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. 

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.