I had virtually no knowledge or connection with community foundations until 1999, when my husband, DeVere, and I, along with a group of dedicated hockey parents, grew tired of canceled practices and games due to melted ice on our outdoor ice rink. We decided to somehow raise money and solicit in-kind donations of materials and labor to build an indoor facility. Now mind you, we are a city of 4500 residents, so this was quite a feat in itself. But we were a group of tenacious parents. I took on the task of writing a large grant to a particular Midland-based foundation. The grant request was fulfilled, and it became the catalyst for the fundraising. The City wrote a Bond for $1,000,000 at no expense to the taxpayers, and that facility is now worth over $5,000,000. This all happened in the summer of 1999. We made ice in November of that year.
Back in that period, Gladwin was one of only a couple of counties in Michigan not represented by a foundation. The Midland Community Foundation (prior to becoming the Midland Area Community Foundation) took Gladwin under its wing and provided grants in our county. When we wanted to put our funds into an endowed fund in 2001 without having to administer it, we turned to the Midland Area Community Foundation, and my relationship with them began. We could see the great need in our county for grants for so many organizations and projects. It was a perfect fit. Later I was asked to serve on the Board of the Foundation. It further enlightened me about the great support a strong foundation like the Community Foundation can provide. In the meantime, the Gladwin Foundation got its feet on the ground. As time went on, they gained strength and were able to function on their own with the continued guidance of the Midland Area Community Foundation.
I still think that Foundations are not widely known or understood. I think that some nonprofit ideas are lost because people just don’t understand that Foundations are out there and available to help those who have an organized and sustainable plan. But they have come a long way, and the people who serve on them do a marvelous job promoting them.