While brainstorming ways to properly honor the memory and spirit of Leo “Gene” and Eileen Christian, the Christian family decided a fund in their name at the Community Foundation of Central Illinois was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“No one in the family could have independently established a fund, but with so many family members, we decided we could pool our resources together and make a significant, long-lasting impact in their memory,” said Erik Christian, grandson of Leo and Eileen. “The community foundation model allows the organization to be both very responsive to current community needs in creative ways, while also providing for long-term solutions. It’s also extremely fulfilling to see how individuals can make an impact with their philanthropic giving in ways they just couldn’t have otherwise.”
During the process of creating the Fund, the family asked Eileen which causes were most important to her and Leo, who passed away in December of 2009. She noted veterans’ organizations, because of Leo’s military service. She then stated to the family that she’d like to see the money go wherever it could do the most good. The Leo E. and Eileen B. Christian Family Fund was officially established December 19, 2017, and Eileen passed away a few weeks later on January 9, 2018.
“Just as they taught us to serve others, this Fund at CFCI will now continue that legacy and provide help to those in need for years to come,” said Erik.
The Leo E. and Eileen B. Christian Family Fund will make annual grants to the Purple Heart Foundation and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria to help veterans nationally and those most in need in the Peoria area.
In 2017, the Community Foundation of Central Illinois was pleased to announce two new funds created by community advocates John and Sharon Amdall—the Local Jobs Fund and the Arts Mean Business Fund.
The Local Jobs Fund is designed to equip individuals with the necessary skills to earn a living wage by focusing on jobs that are not easily sent overseas or displaced by technology. Examples of specific projects that may be funded are career centers for area educational institutions, programs that teach students how to work with their hands, collaborating with local businesses and skilled trades groups to increase career opportunities for graduates, and repairing or purchasing the necessary equipment to support qualifying programs.
The Arts Mean Business Fund will help generate economic growth through arts tourism, new arts-related businesses, integrating the arts into urban planning, and expanding current community arts programs. The fund was created as a vehicle for individuals who share the Amdall’s dream of making Central Illinois a more attractive location to residents and visitors who love the arts.
Click here to learn more about The Local Jobs Fund and The Arts Mean Business Fund Grants
The Community Foundation of Central Illinois established the Founders Award in 2003 to recognize those individuals, organizations and corporations that have contributed significantly to our success. The award is given to those who have provided significant benefit to CFCI and thus the community we serve.
2005-Gordon and Jean Peters
2006-Gene and Harriett Swager
2012-Jerold I. Horn
2014-Edward W. Siebert
2019-Estate of Jean M. Brown
2022-Estate of Robert E. Gilmore