2017-11-23 / Front Page

Foundation Grants Aid Local Groups

By Erich T. Doerr


The St. Ignace Community Foundation gave out more than $17,000 in grants to local organizations Monday, November 13, in a ceremony at the St. Ignace Public Library. The nine grants benefited a number of local organizations and individuals representing them, including (back, from left) Kathleen Schacht, Lily Hart, Jim North, Rich Cullen, Merlin Doran, Shirley Sorrels, Wendy Colegrove, Donna LaLonde, Denise Kingsbury; (front) Shyanne Bird, Lily Colegrove, Alicia Garen, and Meghann Colegrove covering a wide variety of topics from St. Ignace Area Schools programs to the Mackinac County Toy Drive, the Museum of Ojibwa Culture, and the Mackinac Economic Alliance. The St. Ignace Community Foundation gave out more than $17,000 in grants to local organizations Monday, November 13, in a ceremony at the St. Ignace Public Library. The nine grants benefited a number of local organizations and individuals representing them, including (back, from left) Kathleen Schacht, Lily Hart, Jim North, Rich Cullen, Merlin Doran, Shirley Sorrels, Wendy Colegrove, Donna LaLonde, Denise Kingsbury; (front) Shyanne Bird, Lily Colegrove, Alicia Garen, and Meghann Colegrove covering a wide variety of topics from St. Ignace Area Schools programs to the Mackinac County Toy Drive, the Museum of Ojibwa Culture, and the Mackinac Economic Alliance. The St. Ignace Area Community Foundation gave out $17,551 in grants to local organizations and St. Ignace Area Schools-related causes at the St. Ignace Public Library Monday, November 13. The funds were split up across nine grants, ranging in size from $110 up to $3,950.

Foundation Chairperson Pete Everson served as the master of ceremonies for the presentations and explained how the foundation never gives away any of the money it receives in donations. Instead, it places all of its funds into investments then gives away the money it raises off the interest. The foundation has a motto of “for good, forever” since all of the money it takes in will continue to assist with donations well into the future.

The foundation has given out almost $750,000 since it started awarding grants in 1999. The group is currently beginning a membership push and donation drive to raise its account from about $1.5 million up to $2 million. Mr. Everson said if the club succeeds in this effort, it will be able to give out up to $100,000 a year in the future.

A grant for $1,000 was presented to the Museum of Ojibwa Culture to be used for costs related to the new sculptures it is installing on its property.

“The (sculptures) are really amazing,” said director Shirley Sorrels. “People who see them say they expect to see something like this in Chicago or New York City, not a small community.”

A sculpture is planned to honor veterans, she said. “I think this will be a real credit to the community.”

A grant for $2,500 was presented to the Mackinac County Toy Drive. Organizer Wendy Colegrove said that last year the toy drive helped distribute items to 600 individuals directly and another 150 through its partnership with the St. Ignace Hope Chest Resale Shop. In total, the drive distributed more than $14,000 in toys and clothing.

“I want to thank the community foundation for its continued support of the toy drive,” Mrs. Colegrove said. “It’s a good program.”

A grant for $1,491 went to the Mackinac Economic Alliance. The organization is launching a campaign to work with area schools to encourage interest in vocational training. The program will be geared toward offering job training toward students who wish to have careers that will allow them to stay in the Straits area to work, instead of leaving to attend college. They are looking to do this through a workshop in March or April.

The largest grant totaled $3,950 and was presented to the St. Ignace Area Schools wrestling team. Coach Rich Cullen accepted the award and said the money would be used by the school to purchase a new wrestling mat, the district’s first in about two decades. The current mats are all but used up, after many years of wear and tear.

“This puts us closer to where we want to be,” Mr. Cullen said of the fundraising goals.

The wrestling team has grown a lot over recent years, from four to 16 students.

The community foundation’s own LaSalle High School Youth Advisory Council (YAC) received two grants. The larger grant of $1,500 will be used to pay expenses related to bringing a Feeding America truck to St. Ignace to distribute food in April. The YAC previously brought a truck to town in October and has already scheduled another for December. YAC President Alicia Garen said the community has a need for these trucks, noting this it is great to see how many people the council can help here through this program.

The second smaller grant for $110 supported the YAC’s Drop Everything and Read program. The program included YAC members bringing milk and cookies, provided by the school, to classrooms and providing stories for the teachers to read to their students.

The St. Ignace schools themselves received the final three grants. Jim North stepped up to receive a grant for $3,000 for the construction of the new bleachers and press box at Mc- Cann Field where the St. Ignace Saints play football. He has served as the project organizer for the new bleachers’ construction.

Mr. North noted that the field’s old bleachers dated back to 1953. The $250,000 effort to tear down the old bleachers and press box and clean up the field was approved by the school board earlier this year, with Mr. North agreeing to help raise half of that amount. The amount raised has now reached $113,000 after the community foundation’s donation.

“There’s a little bit more to do, but we’ll get there next year,” Mr. North said. “We’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and it wouldn’t be possible without this kind of support from the community.”

Much of the work at the field has already been done. The remaining work includes some landscaping and installing a concrete path up to the bleachers to improve wheelchair access. Ownership of McCann Field is split between the City of St. Ignace and the schools.

The second grant for $2,000 will go toward the school drama program to fund the installation of new light fixtures. The lighting improvements follow new curtains that were installed last year.

A grant for $2,000 went to the school’s robotics team. Coach Merlin Doran accepted the award along with several of the participating students. The team will use their grant to purchase media production equipment.

Mr. Doran said the robotics team helps students learn engineering, technology, and mathematics skills and that people enjoy being a part of the team, even in roles that don’t involve working with the robot directly. Since the competitions often require teaming up with other school teams, he finds it is a great way for people to learn to work together.

Alicia Garen, a member of the team, told the audience the team recently took part in an offseason competition with 24 other squads. The robotics team made it to the semifinals and won a spirit award at the event, working well with the other teams.

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