If, in the future, the conductor or a featured soloist for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is announced as being from the Dinosaur Capital of Texas, it likely will be because of Frances and the late John Wasilchak.
The Glen Rose couple established the Wasilchak Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation of North Texas in 2000 to allow the now 1,640 students in the Glen Rose ISD to experience the thrill of the symphony.
“I love working with Fran and can see what a difference her generosity is making to the children of Glen Rose,” said Vicki Andrews, director of Operations/Donor Services, at the foundation. “She gets great pleasure out of watching them learn and grow, and she continues to amaze me with her energy and zeal for these projects.”
Those projects include a master class in the fall for middle school and high school band students taught by seven symphony musicians who travel to Glen Rose. The symphony also plays two concerts annually in the district — one for grades 6 - 12 and another for grades K - 5. Surrounding school districts, home-schooled children and community members are invited. The program also includes visits to Bass Hall for performances, a dress rehearsal and tours for selected students. The school district funds additional experiences and provides teachers with a curriculum to accompany the program.
The Wasilchak Charitable Fund is one of 190 charitable funds administered by the foundation. The foundation has assets of $200 million and ranks 81st out of more than 700 community foundations in the United States. Since its founding in 1981, the Community Foundation of North Texas has made $160 million in grants.
“The Community Foundation serves donors by being a trusted repository for their tax-deductible funds so they can carry out their charitable giving,” said Nancy Jones, president and CEO of the foundation since March 2009. “Our local experience and our willingness to serve as a convener of parties around critical issues allows us to serve the greater community.”
In contrast to most nonprofits, which have a specific mission focus, the Community Foundation focuses on all aspects of what builds a community, she said.
Andrews says the vast majority of children who participate through the Wasilchak Charitable Fund would not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. “These programs increase their understanding and love of music in a way that will stay with them their entire lives,” she said.
“I have always thought a Community Foundation is a perfect place to work,” Jones said. “We are at the intersection of great people doing great things in nonprofits and wonderful people who want to put funds aside for charitable purposes. It’s our job to steward charitable funds for the people who entrust us with them.”
It is very satisfying work, Jones said. “I enjoy the chance to help people learn effective ways to carry out their charitable goals and causes they want to benefit now and even long after they’re gone. It is a real pleasure working with individuals and families who care about our community,” she said.
The Wasilchaks are an example. “The Wasilchaks have provided for these programs in their will,” Andrews said. “The Community Foundation of North Texas will dutifully administer the endowed funds for these programs in perpetuity, carrying on their work well after their lifetimes.”