Annual gala benefits Indian Valley Schools

Annual gala benefits Indian Valley Schools

Image Credit: Teri Stein

Minnie Garabrandt, a founding member of the Indian Valley Foundation, was honored with the Larry Holmes Community Service Award when the IVF held its fourth annual gala on April 2 at the Harvest Barn in Sugarcreek.

The award was presented by Pat Kohl, an IVF member, who said it would be impossible to list everything Garabrandt has done for her community. It was only the second time the award was given, having been instituted in 2021.

Kohl said it was an honor to present the Larry Holmes Community Service Award. He was someone who never said no when he was asked for help.

“Holmes was also the driving force in all the improvements that have come to the Indian Valley Foundation,” Kohl said, adding the award was for a person who’s made and continues to make significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, dedication and love.

“The honoree selected should serve as a role model for compassion and service. This person must have a passion for helping others in their community and continuously strive to make the world a better place,” Kohl said. “As I was preparing for this introduction and started gathering statistics beyond what I personally knew, I found that to list everything this honoree has selflessly volunteered to do in her service hours would be impossible and would take most of the evening.

“Let’s say that we would not be sitting here tonight if it weren't for the vision, the dream, the insight, the driving force, and the continuous love and dedication that has gone on to create the Indian Valley Foundation.”

Garabrandt was the person who originally wrote to the Indian Valley School to ask about setting up the foundation.

As a foundation member, it was difficult to keep the award a secret from Garabrandt.

“Usually, I know who's going to win it because I'm in and out of the office all the time,” Garabrandt said. “I never even thought about it this year for some reason. We’re sitting here, and I look at the program and thought nobody ever said anything about the Larry Holmes Service Award. The rest is history.”

Garabrandt also thanked others who helped create the foundation in 2009.

“This was in May or June, and by November we were an official group. We had all the paperwork done in place,” Garabrandt said.

The first two scholarships from the group of $500 each were given in 2010.

Two special guests were honored at the event.

Kristin Burrier, a Port Washington Elementary School third-grade math teacher, was recognized as an Outstanding Elementary Teacher by the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools. Burrier was one of 49 recipients from across the 31-county region of Eastern and Southern Ohio.

Also honored was Jimmy McPeek, head custodian at Indian Valley Middle School, with the Support Staff Regional Award for 2021.

“He doesn’t want the recognition, but he deserves it,” said Brent Carter, Indian Valley Middle School principal. “He is willing to work on any task. Sometimes I think his last name is ‘I’ll be right there.’”

Carter called Jimmy McPeek a difference maker at the middle school. "The students are his number-one priority, and he bats 1,000 on finding lost retainers."

The IVF committee also was pleased to have another guest at the gala — Dover High School basketball coach Bob Von Kaenel, who has 700 total career wins and is just the fifth Ohio coach to attain that milestone.

The purpose of the Indian Valley Foundation is to raise funds to award scholarships to deserving students and promote increased classroom learning and exemplary teaching in all Indian Valley schools. They also award building grants and classroom grants.

Garabrandt is thrilled the foundation will award $70,000 in scholarships this year to graduating Indian Valley seniors. The foundation has developed a system, working with the school, to distribute awards fairly. Students apply and turn their applications into the school office, which adds a copy of the grade and attendance records. The students are only identified by a number to make the applications anonymous.

“We have a team. I think there's six on the team this year who will review and read every one of them,” Garabrandt said.

Team members score each application and award scholarships based on the highest scores.

The IVF is pleased this year that they had the largest attendance — 270 people — in the history of the gala. The group made the highest amount raised at $46,000, which amounted to $8,000 more than their previous high last year. Many alumni attended from all over Ohio and outside the state including Texas and Maryland.

The event included dinner prepared by Log Cabin Catering, music, a live auction with auctioneer and Indian Valley school board member Bob Hall and Steve Cronebaugh and other guest auctioneers, a wine pull, and a gift card pull and door prizes.

“We are blessed to live in a community that despite trying times, you graciously support our cause. We owe you a great deal of gratitude,” said Dave McPeek, president of the IVF.

Members of the IVF board are McPeek, Vice President Devin Brown, vice president of development Mark Natoli, secretary Pam Fouts, treasurer Steve Pasquinelli and assistant secretary/treasurer Minnie Garabrandt.

Other members include Brandon Anderson, Jami Brown, Sue Crabtree, Steven Cunningham, Kelli Edwards, Carla Ferguson, Bob Hall, Jodi Hillyer, Pat Kohl, Debbie Lee, Sarah Mathias, Kristen Maurer, Jane Miller, Tina Smitley and Stephenie Wilson.

Martha Roudebush is director emeritus.

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