In 1986, the LRA became involved in a zoning controversy over possible development on the Lake. Although we ultimately prevailed against the commercial re-zoning, we learned that the image of the “lake people” in the Rabun community was not stellar and that our political influence was weak at best. In the aftermath, LRA President Pete Halter and the Trustees decided that we needed to be better Rabun citizens and look for ways to “give back” to the Rabun Community. At Pete’s suggestion a charitable foundation was created as a 501-C-3 charitable endeavor. The focus of the Lake Rabun Foundation was to provide scholarship assistance for college bound Rabun County High School students. In 1987, Pete and Buz Stone interviewed and selected Melanie Dietz as the first scholarship recipient. Melanie received $1,000 scholarships for 4 years. Also in 1987, Buz Stone was elected Director of the Foundation. For the next 25 years Buz provided leadership and inspiration to the Foundation.
Thanks to the early efforts of Jack King, the hard work and dedication and the generosity of LRA members, the amount and number of scholarships has increased. Nearly $700,000 in scholarship assistance has been provided to over 100 qualified Rabun County students. In the Rabun School Community, the Lake Rabun Scholarships are recognized as the most meaningful and respected scholarships awarded each year. We are particularly proud of those students who have graduated from college and returned to live and work in Rabun County.
In 2006, the Foundation became a donor advised fund of the North Georgia Community Foundation (NGCF). The funds are professionally managed along with other funds under the NGCF umbrella. The Foundation is supported by a variety of fund raising activities such as the Lake Rabun Flea Market, the Tour of Homes, the Rabun Ramble and a golf tournament. An Annual Fund has been established to help provide a consistent level of funding for the Foundation.
Over the years, the Trustees have voted to expand the scope of the Foundation to address other charitable, educational and community needs in Rabun County. Working through a number of local charitable and religious organizations, the Foundation has provided food and basic services to many in need. The Lakemont Wiley Volunteer Fire Department has also been an important focus of the Foundation. It is noteworthy that many LRA members have become actively involved in a variety of Rabun programs such as Save Georgia Hemlocks, F.A.I.T.H., CASA, The Rabun Food Ministry and many more. Many LRA members also support and assist Rabun charities in their outreach efforts.
In 2011, it was announced that the Foundation had passed the $1Million mark in contributing to scholarship assistance and outreach in Rabun County. Going forward, the Foundation will fund over $50,000 each year in scholarship assistance. New scholarships are being awarded to assist Rabun students pursuing technical/vocational training. In 2012, Buz Stone was honored for his dedication to the Foundation for 25 years. A plaque honoring Buz is on display at the Pavilion and an award in his name will be presented each year.
“Lake Rabun Gives Back” has become the theme of the Lake Rabun Foundation. We have created goodwill in the community by being good neighbors. Please continue your support of the Foundation through the Annual Fund and by including the Foundation in your planned giving program.
For assistance, please contact Steve Raeber, firstname.lastname@example.org, 404-252-6865 or 706-782-2584.
The Lake Rabun Fund is a Fund of the North Georgia Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.