OCCF awards $85,000 in grant funding

OSCEOLA COUNTY — More than $85,000 will benefit the Osceola County area, thanks to grant funding from the Osceola County Community Foundation.

Twice a year, the OCCF awards grants to local nonprofit organizations that are located in or directly serve people within Osceola County. The foundation's goal is to make the county "a better place to live, and work by enhancing the quality of life and building a strong community spirit."

While 24 entities applied for the second round of grants in 2014, 17 received funding. Each application is considered, reviewed and discussed by the OCCF Grant Committee, which gives recommendations of award winners and funding amount to the OCCF Board of Directors, which can approve or supersede a recommendation.

"We try to pick the organizations we feel are really beneficial to the different communities," said OCCF Administrative Secretary Sandy Gingrich. "We try and divvy up as much money as we can to help as many groups as we can."

Second round grant recipients include:

  • Reed City Area Ministerial Association Food Pantry — $6,000
  • Marion Community Food Pantry — $5,000
  • Barryton Area Mobile Food Pantry — $1,650
  • Osceola Children's Council, Inc. — $5,000
  • Rose Lake Youth Camp — $16,854
  • Pine River Area Historical Society — $5,000
  • Osceola Children's Council — 3,000
  • Women's Information Service, Inc. — $2,000
  • Project Starburst — $1,000
  • Muskegon River Watershed Assembly — $3,000
  • Evart Public Library — $2,495
  • United Way of Mason County — $1,000
  • The Cadillac Area of Young Men's Christian Association — $11,200
  • Crossroads Theatre Guild, Inc. — $5,000
  • Evart Downtown Development Authority — $6,000
  • Daystar Christian Academy — $5,000
  • Eagle Village, Inc. — $2,000
  • Community Christian Outreach — $4,490

Rose Lake Youth Camp was one of the entities to receive the largest amount of funding toward its goal to repair the front cabin, and improve the lodge and archery range. The total cost of the project is about $22,000, and the nearly $17,000 grant award is a significant step forward, according to camp administrator and treasurer Corinne Booth.

"One of our goals as a camp is to keep our fees low so children who want to attend are able to attend, and it's hard to do that and upkeep the buildings that need repair," Booth said. "Without the Osceola County Community Foundation, we'd have a difficult time doing that. They've been great to us over the years."

The buildings in question are at least 30 years old and most are starting to fall into disrepair. Floors are caving in, doors are worn and damaged and other details need replacing. In the lodge, which is used for shelter and an activity room during rainy days, becomes uncomfortably warm in the summer. To counter the heat, a drop ceiling will be installed.

Booth said community members have volunteered their time in labor costs, so the money from the grant will stretch further. Construction for the projects assisted by the grant will begin in the spring and be completed by June, just before campers arrive.

Rose Lake Youth Camp hosted nearly 300 children last summer, with about half attending through scholarships. To help keep the fund healthy and the facilities on site adequate, the staff raises money throughout the year.

The foundation relies on endowments, fundraisers, donations, investments and more to provide grant funding every year. Although it receives tremendous support, Gingrich said many residents are still unaware about the OCCF and what it does in the county.

Gingrich feels it is a pleasure to provide monetary assistance to entities that will assist Osceola County residents of all ages.

"It's wonderful to give what we give," she added. "The best part is helping different organizations that can really use it. We all love to do it."

The deadline for the first round of grants for 2015 is April 1. For more information about the Osceola County Community Foundation and the grants it provides, visit occf.info or find the foundation on Facebook.