Mercedes Kibbee looked out for children, especially children who had fewer resources available to them than most.
When the Sheridan County YMCA hosted Joy Junction children’s church programs, Kibbee got to know some of the kids involved and took note of the role the Y could play in facilitating such programs.
As a result, Kibbee often provided clothes, Y scholarships, school supplies and other items for local children. She even hosted dinners now and then at her C Lazy M Ranch.
While she certainly cared about all children, her philanthropy focused primarily on the most vulnerable members of the community.
“She was really committed to vulnerable children,” former YMCA Executive Director Jay McGinnis said. “She wanted to ensure they were served. And she wouldn’t exclude the kids who were better off, but she knew how important it was for those children with different experiences to be blended together, to know each other.”
While she was alive, Kibbee knew she wanted to create a fund that would provide for children long after her passing. For that reason, she created a foundation with the mission of serving youth — or more particularly, serving the organizations who serve youth.
According to Jenny Craft, who serves on the board of the Kibbee Foundation, its mission includes a broad range of activities that serve children — athletics, literature, arts, culture and more. The trustees, though, have in Kibbee’s way, focused funding especially on children who otherwise couldn’t afford opportunities that could help them grow and develop physically, educationally and emotionally.
The Kibbee Foundation is unique in that it is a supported organization. Much like the Sheridan College Foundation was formed to aid Sheridan College, the Kibbee Foundation was formed in large part to serve the Sheridan County YMCA.
The trust documents establishing the Kibbee Foundation require that at least 51% of its annual expenditure of grants go to the Y. Trustees who serve the foundation don’t take grant proposals from outside entities due to those requirements, but do help support more than 20 local organizations that enrich the lives of vulnerable youth.
Kibbee and her foundation have provided funding for the Y’s Camp Roberts, the new aquatic center and now for the renovation of the Y’s facilities to expand child care offerings, after-school programs and more.
“The opportunity for updated and enhanced child care space will be crucial for the Y and also for the community moving forward,” Craft said. “The Y is really seen as the leader in after-school care, youth programming — including those beyond athletics — and a safe community space where mentoring and healthy relationships are established and cultivated.”
Kibbee made an significant impact on the YMCA while she was alive, and through members of the foundation’s board, has continued to ensure children in Sheridan County receive necessary services through organizations like the Y.