Celebrating 25 years of good deeds

Community Foundation Legacy Dinner takes look back

Ilsa Matthes | Daily Press William A. LeMire, IV speaks to guests of The Legacy about his father, Dr. William A. LeMire, III. The elder LeMire was one of the founders of the Community Foundation for Delta County. He died last December.

HARRIS — The Island Resort and Casino was abuzz with activity Thursday night as the Community Foundation for Delta County held its annual The Legacy Dinner event, now in its 25th year.

A few notable changes were made for the silver anniversary of the event, which was formerly known as the M.A.S.H. Good Deeds Dinner. Most notably, instead of inviting a professional athlete to speak to guests, the community foundation opted to keep things focused on the good works the foundation has accomplished over the years and feature speakers that have been personally affected by the organization.

Following introductory statements by CFFDC Board Chair David Williams, William A. LeMire, IV took to the podium to speak about his father, the late Dr. William A. LeMire, III, who passed away last December. The elder LeMire was one of the founders of the CFFDC.

“I would talk to him about once a week and we would talk about three things: the Green Bay Packers, the Escanaba Cubs, and the Delta County Community Foundation — usually in that order,” said LeMire. “And the conversation usually would end with ‘Billy, do you know how proud I am of that foundation? I’ve always told you that if you want to make a difference in this life, you’ve got to give a damn, and that foundation is doing such good for Delta County and for Escanaba and I’m so proud.’ And I heard that I don’t know how many times, and it brought tears to my eyes every time he said it.”

Following LeMire’s tribute to his father, Bret Bicoy, president and CEO of the Door County Community Foundation, explained to guests of the event how the CFFDC’s influence has stretched even farther than Escanaba and Delta County. The Door County Community Foundation is one of nearly 20 community foundations that relies on the CFFDC for foundational accounting services.

“I do not want you to get the impression that your gifts here tonight are leaving the U.P. They most certainly are not. Remember, we in Door County pay a fee for the services that your terrific community foundation provides us, but when you strengthen this organization here, you are building an institution that is having effects are beyond the U.P.,” said Bicoy.

The Door County Community Foundation is one of ten community foundations outside the Upper Peninsula that uses the CFFDC for foundational accounting services. Nine U.P. community foundations also rely on the CFFDC for these services, and another foundation has expressed intentions of using the CFFDC for these services in the future.

“It’s a little cottage industry that has sprung up because of the complexities that go along with that kind of accounting,” said Williams earlier in the evening.

While the funds managed by other community foundations have helped to support their own philanthropic efforts, the various funds under the CFFDC’s control have helped to support a wide variety of community projects locally. These projects include equipping police vehicles with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), supporting mental health and sobriety programs, funding food pantries and backpack feeding programs for school-age children, and helping to provide health services for those in need.

Doug Leisenring, superintendent of the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (ISD) spoke about the ways the community foundation’s support has impacted children in Delta County. One way the foundation has supported students was by giving the ISD a grant in 2016 for $30,000 for student mental health services. That grant allowed students from six different local school districts to access these services for several weeks at a time.

“That was just a real powerful thing that we we were able to do that we would never have been able to do without the money from the community foundation,” said Leisenring.

Another way children have been helped by the foundation is through its support of the newly formed Delta County Child Advocacy Center, which interviews children who are believed to be abused or neglected so they can be best represented and served by the legal system and appropriate agencies.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to the community and the community foundation for supporting things like the child advocacy center,” said Delta County Administrator Philip Strom, who works with the center.

The child advocacy center had previously received a $100,000 interest free loan from the foundation. At The Legacy dinner, the CFFDC presented the center with a check for $25,000 to continue providing their services to children.

Two other groups received donations during the evening. The Escanaba girls softball team, which won the 2018 girls state championship, received a $1,000 check to support their program, and the newly formed Our Community Fighting Cancer organization received a the profits from a live auction of a specially minted $5 coin. The organization was founded as a local replacement for the Relay for Life event, and the auction raised $1,800.