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.”

Six Feet Over Recognizes Suicide Survivors Fund as Model

Six Feet Over Recognizes Suicide Survivors Fund as Model

Katie Hardy, executive director, Six Feet Over; Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO, CFMC;
and Dave Aro, who established the Marquette County Suicide Survivors Support Fund.

Six Feet Over, a nonprofit based in Detroit that provides suicide support and prevention services, recently acknowledged the Community Foundation of Marquette County for its role in establishing the Suicide Survivors Fund in a 2022 newsletter (article shared below):

“Six Feet Over wants to give special recognition to the folks in Marquette County who have set up an incredible fund to support suicide loss survivors in their county, now called the Suicide Survivors Fund.

Dave Aro, the founder of the project, saw a need in his community after the loss of a friend and neighbor. Dave worked with Zosia Eppensteiner, the CEO of the Community Foundation of Marquette County, to create this fund, which provides financial assistance for families in Marquette County to cover after-death costs, including emergency clean-up costs.

Six Feet Over has had the honor of collaborating with these fine folks through our Lemon Aid program to provide additional assistance and supports for those impacted by suicide in Marquette County. Many thanks to the efforts of Dave, Zosia and the entire advisory board, as well as donors to the fund, for helping to support suicide loss survivors!

If you’re interested in discussing how you might be able to bring a similar program to your community, please reach out to info@sixftover.org and include “community fund” in the subject line.”

New Fund News: The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum Endowment Fund

New Fund News: The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum Endowment Fund

The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming, Michigan

The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum (HOF) is the only nonprofit that honors and celebrates the athletes, pioneers and visionaries from the United States who have significantly enriched the international sports of skiing and snowboarding, and showcases their stories and historic memorabilia in a national museum located in the birthplace of organized skiing: Ishpeming, Michigan. HOF has recently partnered with the Community Foundation of Marquette County to establish the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum Endowment Fund. HOF approached the Community Foundation earlier this year about launching an agency endowment designed to provide long-term financial stability for the organization, helping the museum sustain its archives, charter and goals for future generations to enjoy. HOF board members, Chair Brian Fairbank and Dave Holli, were the first two donors to make a financial commitment to the fund. “The endowment will be generating an annual revenue stream for the Hall, and also provide a little more security by having an investment there in the event larger projects need to be done, [including building maintenance],” said HOF’s Executive Director Justin Koski.Zosia Eppensteiner, CFMC’s CEO said, “The Community Foundation is pleased to be the home for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame’s new endowment fund. We are honored to be a resource for many local nonprofits who are working to ensure that their organizations and programs will be there for the community in the future.”