Thursday, July 28, 2016

Foundation honors Carol and James Stitt and 2016 scholarship recipients

OLEAN, N.Y., July 28, 2016 – At its 10th annual Friends of the Foundation Luncheon, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation honored two of its closest friends, Carol and James Stitt, for their long-time dedication to the foundation.

“The Friends of the Foundation award is CRCF’s highest honor for those people who’ve been true friends of the foundation on a number of different levels,” said Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “The award is for those who’ve been dedicated to a cause and worked closely with the foundation as well as generously supporting one or more foundation funds. In that respect, Carol and Jim are two of the foundation’s most enduring and closest friends.”

Wendy Brand, CRCF board president, presented the honor to Carol Stitt, the foundation’s first executive director, and words of appreciation about Ms. Stitt.

Describing the evolution of CRCF, Ms. Brand said “With little more than a desk and some paper files to start, Carol laid the groundwork not only for what the foundation was at the time, but for what it would become. She was and is CRCF’s biggest ambassador.”

Carol’s stepping down from the Executive Director position did not end her service to the foundation. “When she retired as Executive Director, Carol was more than your typical board member. She quickly took on leadership roles. She served as board president and chaired the executive, finance and strategic planning committees,” said Ms. Brand.

Ms. Stitt acknowledged that Ms. Brand’s remarks were not hyperbole. She said that she indeed thought of the foundation as her “third child.”

It is a child that she’s nurtured for 22 years, since the foundation’s establishment. “She grew the foundation from its infancy to the strong organization it is today,” said Ms. Brand. “She truly saw the potential of a community foundation and the good it could do for our region when it was just a seed of an idea in the Olean area.”

Together, Carol and her husband, James, established the Stitt Family Fund at the CRCF. Today, they still regularly donate to other foundation causes. Mr. Stitt has also volunteered to speak at CRCF’s annual Nonprofit Networking Day.

James Stitt, Cutco CEO, has shared his expertise and resources to further the foundation’s visions and goals, said Brand. “The foundation has benefited from the advising of Cutco’s marketing, HR and IT staff,” she said. “So with Jim on your team, you don’t get just one person, but a whole crowd behind you.”

Mr. Stitt, who also serves on the St. Bonaventure University board of trustees and the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center’s board, spoke about “keeping the lights on,” meaning that community members should focus on making the region the best it can be so that anyone who goes away has a strong community to return to.

It’s that shared vision of building a better tomorrow for the Greater Olean area that has driven the Stitts do so much good. It’s that shared vision that makes them the perfect 2016 Friends of the Foundation honorees.

Ms. Brand also recognized some of this year’s new funds, which included the OHS Class of 1961 Scholarship Fund, established by Duane A. Geuder and members of the Olean High School class of 1961; the St. Mary of the Angels Future Fund, established by parishioners at St. Mary of the Angels Church; and the Hamburg Track Scholarship Fund, established by William V. Malican III.

All students who received scholarships managed by the CRCF in 2016 were also honored at the luncheon. The foundation managed and distributed 80 scholarships this year, totaling $112,730 for area students.

Ms. Stitt reminded the recipients of the generosity that made their scholarships possible. “In many cases you’re receiving scholarships from people you’ve never met,” she said.

She said that fact should encourage them to embrace the vision of her and her husband, James. “Please, take that to heart, and when you are out making your way in the world, make sure that
the community in which you are living is a better place.”

In other words, help to make sure that the light stays on in the community.

As an afternoon of touching stories and companionship among friends came to a close, one thing was clear; CRCF plans to continue keeping the lights on for its scholarship and other grant recipients. But even more, they plan to join the Stitts in their mission to keep the lights on all across the region.

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email, or visit online at CRCF is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

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