This is a monumental year for the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, as we celebrate fifty years of partnering with community members like yourself, who make the Grand Haven area a wonderful place to live, work, and play. In celebrating this milestone, join us in taking a step back to remember our origins and the leaders who provided a gateway for supporting every corner of Northwest Ottawa County.

Pioneered by a group of civic-minded individuals with a heart for this community and led by E.V. “Vin” Erickson, our foundation started in 1971 with just $1,200 and a vision to deliver a positive impact through dedicated service. Despite doubt from skeptics questioning whether a community foundation could be successful in a community the size of the Grand Haven area, our committed leaders relied on their desire to equip our community with the resources needed to endure any and every future challenge.

To put this mission into action, past board members such as Erickson found success in starting small. Through seeking numerous small donations from donors, they garnered a broad base of support that would not have been possible had they sought just one large benefactor. Trustee Emeritus Dottie Johnson adds to this point, and said, “The community foundation is for everyone—gifts can range in size.” Using this philosophy, our founding leaders secured a base of donations to jumpstart their work in our community.

After securing the donations necessary to establish the foundation, these visionary philanthropists worked diligently to expand our reach. In the words of Erickson, “People have always been interested in philanthropy, which by definition is the love of your fellow man – ‘What can I do for my fellow man?’” With this mindset, our team worked to identify six areas of impact, including Arts & Culture, Diversity & Inclusion, Economic & Community Betterment, Education, Environment, and Health & Human Services. As you may know, we continue to dedicate resources in these service areas, ultimately hoping to create positive change for future generations that support the original intent of the community foundation.

Today, in keeping with this vision, our foundation has grown beyond expectations and has granted $8 million to community causes in 2020. Additionally, over 330 members are part of the Legacy Society, representing their commitment to continuously support the foundation’s mission for years to come.

It’s safe to say we’ve been able to accomplish a lot over the last five decades. A lot of this can be attributed to the compassion of our founders, but we also must recognize the profound impact of individual donors and community members like you, who have upheld our foundation throughout the years.

We are thankful to serve a community that is full of passionate members, dedicated to giving back. As demonstrated in the establishment of our foundation, incredible things can happen when a group of individuals come together to be stewards of their community. Our hope for the future is that we can continue building from this original idea of collaboration, while finding new ways to support and uplift each other.

The road paved by our leaders and overwhelming generosity of each donor are the reasons that the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation celebrates fifty great years of serving you and our community. Remembering this history, we hope to expand upon their dream of creating a permanent community endowment, while continuing to recognize the legacy that has fueled our work today.

Look at what we’ve done. Imagine what we can do, together.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch. Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.