MMC community challenge raises nearly $1 million

Individuals, businesses and community organizations contribute generously to the Marjaree Mason Center’s Courage Takes Root campaign to support new resource center

A look at the upcoming Community Resource Building that is posted on the Marjaree Mason Center website, which will be located 255 W. Bullard Ave. (Marjoree Mason Center website)
Serena Bettis
Published December 12, 2023  • 
1:00 pm

REEDLEY – After a two-week community fundraising challenge, the Fresno-based Marjaree Mason Center (MMC) is nearly $2 million closer to its goal for a new Community Resource Center. 

The Courage Takes Root campaign, which ran from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15, raised approximately $960,000; The Wonderful Company and its owners, Lynda Resnick and Stewart Resnick, matched every dollar given during that period to help the MMC get closer to its goal. The campaign included a Community Challenge, where individuals and businesses competed to raise the most funds and make an impact.

“Fundraising efforts continue to take place with a total $20 million fundraising goal in mind,” Ashlee Wolf, MMC director of philanthropy and community, said. “Coming out of the Community Challenge, the Marjaree Mason Center has raised $15 million towards the project since inception.” 

The MMC, which provides shelter and support services to survivors of domestic violence, is opening a new Community Resource Center at 255 W. Bullard Ave. in Fresno in order to be able to provide better access to those seeking its services. In a previous interview with the Mid Valley Times, Wolf said the MMC chose the new location for its accessibility, capacity and safety. 

All money raised during the Courage Takes Root campaign is going toward costs associated with acquiring and renovating the new center.

Within the Reedley community, there is widespread support for the MMC. Reedley Chief of Police Jose Garza is on its board of directors and has contributed to its work to track and reduce instances of domestic violence throughout Fresno County, and the center’s namesake Marjaree Mason was a graduate of Reedley College. 

Anyone looking for resources related to issues of domestic violence can seek services at the MMC, even if they do not live in Fresno. 

Wolf said that the MMC received 219 individual donations during the Community Challenge. Those looking to donate had the option to send in whatever amount they chose or become an official “Challenge Partner” and commit to fundraising at least $2,500. 

More than 40 businesses, organizations and individuals chose to participate at the Challenge Partner level, with some choosing to donate personally and anonymously, Wolf said. Due to some donors asking to contribute privately and quietly, the MMC has not released the full list of Community Challenge participants. 

Three donors contributed $100,000 or more to the campaign, three donors contributed between $25,000 and $99,999, eight donors contributed between $10,000 and $24,999, 14 donors contributed between $5,000 and $9,999 and 12 donors contributed between $2,500 and $4,999.

Prior to the challenge kick off, the MMC had also received donations from a variety of community foundations, individuals and a government grant. 

Fresno County allocated $4.7 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the cause, as the MMC qualifies for funding thanks to its work fighting domestic violence. Additionally, $3 million came from the Isnardi Foundation, $2 million came from Janell Smittcamp-Boldt, $1 million came from the Lyles Foundation and $1 million came from the Carl and Lulu Mitchell Family Foundation.

In recognition of their donations, the new center will be named the Isnardi Foundation Community Resource Center, the 24/7 Crisis Support Center will be named after Janell Smittcamp-Boldt, the Board of Directors’ Room will be named after the Lyles Foundation and the Welcome and Reception Area will be named after the Carl and Lulu Mitchell Family Foundation.

Wolf said naming opportunities are still available in the new Community Resource Center in honor of donations and pledges between $50,000 and $10 million. Those who make donations of $10,000 or more will be featured on a permanent donor wall inside the center. Wolf said pledges and commitments can be paid over a five-year period. 

The new location is on a 5.5-acre property and will double the physical service capacity of the MMC, allowing the organization to house all of its services — which are currently spread out through satellite offices — in one building. In order to modernize the facility, adapt it to meet the MMC’s needs and bring it up to current building operation standards, the MMC will have to renovate the property.

The MMC bought the property in December 2022 and plans to begin renovations in early 2024, with an anticipated completion date of December 2024. Pace Management Group, Paul Halajian Architects and BMY Construction Group, Inc., are working on the project with the MMC.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter