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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published June 24, 2010                                                    

Foundation helps with happy endings

   Over the years, I’ve witnessed so much of the good work area nonprofits do.
   I’ve seen how Wellness House helps people deal with cancer, from the initial shock that follows diagnosis through spiritual, emotional and hopefully physical recovery.
   I’ve seen how The Community House helps people give people the counseling they need to deal with the emotional or financial issues that are causing them to struggle.
   I’ve seen how Hinsdale Community Service — now HCS Family Service — works to break the cycle of poverty by giving people the support they need to get back on their feet.
   I’ve seen how the Robert Crown Center for Health Education works to help kids deal with the peer pressure to use drugs, drink alcohol, have sex and look a certain way that is part of growing up.
   The stories I’ve heard and written about are the kind that stir emotions, the kind you remember long after they are published.
   Telling the story of Community Memorial Foundation has been a bit more of a challenge.
   The foundation doesn’t offer support groups or counseling or a food pantry or body image classes. But without the foundation, the four agencies listed above would not be able to do all the work they do. And neither would countless others in eastern DuPage and western Cook County.
   What has impressed me most about the foundation is the philosophy it follows — which mirrors the philosophy of many of its grantee partners. The goal is not only to provide the immediate assistance that is needed, but to work with recipients to help them be more capable and more self-sufficient.
   So the foundation gives its grantee partners more than grants. It equips them to become stronger organizations.
   The foundation offers fantastic training opportunities that I would love to participate in (if only I could find a way to classify The Hinsdalean as a nonprofit). The foundation offers assessment tools to help nonprofit staff and board members figure out how to do a better job of meeting their mission. The foundation helps nonprofits conduct more effective fund-raising campaigns.
   The foundation also lends moral support. It would be harder to find a bigger supporter of nonprofits and the work they do than Jim Durkan. His passion extends beyond the foundation’s mission to the missions of the many agencies the foundation supports. And while he has a great sense of humor, he takes his responsibilities as the foundation’s executive director quite seriously.
   Over the years I’ve also gotten to know Greg DiDomenico and Tom Fuechtmann, both of whom share Durkan’s enthusiasm for their work. Knowing that they and the other staff members are pulling for you is one of the perks of working with the foundation.
   You won’t see the foundation conducting summer day camps or collecting canned goods at the Hinsdale Independence Day parade. But you can be assured, behind the scenes, the foundation is there.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean.
Readers can e-mail her at

— Making a difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and Community Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to measurably improve
the health of people work live and work in the western suburbs.





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