June 20 • 05:25 PM

For good, forever

Four County Community Foundation marks 30 years

Four County Community Foundation Board members and CEO pose for photo at 30th year anniversary celebration on May 7.

May 17, 2017
TRI-CITY AREA — Celebrating the past, present and future was at the heart of the 30 year anniversary gala hosted by the Four County Community Foundation (4CCF) at Henry Ford Macomb Health Center a couple of weekends ago.

The event included a number of special guests and presentations, among those a visit from founding board members Dr. Merle Haney, Dr. Carlos Gayles, Art Spies and James Ligon.

Those special guests help tell the story of 4CCF, which originally dates back to 1953, when the Community Hospital Foundation was formed.

Drs. Haney and Gayles, and Spies and Ligon were part of a movement in the Almont community aiming to raise funds to build a hospital to meet the needs of a growing community.

Officially opened in 1959, the 32 bed facility was situated on Van Dyke (M-53) between Almont and Romeo. The medical facility would serve the health needs of residents of northeast Oakland, northwest Macomb, southwest St. Clair, and southeast Lapeer counties, and was later expanded to include 48 beds.

The hospital operated in the black for 25 years. The board accepted a $2,500,000 offer from St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital, which purchased the Community Hospital and continued to operate a health care facility.

The board decided the money, which had been raised in the community, should stay in the community to benefit its residents. They created a charitable foundation—and 4CCF was born.

From those humble beginnings, 4CCF has grown to some $14.8 in endowed funds, and has awarded nearly $8 million in grants to area communities and causes.

President and CEO Janet Bauer says this tremendous growth and success wouldn't be possible without community support.

"It's through the thousands of people, helping through volunteering their time and with generous donations that we've had such wonderful success," she says. "I like to say it is with time, talent and treasure we've grown through efforts in those three areas."

Other special guests at the celebration included Henry Ford Macomb Hospital President and CEO Barbara Rossman, who spoke about the successful partnership the hospital and 4CCF have enjoyed and benefited from.

Daryl Bernard, Executive Director of Seven Ponds Nature Center also spke about the number of programs that 4CCF grants have supported at the Center. He mentioned the 'No Child Left Indoors' program, funded by 4CCF's Dora and Toos Ondersma funds and the Jane Bishop Fund.

"Last year alone, 1,600 students were at the nature center for supported field trips for elementary students," Bauer says.

John Antilla, mentor for Capac's 'Metal and Soul' FIRST Robotics team took the podium to discuss the generous support 4CCF has shown to the district's robotics programs, which now stretch into the elementary, middle and high school.

Scholarship recipient Grant Boxey spoke of the impact receiving 4CCF funding has had on his higher education, and the success he is experiencing as a medical school student at Michigan State.

Former 4CCF Program Associate Nick Campbell—who was once a member of 4CCF's Youth Advisory Committee, spoke of his successful career in philanthropy as the Assistant Director of Development at the University of Michigan School of Information.

"His experience as Program Associate at 4CCF helped him prepare for his position in philanthrophy with U of M," Bauers notes. "He is our first YAC member to enter a career in philanthropy."

The evening's event was emceed by current 4CCF Board Chair John Brzozowski, and also featured some 20 members of the YAC.

"It was a wonderful celebration of our past, present and future," Bauer says. "Our next goal is raising $15 million in assets, and to reach the $8 million in grants milestone. We're very close. I believe we'll be celebrating that this summer."

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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