Supporters honored at annual OCCF gathering

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The thought of attending an annual business meeting can bring about yawns in some organizations, but when the Osceola County Community Foundation (OCCF) held its annual meeting on Thursday, March 17, it obviously lacked signs of boredom.

Highlights of the evening included OCCF President Alan Bengry’s focus on three specific areas, and several awards were presented during the event.

The highlights included the fact that the dream of having a new office facility is far more than that. It’s a reality. In fact, since the annual meeting was held at the Depot in Reed City, they were able to tour their new office which is locate in the building right next door to the Reed City Chamber of Commerce office.

A second highlight Bengry talked about was the fact that the OCCF has awarded grants now reaching a million dollars. His third highlight focused on the fact that “a very large” donation will be received by the Foundation, and will nearly double it’s current fund balance of $2,908,568.

Judge Susan Grant served three terms on the OCCF board and was presented with an engraved clock in honor of her commitment to the foundation. She served as chairperson of the scholarship committee, and is currently co-chair. Bengry elaborated on how Grant helped guide the foundation and committee through challenging times. He also focused on “her unique perspective and personal abilities that will be missed by all of us still serving.”

Three Chief Osceola Awards were presented during the course of the evening. Avis Gerber was honored for making the new office space a reality. Bengry said that “as a result of her generosity, OCCF now has a place to greet visitors, provide information, conduct business and, most importantly, a place to call home.”

The Gerber’s son, Terry, and his crew recently completed an addition to the Depot. Office hours will be announced soon, and Avis will receive her award when she returns home in the Spring.

Steve Anderson, a consistent supporter and donor to OCCF, also received the prestigious Chief Osceola Award. The Geraldine Anderson Scholarship Fund was established in his mother’s honor in 2004, and annual scholarships have been awarded to Reed City High School graduates since that time.

Anderson also established the Olivia Fund in 2005 which reaches out to the poor and underprivileged in Osceola County. His Chief Osceola Award will be presented when he returns to the area.

Also a recipient of this year’s Chief Osceola Award was Elizabeth (Libby) Cherin, retired president and CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF), a position she held for 17 years. During that time, Fremont’s grants totaled $160 million, assets increased from $21 million to $171 million. In addition, “without the investment, legal, and day to day advice of our friends at Fremont, OCCF would not enjoy the success we have today.

In addition to the 53 community members attending the annual meeting were guests Bob Jordan and the new FACF President, Carla Roberts.

The evening’s guest speakers included grant recipients from the past few years, including Roger Elkins, who was instrumental in bringing the Vietnam Moving Wall to Evart in 2005 and Guyton Park restoration projects; Sharon Lucey, who is coordinator of Reed City Norman Elementary’s High Five’s program, which focuses on rewarding students caught doing good deeds; and Jim Pylman, representing the Osceola League for Arts and Humanity. He updated the group on the use of grant money for pottery wheels, upgrading the electrical service, the barn quilt program, and the Evart High School Artist of the Month program.