In addition to the hot meals, the Meals on Wheels drivers provide a welcome visit and wellness check for their clients. “These drivers, over time, really begin to know the people they are delivering to,” said Executive Director Linda Strohl. “They know who always comes to the door right away and who needs a bit of rousing to get to the door.” Strohl remembered a driver who delivered meals to a woman who usually answered the door right away. He knocked and knocked on the door but no one came to the door. When the driver was unable to reach the emergency contact for the woman, 9-1-1 was called. Police came and found the woman had fallen and was unable to get up or yell loud enough to be heard. In this case, the wellness check became just as important as the food itself.
Fernwood Nature Center Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is doing a little “pruning” of their own! As part of the Berrien Community Foundation’s fall competitive grant cycle, Fernwood received $10,000 to update their library content and modernize their organization management system. Before completing the update, they need to sort through and modernize the collection - such as removing all of the titles that promote heavy use of chemicals or other outdated practices. Once these titles are removed they will add up-to-date titles on topics like birding, wildlife, botany, horticulture and gardening. All of the new titles will be placed on an online, searchable database.
Carol Line, Executive Director at Fernwood, says the current library gets some attention from Fernwood’s members, but it’s not in a prominent location. With the new Education Center being built this fall, the library will have a new and more prominent location.
Curious Kid's Museum: In December 2015, the Curious Kids’ Museum unveiled their newest exhibit, “Dream with Da Vinci.” This exhibit is funded in part by a Berrien Community Foundation Competitive Grant and additional grants from BCF’s Donor Advised Funds.
Renaissance Enterprises: Artist Jerry Ball was pushing his equipment down the hall preparing to leave after a performance when the activity center director stopped him. She directed him to an elderly woman, who whispered “just one more,” to him. This woman, according to the staff, hadn’t spoken to any staff or family in over two months. And she was asking him to play one more song.
People isolated in nursing homes, care facilities, and senior centers do not typically have access to the fine arts. Renaissance Enterprises brings live music and all its benefits to those unable to seek them out. The staff of Renaissance Enterprises believes in the healing powers of music and the arts, and has seen proof like that of the woman speaking to Jerry Ball above, many times over. They hope to comfort the elderly population they reach, who are often in the last years of their lives, and assure them they are not forgotten. With funding from The Berrien Community Foundation, Renaissance Enterprises will support artist fees so they can continue to “put smiles on the faces of our residents.”
Fernwood: With the help of Berrien Community Foundation, Fernwood brought in sculptor Patrick Dougherty to produce one of his stickwork pieces to celebrate 50 years of serving the community. Dougherty’s creation process involves many local volunteers. “We make a community in the time it takes to make a sculpture,” he commented. Fernwood volunteer Molly B. Moon journaled her experiences, viewable on the Fernwood website, and noted, “This whole project is cause for celebration...It’s been great fun...to help him build one of those great big sculptures, to be part of the community, to gain confidence through the experience.”
The unique part of Dougherty’s stickwork art is the way it changes due to the elements. His pieces work with natural materials, such as reeds, underbrush, and sticks, and are morphed by nature acting upon them. Volunteers cut the materials up and harvested willow, the medium used for the sculpture. This not only served the sculpture, but was a great help to trimming the overgrowth of willow along the highways, saving MDOT a bit of work.
Volunteers helped to build the support structure and eventually helped him weave the willow into the final sculpture. Dougherty and volunteers worked over the first three weeks of April to create Take Five (the name of the stickwork art). Visitors can now walk through the art piece while visiting Fernwood.
Junior Achievement: With the current state of economy and employment, it’s easy to be a pessimist about the future job market for today’s children. The Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana works to prepare students in Michiana for the working world. Educators provide real-world examples and simulations, with hands-on activities to help children understand basics of economics and employment, as well as personal finance and money management.
From 2013-2014, The Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana will reach over 4000 students in Berrien County classrooms. Junior Achievement programs teach young students about skills needed for economic success, such as understanding the global economy and the realities of employment. With the grant they received from the Berrien Community Foundation, Junior Achievement is able to continue work with existing programs, as well as grow and work with an additional 29 Berrien County classrooms.