By Hadley Streng, President of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
Fifty years ago, a group of a dozen community leaders gathered together because they wanted to do something more for our community. Something bigger. They each gave $100 to start what would become the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. Little did they know the impact they would have a half-century later.
Over the course of the past 50 years, with careful investing, continued contributions from our community, and the dedication of our trustees and staff, that $1,200 has grown to more than $150 million in assets. The grants we’ve awarded have touched more lives than our founders could have ever imagined. Looking at the next 50 years—and beyond—we are confident the foundation and our partners will continue to impact our community for generations to come.
Millions have been given back to the community in the form of grants, scholarships, and most recently, immediate need grants from the Community Relief & Recovery Fund in response to COVID-19. The initial gift from the founders has turned into more than 700 funds, including 129 scholarship funds. Hundreds of individuals have honorably joined the Legacy Society and have promised to leave a gift to the foundation upon their passing.
But this isn’t about the numbers.
The heart of our 50th anniversary celebration is this community. Each and every one of our neighbors serve as integral building blocks for all we have done. The impact we’ve made together—and will continue to make for generations to come—is a reflection of the strength of our partnerships and our dedication to making a positive impact on every person who lives, works, and plays in Northwest Ottawa County. Our grant priority areas—arts & culture, diversity & inclusion, economic & community betterment, education, environment, and health & human services—stand strong because of you.
The 50th anniversary celebration is for our community: the people who’ve given their time, talent, and treasure to ensure the community foundation thrived through good times and bad; the people who’ve benefited from the grants that have been awarded to our for-impact partners; and the people whose philanthropic intent have funded our initiatives for a half-century. Without those individuals, families, organizations, and corporations, the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation would not have become what it is today. You are all an important part of our history, and we are eager for what comes next.
An anniversary like this doesn’t sneak up on you. We’ve been planning this celebration for several years, and while a lot of our original plans—like large-scale public events—will now take different forms, we’re still planning to celebrate. With that, we’re inviting you to celebrate right by our side.
We’re proud of our history and the partnerships that brought us to this point, and we look forward to honoring that history throughout the year. We have a lot planned for 2021, and it is all focused on the people in this community. We look forward to sharing their stories, and we invite you to share your stories with us. We will be announcing a variety of events and activities throughout the year, so be sure to stay social and keep in touch to find out more.
Thank you for partnering with us, for supporting us, and for believing in our mission and in our community.
Look at what we’ve done. Imagine what we can do, together.