Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Boys and Girls Club of Door County

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded Boys and Girls Club of Door County a Sustainability Grant from the Children and Youth Fund, the John and Nell Herlache Community Impact Fund, the Ruth & Hartley Barker Memorial Fund, and the Callsen Family Fund. This grant will be used to purchase supplies to assist the Boys and Girls Club in running their academic programming.

Every year the Boys & Girls Club of Door County has nearly 500 youth pass through its doors and between 180-200 every day. The Club works to provide programming to each of these children in order to help them achieve academic success, live healthier lives, and build good character and citizenship. With all of this activity going on, the Club uses a large amount of consumable supplies.

“The Boys and Girls Club of Door County is a safe positive place for the children in our community,” said Bill Boettcher, Board Member of the Door County Community Foundation. “They are consistently implementing programs that truly make a difference in the lives of the children they are serving.”

2016-10-26-b-g-clubFrom left to right: Julie Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Door County and Bill Boettcher, Board Member of the Door County Community Foundation.

The mission of the Boys and Girls Club of Door County in to inspire all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Club provides a safe environment both physically and emotionally with structure and clearly defined acceptable behaviors.

For more information about the Boy and Girls Club of Door County, please visit or call 920.818.1046.

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

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

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 Foundation was launched in 1999 and currently administers more than $17 million in charitable assets.


Politics and the Shortest Poem in the English Language

The second shortest poem in the English language according to Bartlett’s Quotations is called, “On the Antiquity of Microbes.” The poem reads, “Adam, had ’em.”

I discovered this ridiculously obscure fact when I came across a commencement address given by the legendary boxer and political activist, Muhammad Ali. It was a thoughtful speech about how graduating students should use their education to make this a better world. Yet it is a speech best remembered for what he said after he finished his formal remarks.

A student yelled out to Ali, asking him to recite them a poem. Ali responded with what many now consider the shortest poem in the English Language.

Ali said, “Me. We.”

The outcome of the recent presidential election is being held up by the talking heads in the media as proof of an incredible divide that exists in our nation. My time in politics made me all too familiar with using demographic trends to divide the electorate and ride that wave to victory at the polls. Yet my subsequent experience in philanthropy has taught me that our shared values as Americans still bind us far more than our politics imply.

I had occasion to review Ali’s comments when I was preparing for a keynote speech I gave at the Volunteer Center’s Golden Heart Awards in 2015. As I so often do when writing a few comments, I prepared by reading the inspiring words of others who are much smarter and more eloquent than me.

While perusing the writings of commencement addresses and similar keynote speeches in years past, a common theme became readily apparent. Be true to yourself. Your time is limited, don’t waste it. Listen to your heart. Follow your passion. Dare to live your dream.

The clichés notwithstanding, there is some truth to all of this. Our time on this planet is limited, so we don’t want to waste it. Yet what struck me about all these speeches is that they overwhelmingly focused on the “Me.” What’s my heart say? What’s my passion? What’s my dream?

Now I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t listen to your heart, shouldn’t follow your passion, or shouldn’t live your dream. Of course you should. Yet I couldn’t help but think how diminished Door County would be if the people of our community only focused on the Me.

The author and New York Times columnist David Brooks writes about the difference between what he calls “résumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé. Your professional skills. Your job history. The work you’ve done that has contributed to your professional and economic success.

Eulogy virtues, on the other hand, are much deeper and more meaningful. These are the virtues that are talked about, well, at your funeral. These are the things that are core to your being. Perhaps it’s generosity. Or kindness. Or compassion.

Whatever they are, we intuitively know that eulogy virtues are far more important than résumé virtues. Yet as a society, and in our politics, we focus on our résumés. We direct most of our energy on the Me.

It’s disheartening that we spend so little time talking about eulogy virtues because they are how the world will ultimately view and remember us. Our eulogy virtues define our character.

Thankfully, by working in philanthropy, I am privileged to meet countless people in our community who define good character. Inevitably they are giving of themselves to bring people together in service of our larger community. Yet what makes them memorable is not what they do, or what they accomplished, though it might be grand. We remember them for the kind of people they are.

But here’s a little secret. None of these good people was born with good character. You have to build it. Brooks reminds us that it requires effort and artistry. Character is not comparative. It is not something you earn by being better than others. Character is developed by being better than you used to be. It comes from being sturdy when tested. Remaining faithful when tempted. Getting up after we have fallen down. Character comes from inner triumphs, not external accomplishments.

When people of character listen to their heart, it tells them to be generous with others. When they follow their passion, it is in support of a larger truth. When they live their dream, it becomes part of a greater good.

These giving people have made that transition from the Me to the We. In this view of the world, we don’t create our lives, we are summoned by life. We don’t find answers by looking within, we seek to be of value by looking without.

The question to ask is not what do I want out of life? Instead, ask yourself, what does life want from me? The Me is never more consequential than when it is in service of the larger We.

Brooks writes that all of us are given gifts, aptitudes, capacities – talents that strictly speaking, we did not earn. All of us are also put into circumstances that call out for action. These circumstances are our opportunity to use our gifts.

We all can walk this path together. None of us as individuals is as strong as when all of us come together in service of one another.

Ultimately, we must face up to the reality that the world existed long before we arrived and will be here long after we are gone. In this brief moment in eternity that is our life, this short time that defines the entirety of our existence, we have been brought together in this place and at this time by fate, by history, by chance, by evolution, by God. Regardless of what it is you believe that brought us together, together we are.

Me. We.

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

The Virtuous Circle of Gratitude

“We believe that we have established a rather easily implemented strategy for improving one’s level of well-being,” write Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. “Our results provide some important findings that have not been reported in the empirical literature on happiness. There do appear to exist benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings.”

Using the dry and understated language of legitimate academic research, Emmons and McCullough demonstrated what poets, philosophers and the religions of the world have long known to be true. Thankfulness, counting your blessings, taking note of life’s simple pleasures – regardless of what you call it, approaching life with a spirit of gratitude has a real and deeply positive impact on our well-being.

Put more simply, we can now scientifically document that being thankful makes people happier and more resilient. It strengthens relationships, improves health and reduces stress.

Even more importantly, there is not merely a correlation between being grateful and a happier life. A causal relationship exists. Deliberately contemplating and valuing the positive things in your life has been shown to lead to higher levels of happiness and well-being.

These are just a few of the conclusions that Emmons and McCullough summarized their first extensive research on the subject in 2003, Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. In the decade and a half since its original publication, their research at the University of California – Davis and the University of Miami, respectively, continues to turn the spiritual practice of counting one’s blessings into practical actions which have been scientifically demonstrated to have a positive effect on our health and well-being.

Emmons and McCullough conclude that gratitude has two primary benefits. First, it strengthens our social ties and the natural benefits that flow from them. Second, gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

One of my favorite concepts about the power of gratitude is what Emmons and McCullough refer to as the “upward spiral” that results from counting one’s blessings. “The experience of gratitude, and the actions stimulated by it, build and strengthen social bonds and friendships,” write the researchers. “Moreover, encouraging people to focus on the benefits they have received from others leads them to feel loved and cared for by others. Therefore, gratitude appears to build friendships and other social bonds. These are social resources because, in times of need, these social bonds are wellsprings to be tapped for the provision of social support.”

The remarkable simplicity of this idea is perhaps exceeded only by the profoundness of its implications. When we deliberately pause to reflect on those people who have been kind to us, we tend to be generous with others in return. That creates a virtuous circle in which generosity begets gratitude, which then results in additional generous acts. This is how relationships and friendships are built. Those friendships then become a resource upon which we can rely when faced with challenges in life.

Further, gratitude is the natural reaction of someone being kind to us. Pondering gratitude makes us feel valued and loved. Ultimately, that helps us conclude that we have value and are worthy of love.

“Gratitude, thus, is a form of love,” write Emmons and McCullough, “a consequence of an already formed attachment as well as a precipitating condition for the formation of new affectional bonds.”

Since their original research, Emmons has gone on to found the Journal of Positive Psychology and is the author of several books on the science of gratitude. He is now considered the world’s leading scientific expert on psychology of gratitude. Emmons offers several simple practices that we can all adopt to help us strengthen our own sense of gratitude.

Be deliberate. Simply making a personal vow to count your blessings every day can have a profound impact on your outlook toward life. Emmons suggests that you post a sign next to your bed so that you ask yourself “what are you grateful for today?” Make a conscious decision to spend a few minutes every day thinking about the good things in your life.

Go through the motions. If we emphasize the physical actions and behaviors that are associated with gratitude, the emotional triggers will eventually follow. In other words, Emmons suggests you smile at the people you meet. Write a thank you note when someone is kind to you. Say “thank you” regularly. Even if we’re not feeling it 100 percent of the time, going through the motions helps develop the emotional response of being truly thankful.

Write it down. The first and perhaps most effective way Emmons recommends to become more grateful is to take a few minutes every night and jot down a few of the gifts, benefits, blessings and other good things that happened to you that day. It’s easy to identify the enormous events in our life for which we are thankful. Emmons suggests that you recall the moments of gratitude you felt throughout the ordinary activities of the day.

At the center of gratitude is humility. It is the recognition that we all are the beneficiaries of other people’s generosity. It might be direct and explicit, such as when a friend offers emotional support during a time of need. It also could be indirect and distant, as with the soldier who died on a battlefield long ago to protect the freedoms we now enjoy. Every day the world is filled with countless generous acts of goodness, love and kindness. I am so deeply grateful for that.

This article, written by Bret Bicoy, originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse