Kim Montgomery’s fondest memory of her time as executive director of the Rochelle Area Community Foundation doesn’t even involve giving to a nonprofit, which is what the organization does.
After a tornado hit town in 2015, Montgomery knew people would be looking to make donations to those in need. She decided the RACF should step up, despite its policy of giving to nonprofit organizations and not individuals.
“We took in $500,000 in donations,” Montgomery said. “We had to disperse it. We were told we could give directly to individuals with some rules. Over two years we got nearly 100 percent of it distributed. That was made the most impact on me and the community. It’s incredible how generous people are when there’s someone in need.”
Montgomery decided to retire last month after 12 years with the RACF. She decided it was time to spend more time with her family.
“It was hard,” Montgomery said of retiring. “I loved my job. I love everything it stands for. It was a great job for sure. I met great people and worked with nonprofits. That made leaving hard.”
Montgomery’s son, David, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2001. She became an advocate after that and was introduced to the world of nonprofits. Later on, when the RACF job came open, her skillset and being a lifelong Rochelle resident made for a fit.
After its inception, RACF quickly grew to be able to sustain a paid staff member and to fund grants. Upon her retirement from her part-time executive director, Montgomery said she recommended the RACF board replace her with someone full-time.
“They deserve more,” Montgomery said. “We just have a lot of people make donations and have the means to establish our funds. When I left, I think we had 18-20 funds started by individuals in the community. This year they’ll distribute $100,000 into the community. That’s a big number. Rochelle is very fortunate to have a good group of nonprofits.”
Montgomery is unsure where the situation of her replacement stands. She said she’ll miss working with donors and the board along with nonprofits and community leaders. She’ll miss watching the RACF grow, but she’ll still be involved as a donor herself.
Montgomery has a fund in honor of her father, Jim Walker, who passed away in 2007. She saw value in honoring someone valuable to the community.
“Sometimes when you give money, you don’t know where it’s going or if it will end up with those who need it,” Montgomery said. “That isn’t a problem here.”