The following article is from the May 7, 2017 speech given by our Board Chairperson John Brzozowski
Happy 30th Anniversary to Four County Community Foundation!
In the 1950s, residents from the corners of Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland, and St. Clair Counties identified the need for a local hospital. The community came together to raise funds from penny drives to major gifts. By 1958, the hospital became a reality. The hospital met a need, so much so, that by the early 1960’s, there was an expansion of the building. Many people today still tell stories about their experiences at the Community Hospital. From being born there, or being treated for a broken bone, or having had a surgery such as tonsils being removed, thousands of people were served by the hospital. By the mid-1980s, the Community Hospital experienced difficulty in maintaining the facility as a full service hospital. The hospital board received, and decided to accept, an offer of $2.5 million from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital of Macomb to buy the building. Today, the facility still provides medical services to residents of our community as the Henry Ford Macomb – Bruce Township Health Center.
In 2017 we collectively reflect and rejoice the accomplishments of the past three decades of the Four County Community Foundation. It was a wise group of people who researched what to do with the proceeds from the sale of the Community Hospital back in 1987. They dared to dream and visualized leaving a legacy of good works which would permanently benefit the residents and those who visit our communities. If the Foundation had not been created and the funds not endowed, the money received would have benefitted the area for a few years, but then would have only been a memory.
Instead, over the past 30 years, the assets of Four County Community Foundation have grown from that initial $2,500,000 to over $14,800,000 today. Additionally we have returned nearly $8,000,000 to the communities in grants and scholarships. That is three times the initial proceeds from the sale of the hospital! We have grown from one fund – The Four County Community Fund, to over 120 funds today. These funds are individualized to meet the charitable interests of the donor or group that establishes a fund. Our founding members as well as all of the generous donors since 1987 have contributed to maintain the good works of our Community Foundation.
So, thank you to our founding members, thank you to all who have served on the Board of Trustees over the past 30 years, and thank you to our current Board. Thank you to everyone who has worked on behalf of our region. It is through your efforts and generosity that we have provided our communities with services that truly make a difference.
The world is actively changing and 4CCF is keeping up, while remaining a force for good in our community. Some of the recent changes we have made include:
- Our new and improved website. We have received many favorable comments on its fresh and original look and its ease of navigation.
- Social media. Our twice-weekly Facebook messages provide information about what is going on at the Foundation. Like us on Facebook and share our posts.
- On-line Applications. 4CCF has instituted an on-line grant application process for both group grants and scholarships.
- Community-at-Large members. To increase our activity at the board level we have created a new position of Community-at-Large member. These members will work alongside our board, serving on committees, and assisting at events and other projects, but not be voting board members. 4CCF will expand this group over time and plan to use these members as a pool of future board members.
- Expanding our outreach into our communities. 4CCF’s Board and emeritus members are hosting and participating in events in each of our six core communities of Almont, Armada, Capac, Dryden/Metamora, Imlay City and Romeo/Washington.
- Strategic Plan. The 4CCF Board of Trustees recently completed, adopted, and are enthusiastically working on a Strategic Plan to carry the Foundation through to the year 2020.
- Remaining good stewards. Four County Community Foundation is in capable hands. We operate the foundation very efficiently. Foundations of our size, with nearly $15 million in assets, are usually staffed by 3.5 – 4 full time people. We continue to run 4CCF with a staff of 2.3 full time equivalents.
What do we envision for our future? One of the most exciting opportunities we have is our Youth Advisory Committee (YAC). Since the early 1990s, with the guidance of the Council of Michigan Foundations, we have always had a YAC. Our youth are the future and we hope that many of our young members will carry on the spirit of philanthropy for the rest of their lives. The YAC typically contains up to four members from each of our core school districts from grades 7 – 12. Hundreds of young people have gained experience and an understanding of philanthropy, grant making, community service, and leadership through their participation in YAC.
This year the YAC is presenting their Needs Assessment Survey of all 7th, 9th and 11th grade students in our communities. In the survey, students are asked to rank the positive aspects and the problems that exist in their communities. The YAC uses this survey for the next three years to determine priorities for their grant-making and their community service. In addition, many of the grants that the Foundation Board have approved over the years have been influenced and impacted by the YAC’s Needs Assessment.
It is an honor and a privilege to be involved with the Four County Community Foundation and I hope that all that have been involved feel the same way. We have made a difference in our community. I want to remind you that the Foundations motto is….Helping our Community Grow. And I truly believe that we are doing that!
4CCF thanks all of our donors for their contributions big and small, and thanks everyone who has contributed time, talents and treasure to the betterment of our community. We would like to welcome those of you who have yet to assist us, by joining us in our dedication to making our communities a better place to live, work, visit, and play. Four County Community Foundation: For Good, Forever.