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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. 

“We love the small, friendly community,” said Joan. “People help each other and care about each other. This is a beautiful area where community matters.” 

Joan and Robert met at a dance in Manistee. “Robert came up to our group and asked if anyone knew how to polka,” remembered Joan with a smile. “I said I did, and we danced all night. We were together from that point on.” 

The couple married and started a dairy farm in Free Soil. They operated the farm together for decades until retiring. Wanting to stay active even in retirement, both took part-time jobs: Robert driving a school bus for the Free Soil school district and Joan doing administrative work for West Shore Community College. 

The couple’s passion for service and generosity went even further when they established a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation in 1997. Over the past 26 years, the Robert R. and Joan Hasenbank Fund has supported a variety of organizations and programs that enhance life in Mason County, particularly those on the eastern side. 

“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.” 

After Robert’s passing in 2014, Joan has continued to carry on the couple’s passion for giving back by using the fund to support the Scottville Clown Band and KickStart to Career. Through endowment, the Robert R. and Joan Hasenbank Fund will continue to support these programs in Mason County for good, for ever.    

“We didn’t have any children of our own and believed this was a great way to help other people’s children,” said Joan. “I feel really good that our fund will be there to support students in our area forever.”