4CCF Board President Ken Hummel (left) and 4CCF Executive Director Kathy Dickens (center) honored retiring trustees and staff (l-r) Dr. Clif Clendenan, Micaela Boomer, Bret Schapman and Jason Verlinde.

In January, Four County Community Foundation (4CCF) celebrated the service of three departing trustees and one staff member.

Dr. Clif Clendenan, Bret Schapman and Jason Verlinde marked the completion of their nine years on the board along with Micaela Boomer, the foundation’s program officer, who retired in November after nine years in that role.

“I grew up in a family where helping others was a priority. I learned that a good cause and a passion to help others are key ingredients in the success of a nonprofit organization,” Clif said.

When Randy Jorgensen, a fellow Imlay City business owner and 4CCF trustee at that time, asked him to join the board, Clif said he was happy to get involved.

He said he particularly enjoyed presenting awards to scholarship recipients every spring and having the chance to see several of them obtain degrees and launch their careers. Clif said he came to appreciate how dynamic the foundation was beyond just a place to hold memorial or legacy gifts.

“Today, I see the foundation as an agent for solving or reducing local social problems, and a place where individuals, families, small companies, and large corporations, as well as other nonprofit organizations can come together, recognize problems, find solutions, and coordinate financing to help our community continue to be a place we are proud to live in,” Clif said.

Armada’s Jason Verlinde is the second generation of his family to serve on the board. He followed in the footsteps of his dad, Al Verlinde. Both spent part of their terms as the board’s chairperson too.

He was in that role in 2019 when 4CCF hired their current executive director, Kathy Dickens, a feat he considers his “greatest accomplishment” as chairperson.

Jason said he’s also proud of what the foundation did in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We did a ton of great work that year with things like food distributions and really focused on collaborating with other groups,” he said.

Additionally, Jason appreciates what 4CCF has done to uncover community needs and meet them in a practical manner. In 2021, a devastating tornado struck Armada, bringing down trees and damaging homes. Within 24 hours after the storm, the foundation issued gas cards to help residents fuel up their generators and chainsaws. Jason also admires the foundation’s decision to build a house in Imlay City in partnership with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority calling it an “out of the box” project.

Almont’s Bret Schapman counts the Mural on the Medaugh building in Romeo as one of the more meaningful initiatives he was honored to be involved in. The project saw 4CCF, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Romeo Downtown Development Authority and the Starkweather Arts Center collaborate to create a colorful, peach-themed mural in downtown Romeo.

“It always makes me smile as I drive by. Somehow, it reminds me of the Foundation’s impact on our communities. Maybe it’s the joyful faces or the simple offering of a peach, which also lends itself to another favorite fund of mine, Feeding Families Forever. My background in agriculture gives me a basis for this endeavor, but supporting reliable access to nutritious food while trying to improve the health of our surrounding communities is vital,” he said. 

During his time on the board, Bret was heartened to see the community’s generosity in gifts both big and small. As the board’s chairperson, he enjoyed time spent working with staff planning for the foundation’s future.

“My hope for the future of the Foundation is to be more proactive in the physical and mental well-being of our communities.  Our ‘True Wealth’ lies in having access to fresh air, clean water, nutritious food, physical activity, and a stable home,” Bret said.

At a January dinner, 4CCF Chairperson Ken Hummel thanked the retiring trustees for all they did to share their time, talent and treasure with the community and recognized their efforts to help the foundation grow during their tenures. Nine years ago, when all three started their terms, 4CCF has $13 million in assets, a figure that has since grown to more than $22 million.

Ken also recognized Micaela Boomer’s service to the foundation as program officer since April 2015.

“She didn’t see this as a job. She was a donor too because she truly believed in the work she was doing,” he said.

As program officer, Micaela has overseen 4CCF’s grant and scholarship programs, including the management of applications and reviews. She also managed the foundation’s webpage, assembled publications including the annual report, gathered grant metrics and much more.

The 4CCF board is welcoming two new trustees in 2024—Jordan Ackerman of Armada and Melissa Hamann of Shelby Township.

Assuming program officer duties is 4CCF’s communications specialist Maria Brown.

Four County Community Foundation is committed to serving the current and emerging needs of our local community. The foundation serves portions of Lapeer, St. Clair, Macomb and Oakland counties. To learn more about Four County Community Foundation, visit www.4ccf.org or call (810) 798-0909.