Wilmette Park District Could Resurrect Dormant Foundation

The district could bring back Ouilmette Foundation to help local families in need.

For Wilmette families that find the cost of the local Park District programming a little challenging, there may be help on the way — the Ouilmette Foundation could be making a comeback. 

The Ouilmette Foundation, last used in 1983 to fund a facelift for but has been dormant ever since, could be resurrected as a vehicle for individuals or corporations to donate directly to Wilmette Park District

The district is starting to work on the process of getting the foundation back into place, first by filing paperwork to get current tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. 

“We are at the beginning of the red tape steps with the IRS. We have not even started writing the paperwork,” said Steve Wilson, executive director, Wilmette Park District. 

But, if all goes well, Ouilmette Foundation could be back in working order sometime in late fall or early winter, according to John Olvany, chairman of the park district’s financial planning committee. 

Avenue to raise-funds

With a private foundation in place, such as the one at , it could make it easier for the foundation to raise additional funds for Wilmette Park District, Olvany said.  

Several other communities including Glenview, Winnetka and Deerfield have foundations to support their local park districts. 

Wilmette Park District currently provides between $60,000 to $65,000 annually in assistance to Wilmette families in need, Wilson said. If the foundation were successfully revived, it could provide additional assistance by offsetting some of the costs of programming, or provide updates to area parks and add amenities on park district property. 

The foundation could also oversee the sponsorship of some park district activities such as the Independence Day fireworks shows or the Fourth of July Fun Run

“If we resuscitated the foundation, that would be the vehicle that these businesses could sponsor,” Olvany said. 

Interest in serving the foundation 

Olvany did not think current board members of the park district board could also sit on the foundation board of directors, but former members or anyone else who had an interest in the parks could offer their services. 

So far, four people have approached Wilmette Park District about helping out with the Ouilmette Foundation, Wilson said. 

“I’ve met a lot of people who have a lot of history in the level,” he said. “Based on the level of interest and their ability to commit time to the foundation, we would try and create the best group of people for the best foundation.” 

The Ouilmette Foundation was named after the fur trader Antoine Ouilmette is credited with being the first settler of Evanston and Wilmette and for whom the village is named.

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