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Community Foundation Celebrates 30 Years
Nov 9, 2022

A photo gallery exploring issues of local housing insecurity had its inaugural public presentation at The Wayne Theater Wednesday, June 9th.

A collaboration between the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge and freelance photographer Kate Simon, this project delves into issues such as homelessness and the community’s need for more attainable housing through a camera lens.

“Our founder, the late Buz Dawbarn, said that until we thoroughly understand the problem, we shouldn’t try to come up with solutions,” Community Foundation CEO Dan Layman said. “We can’t truly understand the problem if we can’t see it through the eyes of our neighbors who are experiencing housing insecurity.”

The introduction of this photo gallery was only one part of Wednesday’s event.

The Community Foundation began the evening by honoring the thirty recipients of its Dawbarn Education Awards from 2020-2022, and closed with a celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary and a look forward to its next thirty years.

Thanks to the vision and generosity of Buz Dawbarn, the Foundation selects ten individuals each year who routinely go above and beyond their formal job descriptions to a make a real and lasting impact on the lives of students in the public schools of Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro.  Each individual receives $10,000 from the Foundation.

Due to the pandemic, the Community Foundation did not host in-person celebrations in 2020 and 2021. With the addition of these Award recipients, the Foundation has honored a total of 277 individuals with a combined $2 million.

The Foundation’s anniversary was a celebration of thirty years of generosity and philanthropy. Since its founding in 1992, the Foundation has distributed over $19 million in the form of grants to nonprofit organizations, educational scholarships, and Dawbarn Education Awards.

While the celebration featured a look back at thirty years, the new photo gallery is a glimpse into the strategic work of the Foundation moving forward.

Under the creative direction of Foundation staff members Miriam Burrows and Chris Lassiter, Simon and Lassiter conducted interviews with caseworkers, housing professionals, and community members experiencing various aspects of the housing crisis to produce the gallery.

Ten of the photos appeared in the inaugural galley exhibit, for which Burrows built a website where the Foundation will share these photos, their stories, and 10-minute mini-podcast episodes to accompany each photo.  The public can view the gallery at

The gallery is a logical extension of the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to connect people who care with causes that matter.

With nearly $40 million in assets, the Community Foundation is well positioned to play a critical role in tackling the many challenges that currently face our community.

The growing trend of housing insecurity that affects over 40% of our community members is one of the issues driving the Foundation’s current and future efforts.


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