Marshall County Community Foundation has helped hundreds of organizations and individuals give back to the community. These groups have received grants and support through the MCCF, which has allowed them to make a lasting impact on Marshall County and its citizens.
$50,000 Endows Golden Girls Scholarship Fund
The Golden Girls Scholarship Fund is an endowment held in the Marshall County Community Foundation setup in 2003. The criteria and selection of recipients will be determined by a special committee from Bremen High School.
The Friends of the (Marshall County Community) Foundation honors individuals and/or organizations who have made significant contributions over the years to the growth and development of the MCCF.
“Wilma Leman is certainly one of those people,” Jeff Honzik, director of the foundation, said. “There could be not better way to honor Mrs. Leman and the Golden Girls of Bremen than to establish this scholarship fund for Bremen High School graduates who have brought such joy and pride to the community.”
The Foundation will seek additional donations to this fund in memory of Leman. It is anticipated that this will become one of the larger scholarship endowments held in the foundation.
The goal is to make this a $250,000 scholarship fund, according to Jeff Honzik.
You can bet that Wilma Leman will be cheering them on.
In the spring of 1999 Rhonda McIntire and I had a crystal moment and another project was born. We both had a vision of a large wooden playground, much like they had in Plymouth and Potawatomi Zoo, for our town of Bremen. We both knew Jane Stillson, who had just died of cancer, choosing death so that her unborn daughter could be born healthy. We decided to begin the task of building a memorial for Jane, a playground. We never officially named the playground, but always referred to it as Jane’s Park, and the name stuck.
We contacted the Marshall County Community Foundation and received a donation of $5,000.00 which kicked off our campaign. Somehow by connecting to the foundation, our donors knew we were serious about our cause, and had the backbone to reach our goals. We established a budget of $100,000.00 and set a construction date with hopes of finishing on Mother’s Day as a tribute to all the mother’s who have left this world, leaving their children to be raised by others.
We raised our funds in a variety of ways, never giving up. We had a special Trick or Treat night where the kids went out and collected money instead of candy. This alone raised over $1000.00. We had raffles, barbecues, business solicitations, and change buckets all over town. With the excellent organization of the MCCF, teamed with a good cause, the project took on a life of it’s own. The whole intent of the MCCF is to bring the community together towards a common goal. On the first day of construction, the infamous Dr. Otis Bowen was “leader of the pack” on the chain saw gang. With his enthusiasm, we formed an aggressive and impressive crew.
And, now, there is a Jane’s Park. This is my park, and this is your park.
Following the Leaders
By Doug Haberland, Leadership Marshall County Class II
On the eve of Leadership Marshall County’s 10th year in 2005, those who have been involved as creators and participants can step back, take a look at themselves and the program, and visualize-literally-the positive results of leadership in action. Today, the names of many of LMC’s 123 alumni can be found on the rosters of non-profit boards, civic organizations, and governmental agencies across the county. Today, new names and new ideas have added fresh perspectives and energy to a vital volunteer effort that keeps the Marshall County community viable and ensures its growth and prosperity.
But it wasn’t always so.
In 1993, there was a sense among many of Marshall County’s leaders that they were seeing too many familiar faces seated around the tables of the non-profit boards and volunteer organizations throughout the county. Plymouth businessman David Gibson, an original member of the LMC Steering Committee referred to them as the “recycled board members.”
Businessman Everett Colvin, then president of the Marshall County United Way, said he and others were unable “to visualize any leadership coming forth to work on non-profits organizations.”
“Just for our own good, we needed to start cultivating new board members,” said Sylvia Bieghler, who was executive director of the Marshall County Community Foundation at the time.
There was an obvious need for a feeder system, of sorts, a method of educating and involving new people who would contribute and sustain these important grassroots efforts in the years to come.
That summer, Colvin and Gibson, president of the MCCF, discussed a join venture to create a county leadership academy.
It was an idea whose time had come, said Duwaine Elliott, director of operations and economic development in Bremen. Elliott’s son had gone through the St. Joseph County leadership program and talked positively about the experience.
Early in 1994, United Way and MCCF executives formed a steering committee made up of representatives form both organizations plus representatives from Ancilla College, Culver Academies, and the Bremen and Plymouth Chambers of Commerce. The task was to develop a game plan for Marshall County’s first leadership academy.
Ironically, it was a newcomer to Marshall County that was to play a pivotal role in getting Leadership Marshall County off the ground. William Shustowski had assumed the presidency of Ancilla College and had been appointed to the United Way board. He previously had been involved with leadership programs in Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
“Bill Shustowski came along at the right time with the right background and took a leadership position as a newcomer in the community,” Bieghler explained.
Shustowski did precisely what leaders do. They lead.
Subsequent visits were made to leadership programs in neighboring counties and assistance and advice was sought from the Indiana Leadership Association and other sources. By May 1995, a curriculum had been established, a brochure created, and “away we were going,” said Jeffrey Honzik, the executive director of the MCCF and the United Way.
Looking back, “Bill Shustowski’s experience was a catalyst,” Honzik said. “But Shustowski will tell you that Gibson and Colvin, who chaired the first steering committee, were the ‘guiding lights.’”
That also should tell you something about good leaders.
- Following the Leaders… LMC Program Overview
The LMC program (is) designed to identify, motivate, and develop community leaders through education and skills development, involving sessions taught by currently established leaders in Marshall County government, education, economics development, arts, tourism, health and human services, and criminal justice.
Class I of Leadership Marshall County had 18 participants who met half-day one afternoon a month from September 1995 to May 1996.
The nine-month program begins each year with a weekend retreat at the Swan Lake Resort, where facilitators from the Indiana Leadership Association helped introduce the concept of community trusteeship and focused on developing a “vision for preferred future for Marshall County.”
In May, the last half-day session is followed by an evening graduation ceremony with a keynote speaker.
Within the first couple of years, the steering committee and produced a set of by-laws and LMC was officially put under the umbrella of the United Way and the Community Foundation.
The president of each, or a designate, sits on the LMC steering committee.
LMC quickly began to profit from the effort as alumni from the first classes began to fill slots on the steering committee, while putting their training to practical use as members of non-profit boards and agencies throughout the county.
Alumni also quickly began returning to subsequent classes as presenters and speakers on topics in which they had expertise.
Elliott cited two examples in Bremen, where the town’s meter technician and the electric superintendent each went through the program. Elliott sees a growth and confidence in each. The program has benefited them personally and professionally, which, in turn, is paying dividends for Bremen.
In addition to the volunteer effort, new organizations were created “as a direct result of people in the class who perceived a need. That was something we hadn’t thought of at a time,” Gibson said.
Two excellent examples are Habitat for Humanity and Hearts and Hands. Class I classmates Kurt Garner and John Vialard started Habitat for Humanity of Marshall County, sharing the 1999 Distinguished Leadership Award from the LMC Board. Tony (Class V) and Mary (VI) Wood of Bourbon developed Heart and Hands, Inc., a multi-cultural organization which helps individuals adapt to life in the community and the U.S. with offices in Bourbon and Plymouth.
- A Work in Progress
Since its inception, LMC has continued to evolve, though “eighty percent of it is the same as day one,” Honzik said.
“We tried to be responsive to the issues facing the county. We’ve always tweaked and refocused the topics, and that has helped to maintain interest,” said Shustowski, who served as chairman of the steering committee from 1996-2002 before moving on to become vice president for the University Advancement with the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, where he promptly got involved with his fourth leadership program.
One of those tweaks was the addition of “agriculture, a major industry in the county,” Colvin said. The agriculture session includes information on how important farming is to Marshall County, how farming has changed over the years, and includes visits to farms and ag-related businesses, such as Pioneer Hybrid International.
“The emphasis on individual topics changes from year to year depending on who the speaker is,” Gibson said. “Feedback is positive from participants,” he said, “and the initial retreat remains critical to getting people focused.”
The first five years “we had to shake the bushes and twist arms for candidates,” Honzik said. But as the number of alumni has grown, the success of Leadership Marshall County became its own best public relations tool. Gibson said about half of the students are referrals from former students, but that filling each class remains a challenge.
With 22 participants currently in Class IX, the number of graduates will soon total 145. There are 70 people on the prospect list for the 24 spots available for Class X in 2005.
“It’s been an exciting 10 years,” said Honzik, who is already starting to think about an appropriate way to celebrate Leadership Marshall County’s first decade.
- Reaping the Benefits
“Every class has a personality,” said Honzik, who laments the fact that he has “sat through more of these classes than anyone else, and I’ll never graduate. But I learn something new every year. I love it. It’s fascinating.”
Class I, of course, “were the guinea pigs, and they came out of it with a great experience.” Class VIII continues to get together as a group the first Friday of each month for lunch, he said proudly.
“It has paid off. That’s what it is all about. It has produced the results of the vision,” Honzik said, rattling off the names of the LMC alumni who have become involved with everything from Crossroads Academy and the Culver Chamber of Commerce to Hearts and Hands and Habitat for Humanity, and everything in between.
Looking back at the nine successful years, Shutowski said on of the major benefits is that participants “become familiar on a first-hand basis with the issues facing a community: social services, education, economic, and governmental. They have the opportunity of hearing from (presenters) who are dealing with it daily,” he said.
“Secondly, networking has always been a benefit, to be part of a group that you wouldn’t normally socialize or interact with,” especially when it brings together people from different and diverse segments of the county.
“And we always attempt to have some skills development: getting to know yourself, developing leadership skill, organizational skills, and group dynamics,” he said.
“It’s brought a lot of good people out of hiding who didn’t think they were a leader,” Colvin said. “It lets an individual find out they have some talents they didn’t realize.
John Buxton, Head of Schools at Culver Academies and the current chair of the steering committee, sees several parallels between the prep boarding school and the LMC.
“Part of helping individuals understand the commitment to leadership is giving them the tools to lead. Some of them, from either environment, never saw themselves as leaders,” Buxton said.
- What does the future hold?
There are several changes in the works for LMC as leaders continue to tweak and refine the program. Buxton and future participants will play a more active role in the content development of the individual sessions, and there will be more reflective time provided for students to discuss and react to what they’ve seen, heard, and experienced. And “we will be ensuring that anyone who goes through the program has an opportunity to serve,” Buxton said.
Among the challenges facing Leadership Marshall County is whether to remain a half-day session once a month for nine months or go to a full day. The students say there’s not enough time, but a half-day “is about the optimum, but it is a challenge,” Gibson said.
“It’s difficult for small owner-operators to take a half-day off once a month and shut the door,” Buxton said. “I am very impressed at the level of commitment people make to the program, and to see how much fun they have.”
“Generous people have helped perpetuate this program,” Honzik said. Support from the outset has come from 1st Source Bank, Culver Academies, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, and the Bremen, Culver, and Plymouth Community Schools.
A scholarship endowment created by Will and June Erwin of Bourbon provides the $300 tuition for one participant a year. Since 2001, the MCCF grants committee has been providing $2,500 for scholarships, at the discretion of the steering committee, and for expenses.
Gibson said the key to continued success “is a strong sponsorship and coordinating committee, and a need to continue to identify good qualified students.”
“It takes leadership to build leadership,” Colvin said. “Leadership Marshall County is on the right track.”
“It has found its niche. Students feel now like it is an honor to be asked to participate. And I’ve seen the results on the Red Cross, the United Way, and on other boards,” Bieghler said.
“It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do, and it’s picking up steam.”
The Webster Caboose
If you are a resident in Plymouth, you may have noticed the great big red train caboose at Webster School on South Michigan Street.
What you probably didn’t know is that the MCCF has been instrumental in providing funds to help keep this as a great learning environment for special projects. Over the years it has been a favorite educational environment for kids of all ages.
A clever little yellow box can now be found all around Marshall County thanks to a program started by the Community Foundation. These little yellow boxes are a very sophisticated electronic device known as an automatic electronic defibrillator, more commonly referred to as an AED. When an individual is suffering from a heart attack or cardiac failure, one of these devices in the hands of trained individuals can save lives.
The first AED’s were purchased by the Community Foundation in 1999. Four AED’s were given to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department to be placed in patrol cars for use by sheriff’s deputies in the event of a heart attack. An AED is used to “jump start” the heart and restore cardiac rhythm until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene or the victim is transported to a hospital. The AED provides an electronic shock to the heart by means of electrodes placed on the victim’s body. An AED also houses a computer chip that has a voice activated mechanism to guide the user through the proper steps. The AED is small, light weight, portable and battery operated. Everyday we read where one of these devices, in the hands of properly trained individuals has helped to save a life.
The Marshall County Community Foundation has provided fund to place 39 defibrillators in law enforcement vehicles throughout Marshall County and several school corporations. The 39 defibrillators have been purchased using grant funds from the Foundation’s general endowment.
Thanks to Mr. John Grolich, a Plymouth Paramedic and now Marshall County Coroner, the Foundation has not only provided AED’s to various organizations, but has also funded and arranged for the proper training in their use. Mr. Grolich has worked with law enforcement agencies and conducted classes for school personnel and administrators each time the Foundation grants new defibrillators. “It is absolutely necessary to have the proper training for the proper use of these devices,” said Grolich. “An AED all by itself cannot save a victim. Proper CPR techniques must be used in conjunction with an AED to ensure the victim’s survival.”
When granting an AED purchase to organizations, the Foundation requires that the user have the proper training prior to the Foundation’s supplying the AED. This ensures that the entire process will indeed save lives.
The Foundation has invested more than $95,000 for defibrillators. “It has become such a successful program that we now pretty much approve all requests from qualified grantee’s to receive one or more defibrillators. I know that this program is one-of-a-kind program across the State of Indiana, especially in the Community Foundation arena,” said Executive Director Jeff Honzik. “I’m sure other Foundations have purchased AED’s, but no one has had a consistent program such as Marshall County to continually provide these machines so that the public places can have these life saving devices available.”
This is just one example of how the general endowment of the Marshall County Community Foundation is able to provide resources across the county and provide items that ensure a better and safer quality of life for all of us.
New Gazebo in Culver’s Town Park
In 1999, we had a vision for a return to the past, of one of the memories from what Culver used to have. It was a beautiful Gazebo, as we had seen pictures from the old days, and crowds of people looking out at beautiful Lake Maxincuckee. We decided to attempt to raise money for a new gazebo, and didn’t know really where to turn. That’s when we found the Marshall County Community Foundation. Through the Foundations help, we raised enough to make our dream a reality. Come down to Culver, and check out our masterpiece.
Potawatomi Park Receives Wildlife Grant
Potawatomi Wildlife Park is a 200-acre complex that consists of fields, woodlands, ponds, and wetlands and is bordered by the Tippecanoe River. It is located on State Road 331 in Marshall County, Indiana. Potawatomi Wildlife Park is managed as a natural sanctuary for plants and animals of northern Indiana and provides educational activities for schools in the area, as well as a site for recreational activities, such as hiking or bird watching Potawatomi Wildlife Parks owned and managed by Potawatomi Park, Inc., not-for-profit private foundation. This Private foundation is an outgrowth of the proceeds from the estate of Vernon Romine.
One of the best kept secrets in Marshall County is Potawatomi Park, located in the Southeast corner of the County. It is 140 acres of nature preserve at it’s finest. Free flowing ponds, rivers, nature walking trails, campfires and flora abound. The undisturbed preserve is full of almost all of the indigenous birds, fish, and animals in Indiana.
The park received a grant from the MCCF in February 2005, to help fund environmental education programs for school children in Marshall County. Utilizing this grant, kids will be able to take advantage of environmental programs at the park, free of charge.
This offer is open to all public and private schools in our county, beginning with classes held that summer. Teachers wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should contact the park early for scheduling.
Popular program topics in the past have included aquatic science, tree identification, general interactive hiking, and the ecosystems of the Park. The staff is always willing to develop custom programs that will meet specific curriculum guidelines for each class.