Note: This is the first in a series of articles about how businesses, nonprofits and event planners are navigating the future post-COVID 19. Partial reopening is a first step, and there is no predicting the future should there be a resurgence of corona virus. Responses to these questions are from Elmo Baca, president of the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation.
The Foundation and Its Mission
The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation was founded in January 2017 by Bob Mishler along with founding board members Felix Alderete, Elmo Baca, Cindy Collins, Doyle Daves, Bill Hendrickson, Donna Rivas, Jennifer Sanchez and Max Trujillo. Founding volunteer Jean Hill assisted with non-profit by laws and designation. The Las Vegas Foundation is a 501©(3) charitable organization created to support philanthropic giving for non-profit organizations in Las Vegas and the immediate region, including Mora County. The Las Vegas Foundation is an affiliate and partner of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, where Las Vegas Community Foundation funds are currently invested, ensuring the highest fiscal and programmatic integrity to its work. The mission of the Las Vegas Foundation is simply “Help Las Vegas Thrive.”
How has COVID-19 had an impact on the Foundation?
The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact in a few critical ways. After the state effectively closed businesses and other public venues in late March, the Board of Directors decided to postpone the “Chili Challenge” annual fundraising reception which was scheduled for April 30. Last year the Chili Challenge (so called because a chili pepper icon is used as a measuring gauge for donations) was well-attended by community members and raised over $17,000 to benefit the community. At this date the Chili Challenge event has not been rescheduled due to the continuing restrictions on public gatherings in New Mexico. After the serious economic impacts of the pandemic have mounted, the Foundation created an Emergency Grant Fund to provide support to local humanitarian nonprofit organizations, such as soup kitchens, health and community centers, and family assistance groups. The Las Vegas Foundation has had two rounds of grant making since April funding a dozen local non-profit organizations in Las Vegas, Mora and Villanueva with $10,125 in grants. The Foundation is prepared to consider future rounds of emergency grants as the pandemic continues to impact the community.
Bob Mishler’s Legacy
The sudden passing of founder Bob Mishler on May 24 was a tragic event that has affected the entire community, as Bob was involved in many projects and organizations. Bob had a great interest in people, their histories and social fabric. He was involved in historic preservation projects for nearly 50 years after his family moved here from Colorado in the late 1970s. He served for many years as Chairman of the City’s Design Review Board, Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation and the Friends of the Las Vegas Museum. Bob saw the need for Las Vegas to have a community foundation that could create an endowment for Las Vegas to support the vital work of nonprofit organizations and also collaborate with city and county governments on essential community projects. Bob worked tirelessly to attract volunteers and board members to the Foundation, raise funds, and provide its guiding vision. He was active in a review of an Emergency grant application on the day of his passing.
The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation provides modest grants to local nonprofit organizations in good standing (properly filed corporate reports and tax forms). Eligible nonprofit organizations must serve the people of San Miguel and Mora Counties, be nondiscriminatory in staffing and services, and be at least one year old. The Foundation can’t contribute to capital campaigns or endowments, individuals, private school tuition assistance, religious projects or scholarships. The funding categories include Arts and Culture, Community Development, Cultural and Historic Preservation, Education, Health Care and Natural Conservation.
The Las Vegas NM Community Foundation has offered grants to nonprofits for the past two years and is expecting its third annual cycle beginning in September with a public announcement of grant availability. Grant applications are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . We also notify nonprofit organizations directly via email of our grants program. Grant applications are due in mid-October, with announcement of awards in December. Funds are provided in early January. Also, as noted above, the Foundation may create emergency or project grant cycles at its discretion. Interested groups may see our website at www.lvnmcf.com, contact a Board Member or contact our Administrative Coordinator Linda Anderle at email@example.com. Correspondence and donations may also be mailed to LVNMCF, P.O. Box 1002, Las Vegas NM 87701.
Fund Raising Campaigns
With Bob Mishler’s sudden passing on May 24, the Board of Directors has established two Bob Mishler Memorial Funds in his memory. The Bob Mishler Memorial Fund is a general donation fund with a primary purpose of building the endowment, as Bob had wished. The second fund is called the Bob Mishler Memorial Clock Fund. Bob rescued the historic Gordon’s Jewelers cast iron street clock, which stood on Douglas Avenue near the corner of Sixth Street for decades. After the passing of longtime owner Calvin Baker, the iconic street clock fell into disrepair. Bob bought the clock with the intention of restoring it. Bob had nearly finished the project when he passed. The Board of Directors have recognized the clock project as a fitting symbol for Bob’s community service and his philanthropy. The Clock Fund will provide the financial support to restore the clock and reinstall it. The Clock Fund will also create a “Pillars of the Community” Award program to honor deserving individuals who have made significant contributions to the community.
The Board of Directors is also considering Donor advised funds whereby generous individuals or families may support projects and programs of particular interest such as the arts or health care for example. Legacy gifts of property, financial equities, and other items of value to benefit the community are also encouraged. Donations may be made at www.lvnmcf.com and also through the Santa Fe Community Foundation by inquiring about the Greater Las Vegas Fund.
NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.