Founded in 1997 by Pam and Joe Cocker, the Cocker Kids' Foundation (CKF) has granted over $1 million to youth-related projects and programs in the North Fork Valley. CKF was organized following the first Mad Dog Ranch home tour in 1996, shortly after the Cockers built their new home. The first home tour raised $70,000 in one weekend and CKF was off and running. The Cockers put together a local board of directors to help build a foundation that would disperse funds for projects benefitting children in their community. Over the years, many grants have supported local schools with new technology, sports programs, art and music activities, guest speakers and more. The foundation also contributed to community projects like the preschool Backpack program, health and human resources emergency funding, hospice youth programs, Skis for Kids, Families Plus and Celebrate the Beat, to name a few. Countless individual grants were given to help kids with art and music lessons, international travel, academic studies through the Dream-catcher scholarships for high school seniors, specialized summer camps and a host of other requests.
"Cocker Kids' Foundation has influenced the lives and futures of so many of our North Fork kids, creating untold opportunities that have broadened their horizons. Pam and Joe's vision has positively influenced the future of many North Fork students and, consequently, the future of the North Fork Valley. It's been an honor and pleasure to be a part of this Foundation," comments Pam Bliss, CKF board member.
Since Joe Cocker's passing in December 2014, the organization has continued to operate and raise funds. However, the reality is that the fundraising potential that was the driving force of the foundation is now restricted. Pam Cocker comments, "It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to dissolve the foundation. With the Mad Dog Ranch on the market and the uncertainty of where I will reside after the sale, the board and I think this is the best time to close. It has been an honor to serve the youth of this community. I want to thank everyone for all their support over the years, especially my devoted board of directors -- Pam Bliss, Bob Pennetta, Ted Hoff, Kathryn McCarthy, the late Elaine Vervloet and our administrative director, Cathy Schelle. These individuals have been a wonderful team for nearly 20 years and it has been a joy to work with each of them."
Due to the successful December fundraiser, "MDR Tag Sale," approximately $110,000 will be divided among the five local North Fork Valley schools based on student enrollment. The schools will determine how these grants are to be spent.