George Spencer, Susan Hale and Pam Welch

People Power:

Dedicated individuals make maximum impact in the lives of area youth

Story by Sarah Burczak, Diane Bozak, Rosana McNew and Jacqui Monahan

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but the inverse also is true. The success of one child can raise up an entire village-worth of volunteers to their full potential.

Multnomah Athletic Foundation (MAF) deals in a scale greater than one child, instead providing opportunities for three counties worth of kids via scholarships and community grant partners. At the heart of this mission is the belief that each young person is important and deserves the chance to succeed despite society’s inherent inequalities.

While many MAF stories focus on the youth served by the organization, what follows are profiles and photos of people behind the scenes who help the foundation fulfill its mission — and some of the many kids who have benefited.

The Power of Committee Members

Multnomah Athletic Foundation relies on hard-working volunteers, who serve on nine committees, to make the vision of the 20-member board and executive director

a reality. They attend regular meetings on everything from how to execute grant and scholarship programs to planning the annual Spin-a-thon and investing in MAF’s endowment. Kyle Goulard is one of those volunteers.

“To me, MAF is like the kid at school who all the other kids and teachers admire and look up to — they excel in and out of the classroom, they’re making time to volunteer in the community, and they are doing it for personal fulfillment instead of social recognition,” says Goulard.

He learned about the foundation several years ago when he volunteered for a grant review team, and wanted to get more involved. His job as a financial planner made him a great fit for MAF’s Finance and Investment Committee. During his second year on the committee, Goulard helped create an investment policy to ensure that the organization’s endowment and contributions are managed responsibly and track to the foundation’s values.

“Over the course of my life, athletics has been a consistent way for me to develop my self-confidence, teamwork and communication skills,” says Goulard. “Every time a kid has the opportunity to lace up their shoes, they are developing invaluable real-world skills that will benefit them in the years ahead. If they don’t have access to athletics, they face a steep hill to climb in their personal development. The foundation makes accessibility possible to more and more kids every year.”

Goulard is still an active athlete. He can be found on MAC basketball courts, playing in the intramural league or dropping in on a morning pick-up game. “MAC is a community, and for many of us it’s our second home. That $25 annual gift that we contribute voluntarily as members is one of the best gifts we could ever give.”

 

Scholarship Readers Are Fundamental

It would be hard to be a MAC member and not have heard of Joe Loprinzi — a MAC fitness instructor whose support of youth participation in athletics left a lasting legacy at the club. But members may be less familiar with the scholarship founded 19 years ago in his memory.

The scholarship, one of eight the foundation manages, is awarded annually to three high school seniors who attend one of the Portland area’s 29 high schools. Students must be a competitive athlete, have financial need, maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, and make time to serve their community.

Prior to 2018, each high school nominated one student for the scholarship, but now it is open to any senior student athlete who applies. This change has increased access to the scholarship, but also means there are more applications that need to be reviewed. This task is made possible thanks to a band of volunteers who meet every spring to read applications and create a list of finalists.  “I love reading about these talented individuals, and I look forward to it every year,” says MAC member Kathleen Foesch, a second-year scholarship reader.

“These kids are incredible — they do well in school, they are competitive athletes and they still find time to support those in their community who are in need. They are an inspiration, and it offers great hope to see the incredible work of their generation.”

Foesch, a former teacher’s aide, was hooked after her first year of reading scholarships, as are many others who volunteer alongside her. Foesch also took her involvement a step further and helped, along with volunteers Debbie Williams and Rebecca Roberts, to organize the scholar- ship recognition event, which is held each summer in the West Gym.  “The event is a unique opportunity to actually meet the students we read about in the review process,” she notes. “I love the atmosphere, which is fun, relaxed and all about celebrating the students.”

 

Grant Partners

Multnomah Athletic Foundation’s work is also made possible by leveraging com- munity partnerships.

Jamie Sumner, a MAF board member and lifelong MAC member, has been involved with the foundation in one way or another for about seven years and values the foundation’s work as a member of the greater Portland community.

This past year, he became the chair of the Grant Committee. “We oversee two grant application cycles each year. This year, we focused on personalizing the process and getting to know the grant applicants and the organizations behind them,” says Sumner. “We partner with roughly 25-30 grant partners every year, and they impact thousands of local youth across various forms of athletics and community involvement.”

He recalls an organization called See You at the Summit, which was applying for funding for the first time in the last grant cycle. “Their request was different from most of the applications we get, from a traditional sports standpoint, but it really hit home with members of the Grant Committee. Not only were we able to fund them, but thanks to a committee member’s connection at Columbia Sportswear, the company outfitted them with sleeping bags for an expedition, which was really cool.”

“Folks on our committee and the board took the effort and time to help [See You At the Summit] go above and beyond — not only the grant funding, but to help connect them to other people who care and want to help. It made a huge differ- ence in their momentum and what they are trying to do.”

 

Community Events & Engagement

How can MAC members support MAF’s mission? It’s easy! Just ask Denise Patridge.  “I became aware of the Spin-a-thon by going to spin class, and I took part for the first time in 2016,” she says. “Then, in 2017 I joined the Spin-a-thon Committee.” She has since also become a member of the Finance and Investment Committee.

“Outreach through community events is always a fantastic way to spread the word about what any organization does,” Patridge says. “They become a catalyst for conversation and involvement.” Many of MAF’s activities are intentionally set up to involve as many people as possible. Whether they are scholarship recipients, grant partners, volunteers, board members, or interested community members, collaboration is at the heart of all of the work being done. For Patridge, that’s the best part. “The coolest thing about the Multnomah Athletic Foundation is its ability to increase its impact by funding other nonprofits that want to get kids out and active. I just love being able to make a mark on the community and to build upon each other’s enthusiasm, energy and funding.”

“If kids can get out, be active and be part of the team, it transcends a specific sport. What you get is so much bigger than just winning and losing, it’s the friendships, it’s the community involvement,” Patridge says. “I love the inclusiveness of the foundation. I think it parallels with being involved in sports. That’s one of the greatest things about sports — you’re part of something.”