Community foundations are the fastest growing form of philanthropy and are often the first to support new and emerging needs. The Defiance Area Foundation provides a means for addressing community problems and opportunities by maintaining a broad grant program available to charitable organizations in the Defiance County area. Each of us can make a difference in creating a vibrant and healthy community.

The Defiance Area Foundation has been serving communities within Defiance County for the last 36 years. In these 36 years, the Defiance Area Foundation has been able to touch thousands of lives of those families residing within Defiance, Hicksville, Ney and Sherwood Ohio through many different funds for many different needs.

We established the Melton Family First Generation Scholarship Fund with the hope that it will help, in some small way, a student to become the first in their family to graduate from college with the degree they need for their chosen career. Ann and I were born and raised in Defiance, and in fact lived a half a block apart, although we really did not know each other until high school. Ann attended St. John’s and I attended St. Mary’s. We were married Ann’s senior year in college and my graduate degree year. After college, three years of military service and six years living in Perrysburg working for a “Big 8” accounting firm, we moved back to Defiance to be close to our families and raise our two children.

We both graduated from BGSU and we were both the first in our families, including extended families, to earn a four year college degree. Ann’s mom and my dad graduated from high school. Ann’s dad left high school after the 10th grade due to his father’s death and my mom only attended school through the 8th grade. Never the less, both of our parents appreciated the value of education and encouraged us to keep learning.

Our degrees afforded us the opportunity to pursue our careers, Ann’s as an elementary teacher and mine as a CPA. Teaching for 36 years in my hometown was an added blessing due to graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. While teaching and raising our children, I used the philosophy of “expectation motivation”. By using positive individual expectations of each child they were motivated to do their best. Without our college degrees, neither career would have been possible. Over the years we have many times realized how fortunate we were to be able to attend college and how thankful we are that our parents encouraged us. We certainly don’t feel that everyone must attend college to have a meaningful and successful career or profession. However, for certain careers a college degree is a requirement. We established our scholarship fund to assist those who want to pursue the college degree they need to enter their dream career.

-Terry & Ann Melton

She was “at home” in the kitchen. Her passion was cooking and baking and she enjoyed trying new dishes and baking cookies for her family. She decided to make the field of culinary arts her
profession. Erica J. Strausbaugh graduated from Tinora High School in 1997. She always had an interest and love of cooking and baking. During the summer of 1998, she attended a Culinary Arts School at the Disney Institute and met and became connected with the Johnson and Wales University. This experience fueled and launched her desire to attend the Johnson and Wales University in South Carolina, in which she graduated Magnum Cum Laude in 2001. Tragically, Erica passed away less than three weeks after her graduation.

The Strausbaugh Family (Sue) opened Biggby in 2007 in Erica’s memory. A scholarship fund has been established in her memory through The Defiance Area Foundation to benefit a high school senior from Defiance County that will be furthering their education in the field of Culinary Arts.

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, outdoorHave you ever enjoyed a DHS band program, whether it was you personally performing, or a child or grandchild of yours? Have you ever experienced the pride of those stepping on to the field as a member of the DHS marching band, or the exhilaration of the collaborative efforts on the stage of symphonic band? Ever tap your toe along with the Jazz band? Can you still see the smiles of those in attendance, loving the squeakiness of their child’s first elementary band concert? Please help keep these memories going on for generations!

The Defiance High School Band fund was established by musically proud grandparents who wanted to foster the DHS band program for future generations!

They had a sincere desire to help and encourage children in need, combined with a love of instrumental band, and they hoped the creation of this Fund would be the starting point that accepts future gifts from those with similar values for generations to come. Annual distributions from the endowment fund are directed by the Director of Bands for Defiance City Schools to benefit the areas of instruments/ equipment (musical and/or marching), educational supplies, lessons, or start-up programs.

In December 2017, we met Cynthia, a single mom of 5 kids ranging from a baby to a 25 year old son. Cynthia was working multiple jobs to try and support her family, yet she didn’t even have a working car to get her back and forth. She was constantly putting money into her broken down car and at the time we met her she was ready to give up. Everything in her life seemed to be falling apart. She needed a car during the winter to drive her kids to appointments and to get to and from her jobs, and she was desperate for help. She prayed for a miracle and that is exactly
what she received.

The report of this need came into the Dream Center and through a generous donation we were able to give Cynthia a reliable vehicle. She gratefully accepted the gift and through her tears exclaimed, “This is the best gift ever! I was ready to give up. I was out of hope. This has given me a new hope to move forward in life! Thank you! Thank you!” Knowing that there were other areas that she needed guidance, we also connected her with a life coach. She needed some help in the Financial Pathway and was able to get rid of some of her weekly rent to own payments she was making on her refrigerator and other appliances. Her life coach guided her to buying some used appliances locally while the Dream Center helped out with delivering them to her house. Cynthia is continuing to receive guidance in the area of relationships and is planning on attending a life group to intentionally surround herself with others who want to learn and grow forward. Through the life coaching Cynthia has also opened up about her son needing some help concerning addictions and mental health. She was so relieved to find out there are pathways to help in both of these areas. He was assigned a life coach and received help and direction for his addictions.

The Dream Center has helped this family, one step at a time, to make lasting changes that affect the family as a whole!

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and foodThanks to the generous community support, now have the first Pollinator Sanctuary and Training Facility in Ohio for beekeepers. The Black Swamp Beekeepers Association started April 2nd, of 2017 with a vision of having a local beekeepers association in Defiance that would help support NW Ohio beekeepers. Our founding board members have worked together to hold monthly meetings, a 1-day beginners class, the beginners internship and advanced internship classes. We are also an affiliate association of Ohio State Beekeepers Association (OSBA) in 2017. Working with the Defiance County Commissioners and through generous support from City and County agencies, private sponsors & donations, and The Defiance Area Foundation & Wertz Family Fund Grant, we now have the first Pollinator Sanctuary and Training Facility in Ohio for beekeepers. This facility will allow us to train beekeepers from February through November with hands-on training. This is located on Schick Road, two tenths of a mile off of Evansport Road. The public is welcome to come out and see working beehives in action. You can observe through windows around the fencing parameter or actually suit-up and join an experienced beekeeper inside, getting a front row seat as we open the hives. Thank you.

Jamie Walters-BSBA President

Cletus Vetter gave endless hours of volunteerism and was active in many organizations. He was elected to the Defiance Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board of Supervisors and served from 1961 – 1981. He was also an Area 1 SWCD Director from 1979 – 1981. Clete received numerous awards and distinctions, not only at the local level but at the county and state level as well. He definitely had an impact on soil and water conservation through his farming practices and his leadership. During Clete’s lifetime of being a farmer, he loved to nurture the soil and watch his crops grow.

In 1998, staf members (Jim Harris, Mike Bof, Rick Hall, Kevin Hancock and Terri Agler) of the Defiance SWCD were interested in establishing a college scholarship fund for a Defiance County student. With this in mind, they decided to “pay it forward”. The Defiance Soil and Water Conservation District established a fund in memory of Cletus Vetter. This annual $1,000.00 college scholarship is meant to bring back into focus the vital necessity and passion for resource conservation by encouraging college-bound students to consider a career in conservation, natural resources, agriculture or a related field.

Together, we can ensure that the legacy of love and respect to not only his family but to the many people Clete Vetter selflessly gave himself to lives on forever through Defiance County. Thank you to the SWCD and the entire Vetter Family for your gifts!

Pictured (L t o R) Jason Roehrig, District Administrator – Defance Soil and Water Conservation District, Alice Vetter, and Daniel Vetter.

The Huber Opera House & Civic Center, Inc. is very grateful for the assistance from The Defiance Area Foundation. After concerns of safety and lighting, in the fall of 2015 we received a grant toward lighting at the entrance that was added under the outside balcony, along with railings toward secure footing and safety for our patrons. Equipment for the hearing impaired was also purchased and has been used by those who have hearing aids and need assistance with clearly hearing productions.

In 2016, we were happy to receive funding toward stage lighting, auditorium lighting that was coordinated with the tech booth, and speakers placed under the balcony. These items have been noticeably effective in assisting with sound for those patrons sitting under the balcony and the stage viewing is much sharper with the addition of the Ellipsoidal lighting. Thank you to The Defiance Area Foundation and The Hicksville Community Fund for your support.

-Pamela Diehl

Many local individuals, businesses and organizations donated to the Veteran’s Memorial Park. We were pleased that The Defiance Area Foundation and the Hicksville Fund recognized the worth of this project. This generosity allowed the memorial to be completed and dedicated on November 12, 2016.

The Veterans Memorial is a grand entry into our community park where thousands from the area go for sporting events and family fun. It so properly recognizes the patriotism rendered by brave men and women who put country above self. Your financial support was important and is appreciated.

-Leesa Battershell

“I was extremely honored to represent The Defiance Area Foundation at the ceremony to honor the Hicksville Area Veterans and the construction of their Veterans Memorial Park. As a Veteran myself, the hearing of TAPS brought tears to my eyes, as it did to many of those who attended. Leesa Battershell, Hicksville Mayor Diane Collins and Senator Cliff Hite surely distinguished themselves with their remarks, as did the Color Guard that raised Ol’ Glory during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The Hicksville community has a lot to be proud of with the completion of this beautiful area. Mary and I enjoyed our visit and are thankful The Foundation supported this park to honor all branches of the military. Take a trip to Hicksville to see what an impact your grant dollars have made.”

-Rod Martin

“We want to get more people involved in the Hicksville Community. We continue to have on-going needs and creating the Hicksville Community Fund in 2011 has allowed us to address some of those needs.”

-Jim and Karen Schmidt


The Stroede Center – 2016 

Your grant has helped us to begin a new look, and service, to the greater Defiance area! Because of the generosity of the Defiance Area Foundation we have begun the renovations at The Stroede Center for the Arts, at 319 Wayne Avenue. In December, 2015, a group of volunteers started “demo-ing” the nearly 5,000 square foot basement of the Stroede Center for the Arts. Originally built in 1894, as the First Baptist Church, the building was inherited by the City of Defiance in 2007. Dick Stroede’s vision of service to the greater Defiance area, enriched through cultural programs for the arts. With over 300 volunteer hours of work, we have hauled out more than 14 tons of debris! Here’s a “sneak preview” of our progress.

                                strode-2    strode

Phase 1 — a new 100-year guarantee, roofing job. The steel roofing looks like asphalt, but wears like iron. We have approximately two-thirds of the job done and are hoping to finish the rest this fall. Local Winegardener Roofing, is the contractor for the job.

Phase 2 — has been completed with local contractor, The Baker-Shindler Contracting Co. They have transformed the former dungeon of what was, at best, disgusting bathrooms with roots growing through the floor, into modern, light, bright and pleasant dressing rooms and restroom facilities. Beyond the contractual specifics, Doug Shindler was able to save Defiance Community Cultural Council (DCCC) thousands of dollars by having the State of Ohio, reapprove the previously submitted (2010), architectural drawings for $100. Doug also joined in on the volunteer days of lugging debris up the stairs and out the door! With your help we have been able to initiate a $62,000 roof job, a $54,000-bathroom renovation job and other additional improvements totaling nearly $10,000.

Phase 3 — is anticipated that the Community Meeting/Rehearsal Room and a Caterer’s kitchen will be completed by mid-winter of this year, or spring of 2017.

Phase 4 — of our plan is for a new handicap accessible front entry to the Center from the Wayne street side at a cost of $45,000.

Phase 5 — of the plan is the renovation of the set design, construction and storage area, estimated at $10,000.

“The Defiance Community Cultural Council wishes to thank The Defiance Area Foundation for your belief in what we do for the community and how you support that effort”. -Roger Fisher, Executive Director-DCCC