First $75,000 Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability Grant Announced
Berrien Community Foundation Annual Meeting Highlights Awards
It was a night full of giving while re-capping a successful year for the Berrien Community Foundation. St. Joseph Today received the first annual Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability Grant at the Foundation’s 67th Annual Meeting held Wednesday, September 18 at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, St. Joseph.
“The Alamar Nonprofit Sustainability Grant is $75,000 given over three years - $25,000 each year,” said Lisa Cripps-Downey, President of BCF. “This effort started when an anonymous donor approached the Community Foundation troubled when he saw nonprofit employees working long hours for lower pay, and often without benefits.”
The Alamar Non-Profit Sustainability Grant is awarded to support nonprofits as they seek creative ways to take care of employees and find organizational sustainability. “This grant will be available to one Berrien County nonprofit organization each year,” Cripps-Downey said. “Not for a new program, but for operations.”
“This grant will allow us to provide health insurance and a retirement plan for our employees,” Amy Zapal, the executive director of St. Joseph Today said. “If they begin to invest in their retirement now, this could allow them to be givers when they are able to retire.”
“It’s these generous donors that help keep our nonprofit sector strong,” Cripps-Downey said. “People forget that one in 10 jobs in the U.S. are in the nonprofit sector.”
The Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant
The $50,000 Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant, was presented to Ferry Street Resource Center in Niles. The grant will support programming and efforts to bridge the gap between services that are difficult for south county residents to access because of transportation issues.
The Love Your Community Grant is presented each year to a Berrien County nonprofit organization that addresses a crucial community need and makes a positive impact in the lives of Berrien County residents.
“Working for over a decade now in Niles, Ferry Street Resource Center has accomplished many wonderful collaborative works for our Niles residents,” said Jeff Upton, son of Steve Upton, who presented the award. “We need this organization to grow and expand as our needs in south county expand. So, this year we are funding $25,000 immediately and will work with Ferry Street and encourage them to match another $25,000. This should bring total funding up to $75,000 allowing them to further grow and meet the community needs.”
“This is incredible for our organization,” said Ric Pawloski, Executive Director of Ferry Street Resource Center. “We are serve hundreds of people every month with basic needs – housing, food, employment. This is so important.”
Other Stephen E. Upton Love Your Community Grant finalists included:
Bethany Christian Services – to expand the total of Berrien County foster care homes.
Lory’s Place – to expand services to grieving adults.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission – to support the Paddle Berrien County initiative developing formal water trail plans on area water ways.
An Amazing Year for Berrien Community Foundation
BCF Program Manager Susan Matheny announced that $8.1 million in grants and scholarships were awarded in 2018 from all of the grant programs administered by the Berrien Community Foundation.
“More than numbers, the work we support improves lives all over Berrien County. From Food for students to take home on the weekends in Niles; to ramps for people with disabilities, our grants helped serve over 129,000 people.”
In a special tribute to the late John E.N. Howard, Lisa Cripps-Downey announced three new legacy funds from John E.N. Howard, who brought music to the lives of so many people and passed away at the age of 99 in November. John was the long-time director of the St. Joseph Municipal Band, the St. Joseph High School Band Director and a much loved philanthropist.
The Howard Community Projects Fund, The Program Endowment for Howard Facilities and The Youth Endowment Fund will care for facilities John and his wife Dede Howard created during his lifetime, ensure activities at those facilities and provide music opportunities for City of St. Joseph youth. The three funds continued John Howard’s legacy of Berrien County philanthropy.
Golden Acorn Awards
The 2019 Golden Acorn Award for Arts Innovation, including a $4,000 grant, was presented to Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor Arts District. In addition to being on hand to accept their award, the Ghostlight Theater cast of Urinetown performed a number from their recent production.
“The Ghostlight took an abandoned building and changed it into a place where theater, music and art abound,” said Phil Maki, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, as he presented the award. “This volunteer effort shows how a great idea and a lot of hard work can turn into something wonderful for the entire community.”
Carol Oehlhaffen, a BCF volunteer for more than 30 years received the 2019 Golden Acorn Award for Volunteerism. Oehlhaffen has volunteered with the youth advisory committee, scholarship committees and multiple BCF volunteer efforts. She is also a long-standing volunteer with Birthright, Lake Michigan Catholic Schools and the Readiness Center. The award accompanies a $1,000 grant to the charity of her choice.
Some other featured projects that the Berrien Community Foundation highlighted at the event included The Women’s Giving Circle – funding projects for women & girls in Berrien County; Backpacks for Good – providing 750 backpacks with supplies for Coloma and Watervliet, and their leadership role as census hub for Census 2020.
The Berrien Community Foundation is a center of philanthropy in Berrien County, holding endowment and other funds to support programs and projects throughout Berrien County. These Community Foundation funds support the ever-changing needs of Berrien County now and into the future. With more than $42 million in assets, the Foundation provides grants and scholarships plus opportunities for individuals across the county to fulfill charitable intentions through life-end giving and estate planning.