Attention all Thrashers (Even Grommets): A Skatepark is Planned for John Hunt Park

In a few months, you’ll be able to go to John Hunt Park and grab some air with your crew on a half-pipe.

That’s right, thanks to a $1 million anonymous donation, the city of Huntsville moving ahead with plans for an innovative skatepark that will challenge skaters, from professional to novice.

The proposed $4 million facility will be Olympic quality and include restrooms, pavilions, sunshades, lighting, landscaping and expanded parking. It is slated to be built on a three-acre site between Kids Space and the championship soccer fields.

“Skateboarding continues to grow in popularity and is a sport the community has long wanted to see in John Hunt Park,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “We’ve been holding a space in the park for skaters, and thanks to the generosity of a local donor we’re able to start moving forward on a project this year.”

The skatepark will be on a three-acre site between Kids Space and the championship soccer fields.

Fueled by the anonymous donor’s gift, the city is working in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. An account has been established to continue fundraising to support the total cost of the project.

The city of Huntsville and Community Foundation team is also reaching out to a charity established by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk to help with the design.

“The Community Foundation is proud to help our donors put their philanthropic dreams into action,” said Melissa Thompson, CEO and president of the Community Foundation. “We strive to help our donors be generous, however that looks for them.

“We are excited to help bring to life the John Hunt Skatepark, which will enhance the quality of life and bring new opportunities to a diverse group of people in our community.”

For the donor, having spent formative years enjoying the former Get-A-Way Skatepark on Leeman Ferry Road, the goal is for others to have the opportunity for physical fitness and to learn important life lessons.

“Skateboarding is not easy … you have to fall a lot,” said the donor. “I used the focus and dedication harnessed from my skateboarding experiences throughout my business life, understanding you have to be dedicated and work hard to succeed; and you have to learn to fall and get back up.”

The city and the Community Foundation will work with The Skatepark Project, Hawk’s national skatepark advocacy charity, to ensure the project is completed efficiently and up to contemporary standards.  It will incorporate elements of the Get-A-Way Skatepark and offer areas for Olympic and street-style skateboarding.

“We are extremely happy to be adding another attraction to John Hunt Park,” said Steve Ivey, director of Huntsville Parks & Recreation. “We know the new skatepark will be a huge success and thank the Community Foundation for helping us make this become a reality.”

The process for the city to begin working with the Community Foundation will be sent to City Council for approval on Jan. 14.

Community Foundation Reignites Emergency Relief Fund with $50K Donation from Toyota

Initiated after the tornado outbreak in North Alabama in 2011, the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville has  reignited its emergency relief fund thanks to a donation of $50,000 from Toyota. The funds are intended to support community nonprofit organizations who are providing basic needs and health and wellness relief throughout the community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce and WAAY-TV have also partnered with the Community Foundation and Toyota to kick off the Take 5 to Give $5 campaign, which will culminate on May 5 for the global GivingTuesdayNow Day.

The partnership is challenging other companies to give anything from $5 up to $50,000 to match Toyota’s donation. Melissa Thompson, executive director of the Community Foundation, said their goal over the next two weeks is to put $500,000 into this fund.

In just a few days since launching the campaign, the Community Foundation and its donors have deposited nearly $200,000, not including the Toyota donation.

“We are supporting 28 different grants from 27 different nonprofit organizations to date,” said Thompson. “But the needs are still beyond what we are able to fund, so we have received grant applications in excess of $800,000. Our grants committee continues to work to get this money out to those organizations on the frontlines of our COVID-19 response.”

The Community Foundation usually relies on fees for managing company funds to cover operations. However, during the pandemic, the foundation is waiving its fees for the management of the emergency relief fund, to ensure that 100 percent of every dollar contributed goes directly to the nonprofits recommended for funding.

“Managing these contributions is our way of giving back to the community,” said Thompson.

The Community Foundation website at lists the organizations that have already received grant funding, and visitors can also see the Foundation’s grants committee recommendations.

“Our grants committee is trying to prioritize needs and is very conscious of the fact we are spending other people’s money who have donated to this fund and also, that by endorsing a grant, we have a responsibility to stand behind it,” said Thompson. “The community can have confidence in the grants we are recommending.”

For questions about how an agency on the frontlines of this pandemic can apply for a grant and become a part of the Community Foundation, those agencies can find the application at the bottom of the webpage.

“We try to make it a pretty easy application,” said Thompson. “Our grants committee is meeting weekly right now to turn these applications around quickly, so get your application in as soon as possible.

“Just note the money is specific to basic needs and health and wellness right now.”

Giving Tuesday: Community Foundation Announces $790K for Local Organizations

The Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville celebrated Giving Tuesday with the announcement of some $790,000 in grants from businesses for local organizations.

Giving Tuesday is an internationally recognized day of charitable giving that kicks off the holiday season with a spirit of generosity.

The following companies within the Community Foundation’s Corporate Giving Network presented grants at the community-wide Giving Tuesday celebration:
 Adtran
 A-P-T Research
 Boeing
 Cadence Bank
 Crestwood Medical Center
 Google Fiber
 IronMountain Solutions
 Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama
 Vector Wealth Strategies

This collective celebration helped bring attention to the companies and organizations making our community better through generosity.