2023 Catalyst Award Recipients Announced

2023 Catalyst Award Recipients Announced

The Community Foundation of Marquette County held their annual celebration on September 6th, 2023.  This year CFMC celebrated their 35th year of impact as a foundation providing vital support to programs, projects, and initiatives across the entire county.  Each year as a part of the celebration, the foundation recognizes individuals, businesses, and service organizations who go above and beyond to make a difference in their community and inspire others to do the same.

These catalyst awards are given in different categories based on nominations that have been made to the Community Foundation of Marquette County’s Board of Trustees.  Catalyst award recipients have demonstrated a commitment to the Marquette County community through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure to help make life better for the people of Marquette County. They have had a positive impact over a period of time, demonstrate humility in their efforts to improve the Marquette community and serve to inspire others by their example.

The Community Foundation of Marquette County’s five 2023 Catalyst Honorees are: 

After teaching for 5 years in Flint, Don and his wife Barb moved to the Upper Peninsula. Don served his last 11 of 30 additional years in education administration as the Negaunee Superintendent of Schools. When asked, “What do you love most about your community and living in Marquette County,” Don had this to say: “Small towns offer such a great environment for raising kids: Safe, amicable, caring and abounding with opportunities through organizations and schools that are the ideal size.” His own amicable and caring nature is evident in his many years of service to various organizations in our community, including our very own Community Foundation of Marquette County and Negaunee Area Community Fund. Don was instrumental in growing the Community Foundation affiliate funds and served on the Board of Trustees of the Community Foundation and is currently an Honorary Board Trustee.  Don has been an active and dedicated visionary community leader, volunteering with Negaunee Lions Club and was recently inducted to the Negaunee Public Schools Hall of Fame for his contributions to the legacy of Negaunee Public Schools.

INDIVIDUA YOUTH AWARD – Allyana Grochowski 
Allie has served on the Ishpeming Youth Advisory Committee for 5 years where she served her community in many ways. With Allie’s assistance, the YAC created personal hygiene Kits for local students, volunteered at local Community Dinners, made blankets and hats for the St. Vincent de Paul Cheer Club, picked up litter at parks and along roadsides, and so much more. Allie is a 2023 Westwood High School graduate, and she was in Key Club, Student Council, Band, Business Professionals of America, and the High School Bowl. She continues to give her time to the community by being a Fire Fighter for Michigamme-Spurr Fire Department, and she is in the process of earning her EMT license as well. Allie is attending Michigan Tech.

This year the Community Foundation was honored to present a posthumous award to Susan Maynard in memory of her husband Jerry Maynard. Jerry was an environmental attorney from Chicago, retiring to Marquette in 2009.  But retire, he did not.  With his spirit of volunteerism handed down to him from his family and two years in the Peace Corps, Jerry could not simply live for himself.  Many know him as co-founder of the Raptor Center but he was also a mediator for Marquette Alger Resolution Services and a volunteer for North Country Trail and Trout Unlimited.
Jerry was also a board member of the Superior Watershed Partnership. When Rio Tinto came to the Superior Watershed Partnership with the idea of funding an independent monitoring program at Eagle Mine, Jerry was there every step of the way offering his environmental legal expertise crafting the fund agreements.
Because of his work, the success and longevity of this globally unprecedented environmental monitoring program, involving Lundin Mining, the Community Foundation of Marquette County, the Superior Watershed Partnership, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, continues 13 years later. As a board member of the Superior Watershed Partnership, Jerry demonstrated his commitment to our Marquette community.
Jerry passed away just one year ago but his volunteer spirit and tireless, unselfish efforts will be felt well into the future and serve to inspire all of us.  It was a great honor to present this catalyst award to Susan Maynard.

SERVICE ORGANIZATION – Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy
In its journey, the Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) has evolved to protect not only the environment but also the well-being of our watershed’s residents. This connection between environmental care and human welfare was evident during crises like the Father’s Day flood, the COVID-19 response, and the fight against climate change.
A standout initiative, the Great Lakes Climate Corps, epitomizes SWP’s commitment to both environmental and social causes. Each summer, they employ 40 young individuals, maintaining gender balance. These dedicated workers make a lasting impact on our region.
SWP operates entirely on grants, showcasing their ability to secure resources for community-benefiting projects. Their management of the Michigan Energy Assistance Fund (MEAP), aiding with energy costs and home weatherization, underscores their unwavering assistance to those in need.
Furthermore, SWP serves as a land conservancy, protecting 1,250 acres in the Upper Peninsula near vital water resources.
Under SWP’s leadership, we’ve seen a substantial reduction in Lake Superior mercury levels, removal of hazardous waste, and preservation of fish populations. They’ve also planted thousands of trees, enhancing our environment.
SWP’s collaborative spirit is evident in their partnership with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and educational initiatives within our watershed.
Their mission is clear: protect the Great Lakes, assist our communities, and help our people. As they celebrate 23 years of service, we extend our gratitude to SWP’s founder and Executive Director, Carl Lindquist, for his unwavering leadership.

Eagle Mine is a shining example of corporate responsibility and community engagement. They measure success not in ore tons, but in safety, environmental protection, and community betterment. Over two decades, they’ve enriched our region by $4.3 billion, yet their impact transcends figures.
Eagle Mine invests in local youth via the Technical Middle College program, offering hope to at-risk and economically disadvantaged students while meeting employment needs with a $190,000 annual contribution. Initiatives like the Eagle Emerging Entrepreneur Fund and Accelerate U.P. have spurred 300 jobs and $14 million in capital investment.
During COVID-19, Eagle supported small businesses with $100,000 through the Love on Local program. They’ve united stakeholders to form the Trail Sustainability Coalition, vital for community well-being and growth.
Their dedication to the environment is remarkable. The Community Environmental Monitoring Program, in partnership with the Community Foundation, Superior Watershed Partnership and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, has invested $3.6 million in monitoring environmental impacts, showcasing transparency and stewardship.
Eagle Mine’s story is one of conscientious corporate citizenship, leaving a legacy of progress, partnership, and environmental responsibility.

Honoring Sharon: A Special Conversation

Honoring Sharon: A Special Conversation

In 2021, the Jumpstart a Heart campaign was organized by the Marquette County Law Enforcement Administrators and Association (MCLEAA) and the Community Foundation of Marquette County to replace the automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) for law enforcement units across the county. The successful effort, which raised more than $107,000 to purchase 43 new AEDs and two trainer units, was supported by many individuals, businesses and funders. The campaign not only addressed the immediate need for equipment replacement, but also established an endowed fund to support the need in the future.

Patti Tourville, Chief Ryan Grim and Officer Jeff Czarny with an AED purchased
through the Jumpstart a Heart Campaign, which Patti and her family helped support.

Some donors, including Patti Tourville, were inspired to give to Jumpstart a Heart because someone they loved experienced a heart attack and they wanted to help save people’s lives in the future. Earlier this year, Tourville approached the Community Foundation with a very special request. She asked to meet with some local officers who would be using the AEDs funded through the campaign, including the one funded by her in memory of her sister-in-law Sharon Rose Parish.

On April 13, Tourville met with City of Marquette Police Chief Ryan Grim and Officer Jeff Czarny for coffee at their office. Tourville shared that in 2006, Sharon was working out at a gym with her husband when she suffered a heart attack and later died.

After sharing her sister-in-law’s story with them, Tourville reflected, “Sharon was a teacher. She made an impact on a lot of people. She would have wanted this to be a teachable moment.”

Both men shared how essential AEDs are in their work, noting that every time a squad car goes out, there’s an AED in it. Chief Grim said, “The donation of these AEDs is so helpful to us.”

Officer Czarny told Tourville, “I can tell you personally that the AED you donated is on the road every day. If something were to come up, it is needed and it is there. These machines are invaluable.”

Chief Grim shared that Marquette County officers are trained once every year in the use of AEDs. He commented, “If you have people who can understand how to use the equipment, you can save lives. When we show up on a scene, people expect us to know what to do. It’s our job to know what to do. These AEDs make our lives a lot easier. They give guidance to us as we hook them up and walk us through [the process].”

Every AED funded in the campaign has a small plaque with the donors’ names, including the Tourville Family’s. Chief Grim commented, “We live in a small town, and we recognize the names [on the plaques] sometimes. I like the plaques. They’re a good reminder to the officers how important the AEDs are and that they mean something to somebody.”

“We strongly believe in supporting our community,” Tourville responded. “Thank you for letting me come and talk. Today would mean a lot to Sharon.”

Expressing the Department’s gratitude, Chief Grim told her, “A lot of people don’t reach out to us like this. This is the first time I’ve had a conversation with someone who’s a donor.” This conversation clearly meant something to everyone in the room.

Celebrating the Joy of Clean Laundry

Celebrating the Joy of Clean Laundry

North Star Montessori Academy students, who are enjoying the school’s
brand new laundry room, made a sign to thank the Community Foundation
and the donor who sponsored the project.

Finding solutions to community needs, whether they’re large or small, usually takes time, hard work and persistence. Sometimes, generosity from unexpected places helps a lot, too.

Last November, the Community Foundation received a funding request from North Star Montessori Academy for a small, but important need. North Star is a Pre-K-12 public school in Marquette.

In 2019, Megan Coombs, a Pathways to Potential Success Coach employed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, noticed that some students came to school with clothes that hadn’t been washed or that had already been worn during the week. While most of us take being able to do our laundry for granted, Coombs noted, “Some families do not have the means to buy a washer and dryer or even to go to a laundromat.”

What finally drove the need home for her was a third-grade student and her sibling, a first grader, who often came to school with dirty clothes or clothes that didn’t fit them. She reached out to the students’ family and learned about the specific hardships and challenges they were dealing with. She knew she had to do something to address the school’s need for an on-site laundry room.

North Star serves a large number of families (56%) that are economically disadvantaged. In Marquette County, the overall poverty rate is 13.6 percent (an income of $27,750 or less for a family of four). Poverty means not being able to meet some of your family’s basic needs, including laundry.

North Star Students with Pathways to Potential Coach Megan Coombs (left), Superintendent/Principal Andrea Ballard (center) and Dean of Students Dave Gilbert (right).

With support from the school’s administrative staff, Coombs decided to raise funds to purchase a washer, dryer and utility sink for the school. The school first had to apply for a permit to install the appliances. In September 2021, North Star finally got the thumbs up to proceed with the project.

Coombs turned to the Community Foundation to fund the project, and the timing was perfect. Zosia Eppensteiner, Community Foundation CEO explained, “We were able to connect with an anonymous donor, for whom the project was a good fit.” She continued, “By connecting a possible donor with a need, we can have an immediate impact on families and children right away — like the students at North Star. What’s amazing with our work at the Community Foundation is we often discover there’s a network of people and relationships who will be supportive around the needs of the community. And you never know what people in the community will connect with.”

To complete the project, Coombs reached out to another donor to pay for the cost of plumbing. After supply chain and other delays, the washer and dryer finally arrived and were installed earlier this month. The kids and the staff at North Star are celebrating their new laundry room, which is decorated with thank you notes to the donors.

Coombs said, “This project has been a labor of love, from October 2019, when I first inquired about adding a washer and dryer into the school, until it finally being completed on April 14. In the first week we’ve had it, it’s already been used four or five times. I’m super thankful that the donation came in to purchase the washer and dryer [so that we are able] to fulfill the needs of the children that are here.”

Andrea Ballard, superintendent and principal at North Star added, “I think it’s wonderful. It’s something we’ve discussed for many years and for it to actually happen is great for our school and our students.”

What Will Waino Bring?

What Will Waino Bring?

Waino Liuha receives an award from United Way of Marquette County
Campaign Co-Chair Walt Lindala, in 2006. 

When you ask people in the community what they remember about Waino Liuha, they light up. Waino may have passed in 2013, but his spirit is still alive, continuing to inspire everyone who knew him.In his 87 years of living, Waino was many things: A miner, husband and father, veteran, union president, social worker, churchgoer, volunteer and raffle-ticket seller. In everything he did, Waino’s goodness was apparent to all.Virginia Paulson, a trustee with the Negaunee Historical Society and member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Negaunee where Waino was also a member, remembered, “When I asked Waino to bring something for coffee time after church, he’d always ask, ‘What will Waino bring?’” You could say that was the question that guided his life.“Everybody knows Waino was a good guy,” said Dave Hallgren, a friend and fellow Lions Club member who met Waino at Immanuel. Hallgren continued, “Waino was always such a giving person. He was always ready to help people. That was his personality. He was visiting people, raising money, active at church, and involved with the Ishpeming Kiwanis and Negaunee Lions.”Born in Wakefield, Michigan in 1925 to Arvo and Lempi (Kangas) Liuha, Waino lived in Negaunee for most of his life. A U.S. Army veteran, he served in WWII from 1944-1946. He moved to Negaunee in 1951 and worked at the Tracy Mine from 1951-1964, serving as union president for eight of his 13 years as a miner. He was married in 1957 to Joanne, a teacher and volunteer. In 1961, their daughter Katherine was born.

Waino (standing, far left) with his mine shaft crew at Tracy Mine, in the 1950s.Photo: Negaunee Historical Society

 Thanks to a program at the mine, Waino was able to work and go to college at the same time. He went to Northern Michigan University (NMU) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1964. That same year, he began working with the VFW as an assistant department service officer. From 1966-1992, he worked for the Marquette County Department of Social Services, first with Child Welfare, and later, Adult Services. Waino earned a master’s degree in education at NMU in 1973.As a volunteer and board member, Waino was involved with many organizations, including the United Way of Marquette County, the Central UP Food Bank, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), VFW Post 3165, D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, the Community Fund of Negaunee, Thrivent, and many others. He devoted a great deal of his time to assisting disabled veterans, as well as helping local veterans enroll in assistance programs.No tribute to Waino would be complete without a mention of his legendary gift for selling raffle tickets. He was never without raffle tickets in his front pocket. Hallgren noted, “Waino was a great ticket seller. At our Lions Club, we have a big pancake breakfast every year, and Waino and I would always have a contest to see who could sell the most tickets. Waino always won.”  It’s not surprising that Waino won many awards for his work and volunteerism. Funny thing was, Waino didn’t care about awards. He just wanted to do good things. Hallgren remembered one occasion where he was given an award for being an outstanding social worker in Marquette County. He recalled, “Waino was very humble. He accepted the award and said, ‘Thank you very much. I don’t deserve this. I have a bunch of tickets to sell, so that’s the end of my speech.’ That was Waino.”Waino’s sense of stewardship showed up in every part of his life, including each week at church when the offering plate was passed. Hallgren, one of the offering “counters” at Immanuel, remarked, “We noticed Waino was a very, very generous person with his finances. Nobody wanted to get Waino’s check – it usually had a list of about eight different things he wanted his money to go to.” In addition to everything else, Waino was intentional in his giving.In 2007, Waino established the Waino and Joanne Liuha Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Marquette County, following the death of his wife, Joanne, in 2001. The primary purpose of the Fund is “to provide financial assistance to graduating seniors of Negaunee High School who will be pursuing certification or a degree at an institution of higher education and who have financial need.”  Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO of the Community Foundation, said, “The story of Waino is a story of generosity and community. Waino valued education, and the establishment of the scholarship fund and the recent generous support through his estate are helping seniors from Negaunee High School continue their education. This fund will grow even more as a resource for students in need of financial assistance in the future. Waino’s legacy of giving continues.”Dave Hallgren summed up Waino’s life and legacy, by saying, “That was Waino’s mission in life – to be a servant. To help people. He set such a good example on how to live.” A special thanks to everyone who contributed photographs and information for this article: Dave Dompierre, Negaunee Historical Society; Dave and Judy Hallgren; Virginia Paulson, Negaunee Historical Society; Andrew Rickauer, United Way of Marquette County; Russell Ault; and Walt Lindala, Media Brew.

Ray Leverton: A Lifetime of Service

Ray Leverton: A Lifetime of Service

Ray Leverton with Jason Chapman, Ishpeming City Council member, displaying the tribute from the State of Michigan recognizing Ray for his lifelong service to the community.
Photo courtesy of the City of Ishpeming

Ishpeming lost one of its dearest community members on December 27, 2021. Ray Leverton, 92, was the quintessential community person — a volunteer and role model for everyone who wants to make a difference close to home.Ishpeming Mayor Lindsay Bean noted, “Ishpeming is a better place for having had Ray Leverton. His contributions, and his dedication to the community, are unmatched.”So beloved is Ray that the State of Michigan has designated September 9 as “Ray Day” — a day set aside “to be like Ray” and give back to the community. Ray was also presented with an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol, a State of Michigan flag that flew over the state Capitol, a certificate from U.S. Senator Gary Peters, and a State of Michigan tribute signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutentant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Senator Ed McBroom. The tribute was presented to Ray by State Representative Sara Cambensy.

Ray lived a life of service to others, including serving in the armed forces and being a volunteer director and curator at the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum. He was also a member of Ishpeming’s Noon Kiwanis Club, the Ishpeming High School Alumni Association, Ishpeming Hematites Booster Club and Bethany Lutheran Church. During the last decade, he spearheaded a campaign to make building improvements at the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library, raising nearly $600,000 for improving building accessibility, lighting, air conditioning and new windows.Ishpeming City Council Member Jason Chapman, shared, “Ray was a man of deep faith, both in God and in his fellow citizens. He knew the value of doing good work and he taught that to so many of us. I was one of the lucky ones who got to watch Ray at work for three decades. He worked with my cousin, the late Wes Wentela, and, my mom, at the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame. One of the best things he ever said to me was ‘In 30 years of work, Wes and I never had an argument — we just got along and worked together to get the job done.’ That left a lasting impression on me — that as volunteers we should all work together and get the job done.”

One of Jason’s favorite memories of Ray is when they attended from the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame’s Scramble Golf Outing at Wawonowin Country Club a few years back. “I was hopeful that my partner would be someone that I knew, or that I would enjoy golfing with. To my wondrous surprise, I was paired with Ray. I got to listen to stories from his childhood, stories about his wife, Betty and his kids, and stories about the community. I also remember when we turned the corner from the back nine to the front, I had a bad hole going, but it just didn’t matter, because I was golfing with Ray.”“The community will miss Ray for his love, his decency and kindness towards others, and his selfless devotion to the city and school he loved. We are all better because of Ray, even those who didn’t meet him. He made the community better. It’s our job to pick up that mantle and continue to make Ishpeming a better place, because that’s what Ray would want. He sat many of us down in the past few years to discuss projects that he wanted to see finished, so it’s our job to ensure we honor him and make them a reality.”

Special thanks to Ishpeming Mayor Lindsay Bean and Council Member Jason Chapman for their contributions to this story.