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Sturgis Area Community Foundation Announces Spring Grant Recipients

Sturgis Area Community Foundation announces the recipients of $54,737 in grant funding through its quarterly Community Impact Grant and Micro-Grant programs.

Community Impact Grants support the mission of the Community Foundation by providing grants to nonprofit-led initiatives that enrich the quality of life in Sturgis and the surrounding area in St. Joseph County.

The SACF Community Impact Grants program currently prioritizes funding for projects that address the following:

  • Vibrant Communities: Arts & Culture, Public Spaces, Parks and Recreation, Community Engagement, Neighborhood Revitalization, etc.

  • Educational Attainment: Early Childhood Education, K-12 Education, Adult Education, Career Preparation, Youth Programs, Vocational Education

  • Community Development: Housing, Talent Attraction & Retention, Workforce Development

Micro-Grants are focused on delivering financial support for organizations seeking aid for smaller projects or initiatives of up to $5,000. Projects must benefit residents of the Sturgis area and St. Joseph County.

Community Impact Grant Recipients

Watershed Voice

Project: Community News Coalition

Front Row: Lindsay Richardson (SACF Executive Director), Steph Hightree (Office Manager & Board Co-Chair), Alek Haak-Frost (Executive Editor & Publisher), Beca Welty (Staff Writer). Back Row: Deborah Haak-Frost (Volunteer Staff), Charles Thomas (Board Member), Dan Moyle (Board Co-Chair), Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma (Board Secretary)

Local news coverage has steadily declined over the years, leaving communities uninformed and underserved about important issues affecting their daily lives. As a result, many neighborhoods, rural areas, and issue-based communities have become news deserts. Watershed Voice aims to change this by providing credible and reliable local news and cultural coverage to communities across Southwest Michigan. Thanks to the support from the Sturgis Area Community Foundation, Watershed Voice is able to expand its staff and uphold its values of substantive reporting, quality over quantity, equity, and community. By continuing to prioritize these values, Watershed Voice is filling a much-needed gap in local news coverage and ensuring that these communities have access to the information they need to be active members of their community.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Southwest Michigan

Project: CASA of Southwest MI Advocacy for Children in St. Joseph County

Amanda Frye (CASA Volunteer), Ladena Clark (CASA Board Member), Lindsay Richardson (SACF Executive Director), Not pictured: Lyndsey Anderson (CASA Volunteer Coordinator)

The Court Appointed Special Advocacy (CASA) program of Southwest Michigan is a vital resource for abused and neglected children who are looking for a way out of foster care and into a safe, permanent home. With volunteers at CASA, the program is able to provide the court with solid recommendations about where the children they represent should live permanently. This involves careful communication and coordination with multiple parties, including foster and biological parents, CPS caseworkers, and court-appointed attorneys. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made identifying cases of child abuse more challenging, resulting in increased numbers of children needing the support of the CASA program. Fortunately, Sturgis Area Community Foundation is here to lend a hand, supporting CASA's internal needs and helping to fund the training requirements as the program seeks to help more children in need.

Youth For Christ Southwest Michigan

Project: Youth Center Renovations

Charissa Diersing (SHS Intern), Karen Mills (Office Manager), Lindsay Richardson ( SACF Executive Director), Chad VanDosen (Executive Director), Rebecca VanDosen (Project & Finance Manager, Darin King (Board Chair)

Youth For Christ (YFC) of Southwest Michigan has been a safe haven for local youth in the Sturgis area communities since 1986. With their Campus Life programs, they have successfully reached over 900 teenagers in the last year alone, and their attendance continues to grow. YFC is always on the lookout for opportunities to expand and renovate the Youth Center to better serve students. Recently, the Sturgis Area Community Foundation has generously supported their latest project, which includes the installation of a new single-use bathroom that is handicap accessible. This new addition is crucial for YFC to accommodate every student attending Campus Life activities. By building relationships with these students at pivotal moments, YFC is making a positive impact on the lives of local youth.

City of Sturgis Downtown Development Authority

Project: Bringing Communities Together in Downtown Sturgis

Ryan Conrod (DDA Event Coordinator), Anna Brand (SACF Programs Manager)

The City of Sturgis Downtown Development Authority is focused on enriching the cultural and commercial aspects of downtown Sturgis. Its mission is to bring communities together, providing an inclusive gathering place where all residents of diverse backgrounds and ages can come together. The Sturgis Area Community Foundation has awarded the DDA with a grant to support two main events: “Art Around Town 2023” and “Movies on North”. “Art Around Town 2023” aims to display the best of local artists' 2D medium pieces throughout downtown Sturgis. These pieces will be carefully chosen and blown up, turning the area into an outdoor art gallery. Meanwhile, “Movies on North” offers a monthly free movie showing on a big-screen truck for everyone to enjoy - a perfect opportunity to bring family and friends together while soaking up some cinematic entertainment. These events are testimony of the City of Sturgis Downtown Development Authority's dedication to enhancing the city's vibrancy in a creative and inclusive way.

Community Micro-Grant Recipients

St Joseph County

Program: St. Joseph County Problem Solving Courts

Lindsay Richardson (SACF Executive Director), Melissa Bliss (Director of Community Corrections)

Drug Courts are a specialized program designed for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Rather than receiving a jail sentence, participants in these court programs are offered the chance to enter long-term drug treatment and agree to court supervision. The St. Joseph County Problem Solving Courts offer an intensive program that requires individuals to maintain their recovery, take on new responsibilities, and work towards significant lifestyle changes. Throughout the process, their progress is monitored by the court's supervision and authority. By enabling individuals to break free from addiction and create a new life for themselves, drug courts reduce crime and bring about real, positive change in people's lives. Thanks to the efforts of the Sturgis Area Community Foundation, the St. Joseph County Drug Courts program can offer treatment services, assessments, and drug testing to those who need it most.

Doyle Community Center

Project: MMA Floor Renovation

Lindsay Richardson (SACF Executive Director), Mike Liston (Doyle Community Center Director), Jadon Payton (Fitness Assistant), Elton Rains (Fitness Coordinator)

At the Doyle Community Center, they believe that everyone deserves a safe and welcoming place for recreational activities and fitness. With over a decade under its belt, the MMA class has become a staple of the center. The program is diverse, welcoming everyone from teenagers to retirees, competitive fighters, and those simply seeking something different for their workout. While the program has achieved immense success and gained tremendous support, the current state of the training room floor requires improvement. Without it, the space hinders the program's growth and endangers members' health and safety. The Sturgis Area Community Foundation has granted the Doyle Center the funds needed to renovate the space to meet modern standards and keep the MMA program thriving. With these changes, the center can continue to offer a safe and enjoyable space for residents in the Sturgis area.

Thurston Woods Village

Project: Engaging in the Meaningful Present

Fanesse Barton (Assistant Director of Nursing), Tim Stoll (CEO)

Social isolation amongst seniors is a dangerous reality that affects many older adults in senior living communities. The feeling of limited freedom can lead to depression or isolation in nearly 40% of residents, making this a concerning mental health epidemic. Fortunately, the introduction of shared virtual reality (VR) for seniors at Thurston Woods Village offers a creative solution to address these issues. This specific VR program allows seniors to Relive, Reinspire, and Reconnect. It is especially powerful for older adults who may be experiencing cognitive decline, impaired vision, or mobility issues. Through this innovative technology, seniors can explore the world, experience things they may no longer have the physical ability to do, and interact with family and friends. Supported by funding from the Sturgis Area Community Foundation, Thurston Woods Village is excited to provide residents with the opportunity to embark on these exciting virtual journeys.

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