RIPLEY - A Community Foundation of Jackson County reception Thursday at City National Bank served a triple purpose—saying goodbye to 17-year executive director Jane Winters, introducing new executive director Christy Crowell and announcing the celebrity for this year’s Community Celebration.

Crowell got the honor of making the celebrity announcement.

On October 20, 2016, the community will be inspired to “make a difference” as Leigh Anne Tuohy from “The Blind Side” fame joins the Community Foundation of Jackson County as this year’s celebrity guest speaker. Tuohy’s background and message is a sure fit for the Foundation’s 2016 Community Celebration Benefit that carries the theme “Make A Difference in the Life of a Child”.

Tuohy was launched into national fame when actress Sandra Bullock portrayed her as the inspirational matriarch of the Tuohy family in the beloved film “The Blind Side”. The 2009 film was based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling book about the Tuohy family and their adoption of Michael Oher who blossomed under the family’s love and care to achieve a college degree and NFL Super Bowl fame. 

Author Michael Lewis has dubbed Leigh Anne Tuohy as the “warrior princess” for her high energy, strong willed southern charm and grit.

Leigh Anne Tuohy is one of the country’s most sought after inspirational speakers. She inspires audiences to recognize the full potential of individuals in their community - and to find value in those who society has deemed to valueless. She shares her personal “Blind Side” observations, from seeing Michael Oher for the first time as a homeless youth to how the experience changed her as a person and the Tuohys as a family. “He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life”, remarks Tuohy.

Tickets ($50 for seniors and $60 for adults) and table sponsorships can be reserved for the JCCF, Inc. Celebration Benefit by stopping by the Foundation office at 108 North Church Street, Ripley (2nd Floor City National Bank); calling 304-372-4500; or through email at Seating will be assigned (front row to back) for individual tickets and sponsorships by the date the confirmation is made.

Hosaflook told Thursday’s reception crowd that a lot of hard work and sleepless nights went into the Community Foundation of Jackson County becoming an independent entity. The foundation was able to achieve 501c3 status in just nine days which is unheard of, he said.

“As a foundation, we wanted to get three funds established, and we’ve already exceeded that with four now and two more on the way,” said Hosaflook. “A lot of great things are happening and will continue to happen under Ms. Crowell.”

Hosaflook thanked Winters for her leadership and service to the foundation over the past 16-plus years. He also gave thanked and gave kudos to the legacy gift donors for their unbelievable generosity. He noted Genevieve Starcher and the 22 $1,000 scholarships presented to Ripley students this year as Starcher Scholars.

Winters said the foundation will go on and flourish, because it is about the community and no her personally.

“Christy (Crowell) will do a fantastic job as executive director,” said Winters. “I’ve worked with her in Rotary and the Adopt-A-Family program. She was the passion, personality and work ethic to be successful.”

Winters noted the four funds already established by the independent Community Foundation of Jackson County: The Jackson County Animal Welfare Fund, the Randolph Scholarship Fund in honor of Lola and Everett Randolph to benefit 4-Hers, the Mable Barentte Fund to benefit Aquafit and Animal Welfare and the Lisa Smolder Fund to benefit K-3 classroom reading. The foundation has set the goal of establishing three new funds each year.

Winters also noted legacy gift donors who give a life gift beyond life, and noted that Legacy donors will be afforded VIP front row treatment at the Community Celebration this fall.

Winters was presented with a proclamation which was part of the foundation’s minutes and an engraved desk clock as tokens of the foundation’s gratitude for her exemplary service and leadership for the past 16-plus years as executive director. Winters is joining her husband who has accepted a new job and relocated to North Carolina.