Foundation promotes philanthropy to tackle Oceana’s challenges.

September 17, 2016

Oceana ranks 67th out of 83 Michigan counties in quality, length of life.

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Too many Oceana residents face sobering, daily challenges.

Forty percent of households earn less than the basic cost of living. The jobless rate is always higher than most of Michigan’s 83 counties. Thirty percent of children 17-and-under live in poverty. One in five births are by moms without a high school diploma or GED. Three-fourths of school children are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. In a Robert Wood Johnson ranking of a population’s health, Oceana ranks 67th (out of 83) in the quality and length of life in Michigan.

There are a number of non-profit agencies and programs set up to tackle such problems, and the Community Foundation of Oceana County is positioned to help connect resources to needs.

With these sobering statistics in mind, trustees of the Community Foundation for Oceana County (CFOC) recently re-committed to executing several key goals.

“We need to better connect to Oceana’s full-time and seasonal residents, those who love Oceana and come here to enjoy the beauty and abundant natural resources, and local businesses and clubs,” said CFOC Executive Director Tammy Carey. “We need to ‘grow’ more philanthropists.”

“Anyone can make a difference – a community foundation is a place for everyone to help others or support a particular charitable interest,” added board president Nancy Sterk. “Individuals, couples, families and organizations can make a true, lasting impact by making tax-deductible contributions to existing named funds under our foundation umbrella, or by creating their own named fund. Another way is to include CFOC in one’s estate planning. Thirty one individuals and couples have told us they’ve done this, and we’re pleased to recognize their intent by adding their names to our Legacy Society. It’s hoped that public recognition of their generosity will persuade others to include CFOC in their wills, too.”


There are two important existing CFOC funds that merit one’s support. The first is the “Community Investment Fund,” from which help is channeled to critical, unmet needs that suddenly arise in the community. Two recent Community Investment Fund grants address area challenges, by supporting a success coach for workforce development and the hiring of an AmeriCorps member to develop an early literacy program.

The second is the “Administrative Fund,” which makes it possible for the Foundation to help lead several important local initiatives like the Oceana College Access Network, Employer Resource Network, and the Be Nice mental health program in our schools.

“This fall, we’ll be formally announcing that a generous, anonymous, area donor will once again be contributing $25,000 as a challenge match to inspire others to contribute to either or both of these funds. In 2015, the donor’s challenge grant didn’t just attract a total of another $25,000, but exceeded the match by 25 percent, as supported by 81 people and organizations. We hope that this year the community will rally to beat last year’s match contributions,” said Carey. Carey further noted that CFOC just received their first gift towards that match from the Windridge Association along Lake Michigan.


At the Foundation’s recent board meeting, it also named three new trustees to replace those retiring under the terms of its regular practice of rotating the makeup of its board.
The new directors include Eva Berumen, Bill Hendry and Jon VanderPloeg. They succeed Mishelle Comstock, Eric Fox and Dick Lound, who each served for nine years.

“We’ve really appreciated the services of our retiring trustees during their time on the board,” said Sterk.“They’ve been a key part of the oversight team that’s seen the foundation grow at a rapid pace over the last several years, expanding to 123 named funds as of this moment, with our assets at a record $10 million.”

The three new trustees bring a strong set of professional skills and community experience to the foundation’s leadership. Berumen is executive director of the Oceana Hispanic Center. Hendry is senior director of human resources at Peterson Farms. And VanderPloeg is an attorney with Smith, Haughey, Rice & Rogge in Grand Rapids.


The executive committee for the next year includes Sterk as chair, Sue Johnson as vice-chair, Randy Wagner as secretary, Garry McKeen as treasurer, and trustees Ron Beeber, Dave Roseman and Jean Russell.Names of all 23 board members are posted on the foundation’s website.

The Community Foundation for Oceana County was created in 1989 to improve the quality of life for Oceana County residents. It receives and manages contributions from citizens and organizations that are committed to the future of Oceana County, and has provided $4.1 million in grants and scholarships back to the community since 1989.

The foundation’s offices are in Shelby. More information can be obtained by calling Carey at 231-861-8335, logging onto, or following the Facebook page.

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