Sara JacobsCarter

Youth Impact Coordinator
About MACF

Sara JacobsCarter

Sara JacobsCarter – In Her Own Words

“I joined the Foundation in the summer of 2018 as the Youth Action Council Coordinator, understanding that I would also assist with planning and implementing the Midland Area River Days Festival.

I was lucky enough to work under Sharon [Mortensen] at Shelterhouse before she left for the Foundation, and I left to have our now-10-year-old twins. When she announced that she was leaving Shelterhouse, I wasn’t entirely sure what the Foundation was, and I remember saying, “You love this work so much. I can’t imagine you leaving it willingly. What are you doing?” She talked about wanting more input on how we invest as a community. Given that funding is always an issue in the non-profits where I’d worked, I understood at some level but was still shocked that she was leaving.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and I heard about this position opening up at the Foundation. I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave our preschoolers and return to the workforce, but this job felt absolutely made for me. It was part-time, working with one of my favorite populations during the school year and getting to plan a huge party in the summer, AND I’d be working under Sharon again. I couldn’t NOT apply.

My education and most of my career have focused on community mental health, so this was going to be a change. However, I got it once I started working here and understood more of what and how the Foundation works within the community. I knew how Sharon’s passion for the work we had been doing at Shelterhouse translated so beautifully into the work we’re doing here at the Foundation.  The idea of the community coming together to discover and meet the needs of our most vulnerable members is very appealing to me, and that’s why I am so proud to work for the Community Foundation and – now that we’re not five people living on one salary – contribute financially as well as a being staff member.

My husband, Geof, and I were married for 15 years before we moved to Midland. We met at Central Michigan University, spent time in college towns in Arizona and Indiana, and had great times at each location.  But we wanted to come home to Michigan.  When we moved to Midland, it was the first time in our relationship that neither of us was enrolled as a student in college. We felt Midland was a decent enough place to put down roots and quickly learned it is a great place to do that.  We originally picked it because it was pretty close to our families and where we grew up.  Then, when our oldest child came along in 2013, Midland felt even more like home, and we finally felt like real grownups. As she and later her little sisters (the twins) became part of the school system, we became more aware of all the opportunities, resources, and the stellar quality of education in Midland.

We have so many opportunities to take advantage of in Midland by being close to the Saginaw Spirit, the Loons, Saginaw Valley State University, where Geof works, and, of course, CMU.  The kids and Geof take advantage of all the green space in Midland, which we love. Because I’m part-time, I am able to get involved in what interests my girls discover and really support them and the wonderful community volunteers who serve as coaches/mentors. I’m able to follow and encourage them to find what their passions are, and I’m even able to explore some of my own – I’ve had opportunities like joining the Chemical City Derby Girls.  If you’d have asked, playing roller derby was not something I would have expected to start doing at age 42.  After I retired from contact, I stumbled into a singing gig with local band 23 North and can take whatever classes catch my fancy at Creative 360, the Midland Center for the Arts, or the Greater Midland Community Center (I’m eligible to join in the fun at the Senior Center now!).

I’m incredibly lucky to get paid to do one of those passions by working with the 6th-12th graders of the Midland Area Youth Action Council.  Our teenage years are a fascinating period of human development – these kids are learning who they are and how they want to be perceived by the world.  Their membership in the Youth Action Council will be a unique opportunity as they decide who they are as humans.  We talk about our personal values and how those, combined with the mission and vision of the Foundation, shape our values as a Council. We educate ourselves about the needs of young people in our area and all of the fantastic non-profits that address those needs.  They discuss and debate how to invest the money entrusted to them, and it is inspiring to see how seriously they take this responsibility. The fact that they turned a truncated 2020 school year into a $23,000 contribution to the COVID Relief Fund in 2020 is a highlight of my experiences. These teens struggled through virtual schooling and still ‘Zoomed’ into 3-hour monthly meetings to help their friends and neighbors as much as possible. When we had funds left in the budget, they voted unanimously to do everything they could to help Midland County get through the pandemic.  Our members recognize the importance of empowering and investing in young people.  They voted to invest in the Ready for Preschool Scholarships with our own named scholarship. But it’s not all about big dollars, either. One of the projects they’ve completed is a community garden at Creative 360, where they donated produce to The Bridge. Cleaning up Plymouth Park is something we do annually. Projects they take pride in – big and small – are crucial to the community.

As are they themselves – I would like to see more young people in leadership roles and be valued for the ideas and energy they can bring. They can be counted on, and if you pay attention, they will amaze you with contributions they are already making. Quite frankly, we need to get the heck out of their way! They are ready to do the work and make a difference.”

Midland Area Community Foundation


Sharon Mortensen

President & CEO

Kyle Fahrner

Chief Financial Officer

Alysia Christy

Director of Community Impact

Raquel Brown

Director of Development

Heather Crowl

Scholarship Coordinator & Impact Assistant

Laura Dittenber

Administrative & Development Assistant

Kevin LaDuke

Communications Officer

Luiz Quellis

Finance Manager

Kristin Sovis

Postsecondary Education Leader

Sara JacobsCarter

Youth Impact Coordinator