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From left, Tom Hendricks gives the Tom Hendricks Community Award to United Way of Muscatine representatives Shane Orr and Donovan DiLorenzo at the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine's annual dinner on Thursday night.

LIORA ENGEL-SMITH/MUSCATINE JOURNAL

MUSCATINE — The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine’s assets grew by almost 50 percent last year to more than $15 million, said officials at the foundation’s annual dinner on Thursday night.

“We gained strength achieving a longstanding goal is very satisfying,” said Judi Holdorf, the foundation’s executive director. “… Reaching that goal really brought a new strength to our community.”

This year’s annual dinner theme was “Securing Futures” and Holdorf said the money the foundation raised will allow it to be sustainable for years to come.

Part of the foundation’s growth also came from 17 new endowment funds that were created this year. These endowment, Holdorf said, means the foundation “gained sustainability” and helped “secure the future.”

As part of the annual dinner, the foundation recognized four community members with Initiative Awards.

Jim Sammons received this year’s Great Initiative Award for establishing Laundry Love, an organization that covers the cost of laundry for low-income people and families who can’t afford it on their own.

“(Sammons) has truly created an initiative that not only impacts a personal need, but also gives back confidence and human dignity,” said board member Brett Nelson, who presented Sammons with the award.

Sammons, who had no idea he was supposed to receive an award said he is “overwhelmed” by the honor. He recalled a time where he helped a family for 4 with their laundry, and one of the children in the family expressed gratitude for having a clean blanket. In that moment, Sammons said, he truly understood the meaning of laundry.

“It’s a powerful, powerful thing. It’s an honor to be able to help these people. The relationships that we develop with these people—it’s overwhelming,” he said.

Grace Longlett, Wilton High School sophomore, received the Youth Initiative Award for collecting about 2 million pop tabs for Ronald McDonald Houses in Iowa City and Loyola.

Longlett said her family needed the Ronald McDonald House when she needed several surgeries for developmental hip dysplasia. The Ronald McDonald House helped her family in their time of need, it gave her parents “the opportunity to be parents” without worrying “how they’re going to pay for hotels and food.”

“Most people don’t know what the Ronald McDonalds House is or what it does, and pop tabs is one way to show them the charity,” said.

The United Way of Muscatine’s summer meals program received this year’s Tom Hendricks Community Award for feeding children over the summer when school is out.

Nonprofit organizations whose programs “successfully implemented an important, quality initiative which addresses critical needs or enhances quality of life,” qualify for the award, said board member Joni Axel. She also added that programs that qualify must provide volunteer opportunities for others in the community.

Tom Henricks, for whom the award was established, said the summer meals program is about “feeding the future,” an important contribution to the community.

Two United Way of Muscatine representatives—Shane Orr, executive director, and Donovan DiLorenzo, resource development manager—were there to receive the award.

Holdorf said the awards highlight the future of the community.

“It takes a grassroots effort to make the community better (in the long run), and we wanted to highlight that future,” she said.

The good deeds that were highlighted in the annual dinner, she said, can serve as an example for others.

“Anybody can do what Grace did,” Holdorf said. “But Grace did it and maybe others will do it too.”

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