Melissa Barnard & Jeanne Genovese

Prologue: On Wednesday, October 18, the Midland Area Community Foundation will celebrate the Foundation’s original 15 trustees at the annual Ripple Effect celebration. Each year it takes many folks to make this event a reality. From decorations to stories, members of Your Foundation make this wonderful night a reality.

A chat with Melissa Barnard and Jeanne Genovese by Kevin LaDuke

Melissa: When I was asked to help out with planning the Ripple Effect, I was thrilled to be asked because I think it’s a terrific evening to recognize people in our community for their generous contributions to the Community Foundation – contributions that will benefit the community as a whole. I was delighted. Then, when I found out who my committee members would be, I thought, “This is really going to be fun.” And it has been.

Jeanne: The group is me, Melissa, Elsie Misner, and Nancy Barker. Even with COVID putting the committee to a screeching halt, the group stayed the same when we reconvened.

Melissa: We discovered that we were such a cohesive group when we began to share our ideas.

Jeanne: We have some visionaries in our group, which is great because some of us are implementers. We make a really good team in that regard.

Melissa: What we are trying to do is create an atmosphere for the Ripple Effect. So, we look at menus, table decorations, napkins, etc. And the unique part about being on the committee is getting to know who the Philanthropist of the Year is before it’s announced to the public.

Jeanne: We try to customize our decorations for the recipients and their interests. For the Dolinskis, we featured books. For the Keplers, we were able to incorporate turtles, beer, and ice cream. For the Valents, it was fun to celebrate Christmas in honor of the Santa House. I specifically recall traveling to Costco to get a specific wrapping paper, and this was far before Midland had a Costco. We have a lot of fun with our decorations.

Melissa: I served on the Community Foundation Board for a while, and I also served on the grants committee. So I knew what the Foundation was about, what kind of work they did, and what kind of people were involved. And when they came up with the ripple effect. It just seemed like a natural connection that it was time to recognize those people who have made such significant contributions and helped make Midland what it is today. It helps us try to make that transition to the younger population of Midland. You’re able to hear stories, and storytelling is one of the most important ways of communicating an idea or a mission.

Jeanne: I think Midland is incredibly fortunate to have the Foundation. I was not as community-engaged as Melissa, Nancy, or Elsie. I didn’t work in that arena at all. I was in a totally different arena where my head was buried. For me, getting involved with the Ripple Effect was a big eye-opener to see what was available and what the Community Foundation did. Being able to pass this history on to the next generation, like Melissa said, is so important so we don’t lose it.

Melissa: When I think about the community of Midland, I think the fact that we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year really brings home the fact that we have a long history, but how do we keep that history momentum going? I’ve lived in Midland for over 20 years. I hope that we stay as family-friendly as we are now, but I hope we diversify. We can’t only have the kind of jobs that draw a diversified community. We also need services, retail, and dining to match. There is a lot of opportunity for Midland to continue to grow.

More Stories