Grants awarded for youths in Samantha Otte’s memory top half-million mark


Samantha Otte died in March 2000 at age 10 after a liver transplant necessitated by cystic fibrosis. | Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation

QUINCY — Twenty-three local nonprofit organizations recently received grants in Samantha Otte’s memory that will benefit hundreds of area youths for artistic, leadership and humanitarian efforts.

The grants, totaling nearly $40,000, were distributed from the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund with the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri at the Oakley-Lindsay Center in the presence of her family and friends. Since the fund was established in late 2000, more than $523,000 has been distributed through grants to support kids in Samantha’s memory.

In a press release, June Otte, Samantha’s mother, said, “It is incredibly exciting and heart-warming to celebrate this significant milestone. No one could possibly have envisioned that one day we would be celebrating more than a half-million dollars of grants awarded to nonprofits enriching the lives of tens of thousands of area children.”  

The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund honors the life and legacy of Samantha Otte by helping area children reach their full potential. Samantha died in March 2000 at age 10 after a liver transplant necessitated by cystic fibrosis. Samantha’s parents, Chuck and June Otte, then decided to start a fund in their daughter’s memory at the Community Foundation. The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was the foundation’s first donor-advised fund.

“One of the primary reasons this milestone has been reached is because of the outstanding stewardship of the Community Foundation,” said Otte. “We are grateful for the dedicated, hard-working professionals at the Community Foundation who have guided the Sammy Fund group over these past 23 years. They have advised us well, invested our donations wisely and have worked tirelessly to maximize the impact our fund has for area children.”  

The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was supported until 2014 by proceeds from the Sammy Fund Weekend fundraising event. The Gem City Kiwanis Club announced in 2015 it would continue a Sammy & Kids Golf Outing and donate a portion of the proceeds to the fund for continued growth.

“Sammy’s memory shines brightly within each child who benefits from these grants,” Community Foundation CEO Catherine Bocke Meckes said. “We are grateful to the Ottes for the meaningful and impactful way they honor their daughter, for the continued contributions of Gem City Kiwanis and for the nonprofits who empower local kids in Samantha’s memory.”

Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

  • Bella Ease: In REACH program, addresses the four key factors to supporting kids in trauma
  • Birthday Blessings: To better serve the physical and emotional needs of foster children in Northeast Missouri
  • Chart Teen Task Force: To allow for an expansion of current sexuality education in schools to address the topic of menstrual periods with youth girls
  • Cheerful Home Child Care & Early Learning Center: Additional toys for the Toddler Playground – replacing worn and broken toys
  • Connect Child and Family Solutions: Cold weather clothes for foster children, intact families and DCFS wards
  • Consumed International Ministries/Mission 180: Meals for foster families on the first day of a child’s placement
  • Cornerstone: Foundations for Families: Comprehensive Youth Services program providing mental health counseling and advocacy services
  • Covered Bottoms Diaper Bank: Diapers for low income families/children
  • Douglass Community Services: Support for six young people in the Kids in Motion Program
  • Girl Scouts of Central Illinois: Membership assistance and camperships for girls in need of financial assistance
  • John Wood Community College Foundation: JDUB Academy tuition assistance
  • John Wood Community College Foundation: Financial assistance for participants in the College for Life Program
  • KidzPacks/United Way of Adams County: Weekend meals for 50 low-income children for the Spring 2023 semester
  • Quincy Art Center: stARTing with ART for Quincy’s public and private schools
  • Quincy Children’s Museum: Materials for children’s pop-up exhibits
  • Quincy Community Theatre: Student Theatre Scholarship program
  • Quincy Public Schools: Water therapy services for QPS special needs children
  • Arts Quincy Society of Fine Arts: After school arts program
  • Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association: Tuition scholarship for low-income participants in Youth Choir and Youth Orchestra and for the purchase of printed music
  • Regional Office of Education: Ready.Set.Grow. provides books, bibs and onesies
  • Salvation Army of Quincy: To purchase food for the meals throughout the school year that are provided to those who attend the Character Building Program
  • Transitions of Western Illinois Foundation: Sensory room items; such as weighted blankets, toys, bubble lamps, softly lit floor tiles, etc.  
  • United Way of Adams County: Quincy Area Partnership for Unmet Needs to provide support for the unmet needs for families with children in Adams County
  • West Central Child Care Connection: Books for newborns through Born Learning Project

The Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri builds permanent charitable funds to assist area nonprofits and communities.

Its mission, “connecting people who care with causes that matter,” is achieved by gathering funds, growing them through investments, then granting to nonprofit organizations, causes or communities that mean the most to its donors.  

The Community Foundation has made more than $14 million in grants since 1997. It serves 12 counties: Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike in Illinois, and Clark, Lewis, Marion, Ralls, Pike, Knox, Shelby and Monroe in Missouri. 

For more information, call 217-222-1237, email or go to or

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