Dexter Community Fund recently held their fall event to thank supporters for their partnership and lay out plans for the coming year and beyond.
Established in 2014, the Dexter Community Fund (DCF) is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in and around Dexter through grants given to various civic organizations that support area residents in a variety of ways. Affiliated with the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the DCF is comprised of a local advisory committee of 10-12 individuals who govern the grant-making decisions.
“It is in endowment fund which means the principal is invested in perpetuity and it is the interest from the fund that gives back grants to the community”, DCF Co-chair Dr. Julie Schumaker explained at the event. “It is a way to leave a legacy for the community and a way to ensure community needs, as they change in the future, are addressed.”
The goal is to raise $2 million by the year 2020 which will allow DCF to give back grants totaling around $80,000 to $100,000 a year. Currently the fund has about $350,000 in assets and pledges.
This year’s event was held at the renovated historic Valley Farm, one of two banquet locations at Frutig Farms on Scio Church Road. The venue was welcoming and lively with catered fare, a bar, and the Community High Jazz Band playing above in the loft.
Owners of Valley Farm, Kelly and Ed Frutig jumped at the chance to host the event. “When Julie asked us to consider hosting this event, it was a chance for Ed and I to learn what the Dexter Community Fund is all about”, says Kelly. “We’re excited to see what’s happening here and get involved to give it some support.”
2017 was DCF’s first year of awarding grants and the recipients were the Dexter Area Historical Society for their continued work on Gordon Hall, the Dexter Senior Center, Faith in Action, and His Eye Is On The Sparrow which is a home in Dexter for developmentally disabled adults.
The Dexter Community Fund convened a forum with 30 community leaders this past August to identify community needs. From the identified needs, the DCF established the priority areas it will support over the next 3 years.
Those areas are:
- Programs and services for seniors.
- Mental health services for youth & adults.
- Improved outdoor recreation opportunities for projects such as the Border to Border Trail and the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative.
- Services and programs for teens.
- Programs and services for the home-bound.
- Programs and services promoting arts and culture.
Still relatively new, word about the Fund is spreading and people like what they hear. As the work of the DCF becomes better known, more and more people are seeing it as a way to give back to the community that continues to be very good for them and their families. There were a number of newcomers to the event who came to learn more of what the Fund is all about.
“I am familiar with the benefits that community funds in general can do”, says Anne Kittendorf of Scio Township. “I know that the Dexter Community Fund is relatively new and I was excited when I heard it was established. We were invited here this evening and are happy to support a useful fund that provides a lot of good opportunities.”
Dexter resident Elena Hermanson is a non-profit professional and was attending the event for the first time. “There is a great need in the community to have a fund that helps nonprofits provide”, she says. “I’m looking forward to learning more about the Dexter Community Fund and to see what their plan is for the future in helping the community grow.”
Singer Stephen West provided the entertainment for the evening with lively and stirring renditions from both Broadway and the operatic stage. His strong baritone voice filled the barn without the need of a sound system much to the delight of the audience. After his performance, he expressed his enthusiasm for the DCF and announced that he was donating his honorarium for the evening’s event back into the Fund.
“We have had three children in the Dexter School System”, West told the crowd. “We are very grateful to this community and for what it has given us.”
As the Fund grows, it will support projects and non-profit organizations across a number of areas: arts and culture, education, the environment, youth, senior services, health and wellness, human services, community improvement, and a wide range of initiatives that enrich the quality of life in Dexter.
“This year we received outstanding grant applications for 2018”, said Dr. Schumaker. “We really wanted to fund them all. But because we are relatively still in our infancy, we had to limit the number of grants we gave. We narrowed it down to three organizations.”
Those three organizations are:
- Grieve Well – to sponsor 2 workshops in Dexter to support healthy grieving and 2 awareness events in Dexter to educate individuals on the Three Core Principles of Grief Support. This grant is an extension of DCF’s mental health initiative.
- Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan – to support 2 New Girl Scout Troops in Dexter. This is from DCF’s goal of offering supports services for teens.
- The Dexter Senior Center – to support seniors’ participation in fitness classes. This fulfills DCF’s effort to support senior programs and initiatives.
Hosts Kelly and Ed Frutig jumped right in as Diamond Sponsors of the DCF. “We love funds that actually stay to help people in the community”, Ed explained. Then, after looking around at the crowd in his historic barn, he added, “Seeing people come together like this is really what community is all about.”
“What first drew you to Dexter?” Dr. Schumaker asked the crowd. “I’m guessing it had something to do with that small-town spirit. There is something about that small town spirit in a community that you just don’t find everywhere. I know that when my husband and I moved here from Washington DC in 1995 it truly felt like coming home.”
“Dexter is a special place” is a phrase I often hear in covering events and writing articles for We Love Dexter. The phrase gets tossed around enough that it could be in danger of semantic satiation and become meaningless. But even if that were to happen, it wouldn’t reduce the reality that Dexter is indeed a special place. It only means our language falls short in expressing our good fortune to be living here. While our words may sometimes fail, our appreciation for all the work that goes into making Dexter what it is, does not.
It is humility and gratitude that unlocks the fullness of life. Confusion turns into clarity, denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and lack transforms into enough. An empty table can be changed into a meal, isolation into acceptance and embrace, and strangers into friends. Fullness and meaning are found, not in being a reservoir for our blessings, but a conduit.
If you would like to contribute, or want more information about the Dexter Community Fund, you can do so via their website.