Fairy Godmothers

History of the Fairy Godmother's Organization

Click here to view a timeline of our organization's history.

The Beginning

The stars and planets were properly aligned over Manhattan early in 2006 for the beginning of a fairy tale. It was a fairy tale that would evolve into the Fairy Godmothers’ Funds, which as of April 2017 has over $500,000 with almost 700 members.

The spark was a meeting Polly Stoecklein, Certified Financial Planner, had with a long-time Manhattan resident, Loriel Cross. Loriel wanted to do something for women, but she and Polly were unable to find just the right charity.

Polly introduced Loriel to the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, where she could learn about donor-advised funds. A donor-advised fund can be established with a gift of $10,000 and personalized by the donor. In March, 2006, Loriel established the Women’s Education and Youth Art Fund.

Inspired by Loriel, Polly checked to see what other funds within the GMCF were assisting women in the Manhattan community.

She found funds for children’s programs, aviation, adult education, fatherless children, health care, humane treatment of animals and many other causes, but NOTHING for women in need in our community.

“This is crazy,” Polly said. “Something needs to be done.” And something was done.

Polly got in touch with Sue Maes, a senior development officer at Kansas State University and president of the GMCF Board, and the fairy tale was on its way. “I’d had a dream for years and years of doing something like this,” Sue said.

Sue and Polly visited with various sources of aid in Manhattan including the Crisis Center, the Emergency Shelter and Shepherds Crossing. They learned women with immediate, short-term critical needs were falling through the cracks of conventional organizations. Sue and Polly did not want to compete with other helping entities, but to help when the other agencies could not because of their regulations. Three other influential women in the community, Joleen Hill, Lee Taylor, and Lucy Williams, joined Polly and Sue in an informal steering committee. The stars and planets were lining up.

The steering committee knew the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation (GMCF) had been instrumental in helping citizens establish other philanthropies. A donor-advised fund would work because the purpose and mission could be specified by the donors. Now, to generate the required $10,000.

Steering committee members knew many women were charitable, but few could independently establish a new $10,000 endowment fund. Many could give more modest amounts.

The steering committee also found a similar effort to help women was being made in Lawrence. The committee decided they needed an event that would alert local women to the problem in Manhattan, inform them about the Lawrence program and solicit donations to create a similar program in Manhattan. Each committee member would provide the names of at least 10 women to receive an invitation to the event. From the beginning the GMCF directors and staff such as Anna Lee Donnelly, Sarah Saueressig, Laurie Ekart and Elaine Dhuyvetter, have provided and continue to provide enormous help to the group.

The steering committee and the Manhattan Community Foundation planned a Wine, Women, and Philanthropy party [see time line for a copy of the invitation] to kick off a new Women’s Fund. The August 31, 2006, party was held at the Union Pacific Depot and hosted by the Manhattan Community Foundation. About 100 women were invited and about half attended.

A woman from Lawrence talked about The Fairy Godmother Fund founded there in 2003, sharing stories about how their fund helped women. Another speaker was a man representing the Douglas County Community Foundation, which managed the Lawrence Fairy Godmother Fund.

The kick-off party was “just a beautiful evening,” Lee Taylor said. “It warmed your heart to see what a bunch of women could do.”

Another Steering Committee member, Joleen Hill, said “It was just magic. The whole atmosphere was fantastic.”

Men from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation tended bar at the Wine, Women and Philanthropy party, and the way the Fairy Godmothers came together just “blew the men away.” Joleen summed it up: “Women understood and knew immediately that we could make a difference.” The kick-off party brought in $10,000 in checks and pledges to start an endowed fund with the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation.

The philanthropy party “put the meat on the bones” for getting the Fairy Godmothers’ Fund started in Manhattan, Lucy Williams said. With permission of the Lawrence Fairy Godmothers Fund, the steering committee changed the Manhattan group’s name from Women’s Fund to the Fairy Godmothers Fund. However, the Manhattan steering committee chose to develop its own logo.

The Wine, Women and Philanthropy party got things started and from there Sue Maes said, the whole thing just sort of happened. Four more women — Shirley DeLano, Cheryl Grice, Kathy Holen and Lana Oleen, were added to the Advisory Board.

After a few months of planning, another, larger, event was held Feb. 27, 2007, “to launch the Fairy Godmothers Fund.” By the time of the Celebration Launch, held at the Houston Street Ballroom, there were 180 Fairy Godmother Founders, and the Steering committee members knew many women were charitable, but few could independently establish a new $10,000 endowment fund. Many could give more modest amounts.

At the Launch, founding members received their fairy pins, a logo created by Nancy Raleigh, S&N Design. The Fairy Godmother logo has since been officially trademarked in the state of Kansas. Polly Stoecklein told those attending the launch, “This fairy tale has a beginning, but no ending. It has its own life, its own legacy, and will flourish beyond our lifetimes.”

Committee Structure and Logistics

In those early days, “We met without officers, “ Sue Maes said, “and because I was the president of the Community Foundation Board I sort of accidentally became Head Fairy.“ The board usually met once a month, “working out details by trial and error,” Sue said. Lana Oleen remembers saying “We probably ought to have committees.” Committees were formed to divide up the duties and to get the organization running smoothly.

The Connections Committee was formed to solicit new members, encourage renewals, and meet with organizations and vendors in the community to advertise our being part of the community. In 2007 this committee organized the first Lingerie Luncheon, which was not a fundraiser but a way to help women in the community by providing The Crisis Center and the Emergency Shelter with much needed supplies of lingerie for their clients. Big Lakes was added later as a recipient. Capitol Federal sponsored this event.

The Communications Committee acts as a liaison to the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, provides publicity as needed, prepares communication to members and maintains the website.

The Events Committee plans and executes fund-raising events. The first event was organized with Central National Bank, which came forth in 2007 and offered to host a charity golf tournament with Fairy Godmothers as the recipient.

The Finance Committee formulates the annual budget, monitors incoming monies such as contributions and outgoing monies for grants and reconciles the books with those of GMCF.

The Grants Committee develops the grant application, and meets with social agencies to organize a network to screen the applications for the Fairy Godmothers. Grants Committee members draw on the expertise of existing assisting agencies in screening applications and forwarding those considered worthy of and appropriate for Fairy Godmothers’ grants. Fairy Godmother grant applications are processed by agencies such as North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, CASA,Homecare and Hospice, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, Flint Hills Community Clinic, Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Inc. and Shepherd’s Crossing. Upon receipt by the Fairy Godmother Grants Committee, an application is reviewed and funds are typically made available within 48 hours. Funds are paid directly to the vendors of requested services and needs.

With limited funds, the first Fairy Godmother grants carried a maximum of $300 per grantee per year. The first Fairy Godmother grant was made in March 2008. Today, with more funds available, grants up to $600 can be awarded. Each year, the Fairy Godmothers Advisory Board approves how much grant money is available. The Grants Committee allocates one quarter of the yearly amount to be granted each three-month period of the calendar year. Any left-over money is carried over to the next quarter. Grants are the reason this organization was established and the social agencies handling these grants have been a real benefit to the Fairy Godmothers.

The Fairy Godmothers Advisory Board now has up to 15 voting members. The Board sets goals, approves recommendations for the distribution of money, approves annual budgets, helps with events, publicity and membership and works responsibly with the GMCF.

As details have been worked out by trial and error, rules and regulations have been developed for the Fairy Godmothers’ Funds. A full set of rules and regulations were first approved by the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Board on June 13, 2012.

Getting and Giving

Fundraising is a major aspect of the Fairy Godmothers. The Fairy Godmothers’ Funds are comprised of three Field of Interest Funds that are component funds of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation — The Fairy Godmothers Endowed Fund, The Fairy Godmothers Grants Fund and the Fairy Godmothers Operating Fund.

The Endowed Fund provides permanent support for the Fairy Godmothers grants program. A Fairy Godmothers’ goal is to have $500,000 in the Endowment Fund by 2015.

The Founding Fairy Godmothers donated $500 or more, and new Fairy Godmothers contribute $100 or more. Member fairies are invited to contribute annually, and can give at any time. Currently more than 550 women and a few men are actively contributing and participating.

Of course, the Fairy Godmothers’ Fund doesn’t do it alone. As mentioned earlier, the first major fundraiser was the Central National Bank’s 2007 charity golf tournament with proceeds coming to the Fairy Godmothers. Central National Bank continued to sponsor the Fairy Godmother Annual Golf Tournament through the 6th Annual tournament in2012, bringing an average of $20,000 per year into the Fairy Godmothers Endowment Fund. On Sept. 30, 2013, the 7th Annual Fairy Godmothers charity golf tournament was held, with administrative support from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation staff and with Community 1st Bank as title sponsor. Drawings and silent auctions at the golf tournaments brought in additional funds.

In 2011 a new fundraising event, Tinis, Tapas & Trinkets was added with Community First National Bank as sponsor. Tinis, Tapas & Trinkets brought in more than $13,000 in 2011 and about $8,000 in 2012.

The Wanderful Leaders

The Celebration Launch in February, 2007, set the pattern for the Fairy Godmother annual celebration meetings. Held in February each year, the meeting is an opportunity to present an annual report and bring members up to date. To view the accomplishments of our wanderful leaders and their advisory boards, please refer to the annual reports section under the Who We Are button of the website.

As the Fairy Godmother story continues to develop, the annual reports will serve as our continuing record. The good works of the organization are testimony to the alignment of the stars and the planets and the power of individuals to do good things for their community.

A fire does not start without a spark.

An idea not verbalized or acted upon dies.

Fear of rejection quiets one’s dreams.

The fairy tale has begun and has no ending...

The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Earth Day Grow Green on April 22, 2013, resulted in another $8,604 for the Fairy Godmothers. The Fairy Godmothers also had the greatest number of individual donors, 83, and thus won an additional $500.

Over the years the Fairy Godmothers have had many local businesses and organizations sponsor special events for the Godmothers, make special gifts to the Godmothers, allocate a portion of the day’s receipts to the Godmothers, etc. (See the annual reports available on the Fairy Godmother website (www.fgfund.org) for listings of donors.)

One of the most visible activities of the Fairy Godmothers is a giving rather than a receiving activity — the annual Lingerie Luncheon, started by the Connections Committee in 2007, has been held annually. The luncheon attracts about 100 women who come with gifts of lingerie, slippers, mittens, scarves and other items for women in need. The Lingerie Luncheon is sponsored by Capitol Federal, and community support is strong. The Manhattan Arts Center has provided the location, and local and area stores provide discounts on luncheon items or lingerie purchases for the event. Among the stores participating have been Dillons, Dillards, J C Penney’s at the Manhattan Mall and Catherine’s of Topeka. The gifts those attending provide go to the Manhattan Crisis Center, the Manhattan Emergency Center and Big Lakes — another way of women helping women in need.

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