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A Letter from Your Director, Barry B. Kaaz

Your local Thomas County Community Foundation (TCCF) has the opportunity to raise $100,000 with a matching fund initiative from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. If, during the month of October, TCCF can raise $50,000, the Hansen Foundation will provide a dollar for dollar match up to that $50,000. We are designating this new fund as the "Hansen Matching Fund" and it will follow a theme of "engaging youth leadership community teams to drive the quality of life in Thomas County."

Youth Leadership Team Concept

During March and April 2016, town hall meetings were held in Brewster, Gem and Rexford. The purpose of these meetings was to solicit ideas and input from community members as to how TCCF might best serve Thomas County. In attendance at these town hall meetings were some high school students who presented some unique ideas about how their communities might be served by the TCCF grant process. Out of these town halls, the concept of creating "Youth Leadership Community Teams" was born. The teams will be comprised of local high school junior and senior students along with adults. Older community members bring "institutional memory" and "historical perspective" to the table while youth often bring the promise of innovation and technological abilities. It is believed that the formation of these teams and this combination can assist the smaller communities of Thomas County to identify needs, organize programs and effectively apply for grant support from TCCF to improve their community quality of life.

Top and left: Director Barry Kaaz led discussions throughout Thomas County during Town Hall Meetings, which ultimately led the TCCF to the idea of creating Youth Leader Teams to benefit the area communities. Right: Melissa Moss accepts a scholarship award from TCCF.

Proceeds from these efforts will go towards the Hansen Matching Fund Drive campaign. Donations to directly support the initiative are sincerely appreciative and can be made by mailing a check, or by giving an online donation here via credit card or PayPal.

Please feel free to contact TCCF Director Barry B. Kaaz with questions regarding this exciting matching fund campaign.

A Foundation Centered on Youth Involvement

Take a Look at the Significance of Youth Involvement Throughout the History of TCCF

Throughout the history of TCCF, the youth of Thomas County have been a focal point. The future of our youth has historically been aligned with TCCF in terms of financial assistance and supporting and encouraging young peoples' active participation. At its inception in 2001, TCCF was born out of the labor and efforts of the youth work through Leadership Thomas County, which initiated its first student leadership class in 2008.

"Little ones" begin early participation with TCCF through the annual "Santa's Workshop" where they have the opportunity to independently pick out gifts for their parents, grandparents, aunts and other important adults in their life. Foundation helpers assist the smaller shoppers while older youth can browse and shop for a wide variety of gifts for a small, nominal donation.

In May 2016, TCCF began co-hosting the Annual Fishing Derby held at Villa High. With substantial financial support from our local Pioneer Chapter of Pheasants Forever, and numerous other sponsors, the Foundation partnered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to stock 250 lbs. of catfish for a morning of fishing fun. About 200 young people attended the event in addition to their families. Numerous fishing poles, associated items, and prizes were awarded for the largest and the ugliest fish.

Also in 2016, an archery kit was donated to TCCF from Colby Community College which was in turn used to assist the Methodist Youth Summer Program in teaching young people the fundamentals of archery. TCCF staff and volunteers presented and taught the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) "Eleven Steps of Archery Success." 

In July 2016, TCCF hosted a fair booth at the Thomas County Free Fair. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks donated the use of their "Pheasant Flush Laser Shoot" while young shooters matched their skills and enthusiasm against moving targets.

Also in July, TCCF supported the "Thomas County Shooters" through a quarterly grant to attend the "Daisy National BB Gun Championship" held in Arkansas.

In 2015, TCCF granted $67,000 in quarterly grants to Thomas County communities, organizations and scholarship recipients with over 60 percent of those funds granted to support youth: student tuition, educational programs, and youth leadership organizations.

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