Berrien Community Foundation Celebrates Year-End Grants, Awards

There was much rejoicing and confetti around Berrien County Nov. 17 as the Berrien Community Foundation crew made surprise stops awarding $130,000 in grants and awards as part of its Annual Celebration. 

The day marked the official announcement of the Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant, Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability Grant, Golden Acorn Award For Excellence and Golden Acorn Volunteer Recognition Award. 

Carol’s Hope is the recipient of the $50,000 Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant. This grant is awarded to a Berrien County nonprofit organization each year for a program that exemplifies the spirit of the Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant by meeting a crucial community need, making a positive impact on the lives of Berrien County residents and can be sustainable when the funding is concluded.   

“We are so grateful,” said Clinical Director for Adult Services Joyce Pines. “This means the world to us and we are so excited to serve the community and we expect to be doing more over the next year - a lot more outreach and involvement. We really appreciate what you do and your support for us. I couldn’t say thank you enough!” 

The mission of Carol’s Hope is to save lives. The staff focuses on serving individuals and families in need of guidance and support as they navigate recovery from substance use disorders and addiction. During the pandemic, people have struggled more with addiction and relied on places like Carol’s Hope for their survival. This grant will help Carol’s Hope to continue to provide year-round crisis intervention services in a safe and supportive setting equipped with certified staff and peer recovery specialists. By supporting those who are most vulnerable, the recovery programming plays a significant role in the overall health and well-being of the community. 

Citadel Dance and Music Center is the recipient of the 2021 Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability Grant. The Alamar grant is a $75,000 grant paid over three years to Berrien County nonprofit organization as they seek creative ways to take care of employees and find organizational sustainability.  

Citadel Dance and Music Center will use the funding to help put the organization in a position to pay key staff members, build their endowment and grow enrollment to put the organization on a long-term sustainable path.  

“What a surprise! For a nonprofit — and for an arts nonprofit — sustainability is always an issue,” said Citadel Dance and Music Center Executive Director Susan Dietrich-Reed. “This is really, really going to help us increase our endowment, work toward increasing enrollment and compensating our faculty as they should be. Thank you!” 

Each year, Berrien Community Foundation recognizes both people and an organization who have made a significant impact in their communities.  

Emergency Shelter Services was recognized with the Golden Acorn Award For Excellence along with a $4,000 grant for their tireless work with the eviction deferral program. This program is an ongoing effort during the pandemic to help people avoid eviction and homelessness. The Berrien Community Foundation provided seed funding to help staff gear up for the program. Emergency Shelter Services’ work brought additional federal funding to the area to assist families. ESS also worked tirelessly with families to provide essential needs and keep families safe, healthy and fed.  

The Golden Acorn Volunteer Recognition Award was awarded to Sue Phelan & Peggy McTigue in recognition of the hard work they did to secure a Cherry Beach expansion for public use. The duo led an all-volunteer group to fundraise and acquire lakefront property in Chikaming Township that more than doubled Cherry Beach. Berrien Community Foundation partnered with this all-volunteer force to help raise $1.65 million needed to secure a $2.475 million Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant and purchase the property. The award accompanies $1,000 which the winners can direct to a nonprofit organization of their choice.  

“Each of these groups represent a different aspect of what makes Berrien County a great place to live,” Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey said. “One of the things they all have in common is the care and commitment for the people they serve. These nonprofits and people behind each one of them deserve all the accolades we can provide.” 

The Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability GrantStephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant, and the Golden Acorn Volunteer Recognition Award and Award For Excellence are typically announced during the Foundation’s Annual Celebration each fall. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, BCF transformed their annual meeting into Celebration on the Station — a radio takeover spotlighting the good work done by and through BCF this past year. 

Berrien Community Foundation celebrated awarding $7.2 million in grants, $296,500 in scholarships last year.