James Baum was honored as the recipient of the 2013 Joliet Junior College J. D. Ross Extraordinary Service Award (ESA) at the March 11 Board of Trustees meeting.
The J. D. Ross ESA is the highest honor bestowed by JJC; it was developed by the Board of Trustees to honor community members who have given outstanding service to Community College District 525.
Nominated by State Senator Sue Rezin (38th District), Baum is the founder and first president of the Community Foundation of Grundy County (CFGC), which he began in 1999.
CFGC operates not as a typical non-profit that provides direct services, but rather as a group that identifies community issues and implements solutions, provides grants and runs programs, most often working together with other organizations and non-profits.
Under Baum’s leadership, the Foundation initiated several community projects including the Grundy Transit System, which provides transportation services for county residents without access to transportation; programs like 941HELP, a phone service, website, and kiosk service which connects Grundy County residents with information and referrals to needed assistance services; and a mental health program with several partners, including JJC, that seeks to identify, refer, and follow up on individuals with mental health issues.
During Baum’s tenure on the CFGC, the Foundation grew from $50,000 in assets in 1999 to $6 million in 2013, and has facilitated more than $1 million in grants to not-for-profits.
Senator Rezin also noted in her nomination form that Baum purchased a building in Morris in order to provide space for the offices of several non-profit agencies, and has donated countless hours of his time volunteering for many causes and programs in Grundy County.
“Mr. Baum exhibited a keen ability to recognize the diverse needs within the Morris, Grundy County community, as well as providing strong leadership in bringing individuals and groups together to see projects through to fruition,” said Tina Markley, JJC board member and ESA committee member. “As a result, programs were implemented and assistance was provided, which benefitted numerous residents within the JJC district. His exemplary service and accomplishments undoubtedly meets the criteria to be the recipient of the J.D. Ross Extraordinary Service Award.”
In addition to founding and serving on the CFGC since 1999, Baum has served actively on a number of other community boards including:
– Grundy Economic Development Council
– Morris Hospital
– Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry
– Morris Downtown Development Partnership
– Breaking Away
– Illinois Retail Merchants Association
– National Retail Federation
– Morris Community High School
– First Presbyterian Church
– Evergreen Cemetery
– Grundy Bank
– JJC Foundation Board of Directors
“We’re very pleased that people appreciate what we’ve doing,” said Baum. “We are humbled to receive this award. This is something that is a passion of ours, and my wife and I are very proud to have lived in Morris and contributed to it by getting these things going. Our cup truly overflows.”
Jim and his wife, Carol, are lifelong residents of Morris, Ill.