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CRCF names Karen and Pete Buchheit 2024 Friends of the Foundation

Tue, Apr 2nd 2024 01:15 pm

In a time when kindness is valued above all else, unselfish actions serve as a source of inspiration and hope – time and time again, through their careers and through their volunteer service and philanthropy, Karen and Pete Buchheit demonstrated those traits.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions and dedication to giving back to the community through philanthropy and volunteerism, Karen and Pete (posthumously) Buchheit will be honored by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation as the 2024 Friends of the Foundation at CRCF’s annual Friends of the Foundation Luncheon event in July.

CRCF’s Friend of the Foundation award is the organization’s most prestigious. It honors a person or persons who have established a fund or funds there and given generously and consistently over the years; an individual who has donated generously to existing funds; and/or someone who continues the Foundation’s mission through giving and volunteerism.

Karen Buchheit served as the executive director of the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation for 12 years of the organization’s 30-year history and was the Foundation’s first-ever full-time director.

She dedicated her career to assisting community nonprofits not only through grantmaking, but also with capacity building services and educational programming. She has also taught classes and presented workshops on nonprofit management, board development, fundraising and related skills.

When Karen began her work as the executive director of CRCF, the organization managed about $9 million in assets and distributed $420,000 in grants annually. Today, that number stands at over $31 million in assets with over 330 funds.

From her arrival to her retirement at CRCF, the Foundation has supported over $13.9 million in grants and has stewarded over $23.89 million in gifts.

Buchheit’s footprint on the community extends far beyond just the numbers.

Many families have been able to honor the memory of their loved ones while contributing to causes close to their hearts. These causes have included numerous scholarships that have helped local students fulfill their ambitions of pursuing further education and meaningful vocations.

Under Karen’s leadership, CRCF was the fiscal agent in the development of two new permanent skateparks in Cattaraugus County. Karen was instrumental in securing outside funding for the COVID-19 response in Cattaraugus County and led efforts to raise and grant out more than $200,000 in funding for organizations on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic.

Karen worked in a myriad of upper-level positions that kept her ties to the community close. At St. Bonaventure University, she was the annual fund director, associate development director and an adjunct instructor in the department of mass communications.  Prior to her career in higher education, she worked as a news reporter and Olean bureau chief for The Bradford Era.  

She was also the executive director of institutional advancement and special assistant to the president at Pitt-Bradford and managing director of the Bradford Educational Foundation. At Pitt-Bradford, she helped raise more than $25 million, resulting in several new buildings including Blaisdell Hall and Wick Chapel and dozens of new endowed scholarships.

Karen also served on the boards of AFP Western NY Chapter and the Bradford Creative & Performing Arts Center.

In 2023, Karen was honored at the 37th annual Salute to Olean event. Salute to Olean honors Olean-area residents for their commitment to the community.

Pete Buchheit also dedicated his career and his time in volunteerism to leaving a lasting impact in the region.

While working as the director of facilities management at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Pete oversaw the construction and/or major renovations of many campus buildings, including Hanley Library and seven residence halls. Pete was honored by the university in 2008 with the Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in Service to Community for his wide-ranging volunteerism to community and professional associations.

Pete was also an active community volunteer for several organizations.

For 20 years, Pete was a member of the Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department. He served in a number of positions there including president, station captain and treasurer.

While serving on the board of directors of the Bradford Family YMCA, Pete guided the organization through a $4 million renovation and expansion project. Later, he assisted with the merger of the Bradford and Olean YMCAs to create the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, where he served on their board of directors.

As a member of the St. Bernard Catholic Church, Pete served for more than 20 years on the parish finance council. Because of his service and role in two major building projects, Pete received the Knighthood of St. Gregory the Great – the highest honor a person can receive from the Roman Catholic Church.

As their two daughters went through youth sports and theater groups, Pete and Karen always made sure to lend a hand. Pete was a certified swim official at the YMCA, assisted with sports boosters for several sports teams and helped construct sets for local theatre productions. Karen was the announcer for the swim team and helped design costumes for the theater.

Together, Pete and Karen established the Roger S. Niemic Memorial Fund at CRCF in memory of Karen’s brother who passed away in 2017. Karen established the Pete and Karen Buchheit Family Fund prior to Pete’s passing in 2022 after a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

The former provides annual grants to support Juvenile Diabetes Research. The latter provides grants at the direction of the Buchheit family and has supported the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Penn Highlands Community Nurses for hospice care and the YMCA of the Twin Tier’s Erick Laine Outdoor Center.

“It is truly an honor to give Karen Buchheit this award and to posthumously commemorate her husband, Pete” said CRCF Board President Lucy Benson. “Through Karen and Pete’s tireless dedication and unwavering commitment, they transformed their communities and also inspired others to reach greater heights of excellence.”

The Friends of the Foundation Luncheon will be held on July 31 and will also honor the 2024 CRCF scholarship recipients.

Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the Foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email  [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).