Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to HELP of Door County

The Door County Community Foundation recently HELP of Door County a Sustainability Grant from the Carol Coryell Scholarship Fund for Deserving Students. This grant supports the Voices of Men educational effort.

Voices of Men focuses on engaging men and boys in the work of ending sexual assault and domestic violence.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are often thought of as women’s issues,” said Roger Johnson, Board member of the Door County Community Foundation. “Voices of Men works to change that perception and get people thinking about these as human issues and we are pleased to provide this grant in support of that mission.”

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From left to right are Roger Johnson, Board member of the Door County Community Foundation, Steve Vickman, Executive Director of HELP of Door County.  

HELP of Door County provides services and programs throughout the Door County Peninsula to victims of domestic abuse. They work to improve the well-being and dignity of individuals, families, and intimate relationships. HELP of Door County does this by supporting and enhancing their strengths to reduce the incidence of violence and conflict within their relationships. HELP does not provide counseling but they are here to listen without judgment, support without blaming and empower victims through advocacy and information. Due to the generosity of our community, all victim services are free and confidential. For more information on HELP of Door County, please visit http://helpofdoorcounty.org/.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

 

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Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Open Door Bird Sanctuary

The Door County Community Foundation recently awarded the Open Door Bird Sanctuary a Sustainability Grant from the Bernice & Gene Hawkins Charitable Fund. This grant supports the Birds Are for Everyone program.

The Birds Are for Everyone program allows local organizations to enjoy presentations made by the Open Door Bird Sanctuary at a significant discount while maintaining the fee structure which covers the costs of operations.

“The Open Door Bird Sanctuary raises avian awareness and inspires coexistence with the rich natural world of Door County,” said Marcia Smith, Chair of the Door County Community Foundation. “We are pleased to provide this grant which will expand the reach of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary and inspire new audiences who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience a program.”

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From left to right, Rob Hults, Executive Director of Open Door Bird Sanctuary, Marcia Smith, Chair of the Door County Community Foundation, and Jillaine Burtin, CFO of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary.

Open Door Bird Sanctuary is a 34-acre sanctuary that provides homes for un-releasable birds of prey. They become incredible ambassadors of the environment and work with us to inspire and educate the public both at the sanctuary and at many other locations.

For more information on the Open Door Bird Sanctuary, please visit www.OpenDoorBirdSanctuary.org.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

 

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20 Years of the Door County Community Foundation

On August 16, 1999, prominent Door County residents Tom Herlache, John Herlache, Mike Felhofer and Eric Paulsen met with representatives of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation to formally organize a board of directors and adopt the articles of incorporation to create the Door County Community Foundation. As the foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary, it seemed appropriate for me to talk with a few of the visionaries who brought this institution into existence.

“In 1999, it became obvious that Door County needed its own community foundation,” said John Herlache. “It was felt that Door County should have its own foundation to preserve and grow its own charitable dollars, eliminating outside interests in controlling those funds.”

His brother, Tom Herlache, recognized the significant role that philanthropy plays in our quality of life. Building a strong community foundation would raise the level of charitable giving to benefit all of the community’s charities.

“As you know, Door County’s character and attractiveness are dependent on a high level of philanthropy,” said Tom Herlache. “I was also aware that we wouldn’t need to start from scratch because the Greater Green Bay Foundation would help us get started.”

The Door County Community Foundation was initially organized as an affiliate of the Green Bay entity. Twenty years ago, as a young staff person for the latter organization, one of my responsibilities was to drive up to Door County regularly to help the newly formed board grow its young institution.

Frankly, it was audacious to believe that a county as small as Door could sustain a community foundation of its own because the vast majority of Wisconsin’s counties are served by a larger, multi-county foundation in a big city. Yet ignoring conventional wisdom and making bold, strategic decisions would become a hallmark of this board.

Just a few years after the Door County Community Foundation was launched, the board decided it needed someone to focus exclusively on the county, so it climbed out on a financial limb to hire its first paid staff person.

“Bringing in Jane Stevenson as our executive director was a very big step for us,” said Mike Felhofer. “She was part-time, but we needed her because she kept us organized and focused.”

Then, in 2007, with only about $4 million in total assets, the board made the courageous decision that Door County would be better served long-term if the foundation became fully independent of its friends in Green Bay. Around the same time, Stevenson announced her intention to retire, which presented an enormous challenge for the board. Yet in typical fashion, board members embraced it as an opportunity to chart a bold, new course forward.

“Our next big step was in hiring Bret Bicoy as our president and CEO,” said Felhofer. “As an accomplished professional in this area, it would be a stretch for us, but we knew we could grow into his capability.”

In 2008, I came to work for the Door County Community Foundation full time and quickly learned that thoughtful, visionary thinking was the norm for this board of directors.

In the years since, the Door County Community Foundation has dramatically increased its ability to serve the community by growing its granting programs, expanding its professional staff and working hard to build collaborative solutions to address our shared concerns.

Last year, the foundation stretched itself again by purchasing a building. Thanks to renovations that were paid for completely by a few generous donors, the newly christened Community Foundation Square not only provides ample room for future growth, but it has also become a meeting place for the boards of many charities and local civic groups.

During the last 20 years, the people of Door County have entrusted the foundation with more than $37 million in contributions, $31 million of which has come in during the last decade alone. As a result, nearly $21 million has been granted out to charities in our community. The remaining dollars have been invested to form the corpus of endowment funds that will forever generate revenue for charitable work in Door County.

Under the board’s wise financial stewardship, the foundation’s total assets have increased to nearly $24 million today. This remarkable growth in a county of our size far exceeded the dreams of the people who founded the organization 20 years ago.

“Even $10 million in 20 years would have seemed like a stretch,” said Felhofer. “I don’t think I fully envisioned what our potential was or what we were able to achieve in such a short time.”

Tom Herlache said of the Door County Community Foundation today, “It is larger monetarily, and it is a bigger presence encouraging philanthropy and helping other nonprofits than I envisioned.”

John Herlache noted that ultimately, though, the foundation is just a tool. Money is merely a means to an end.

“The significant community leadership emanating from the Community Foundation has far surpassed the initial concept that most of us had. Convening the public and local agencies and effectively applying resources … to create positive change in the community has been probably the greatest unanticipated accomplishment of the Community Foundation to date.”

 

This article originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse and was written by Community Foundation President and CEO, Bret Bicoy.

Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Door County Master Gardeners

The Door County Community Foundation recently awarded Door County Master Gardeners Association a Sustainability Grant from Green Fund and the Clifford and Clara Herlache Heritage Foundation for the Door County Seed Library (DCSL).

DCSL is a free seed lending program where participants can learn about gardening, grow a bounty of food and flowers, and save seeds for the next season.

“The Door County Seed Library is a repository of open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and flowering seeds that participants can ‘check out’ for free and grow at home.” said Kacie Mueller, Community Relations Officer of the Door County Community Foundation. “We are pleased to support a program and hope that the benefits of the Seed Library will ripple through our community as more and more residents become aware of the importance of eating wholesome food.”

From left to right, Kacie Mueller, Community Relations Officer of the Door County Community Foundation, Penne Wilson, Door County Seed Library Team Lead, and Jeanne Vogel Door County Master Gardeners President.

The Door County Master Gardeners Association, Inc., in partnership with UW-Extension, shall strive to make a positive impact on horticulture in our community through education, community outreach and stewardship of our environment. To learn more about the Door County Master Gardeners, please visit www.dcmg.org

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Altrusa

The Door County Community Foundation recently awarded Altrusa of Door County a Sustainability Grant from Carol Coryell Charitable Fund and the Door County Kairos Fund for the Back to School Fair.

Through the Back to School Fair, Altrusa supplies students with grade-level school supplies, backpack, shoes, toiletries, underwear. Socks, a school spirit shirt, and school registration fees.

“The Altrusa Back to School Fair provides 600 Door County students with the materials they need to thrive at school,” said Jeff Ottum, Treasure of the Door County Community Foundation. “The other component of the Back to School Fair is that the identity of the students receiving these supplies are kept confidential, so all students walk into school on the first day ready to learn, achieve, and maximize his/her potential.”

From left to right, Cheri Meyvis of Altrusa and Jeff Ottum, Treasurer of Door County Community Foundation.

Founded in 1917, Altrusa is relevant to many civic-minded people who are interested in creating better communities. Last year, Altrusans proudly gave over a million volunteer hours around the world, including clubs in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, England, Bermuda, Ireland, India, Scotland, New Zealand and Russia.

Several decades ago, Altrusa decided to institute literacy as an area of focus for the organization; since then, service areas have expanded to include HIV/AIDS and disaster relief. During our last biennium, Altrusans assisted in relief efforts for the Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes, as well as the Tsunami in Japan. Most importantly, Altrusans give their time and resources in areas that are deemed most important in their local communities.

The Altrusa story is evolving every day through club accomplishments. When you visit any Altrusa club, you will see leadership and service in action. Please visit:  http://www.altrusa.org for more information.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

The Freedom to Commit

The Celebration of Giving is a free, annual community luncheon that honors the great philanthropists of Door County. As president and CEO of the Door County Community Foundation, I offer the event’s closing comments and summarize the lessons we can draw from the honorees’ lifetime of service.

The 2019 Philanthropists of the Year are Mike and Marge McCoy, who have always been passionate about philanthropy, both as volunteers and benefactors. Their civic and community service was celebrated in Iowa and Minnesota, and they continued their giving tradition when they retired to Door County. Through organizations such as Bethany Lutheran Church, the Crime Prevention Foundation, the Door County Land Trust, Northern Sky Theater, United Way and the Door County Community Foundation itself, the McCoys’ wise counsel, tireless volunteerism and abundant generosity have touched many lives in our community.

During the weeks leading up to the luncheon, I spoke with people who know the McCoys well and listened for common themes. The word people used to describe Marge and Mike more than any other was “commitment.” They don’t do anything halfway.

Whether it’s traveling long distances to spend time with family or diving headlong into a fundraising campaign for a favorite charity, the McCoys fully commit themselves to the people and things they love. And the depth and authenticity of their personal commitments inspire others to join them.

These days, when we talk about commitment, we tend to refer to it as the terms of a contract, as in, “I’m legally committed to do this.” Yet when we anchor our definition in the context of a contract, we diminish the very spirit that makes a commitment unique.

A person negotiating a contract seeks to balance the costs and benefits of a relationship: You give me this; I give you that. At its best, a contract is a fair and equitable exchange that serves both your interests and those of the other party.

But author and New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that a commitment is far more than that: It’s a promise made from love. At its best then, a commitment is an obligation willingly made to another without any expectation of compensation in return.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former spiritual head of the largest synagogue in the UK, goes even further than Brooks to say that a commitment is a covenant. A contract can benefit you, but only a commitment has the power to transform you.

When we commit ourselves to someone or something we love beyond ourselves, we discover that it’s almost as if we’re serving a part of ourselves – that carrying the mantle of responsibility for the people and places we love doesn’t weigh us down, but rather, it gives our life meaning and purpose.

Brooks says that the best life is lived by those who make voluntary commitments, then fulfill them. That is, we are our best selves when we make a promise to another and then remain faithful to that promise.

As one person who knows the McCoys well told me, “They don’t do things for recognition. They don’t even do it for self-satisfaction. They do things because they’ve made a commitment, and it needs to be done.”

In this life, we have been blessed with remarkable freedom, and its value is not that it frees us from obligation. Its blessing is that it frees us to choose for ourselves that which we will love and to fully commit ourselves to it.

There’s an old Tibetan saying that the Dalai Lama is fond of quoting: “Wherever you have friends, that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.” 

We who are at home here in Door County celebrate Marge and Mike McCoy not because of the boards they’ve served on or the money they’ve given away. We celebrate the McCoys because of the commitments they’ve made. Through their actions, they’ve said, “Door County is our home.” They’ve found the parts of it they love the most, and they’ve accepted the responsibility of making those parts stronger.

The best way we can celebrate Mike and Marge McCoy is to learn from and follow their fine example: Find a part of Door County that you care deeply about. Then willingly make your own commitment to make it better.

This article, written by President and CEO of the Community Foundation, Bret Bicoy, originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse.

Nine Months That Changed Everything

As a father of six children, I have personally experienced the monumental difference that nine months can make in a life. Apparently, that applies to charities as well. During the last three fiscal quarters, the leadership of the Boys and Girls Club of Door County has made dramatic changes and is successfully addressing its financial crisis.

Quite simply, the organization had become a victim of its own success. After opening the David G. Hatch Center in 2016, it had more activity space than ever before. With good hearts and the right spirit, its leadership threw the doors wide open and invited in every child who needed its resources.

Unlike a business in which new customers translate into more profits, whenever a new group of kids walks through the door, the Boys and Girls Club loses more money. Most of its children could never afford to pay the full cost of the services they receive, yet the organization must always maintain a ratio of at least one adult for every 15 kids. More kids mean greater costs but almost no new revenue. It’s a nonprofit precisely because there is no profit to be made.

Throughout 2018, the Boys and Girls Club was running an absolutely alarming deficit. It had to borrow money to meet its current obligations and was having difficulty covering payroll. That’s when its leadership came to visit us at the Door County Community Foundation.

After a painstakingly thorough evaluation of the Boys and Girls Club’s financial crisis and proposed workout plan, we at the Community Foundation felt confident enough to encourage the people of Door County to join us in giving the organization a second chance to thrive. We sent letters to our friends, and I wrote the column “Don’t You Quit.” I’m pleased to report that not only did our community give the Boys and Girls Club that second chance, but it’s now well on its way to thriving.

Since the crisis began, the Community Foundation has been receiving regular strategic and financial reports and has met with the organization’s leadership on several occasions. Our most recent meeting was just a few days ago with CEO Julie Davis, CFO Cindy Neuville, and board member Erich Pfeifer. I’m pleased to report that things are trending in a very optimistic direction.

On the revenue side of the ledger, consultants were brought in to help implement proven strategies to acquire new donors, and a stewardship committee was formed to better engage current donors. As a result, the number of donors increased by 29 percent. Nationally, the average donor-retention rate (the percentage of last year’s donors who gave again this year) typically hovers around 45 percent. The Boys and Girls Club’s rate is 61 percent.

On the expense side, the organization has consolidated operations and found efficiencies in how it deploys staff. As a result, payroll was cut by 14 percent, and overall expenses were reduced by 17 percent compared to the fiscal year before the crisis began.

Of course, all of these changes come with a human cost. The Boys and Girls Club cannot afford to serve the same number of children that it did a year ago. Then again, the reality is that it couldn’t afford to serve all those kids last year either. The only way it was possible then was to borrow money and go into debt.

Gratefully, because of our community’s generosity over the last few months, the organization is now completely debt free.

The fundamental causes of this financial crisis were overly optimistic revenue assumptions combined with exceedingly aggressive program expansion. Although that was a strategic mistake and a long-term recipe for disaster, we should pause to celebrate the spirit behind those decisions.

Within the leaders of our Boys and Girls Club is the compelling and sometimes overwhelming desire to help every child who needs them. That’s the kind of spirit we want in those who run the organization. Yet we also need the leadership of human-service organizations to make sure that their hearts remain in balance with their heads. Although we may want to rescue everyone who’s fallen into the water, we must also ensure that we aren’t so overwhelmed that we end up sinking the boat.

The Boys and Girls Club has used our community’s recent generosity wisely. It has plans for future growth, but those plans are realistic and appropriate, and they should be implemented at a far more measured pace. Thankfully, it appears that the Boys and Girls Club of Door County will be here for our children for many years to come.

This article, written by Community Foundation President and CEO, Bret Bicoy, originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse.