The story of the Sonora Area Foundation began with generous gifts from two members of a long-established Tuolumne County family – Irving Symons and his sister, Elaine Symons Baker.
Mr. Symons and his sister were both born and raised in Tuolumne County and shared a deep affection for this area and its history. Their family’s Tuolumne County roots date back to the 1850s, when members of the Symons family first immigrated to this area from Cornwall, England and Ireland.
Elaine and Irving, both successful individuals, felt a strong desire to share with their community, and to help build for its future. Together, they established the Community Foundation that would improve the quality of life here for many years to come – and provide a way for others to do the same.
A generous bequest from Elaine’s estate provided the Foundation with a solid base from which to grow. That initial gift continues to pay for the Foundation’s operating costs and a large portion of its grant awards. Irving’s estate established the Irving J. Symons Foundation for Tuolumne County as a Supporting Organization to Sonora Area Foundation.
As President of Hales and Symons, Mr. Symons guided the company's day-to-day operations for more than 40 years.
The Sonora Area Foundation continues to thrive, and has attracted hundreds of additional donors who have invested in our community’s future. Their generosity allows the Foundation to continue to return substantial gifts to the community in grants and scholarships.