The Zacchaeus Fund Distributes $180,000 to Local Nonprofits Working to Fight Homelessness and Assist People in Recovery 

The Zacchaeus Fund Distributes $180,000 to Local Nonprofits Working to Fight Homelessness and Assist People in Recovery 

Every person deserves a safe place to fall asleep at night.  With frigid weather blanketing the area, this reality is pushed to the forefront, and we are thankful for local nonprofit organizations working to address homelessness and provide recovery support and safety for vulnerable individuals seeking emergency and transitional housing.  The Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC), on behalf of the Zacchaeus Fund, is pleased to announce the distribution of $180,000 in grants to nonprofits across Marquette County to support the important work of fighting homelessness and assisting people in recovery.  The Zacchaeus Fund recipients include Great Lakes Recovery Centers for $50,000, The Women’s Center of Marquette for $40,000, Janzen House $30,000, the Room at the Inn $30,000 and Superior Connections RCO $30,000.

“This generosity is of great significance.” shares Zosia Eppensteiner, CFMC CEO, “The Community Foundation of Marquette County feels humbled and grateful to partner with anonymous donors who have established The Zacchaeus Fund to support local nonprofits who work to address the issues of homelessness and recovery.”

Jennine Frazier, Executive Director at the Women’s Center stated, “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to the Community Foundation who helped establish a fund where caring community members can make a real and impactful difference in the lives of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  The donors who are part of this fund understand the critical needs in our community.”

The Zacchaeus Fund was established to address the cycle of addiction and homelessness and support vulnerable populations toward recovery and stable housing.  In partnership with the Community Foundation of Marquette County, The Zacchaeus Fund has provided invaluable support for these nonprofits and their missions both with this immediate grant funding and the goal of growing this fund to support these issues in the long-term.


left to right Brent Clark, Director, Janzen House; Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO, Community Foundation of Marquette County; Susan Payant, President, Janzen House; and Robert Kulisheck, Vice President, Janzen House. 

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.”

We Remember: Charles P. “Snook” Smith and June Schaefer

We Remember: Charles P. “Snook” Smith and June Schaefer

The Community Foundation would like to remember Charles P. “Snook” Smith, a longtime Ishpeming resident who passed away on December 27, 2022 at the age of 94. A husband, dad, grandpa and great grandpa,
Charles leaves behind “a legacy of songs, stories, memories and love.”
He served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and as a postal carrier in the U.S. Postal Service.

Charles graduated from Ishpeming High School in 1945 and was a lifelong Hematite fan. A talented athlete, Charles played basketball for the Republic Shooting Stars. He exercised every day and enjoyed hunting, skiing, and riding his bike into his 90s. In 2006, Charles and his wife Lois established the Charles and Lois Smith IHS Sports Endowment at the Community Foundation to support the sports program at Ishpeming High School.

The Community Foundation also remembers June Marie Schaefer, 77,
who passed away in December 2022, in Escanaba. June grew up on a farm in Arnheim (Baraga County) and lived in the Upper Peninsula most of her life. She was an educator “who excelled in her profession and
made a difference in so many lives.” One of her notable achievements was founding the U.P. Special Olympics in 1970, driven by her belief that all children have a desire for healthy competition.

June’s career focused on serving students with special needs. She
served as the Director of Special Education for the Marquette-Alger ISD from 1974-1995, and oversaw services for students with special needs in
12 local districts. June was also the Superintendent of the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (Maresa)from 1995 through 2007. She later taught graduate level classes as an assistant professor in the School of Education at Northern Michigan University. June received many honors, including being inducted into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame in 1997, and being recognized as the Michigan Association of School Administrator’s Superintendent of the Year in 2007.

The Community Foundation administers the Fred & June Schaefer Legacy Fund for Persons with Special Needs, established in 2001.

John D. Voelker Foundation Partners With CFMC to Establish the Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund

John D. Voelker Foundation Partners With CFMC to Establish the Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund

Pictured Above: John D. Voelker fly fishing at his beloved Frenchman’s Pond. Photo: Sunday Magazine of the Detroit News (June 18, 1967)

The Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC) is very pleased to announce the John D. Voelker Foundation Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund. Earlier this year, Rich Vander Veen and Fred Baker, officers of the John D. Voelker Foundation, approached the Community Foundation about becoming the new home for the scholarship fund, which was established more than 30 years ago to honor a great and gifted man.

Born in Ishpeming in 1903, John D. Voelker was many things: a lawyer, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, renowned novelist and outdoor writer, along with being a skilled and passionate fly fisherman. John loved the U.P. and lived here all but a few years of his life.

He wrote 12 books, including Trout Magic and Anatomy of a Murder, which became a famous film and made him, as he described it, “a promising young author at the age of 52.”
Vander Veen and Baker, two Michigan attorneys who knew Voelker through their work, had been visiting John in the U.P. for some years when it occurred to them “that we should do something to honor him and preserve the legacy of his love for the U.P. and his humanity,” Baker said. “We agreed with the late Voelker Board member and journalist Charles Kuralt’s assessment of John: He was the ‘nearest thing to a great man’ either of us had known.”

The John D. Voelker Foundation was established in to do “a few good things in his name.” One of those good things was assisting Native American scholars to achieve the dream of a legal education. The fund was created from contributions from members of the Foundation, who subscribed to limited editions of Laughing Whitefish, Trout Madness, and Traver on Fishing signed by Voelker when the Foundation was established.

Justice Voelker hoped and believed that providing such assistance would help Native American people to overcome past injustices by empowering “warrior lawyers” to assist, defend and represent their communities in the legal profession. To date, Foundation members’ contributions have helped 34 Native American scholars from Michigan and Wisconsin tribes achieve the dream of a legal education.

To raise funds to establish the John D. Voelker Foundation, its founding members first republished Laughing Whitefish as a limited edition of 300, with each signed by Voelker. To date, Foundation members’ contributions have helped 34 Native American scholars from Michigan and Wisconsin tribes achieve the dream of a legal education. Now endowed, the fund will grow in perpetuity to help others become “warrior lawyers.”

With donations from several generous donors, the Voelker Foundation partnered with the Community Foundation to create a permanent endowment for the scholarship fund, which will provide fund administration services and annually disburse the proceeds available for distribution to scholars, based on the recommendation of the Voelker Scholarship Committee.

Of its new partnership with the Community Foundation, Baker said, “The John D. Voelker Foundation is beyond pleased to announce that, after 31 years of giving away our scholarship funds as fast as we raised them since the first grant in 1991, we were at last able to establish a permanent endowment this year to ensure perpetual existence for the John D. Voelker Foundation’s Native American Law School Scholarship.”

“It is our hope and expectation that this permanent endowment fund will grow over the years to enable us to assist students who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Michigan or Wisconsin tribe to pursue the dream of a legal education, which was the first objective John chose for the Foundation,” added Baker.

CEO Zosia Eppensteiner said, “We are honored that the John D. Voelker Foundation has chosen Community Foundation of Marquette County as the new home for the Native American Law School Endowment Fund and to be a part of continuing John D. Voelker’s amazing legacy and commitment to supporting Native American scholars in the future.”

Year-end charitable giving

As you work with your advisors on year-end planning, consider some of these giving strategies that will allow you to support the Community Foundation and charitable causes important to you while accomplishing tax savings.

Claim an Above-the Line Deduction in 2021

  • For single filers and married taxpayers filing separately, you can deduct up to $300 (or up to $600 for married taxpayers filing jointly) for cash contributions made to qualifying charities during 2021. Donor advised funds and supporting organizations do not qualify.

Bundle Your Gifts

  • If you plan to donate more than $600 to charity in 2021 and customarily take the standard deduction, consider a bundling strategy – making large gifts less frequently than regular annual gifts – and claim an itemized deduction in 2021. Bundling works well with a donor advised fund. You can bundle multiple years of gifts into a fund this year, take the itemized deduction, and make annual gifts to your favorite charities in the future from the fund.
  • Donating property that has appreciated can be a win-win for you: Not only will you be entitled to a charitable deduction at the fair market value at the date of the gift, you will avoid paying capital gains tax on the appreciation.

Consider a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) with Retirement Assets

  • IRA owners who are aged 70½ or older can transfer up to $100,000 per year directly from their IRA to an eligible charity or charities, tax-free. For married couples, each spouse can make QCDs up to the $100,000 limit for a potential total gift to charity of $200,000, tax-free. If you are over 72, the QCD counts toward your required minimum distribution for the year.

Cash Gifts in 2021

  • For 2021 only, gifts of cash to qualified charities are deductible up to 100% of adjusted gross income (AGI). If you have significant assets, cash on hand, and low AGI, this may be a way to significantly reduce federal tax owed for 2021. The deduction available for a gift of cash to a donor advised fund remains at 60% of AGI.