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Community fund raises over $74K

Gail Anthony, CEO, Community Foundation of Marquette County

MARQUETTE — The Community Foundation of Marquette County and the United Way of Marquette County has raised over $74,000 thus far for their COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

The fund was established to help meet the immediate needs of the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will support nonprofits that are serving vulnerable populations at this time, the Community Foundation of Marquette County website states.

Since the fund started in early March, many area businesses and organizations have come forth to make large contributions, such as Eagle Mine, which donated $10,000; Meijer, which donated $13,000; Flagstar Bank, which donated $5,000; a “sizeable donation” from the Youth Advisory Committee; $10,000 from the community foundation; and most recently, a $10,000 donation from Patty and Tom Tourville, organizers said.

Of the roughly $74,000 raised so far, $35,000 has already been granted to local nonprofits, said Gail Anthony, CEO of the Community Foundation of Marquette County.

“We’ve given 25 grants and the limit on our grants is $2,000. So the things that we’ve given to so far are basic needs, because we decided to approach this in three phases,” Anthony said. “First, basic needs. Then we’ll move into support for nonprofits, hopefully being able to help small businesses as well with information. And then the third phase (is) trying to get back to normal and see what that actually looks like and maybe start a disaster relief fund. So that if this type of thing comes along again, we’ll be able to respond immediately and not have to raise funds while we’re responding to the crisis or the pandemic or whatever emergency that happens to be.”

The foundation has had 40 grant applicants, but tabled other applications for the time being as organizers continue to work through the first phase of the project and fund projects that help vulnerable populations with food, shelter and sanitation supplies, Anthony added.

COVID-19 Community Response Fund grants have been awarded to: Propylon Nonprofit Housing for sanitation supplies; Salvation Army for packaging material to distribute meals throughout the community; Room At The Inn for the purchase of mattresses; the Negaunee Senior Center for its food distribution program; the 906 Community Church for its meal program; Marquette Area Public Schools for the purchase of a new 3D printer for Bothwell Middle School, which is assisting in local mask production; Superior Housing Solutions for utility and food costs; Hospitality for Heroes; Feed the Frontline-Marquette County; Doulas of Marquette to host virtual child birthing classes for around 600 expecting parents; Great Lakes Recovery Center and more.

The St. Francis Connection Center in K.I. Sawyer was one of the many grant recipients.

The center has been distributing homemade meals to-go for those in need. With the help of the grant, the center was able to go from distributing roughly 40 meals a week to over 150, said Father Allen Mott, pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish.

To receive grant money from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund was “an absolute joy,” Mott said. “It’s the community supporting groups that are already involved in particular areas, so that these kinds of things can happen very powerfully and very quickly. If you would’ve asked me six weeks ago if we would have served over 1,300 meals in six weeks, I would’ve been like ‘This is not going to happen.’ You respond to the need and that’s exactly what I think the Community Foundation of Marquette (County) did. They responded to the need. They saw a need and they responded in the way they did, which allowed us to respond more effectively in the way we did.”

Anthony encouraged those who are able to consider donating to the fund. She noted that donations made to the fund are tax-deductible.

“I would encourage people to consider that and also with your surplus (stimulus) checks… If you don’t need them, it’s something extra, this is something that you could feel really good about, helping your community. Pass that along to the people right now that really need it,” Anthony said. “I think it’s important for people to understand that community foundation and United Way were built for this work and that you can trust that your gifts to this fund are precious and they’re local. If you want to help a local cause … both the community foundation and United Way are local to Marquette County and this money’s going to be used to benefit your friends and neighbors right here in Marquette County.”

To donate to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund or apply for a grant, visit cfofmc.org.

Trinity Carey can be reached at tcarey@miningjournal.net.

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