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Community Foundation launches Woodbury CARES

Lori Nelson

WOODBURY — The Woodbury Community Foundation is branching out with its new grant-giving arm Woodbury CARES.

Executive Director Lori Nelson, who has been leading the Woodbury Community Foundation for about a year now, said the 15-year-old organization decided to dive back into grants and fundraising after the board of directors named it a key goal.

Board member Paul Parnell had seen a similar fundraising program in Florida, and pitched it to the board to design their own.

Now launching, Woodbury CARES will be a platform for businesses and individuals to donate money that the foundation will then grant to community organizations and nonprofits.

"It's not only a way to raise funds for a grant program, but also to cultivate a culture of philanthropy in Woodbury," Nelson said.

After researching which issues Woodbury residents face, the board decided to concentrate on affordable housing, youth leadership and health living.

In addition to granting money, Woodbury CARES will form a roundtable discussion with organizations centering on those three issues to learn more about them and connect with the groups on the frontline.

Moving ahead

Nelson is the first full-time executive director the foundation has had.

"When I was brought on in July, the board said they were looking for a fresh look at the foundation, and looking to take the foundation ... to the next level," she said.

She said she's working to push the foundation from just leadership roles to more strategic ones to forge a new path in the community.

The foundation is also reaching out to individuals by taking in new members, starting at $50 memberships.

"(There's a) changing demographic and we would like to reach out, and reach more people in a more diverse constituency," she said.

Nelson said the are also looking for more volunteers for their events.