By Anna Guido
WEST CHESTER TWP. - The idea was simple, but represented a breakthrough:
How could a charitable foundation best help a school?
Patty Alderson, president of the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, and Linda Lee, principal of Shawnee Elementary School, met over the summer of 2002 and came up with a plan.
"We brainstormed on ideas they could help us with," Lee said. "We ended up focusing on ideas that had to do with kids in need."
As a result, students at the Lakota Local school - enrollment 725 - received musical instruments, eyeglasses and dental screenings. Eye doctors and dentists, Buddy Roger's Music and Lenscrafters were part of the charitable effort.
"The foundation hooked us up with resources that we weren't aware of. They did the leg work for us," Lee said.
"It's been a fantastic partnership - community members working with the school to get these programs off the ground."
The pilot program at Shawnee is the Community Foundation's first yearlong, concentrated effort for a school will be recognized 6 p.m. Wednesday at its annual meeting.
The featured speaker is Richard Rosenthal, 70, a fourth-generation Cincinnatian and longtime philanthropist.
"Volunteerism is something I very clearly learned at home," Rosenthal said. "Both of my parents were very involved in volunteer work, and my five siblings and I found it simply a way of life."
The rewards of volunteerism, Rosenthanl said, are "wonderful and unique."
Rosenthal helped to establish Uptown Arts, an Over-the-Rhine arts center that provides urban children with free classes in art, music, theater and dance.
He also serves on the boards of the FreeStore/Foodbank and Fine Arts Fund, and has volunteered for many other organizations and institutions, including the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau and University of Cincinnati.
The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty was established in 1999. It is an offshoot to the Key Event, a signature charity dinner party that was the start of the grassroots organization.
The foundation also hosts an annual golf outing and held its first New Year's Eve Charity Ball in 2002. To date, the foundation has raised $260,000.
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