Member News

Disaster relief fund addresses countywide flood damage

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County’s Disaster Relief Fund was established in 2009 by the City of Nappanee to provide future disaster relief service for residents of Elkhart County following the model utilized by Nappanee when their community was devastated by a tornado on October 18th, 2007. Then mayor, Larry Thompson was proud to provide seed money to this fund after their relief efforts were complete and to recognize the hundreds of donors who supported these efforts from across the county, the region and the country.

This fund addresses needs in our community in the aftermath of a disaster within Elkhart County. Examples of qualifying disasters include but are not limited to weather calamities such as tornadoes or floods; industrial accidents; or acts of terrorism.


The Community Foundation’s Board of Directors has the authority to activate the fund, evaluating several factors, including a disaster’s severity, impact, community need and availability of adequate resources. An advisory committee made up of community leaders affected by the disaster will determine the most effective and equitable means to distribute funds based on the need and scope of the disaster.

The Community Foundation encourages contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund at any time, with targeted resource development activities also following specific disasters. All monies raised are distributed through grants to eligible nonprofit organizations providing assistance to disaster victims.

The Community Foundation does not charge any fees for administration of the Disaster Relief program or grant distribution and encourages the same waiver among recipient nonprofit organizations.

Specific grants allocations will be decided by a special advisory committee, chaired by Larry Thompson and includes Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman; Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese; Nick Kieffer, President & CEO of Goshen Chamber of Commerce; Levon Johnson, President & CEO of Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce; John Leavitt, Partner - Salem Insurance of Nappanee and Goshen; Larry Gautsche, CEO of LaCasa; and Shannon Oakes, Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. This decision-making process ensures those with local expertise distribute resources to the nonprofit organizations best suited to meet community needs. Allocation is responsive, efficient and transparent.

The Disaster Relief program is primarily designed to address lingering community needs once emergency issues are addressed. However, the advisory committee may elect to grant to first-response organizations if community needs dictate.


Gifts to the Disaster Relief Fund can be made online at or mailed to the Community Foundation, 300 Nibco Pkwy, Ste. 301, Elkhart, IN 46516. Community Foundation staff members can also work with business or corporate entities that would like to establish a matching-gifts program for employee giving to disaster relief efforts.

About Community Foundation of Elkhart County

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives. Since 1989, the Community Foundation has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by providing scholarship opportunities to local students and making grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve Elkhart County.  The Community Foundation has awarded approximately $96.8 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations, including $18.4 million in fiscal year 2017.  It is with strength and hope the Community Foundation seeds the local landscape, supporting plans, programs, and ideas that potentially stand the test of time.  The Community Foundation strives to be a local entity known for inspiring good and impacting success.

For more information about the Community Foundation, visit

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