Berrien County Veterans Services Gets BCF Grant to Replace Aging Van That Transports Veterans to Medical Appointments

Group photo of people in front of a van.
Berrien Community Foundation Program Director Susan Matheny, center, presents a For Good
Grant check to Berrien County Veteran Services Office Director Maureen Adams December 27 in
front of the aging DAV Van. Also pictured is, from left, Berrien County Veteran Services Officer
Erik Larsen and volunteer drivers Andy Bauer, Paul Donavin and Brian Evans.

Berrien County Veteran Services is one of the many recipients of a For Good Grant from the Berrien Community Foundation, which will replace an aging and high-mileage van that transports veterans to and from medical appointments. BCF has awarded $154,475 in the most recent cycle of For Good Grants.

“The Berrien County Veteran Service Office is thrilled to receive the support of a $10,000 For Good Grant to help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 in matching funds to purchase a new DAV Van that transports veterans to their VA medical appointments in Battle Creek,” said Berrien County Veteran Services Office Director Maureen Adams. “With only 18% of veterans in Michigan engaged in their Veterans Affairs benefits, the DAV Van is a rolling billboard that helps remind vets to check into their VA benefits.”

Berrien County Veteran Service Office partners with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to purchase large transport vans at a reduced cost. The current DAV vans operated by volunteer drivers are showing their age.

“To be able to provide a service to those who served is an honor,” said Paul Donavin, one of several volunteer van drivers. “The new van will provide assurance and reliability to get our veterans safely to their appointments.”

The rides to and from the medical center are done at no cost to the veteran. The vans are on the road multiple days each week, logging tens of thousands of miles each year.

“For Good Grants fund projects and programming that making living in Berrien County ‘good,’” said BCF Program Director Susan Matheny. “There were so many wonderful applications this round, and we encourage local nonprofits to keep bringing these innovative and vital projects to Berrien County.”

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:

  • African American History and Literature Gallery — to develop a digital oral history archive and corresponding artworks for a curriculum reflecting the story of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.
  • Benton Harbor Arts Association — for event coordinator and event costs for art hops in the Benton Harbor Arts District.
  • Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety — to increase the incident command capabilities of the Berrien County Fire Service.
  • Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority — to purchase and install holiday lights in Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park.
  • Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self Esteem — to purchase equipment and furnishings for their new facility.
  • Berrien County Veteran Services — to replace a high-mileage van that transports veterans to medical appointments.
  • Buchanan High School — to overhaul their percussion equipment, carriers and stands for the music department.
  • Coloma PTO — to update playground equipment that will improve children’s motor skills at the elementary school.
  • Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan — to ensure that more girls in Watervliet and Coloma area have access to a Girl Scouts experience.
  • Harbor Habitat for Humanity — to expand eligibility for the Home Ownership Program to provide people with opportunities to become homeowners.
  • Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival — to pay the artist fee for a solo recital and piano tuner.
  • Lest We Forget — to reenact World War II at Tiscornia Beach.
  • Lory's Place — to support one year of community outreach programming.
  • New Heights CCDA — to provide vehicle maintenance and repair services to low-income households to help them gain, maintain or improve their employment prospects by having reliable transportation.
  • Present Pillars — for content creation for podcasts and videos to improve family stability by mentoring and uplifting fathers.
  • Renaissance Enterprises Company — to help bring music programs to nursing homes, care facilities and senior residences.
  • Saint Joseph Baseball & Softball Association — to support an indoor sports facility for young players in a variety of sports for practice and training throughout the year.
  • The Salvation Army – Niles — to support their Feeding His Sheep program, which provides nutritious food for the weekend for students in southern Berrien County.
  • Stevensville United Methodist Church — to help with their food backpack program that provides meals and snacks for the weekend to Riverside Hagar #6 School.


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

  • Beyond Basics — to provide support and literacy intervention to Benton Harbor Area School students.
  • Coloma Public Library — to create a separate teen room with teen-friendly furniture and updated book collections.
  • WeECHO — to purchase equipment and supplies for their after-school mentoring programming, WEYS 2 Grow, in the Niles community.


There are two grant cycles of the For Good Grants every year. Applications for the next round are due April 1, 2024.