Old Bill's Awards

Representatives of community organizations gather Oct. 21 during the annual Old Bill’s Awards Party. The Community Foundation cut checks to 210 organizations.

Sharel Lund is the type who makes a beeline for the bank.

Following the cocktails and appetizers, remarks and applause of the Old Bill’s Awards Party, Lund stands patiently to receive her nonprofit’s funds, then drives straight to make a deposit.

It’s a bit of a tradition for someone who has spent much of her career serving in Jackson Hole’s nonprofit sector, as is attending the Old Bill’s Awards Party, which hit its 23rd anniversary Monday evening.

“We do important work, and it costs money,” said Lund, One 22’s executive director. For her, “picking up the check” is the culmination of a year’s worth of work.

This year’s six-week giving period raised $14,381,191, over $1 million more than was collected the year prior. Over 4,000 donors made gifts during the fundraising period, with Teton County Search and Rescue tallying the most number of individual honors: 633.

Also new this year: the Community Foundation cut checks to 210 nonprofits.

“One of the biggest myths surrounding our mythical event has been the number of nonprofits participating,” said Katharine Conover, president of the Community Foundation. “I have been cornered at dinner parties by strangers who have assured me that there are over 500 nonprofits [in Jackson Hole].”

Chuckles escaped from the crowd, which was standing-room only in the museum’s foyer.

“The truth is,” she said, “since 2008 we have handed out 200 or fewer checks every year through Old Bill’s.”

The heavy fundraising push of the unique gifting season, along with the potential to earn additional money from co-challenger funds, means the money awarded Monday evening makes up a large portion of many nonprofit budgets.

“It’s one-third of our budget,” Good Samaritan Mission of Jackson Hole Executive Director Chuck Fidroeff said. “Without Old Bill’s, the mission wouldn’t be able to make it.”

This year, nonprofits that raised $30,000 or more were awarded a 45% match from the co-challenger pool, for a total of $13,500.

The generosity also tends to reinvigorate the nonprofit sector, Curran-Seeley Foundation Executive Director Trudy Birkemeyer Funk said.

“It’s just an amazing opportunity to feel the love of the community and all of those donors that believe in our mission,” she said. With the money raised, she said, Curran-Seeley “will be able to help the entire community.”

Vicki Rosenberg, a nurse for the Teton County Family Planning Clinic, the nonprofit arm of the Teton County Health Department, echoed a similar sentiment.

“It means the world to us to be able to provide these services that promote reproductive and sexual health in our community,” Rosenberg said. “Our community really rose to the occasion.”

Conover, who announced this year her plan to retire from the Community Foundation, closed the awards ceremony — which focused on the “DNA of Old Bill’s” — with a nod to the nonprofits in attendance.

“You are the DNA that keeps Old Bill’s the heart of the community,” she said.

Contact Melissa Cassutt at 732-7076 or valley@jhnewsandguide.com.

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