A Clintonville native who has helped make fireworks happen on youth athletic fields and in the July 4th skies was recognized by the Clintonville Area Foundation with its first “Community Heroes Award.”
Don Jirschele was honored for community service that includes more than three decades as president of the Clintonville Athletic Club, manager or player on the Clintonville A’s baseball team, lead organizer of the Independence Day community fireworks display, and assistant coach on school football and basketball teams. He also has served for nearly 20 years as lead organizer of the Doug Jirschele Sports Award Banquet, named for his son, which annually sells out more than 400 tickets as a benefit for the community’s American Legion baseball team.
The Community Heroes Award, to be given annually, recognizes selfless volunteer activity toward community well-being. It was presented at the CAF’s annual gala Saturday, May 21, at Mason’s Ridge Banquet Facility by Dan Olk, a 1975 graduate of Clintonville High School now working in Ames, Iowa, as a soil biochemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Olk said he decided to create a fund within the Clintonville Area Foundation to make the award possible while traveling to other countries on business and reflecting on the role models who helped him as he was growing up in Clintonville.
“Clintonville had citizens who cared about the community, their neighborhoods, the schools, churches and the business sector. People put time and effort into making this community a better place to live,” Olk said.
The award recipients will be able to select nonprofit organizations to benefit from $2,000 in prize money. Jirschele chose to direct the money toward helping needy students to participate in academic and sports activities at Clintonville schools. “I just want to help the kids,” he said.
“The Clintonville Area Foundation is an excellent vehicle for enabling local action,” Olk said. “I’m pleased to have this opportunity to develop an award through the Foundation. Now I can begin to repay the community that provided role models in my childhood.”
The foundation’s gala also was the setting for recognition of many of the local non-profit organizations who have benefitted from grant awards in recent years. Local actress Ann Van Grinsven, portraying the character Granny Annie, performed a skit where she went around the room and recognized representatives from several of these organizations and the foundation funds that provided their awards.
Incoming CAF board chair Dan Gast served as the master of ceremonies for the event and he talked about the history and accomplishments of the foundation. Gast recognized the contributions from several donors who provided everything from organizing, funding, raffle prizes and decorating the venue as well as the high school musicians who provided music prior to the meal and the disk jockey who provided dancing music after the presentation. The gala was attended by over 100 people.
Established in 1995, the Clintonville Area Foundation’s mission is to enhance and improve the social, cultural, educational, health and general well-being of people in the Clintonville area. In 2000, it became a geographic affiliate of the Appleton-based Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Since 2000, the CAF has awarded more than $243,000 in grants from charitable funds created within the CAF by individuals and families. Learn more at www.ClintonvilleFoundation.org.