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Aug. 19, 2022

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Community Foundation for Southwest Washington honors couple’s support for youth

Philanthropists of the Year Award given to Roods in virtual presentation

The Columbian

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington awarded Gary and Christine Rood the 2021 Philanthropists of the Year Award during a virtual presentation on Tuesday. It also announced a new Social Justice and Resiliency Fund that will support organizations led by and serving marginalized communities experiencing hardships from the pandemic.

The Roods, who both spent careers in the medical field, won the award due to their support of youth development organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington and Friends of the Children, according to a news release from the foundation.

Janie Spurgeon, executive vice president and chief development for the Community Foundation, said during the event that the Roods efforts “have engaged and benefited thousands, and is set to impact countless others in the future.”

Anna Cruz and Merril Firestone were also recognized with Lifetime of Giving Awards during the event, which had Eric Liu as a keynote speaker.

Cruz continuously advocates and organizes to broaden access to arts and culture events and health care for Latinos in Southwest Washington. She currently directs Vancouver Ballet Folklórico and serves as a board member for Vancouver-based Artstra, a nonprofit arts advocacy group.

Firestone won the award for actively donating in local education, hunger and faith-related causes. He also donated a piece of his farm to keep a school in the Fruit Valley neighborhood.

Jennifer Rhoads, President of the Community Foundation said during the event that the organization’s fund holders gave more than $17.8 million to meet increasing needs, and that the Southwest Washington COVID Response Fund distributed more than $8.5 million rapid-response grants to 113 organizations in 14 months, according to the press release.

“Everyone put in extra hours and went the extra mile to ensure that local philanthropy remained strong at a time when nonprofit programs and services were needed most,” Rhoads said.

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