Service to Rainbows & Rhymes Preschool and Child Care earned Cynda Mellish the 2022 Montgomery County Community Foundation Volunteer of the Year award.
Mellish has served on the advisory board for about five years. She was heavily involved in the transition of the program from half-day preschool to full day child care. She worked with the church to get major renovations completed so the program would be eligible to take state vouchers and become Voluntary Certification Program and Child Care and Development certified. Those around Mellish appreciate her organizational skills, her problem solving skills, her commitment to completing a task, and say that her “sense of humor is often inserted at just the right time to keep things light and fun.”
Her work with Rainbows and Rhymes has crossed paths with the MCCF. Rainbows and Rhymes, along with Hand in Hand Early Learning Center, were the beneficiaries of the 2019 Child Care Deserts Competition. Each program received $50,000. Rainbows and Rhymes used their funds for the expansion to an all-day program. Mellish’s contributions were central to the success of that proposal. She has also been the primary author of all grant requests to MCCF, which including Child Care Deserts, totals $108,427. She also facilitated the Second Step Social Emotional Learning Training for providers in January 2021. The training along with curriculum kits for providers was funded through a Strong Start Community Grant we received through Early Learning Indiana.
Mellish received a plaque commemorating her service and a $1,000 grant to Rainbows & Rhymes in her honor.
Also nominated was Debbie Swanson for her contributions to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, organized by United Way in Montgomery County. Swanson spends about 25 hours per week for 10 weeks preparing tax returns for seniors and low-income individuals in our community. She had volunteered with the program for 17 years when it was hosted by the Parks & Recreation Department, and continued serving about 30 individuals when the program stopped in 2017. She was excited when she saw the UWMC press release stating they were becoming a VITA spot and eagerly volunteered to help. Getting one’s taxes filed is not always a pleasant task, but Swanson handles the situation with integrity, politeness and humor, making the process bearable and even enjoyable.
Swanson received certificate and a gift.
This year’s Peggy Herzog Youth Volunteer of the Year Award, was presented to Katie Rice for her service to the Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County. Rice became involved with the AWL through a class she is taking at North Montgomery High School. What started as a class requirement has expanded into much more. Rice is eager to learn and always asking for more work. She comes in after her class time and helps clean and care for the animals. She hopes to have a career working with animals one day.
Rice was presented with a plaque commemorating her service and a $1,000 check went to Animal Welfare League in honor of her service.
MCCF also recognized its outgoing and incoming board members during the annual meeting at the Hoosier Heartland State Bank Success Center. Outgoing board members are Joyce Grimble, Keith Blaydes, Torey Rauch and Peggy Burkett. In addition to serving as president, Rauch has served on the Investment Committee, Audit and Finance Committee and the Executive Committee. Burkett was a past chair of the Grants & Distributions Committee and served on the Governance Committee. Grimble is a past president, past chair of the Scholarship Committee, and served on the Grants & Distributions Committee during her time on the board. Blaydes served on the Investment Committee and chaired the Audit and Finance Committee.
Incoming board members are Wendy Feller and Cathy Caldwell. The balance of the 13-member board includes Phil Bane, Preston Bost, Anna Bravo-Moore, Ron Dickerson, Erin Gobel, Zach Hockersmith, David Maharry, Jim McBee, Sheila McCormick, Debbie Schavietello and Marta Sweek.
Rauch wrapped up the accomplishments of 2021, the Foundation’s 30th anniversary year, in which $1.8 million was awarded in grants and scholarships. A video capturing highlights of the past year was shown. The video, along with the electronic version of the 2021 Annual Report is on the MCCF website, www.mccf-in.org.