MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 25, 2013

Members look back on $27.4M

Outgoing foundation board members honored for work to give community grants

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Giving away more than $27.44 million can be hard to do, especially for a banker who describes himself as “pretty conservative.”

BancFirst President John Barton said he found it hard to take off his “banker’s hat” during his tenure as chairman of the City of Muskogee Foundation’s board of directors.

“It’s been a very rewarding and eye-opening experience,” said Barton, whose term on the foundation board expired this month along with a couple of other original board members. “I am pretty conservative when it comes to giving away money. But now that I’ve been through that, I hope in 10 or 15 years I will be able to look back and see the difference this foundation has made in Muskogee.”

 Barton was one of three members appointed to the foundation board at its inception in 2008 whose terms expired this month. He was remembered by his cohorts as the member who ensured “no foundation dollar was wasted.”

The two other members whose terms expired were Darrell Hamby and Martha Alford. Both were recognized along with Barton at the foundation’s August meeting this past Monday.

Hamby was recognized as “an advocate for large grants that made a big impact and helped move the foundation toward those goals.” Alford was recognized for her drive to improve outcome measurements to ensure foundation funds were spent wisely.

“Martha always ensured the committee members knew as much as possible about the grantees,” said incoming board chairman Earnie Gilder.

Alford did that “by engaging her committee members fully in discussions, having a diverse makeup of volunteers, and by doing site visits of the organizations.”

Foundation Grants Administrator D.J. Thompson said Muskogee is unique in the fact that it has a charitable foundation to support the city, schools and other organizations “working to make Muskogee a better place to live, work and play.”

“There are not many cities like Muskogee that have a foundation that enables them the opportunities like we have here,” Thompson said. “The great work that the city and other organizations have done with the $27 million to date will only get better and more exciting as the foundation’s investments continue to grow and are granted for great projects.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.