosted by Mt. Adams Institute. The series, connecting people through place and storytelling,
features presenters with a unique knowledge of the Columbia River Gorge and who consider the natural, cultural, and political history that has shaped this place. The presenters can include scientists, tribal members, authors, farmers, and many others from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The information and stories shared at these talks deepens our understanding of the Gorge and strengthens our connection to the landscape and each other.
The 12th season of Sense of Place series includes:
- October 13: The Unusual Mushrooms of Cascadia
- November 10: Rare Carnivores of the High Cascades
- December 8: Debris Flows from Mount Adams and Mount Hood
- January 12: Native Bees of the Gorge
- February 9: A Model of Health: A History of Community Health Workers in the Gorge
- March 9: Rajneeshees in Oregon
- April 13: Forests, Wildfire, Timber Wars and Finding Common Ground: A Panel Discussion
Please note: Oct., Nov. and Dec. lectures are online. Look for the Gorge Community Foundation’s logo on the Sense of Place website and newsletter!
The new Sohler Scholarship Fund, created by the family of the late George “Larry” Sohler, a beloved community leader who passed away in March, 2021, provides scholarships for seniors at Hood River Valley High School to pursue skilled vocational training. Larry Sohler had a long career in the Gorge as a heavy equipment owner/operator working with local orchardists. As his widow, Lucille (Luci) Sohler said, “Our family is pleased to offer this opportunity in Larry’s memory to Hood River Valley High School students. Larry believed that vocational training provides young people with a wide variety of career opportunities.” Larry’s own career included stints as an electrician, farmer, trucker and heavy equipment operator. He had a gift for restoring tractors and farm machinery and wanted to share these skills with young people just entering the work force.
Vocational education is available at many institutions in Washington and Oregon including Perry Trade School (Yakima), Portland Community College, Lane County Community College, Mt. Hood Community College, Clark College, Oregon Institute of Technology (Klamath Falls), and of course Columbia Gorge Community College. Scholarships will be available for students starting with the class of 2022. GCF is proud to welcome the Sohler Scholarship Fund.
This year, the Community Grants program combined the Joan Burchell Fund and the Riddell and Athalie Lage Fund into a single program to increase the amount of funding available. Information about the visionary donors whose legacies comprise these funds can be found here on the website. We are pleased to announce the 2021 Community Grant recipients:
Backpacks 4 Kids: Weekend and holiday meals for Klickitat County children
FISH Food Bank: Personal care items for FISH clients
Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue: Spay and neuter program
Mid Columbia Health Foundation: Gas cards for key patient groups
First Book, Wasco County: Books for low-income youth in North Wasco school district
First Book, Hood River County: Books for low-income youth in the Hood River school district
Mt. View Grange: A new refrigerator to serve Grange clientele
Columbia Center for the Arts: Support for efforts to expand inclusion and diversity
Mt. Adams Institute: Support for the Hear in the Gorge podcast
Cascade Locks Historical Museum: Funding to relocate items in the collection to a new
Ten organizations representing Wasco, Klickitat and Hood River Counties and serving adults,
youth, animals, and those experiencing food insecurity received grants, representing a
diverse group of applicants and projects. As always, those applications not funded through
the Community Grants program were made available to our donor advisors and several
received funding as a result.
The Gorge Community Foundation is delighted to announce the recipients of its 2021 scholarships. Thank you to all who applied, and congratulations to this group of outstanding students. We wish you every success in the years ahead.
Hood River Valley High School
• Laura Douglass Schaefer Memorial Music Scholarship:
• Gorham Babson Family Scholarships: Giselle Carabantes,
Omar Escobedo, Ben Garofalo, Cristina Lopez
• Leos Scholarships: Monserrat Juarez Beltron, Gisell
Carabantes, Benjamin Garofalo, Erica Matthisen
• Jernstedt Scholarship: Monserrat Juarez Beltron
• Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship: Grace Guertin
Goldendale High School
• Theo Caldwell Memorial Scholarship: Emily Harris
The new Bartholomew Family Scholarship Fund was created to provide scholarships for seniors at Columbia High School in White Salmon to pursue highly skilled vocational training after high school. Says donor advisor Basil Bartholomew, “These jobs are key to our future but there are too few scholarships available for students to pursue vocational education and training. Our family is pleased to offer this opportunity to Columbia High School students.” Vocational education is available at a wide variety of institutions in Washington and Oregon including Perry Trade School (Yakima), Portland Community College, Lane Co. CC, Mt. Hood CC, Clark College, OIT (Klamath Falls), and of course Columbia Gorge CC.
This is GCF’s first scholarship for Columbia High School students. Scholarships will be available for students starting with the class of 2022.
As COVID-19 kept schoolchildren home and reduced their access to books and local libraries, a number of literacy programs throughout the Gorge have jumped in to help, supported in part by generous grants from Gorge Community Foundation donor advisors. Through collaborations with the Hood River County School District and FISH Food Bank, the Hood River County Library supported by the Library Foundation has been donating books and providing funds for teachers to purchase books for their students. First Book of Wasco and Hood River Counties has also purchased and distributed books for young readers.
The Hood River County Library has risen to the challenge of serving rural communities by committing to the purchase of a new bookmobile, with over 75% of the funds raised for the purchase of the bookmobile. In addition to bringing materials patrons have requested, it will offer free mobile technology services for those needing to use a computer. The bookmobile will be stocked with Spanish and English reading material for youth and adults, an onboard internet connection and computers and printers. It will offer free mobile technology services for those needing to use a computer, conduct a job search, print forms and documents, and conduct other business. The bookmobile will visit senior centers and central community locations throughout the county and the bookmobile librarians will be bilingual and ready to recommend a book to a young reader or senior. Hood River Library Foundation president Jen Bayer says, “The bookmobile will enable us to reach all of our communities and ensure that everyone has access to the library.”
If any of our donor advisors wish to support the bookmobile campaign, please let Jill Burnette know by the March board meeting on 3/29. Grants of $2,500 or more will be recognized on the side of the bookmobile as sponsors.
The Gorge Community Foundation held its annual “state of the foundation” meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Nov. 8 with over 30 donor advisors and representatives of designated fundholder organizations in attendance. Participants received an update on the Foundation’s funds and investment strategy from Ferguson Wellman fund manager Jim Coats as well as news from board chair Gil Sharp and executive director Jill Burnette on GCF activities and grantmaking. Coats’s presentation described Ferguson Wellman’s approach to developing a strategic investment policy during the pandemic, managing risk in a changing environment, and best practices for socially responsible investing. Thanks to all who participated as we navigated a new online format for convening and sharing information.