County foundation awards latest round of project grants

OSCEOLA COUNTY — It’s the season of giving.

There is little in Osceola County that exemplifies the true spirit of giving as does the Osceola County Community Foundation.

In a gathering held at the Foundation’s offices in Reed City last week, OCCF president Alan Bengry continued the organization’s outreach with grant funding gifts to groups throughout the county with programs designed to improve the quality of life for all area residents.

Also on hand were Board members Ken Bollman and Larry Neiderheide.

“In this particular round of grants we awarded over $58,000,” reported Bengry.

“The total of grant funding for the year 2011 is $110,000. If we include and add in all of the scholarships and mini-grants distributed this year, we will be awarding over $150,000 in project funding — just in this specific calendar year.

On hand to receive checks for their individual community service programs and projects were:

• Susan VanderPol and Robin Fuerneirsen, representing the Osceola County Commission on Aging received a grant for $10,000 to upgrade the kitchen at the LeRoy meals site in order to make meal preparation and service for both congregate sites and Meals on Wheels clients more efficient and economical.

• Mary Brininstool and Jim Pylman, representing the Osceola League for Arts and the Humanities, received $6,000 to replace the furnace at the organization’s facility in Evart.

• Diane Long, representing Project Starburst, received a grant for $2,400 to assist in transportation of food from source facilities to local food banks.

• Noreen Stevens, representing the Evart Library and Museum, accepted funding for $2,800 for a dehumidification system in the storage area that houses museum artifacts.

• Jack Burton, representing Ashton’s Frayer Park Project, received funding for the renovation and continued development of the Veterans Memorial Park in that community.

• Heather Symon, representing the Reed City Public Library received $400 in funding for a new sign in front of the library’s future home on South Chestnut Street.

• Deb Booher, representing the Higher Ground project or LoveINC, accepted $1,000 to fund serving low income families around the county.

• Angela Pugh, representing the Mecosta Osceola Youth Attention Center, received $5,000 to help fund organizational activities in identifying and assisting at-risk youth around the area and providing them with services.

In comments to the group gathered at the OCCF office, Bengry reminded those attending of the stunning gift bequeathed the Foundation by the late David Bonsall which in effect doubled the assets of the organization.

“We increased our assets from $3 million to nearly $6 million,” he said.

“We will be able to use those funds for any worthy project in Osceola County, and beginning Jan. 1, 2011, this will double our grant making ability.”

Bengry noted the deadline for applications for the next round of grant funding is March 1.

“I urge all qualified groups and organizations to apply,” he said.

Hosting the gathering in Reed City was the OCCF’s new administrative secretary, Sandy Gingrich, who began work with the organization in April.

Gingrich is in the Foundation office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The board also continues to search for volunteers to assist in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. — 1 p.m.

If you would like to lend a hand, contact the OCCF office coordinator at 231 912-1406.