Berrien Community Foundation Awards $190,000 In For Good Grants

Photo of adults tossing milk jugs into the air.
Pictured from left: Buchanan Tree Friends Cole Martin
and Elaine Rowland; Buchanan city commissioner Dan
Vigansky; BCF Program Director Susan Matheny; and
Buchanan Tree Friends Richard Martin, Ann Tuite and
Brian Murphy.

Berrien Community Foundation’s recent For Good Grant awards totaling $190,000 are giving a boost in funding to projects that benefit families and communities across Berrien County, including the Buchanan area.

The Buchanan Tree Friends is one of the many recipients. Thanks to the For Good Grant, the all-volunteer group can ditch dozens of milk jugs for a 300-gallon water trailer to better care for the trees throughout the community. 

Buchanan Tree Friends board chair Richard Martin is thankful for the award and what it means for the group, the trees and the community as a whole.

“This watering trailer is going to be quite a relief,” Martin said. “The milk jugs and buckets were all we had and we did all we could with them. It used to take me a half hour to water with 50 gallons. Now, I’m going to be able to water in just a few minutes.”

Buchanan Tree Friends volunteer Elaine Rowland echoed Martin’s sentiments. 

“We’re a group of volunteers who give as much time and energy as we’re able,” Rowland said. “So, the fact we have this trailer makes the time we are able to give more efficient and effective.”

The Friends maintain around 150 trees in the community and plant more throughout the year. A tree needs to be watered and properly maintained during the first three years of its life, volunteer Ann Tuite said. 

“What is remarkable about our grantees is the ingenuity they show in their programming,” said BCF Program Director Susan Matheny. “From Watervliet to Niles, no matter the community issue, our grantees approach them with a creative eye and they get results!”

Another recipient of a For Good Grant this cycle is creating a dog park in Watervliet.

Two women holding a large check.
Paw Paw Lake Rotary’s Trina Gruszczyk and Berrien Community
Foundation Program Director Susan Matheny pose with a giant For
Good Grant check.

“I’m excited about the impact this dog park will have on our parks system and our community,” City of Watervliet Mayor Deah Muth said. “This was one of the highest-rated park improvements cited from the survey conducted as part of our latest parks and rec plan.”

The highly-desired amenity is being supported by the city, Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club and the State Department of Natural Resources. Fundraising efforts are still ongoing, but Muth expects the dog park to open in sometime in late spring.

In Stevensville, the Lincoln Township Library will begin a “library of things” thanks to a For Good Grant. 

“Our ‘library of things’ will be full of things you don’t typically see in a library — items people would use for everyday purposes at the house,” Lincoln Township Library Director Joelle Wake said. “The ‘library of things’ is also a place for people who want to give a hobby a try without spending $150.”

Wake plans to include tools, crafting items, technology and cooking gadgets in the inventory. 

Two women holding a large check.
Berrien Community Foundation Program Director Susan Matheny
presents Lincoln Township Library Director Joelle Wake with a For Good
Grant check to start a “library of things.”

“We are not just a depository for books anymore,” Wake added. “We think of ourselves as more of a community center where people can see their neighbors, hang out, enjoy programming and get different items to bring home.”

BCF’s For Good Grant is allowing the library to make the “library of things” happen sooner rather than later — months instead of years — with the “library of things” up and running this spring.

For Good Grants are awarded twice a year. Each cycle, applications are reviewed by community volunteers and T.E.A.M. (Teens Exhibiting Able Minds), the youth advisory committee for BCF.

Requests cover a broad range of community needs including the arts, children, community development, education, environment, health, seniors, and youth leadership and development. In addition, BCF partners with donor advised fund holders to meet funding requests.

The full list of For Good Grants recipients are:

  • Benton Harbor Community Development Corporation — To support summer camp in 2023.
  • Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety — To purchase turnout gear extractor/washer and dryer.
  • Berrien County Blanket Brigade — To support blanket making projects.
  • Berrien County Cancer Service — To go toward supportive resources including supplies, nutritional supplements and transportation.
  • CASA of Southwest Michigan, Inc. — To provide transportation assistance to Berrien County CASA volunteers.
  • Citadel Dance & Music Center — To support musicians for Citadel Spectacular, scholarships and instruments for the Kindermusik program.
  • City of Buchanan/Buchanan Tree Friends — To purchase a 300-gallon water trailer to water trees.
  • City of Watervliet and Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club — For the construction of a community dog park in Watervliet.
  • Feeding America West Michigan — To support the mobile food pantry program.
  • First Congregational UCC — To purchase books and snacks for food packs.
  • Friends of New Troy — Renovation of library and meeting room at New Troy Community Center.
  • Harbor Country Emergency Food Pantry — To provide emergency rent and utility assistance.
  • Harbor Country Opera — To support the Christmas show.
  • Harbor Impact Foundation, Inc. — To renovate and construct classrooms, and purchase academic materials.
  • Harbor of Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church — To support launch of "Beyond the Game Character & Leadership Program.”
  • PACE of Southwest Michigan — To provide advanced education to employees.
  • Present Pillars — To support "Summer with Dad" 2023 program.
  • Redbud Area Ministries — To support "Art for RAM Kids" program.
  • Region IV Area Agency on Aging — To support initiative through production of local theatre pieces that raise awareness of dementia.
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Indiana-Michiana — To purchase replacement vacuum cleaners and mops.
  • Senior Nutrition Services/Meals On Wheels of Southwest Michigan — To support supper sacks to seniors at high nutritional risk for hunger and food insecurity.
  • Southwest Michigan Planning Commission — To support design, production and installation of a series of four educational signs.
  • Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra — To support a series of nine outdoor Pop Up! concerts in Southwest Michigan.
  • Spectrum Community Services — To implement maintenance and refurbishment needs in seven licensed homes.
  • Temple B'nai Shalom — To purchase diapers for the diaper bank.
  • The Region of Three Oaks Museum — To support expansion of the artifact storage area.
  • Watervliet Free Methodist Church — To purchase food products for the food pantry.

For Good Grants awarded by T.E.A.M.

  • Lincoln Township Library — To start a “library of things.”
  • OutCenter Southwest Michigan — For mental health programming for LGBTQ+ teens.

There are two grant cycles of the For Good Grants every year. Applications for the next round are due February 28, 2023.