The Marshfield Area Community Foundation is a low-key organization — until September, that is, when it gives away tons of money to deserving nonprofits while hosting what can only be described as the social event of the year.
Boots, Bands & Barbecue is the signature event of the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, and as it happens, it’s this weekend, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the East Pavilions of the Webster County Fairgrounds. Tickets have already been sold, but there will be chances to join in remotely via Facebook Live to view check presentations and to participate in the charity auction.
Fourteen giant checks have already been printed for a variety of causes, benefitting adult education, recycling, seniors, high schools, the hungry and more.
Amber Brand is the Foundation Coordinator for MACF, and it is a position she has held for three years. It is safe to say that Brand loves what she does. "This is my dream job," she said, noting that the foundation helps a lot of people and does a great deal of good in the Marshfield area.
"The purpose of the Community Foundation is to keep wealth that might be going elsewhere right here in Webster County," she said.
The organization serves Marshfield, but it also serves other communities, with recent donations targeted for Niangua, Conway and Fair Grove. (The community of Seymour has its own foundation and serves much of the south part of the county, Brand noted.)
Boots, Bands & Barbecue — B-cubed, some call it — gives the grant recipient organizations a moment in the sun, but it takes a bit of doing to grasp the big check.
Brand explained that applications are opened earlier in the year, and applicants are given appointments to meet with the grant committee.
"The grant interviews are really sad and really eye-opening and really joyful," she said.
Applicants get five minutes to offer an elevator pitch about why they should be supported with funding. Then the committee has five minutes to ask questions. In that 10-minute span, the committee is trying to determine which applications will benefit the most people and to what degree.
Some applicants are taking care of the county’s neediest populations by doing things like providing food for the hungry. But Brand was quick to note that other organizations support quality of life for all citizens, like with upgrades to a local park.
At "B-cubed," participants can count on good food, dancing and conversation, but there is a purpose behind the fun: Boots, Bands & Barbecue is about cultivating donors so that even more deserving organizations can be funded.
The organization is one of 49 regional affiliates of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and for all of those affiliate groups, just like Marshfield’s, the key is getting people involved. Brand noted that anyone can open a fund in their family's name to give to causes that are meaningful to them, or they can give to the general fund to allow the foundation to give at their discretion through the interview process.
And if a donation isn't in the works, Brand said, the Marshfield Area Community Foundation has a big list of great organizations that anyone can contact to help.
"It really is all about helping people right here,” Brand said. “We’re just doing it financially."