The grant request from Berrien County Parks to the Berrien Community Foundation’s For Good Grants was fairly simple – they needed funds for a new beach wheelchair. The county had two beach wheelchairs that had become brittle and were not able to be fixed. Berrien County Parks Director Jill Adams wanted to people in wheelchairs to enjoy the beach and decided to try for a grant.
For Judy Felland, providing the community with access to a beach wheelchair was personal — she and her husband were in a car crash that left him in a wheelchair.
“My husband, Doug, was in a wheelchair for 30 years,” Judy said. “We would travel in a van across the U.S. We could see lakes and beaches but could only look at them. He couldn’t experience it.”
The new beach wheelchair will go through the sand and is also able to go into the water, a feature Judy said will be wonderful for people in wheelchairs.
When BCF receives grant applications from nonprofit organizations, we share them with our Donor Advised Fund holders so they can see if there are needs they would like to fill through their Donor Advised Fund (D.A.F.). A D.A.F. is a charitable giving fund established by a family or individual that allows them to make one larger donation into the fund and then direct grants from the fund to a variety of charities over time.
The beach wheelchair was also meaningful to Steve & Pam Klyn, who helped fund the purchase through their Donor Advised Fund.
“One of the reasons we feel so lucky to call Southwest Michigan home is the access to so many amazing outdoor spaces,” Pam Klyn said. “We are happy to support this initiative which will provide the opportunity for easier beach access to individuals who may not have been able to enjoy this in the past.”
Choosing which projects to fund can be tricky when there are so many needs. But, as Judy said, sometimes you just know.
“Certain things touch my heart,” she said. “I read about this and it was automatic. I just knew.”