2016-11-17 / Front Page

Foundation Grants Aid Local Projects

By Erich T. Doerr


The St. Ignace Area Community Foundation issued 13 grants to community organizations Wednesday, November 9, with all of the honored recipients posing together afterward. Here are (from left) Youth Advisory Council (YAC) adult advisor Kathy Schacht, Mackinac County Children’s Toy Drive organizer and St. Ignace high school bowling coach Wendy Colegrove, Legacy House co-founder Maureen Brady, toy drive volunteer Meghann Colegrove, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Mackinac County Executive Director Lori Pieri, YAC Treasurer Trevor LaJoice, St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority Director Deb Evashevski, YAC President Lydia Brown, Kathy Perry of the Community Food Pack program, YAC member Sierra Metz, St. Ignace Food Pantry Board President Tarry Stowitts, Museum of Ojibwa Culture director Shirley Sorrels, Fort de Buade Museum Executive Director Mary Beth Powers, and St. Ignace Public Library Director Skip Schmidt. The foundation gave out $16,330 in grants this fall. The St. Ignace Area Community Foundation issued 13 grants to community organizations Wednesday, November 9, with all of the honored recipients posing together afterward. Here are (from left) Youth Advisory Council (YAC) adult advisor Kathy Schacht, Mackinac County Children’s Toy Drive organizer and St. Ignace high school bowling coach Wendy Colegrove, Legacy House co-founder Maureen Brady, toy drive volunteer Meghann Colegrove, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Mackinac County Executive Director Lori Pieri, YAC Treasurer Trevor LaJoice, St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority Director Deb Evashevski, YAC President Lydia Brown, Kathy Perry of the Community Food Pack program, YAC member Sierra Metz, St. Ignace Food Pantry Board President Tarry Stowitts, Museum of Ojibwa Culture director Shirley Sorrels, Fort de Buade Museum Executive Director Mary Beth Powers, and St. Ignace Public Library Director Skip Schmidt. The foundation gave out $16,330 in grants this fall. The St. Ignace Area Community Foundation issued 13 grants totaling $16,330 to local organizations during its 2016 fall grant cycle. The checks were presented Wednesday, November 9, at the St. Ignace Public Library. Each organization talked briefly about how the funding will be used.

Foundation chair Pete Everson recounted the formation of the organization 21 years ago and how it has given out grants for the past 16 years. The foundation gives out money from its endowed fund, only distributing the earnings of its investments while the principle remains to continue to raise money in perpetuity. The foundation has given out more than $525,000 to date.

The first two grants went to the foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC). YAC President Lydia Brown, Treasurer Trevor LaJoice, member Sierra Metz, and the group’s advisor Kathy Schacht accepted the grants. The first grant for $1,500 went to the organization’s effort to feed the poor by bringing in a truck of food in conjunction with Feeding America in October. The YAC hopes to bring in another truck of food next month and a third one in the spring.

“It’s a huge project, but it worked out really well,” Ms. Schacht said.

A $60 grant went to the YAC’s “Drop Everything and Read” program at the school. The YAC program encouraged reading by having its members go around to classrooms, some dressed in costumes as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, with cookies and milk for students to enjoy while taking time to read.

The foundation granted $1,500 to the Community Food Pack program. The program provides a package of food each Friday to 67 local food-insecure schoolchildren so that they will have something to eat over the weekend. The program includes 10 high school students, 36 in the St. Ignace elementary and middle schools, and 21 at Gros Cap School. When school takes longer breaks, the program provides each of the students with a box of food. The program cost $12,000 to operate last year when it only had 44 students, so higher costs are expected this year.

The St. Ignace Food Pantry received a grant for $2,500 that it will use to purchase toiletries for those in need. Food Pantry Board President Tarry Stowitts accepted the grant, noting that toiletries can be a hard item for people to acquire, as benefits cards sometimes don’t cover them while her organization’s money usually has to go more toward food. The pantry services about 1,700 people each year from throughout Mackinac County. It will also soon begin asking companies about the possibility of buying goods at their manufacturing costs to help its dollars go further.

The Michilimackinac Historical Society received a $2,000 grant for use at the Fort de Buade Museum. The money will be used by the museum during its operating season to support its Saturday “Experience History!” programs, bringing in presenters to help tell the 350-year story of the St. Ignace area.

The St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority (DDA) received a $1,000 grant for the construction of a new park near St. Anthony’s Rock. DDA Director Deb Evashevski accepted the check and reported that the project has met its $25,000 fundraising goal so the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority will match it with a $25,000 donation. Donations are still being accepted. She said she believes the new park will be a great addition to St. Ignace.

Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Mackinac County received a $500 grant to purchase new equipment to be used at its office, including a laptop computer and a projector plus funding to cover its printing costs. The organization focuses on helping local people who have faced and recovered from a hardship and are working to catch up after falling behind on mortgage payments. It recently expanded its foreclosure prevention services. HOME Executive Director Lori Pieri said the organization has also asked the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation and the Mackinac Island Community Foundation to help it with similar requests.

The Mackinac County Children’s Toy Drive was awarded $2,500 to help with its efforts during the holiday season. Toy drive organizer Wendy Colegrove said the group provides toys, clothing, and food to about 900 children throughout the county and their families. The group holds several fundraisers each year and requires about $10,000 to $14,000 annually to complete its mission.

“Without community support, the program would not exist,” Mrs. Colegrove said.

Mrs. Colegrove also accepted a $1,500 grant to support the bowling team at LaSalle High School in her role as the head coach. The bowling Saints will use the money to pay for their lineage fees and hosting a bowling meet in the city at Gateway Lanes. The team can include up to 16 people.

The Museum of Ojibwa Culture received a $1,000 grant that will go toward its sculpture park exhibit to be installed later. The museum will install three life-sized figures next spring near the longhouse representing images from Native American life in the area centuries ago. The figures will include a fisherman, a woman picking berries with a Three Sisters garden behind her, and a medicine man. A fourth figure, a Native American veteran, could be added next fall, with the possibility of more coming in future years. Educational information panels in the sculpture park will be labeled in both English and Anishinaabe. Museum director Shirley Sorrels said there are several more changes coming on the property, including at the Father Marquette Mission Park, where the kiosk is planned for an overhaul in the future.

St. Ignace Legacy House received $1,445 that will be used for a new educational program to help the women who come through the house to get and maintain jobs. Some of the women staying at the house come to it after leaving jail or on the recommendation of the Department of Human Services and have a history of having trouble maintaining employment. The funding will also purchase a new door for the house and wall safes for rooms to allow secure storage of medicines. The house costs about $10,000 a year to operate.

A grant for $825 went to the public library. The money will be used to buy shelving to be used in the basement to store and archive its many materials.

“The foundation has been very supportive of the library during the time I’ve been here,” Library Director Skip Schmidt said. “This will be a big help.”

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