Volunteers play a big role in the community

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller.

You might think it would be a lot easier to distribute funds than to raise them, but if you asked the volunteers at the Lenawee Community Foundation, they’d tell you it’s hard work. It is not an easy task to ensure that you are allocating donated dollars to achieve the greater good.

The important work of determining grant recommendations has recently been spearheaded by two groups of dedicated volunteers – the Lenawee YOUTH Council and the Lenawee Cares Advisory Council.

The Lenawee YOUTH Council was established in 1997 with a challenge grant from the WK Kellogg Foundation, which provided a $1 million endowment whose proceeds young people use for grants. The value of the endowment currently exceeds $1.3 million, while the teens have awarded more than $900,000 to local youth programs. Their grantmaking process is rigorous and youth-led.

They seek youth participation in the programs they fund, request information on how youth assets will be built, and make recommendations to the Lenawee Community Foundation Board of Directors for programs that will most help local youth. .

This year, awards were presented to: Adrian Center for the Arts, Adrian Community Preschool, Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Ahimsa Safe Haven, Associated Charities of Lenawee County, Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee & Hillsdale Counties, The Daily Bread, Dog Gone Fun Club 4-H, Holy Family Catholic Youth, Hospice of Lenawee, Lenawee Imagination Library, Madison School District, Stair District Library, and Tecumseh High School Sculpture Class & Art Club.

Lenawee Cares was established in 2016. Its advisory board performs two important functions: raising funds through the annual fall campaign and using an objective, data-driven process to award grants to local nonprofits. .

Before submitting funding requests, each local nonprofit went through a pre-qualification process, submitting information about the organization to the Lenawee Community Foundation and an intent to apply. Advisory board members reviewed grant applications and conducted program evaluations with 12 criteria, including meeting a compelling and documented community need; potential for lasting and positive change in the quality of life in Lenawee; provide direct services in the field of youth, basic needs, health or social services; a favorable cost/benefit ratio; a clear and realistic budget; and more. After scoring each grant, the scores of each advisory board member were averaged to determine the composite score for each application. After reviewing the agencies’ average scores, advisory board members made preliminary grant recommendations.

Throughout their meetings, there were many points of view and lots of warm dialogue. But, through it all, the Advisory Board has remained focused on its purpose – to make recommendations to the Lenawee Community Foundation Board of Directors for programs that have the greatest impact in Lenawee.

This year, awards were presented to: Adrian Community Preschool, Adrian Rea Literacy Center, Associated Charities of Lenawee County, Blissfield Area Food Pantry, Boys & Girls Club of Lenawee, Catherine Cobb Safe House, Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee & Hillsdale Counties, Childcare Network, City of Refuge Ministries International, Community Action Agency, The Daily Bread, Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County, HOPE Community Center, Hospice of Lenawee, Housing Help of Lenawee, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, NewSong WeCare, Share the Warmth of Lenawee, Society of St. Vincent de Paul—St. Joseph Conference, and Frank & Shirley Dick Family YMCA.

Thank you to everyone who donated and made this work possible. Thank you to the volunteers who have spent countless hours reviewing the grants to ensure that all donated funds are used in the best way possible, creating the greatest impact.

Paula Trentman is Vice President and Director of Grants and Programs for the Lenawee Community Foundation. Your community foundation helps individuals, businesses and organizations achieve their charitable goals for our community.

For more information on how your business, any group, your family or you can volunteer to build a better community, call 517-263-4696 or contact [email protected]. We would love to be of service to you as you invest time, talent, and treasure now and forever.

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