Community Stories

Spring 2023 Deposit Days

The KickStart to Career Program was established in Mason County in the fall of 2019 to support students in reaching their post-secondary goals. The program was established to promote pathways to secondary education by establishing Children’s Savings Accounts (CSA). The Community Foundation for Mason County is looking to strengthen the college-going culture in Mason County to meet 75% enrollment by 2025 and 60% completion by 2030. In the fall of each school year, every kindergarten student in Mason County has a savings account established with KickStart to Career and is generously gifted an initial seed deposit of $50 from the John & Anita Wilson Family Fund. Students in kindergarten through third-grade county-wide participate in KickStart to Career Deposit Days by partaking in field trips to West Shore Bank or Safe Harbor Credit Union to make deposits into their CSA’s twice each year. Click to read more about spring 2023 Deposit Day.

Where Community Matters

Joan Hasenbank and her late husband Robert spent their entire lives in the northeast corner of Mason County—a place to which they both felt a deep connection. With a drive to help others, Robert and Joan established the Robert R. and Joan Hasenbank Fund. “We live in Mason County and made our living in Mason County,” said Joan. “We felt that giving back to the community we love [through our fund] was a perfect fit.” Click to read more about the impact made by Robert and Joan in Mason County.

A Lifetime of Service

The Carneys’ love for this community ran deep. A gift made through their estate created two funds at the Community Foundation to carry on the family legacy and support local students. The Drs. Ruth and John Carney and Irene Carney Kendrick Memorial Scholarship—established in memory of his first wife and their late daughter—creates opportunities for adult students, students pursuing postgraduate degrees, or those facing barriers to getting a college degree. The Drs. Ruth and John Carney Education Fund is a field-of-interest fund designed to address the diverse and changing educational needs in Mason County for generations to come. Click to read more about the impact of Drs. Ruth and John Carney in Mason County.

Youth Advisory Council: Lake Jump 2023 Beneficiary

We are so excited to share that our Youth Advisory Council has been selected as the beneficiary of The Ludington Lake Jump for 2023! Funds raised will be used to both build the YAC endowment fund and support local teens through a PSA discussing teen stress. Growing the YAC endowment will allow for an increase in available grant dollars to support the youth in our community through competitive grant rounds and teacher mini-grants each year. Click to read more about YAC, their mission and how you can support our local youth through a donation to Lake Jump.

2022 Grant Impact

Rides to Wellness. Housing Needs Assessment. Ludington Area Center for the Arts Afterschool Youth Programming. Ludington Youth Sailing School. Building an Inclusive Classroom Library. West Shore EDS Math & Mentors. Big Sable Point generator. McPhail Field Ballfield Improvements. Caritas Food Pantry. Ludington State Park accessibility. These are just a few of the good things happening in Mason County thanks to the generosity of our donors. Click to read more about the impact of grants awarded in 2022.

Making a Difference One Cup at a Time

Carmen Biggs believes there’s a misconception that human trafficking doesn’t exist in small communities.  “Really, trafficking can take a lot of forms,” she said. “It may look different in a rural community versus a big city, but it’s happening here too. Exploitation and abuse happen everywhere. The magnitude of the problem can be paralyzing, but we need to begin where we are with what we have.”  That belief and a passion for social justice led Carmen and her business partner Chris Turnbull to start HumaniTea. This cozy space inside The Port of Ludington is a combination tea and artisan gift shop that exists to provide a community gathering space and confront the tragedy of human trafficking. All profits from the benefit corporation are invested into anti-trafficking efforts.  Click to continue reading more about how HumaniTea is making an impact in Mason County.

KickStart to Career: Fall 2022 Deposit Days

Fall KickStart to Career (K2C) Deposit Days were a huge success! We are so thankful to the West Shore Bank branches in Scottville and downtown Ludington, and Safe Harbor Credit Union, for hosting students from across the county to make their deposits on November 16 and 17. This fall we had an increase in student participation demonstrating that our students are learning the importance of saving for their future. Click to read more about Deposit Day, KickStart to Career community partners, and to view recent metrics.

Gene & Ruthann Kyle: Leaving a Legacy

Gene and Ruthann Kyle grew up in a small town in Indiana and were introduced to philanthropy from a young age by their families. When they moved to Ludington to be near their grandchildren, they didn't waste any time getting involved in the community. While they have always given of their time and talents, they never imagined they would have the opportunity to leave a legacy of gifts to both the community in Indiana where they were born and raised, as well as the community they now call home. Click to read how Gene and Ruthann's legacy and love for their community will live on forever in the gift they have left to the Community Foundation through their estate plan. 

Laird Rambasek Family Scholarship Fund

Rik Laird and his wife, Patti Rambasek, have always valued education and given their time and talents to community service. When Rik graduated from Ludington High School, he received scholarships in music and engineering to further his education. Knowing the impact those scholarships had on his ability to continue his education, Rik and Patti are leaving an estate gift that will establish the Laird Rambasek Family Scholarship Fund.

Catchafire Connection

Nonprofit staff members across the country wear many hats to fulfill their mission. Through a partnership with the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Community Foundation continues to provide access to Catchafire, a virtual capacity-building platform, for local nonprofits. This partnership has allowed participating nonprofits in Mason County to thrive, extend their reach, and continue to impact our community. Since the start of this program in 2021, this program has provided over 336 hours of project support saving more than $73,634 for participating Mason County nonprofits.