In the community, making a difference

“I’ve learned you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands, you need to be able to throw something back.”

Maya Angelou,

American poet

“There’s ten cents looking at you,” a volunteer remarks as he picks up a Dr. Pepper can, an action symbolizing the essence of individual giving, recognizing need and giving value in response. Understanding that charity provides short term relief versus philanthropy which is building community over time, helps in making decisions. Having a giving plan that matches one’s preferences to community needs is important for all income levels.

An Internal Revenue Service analysis of individual giving reports that those who itemize deductions in Alpena County for 2016 gave an average of $3,175 or 3.1 percent of income. Lower income levels give a larger percentage of income to charity at 8 percent or $1,483 for those that make $25,000 versus 2 percent and $10,222 for those who earn over $200,000.

Most won’t be able give an amount sufficient to allow walking up the red carpet to a gala ball, but can get gratification from knowing what has been given is used.

Developing a plan is a learning process. The 48 Onaway students who raised funds to see the play “Hamilton” in Chicago learned to set goals, identify resources and carry out a plan. Doing something with purpose proved to be stimulating.

“The creativity, it seems to come from students you didn’t expect it from,” said Kymberli Wregglesworth of Onaway Public Schools. “They’re not your typical student to achieve academically. But this project gave them a different route to success that they didn’t get to do in the classroom.”

The Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan was an organization the students of Onaway turned to for assistance. The mission of CFNEM is to fulfill the charitable wishes of donors and address the current and future needs of the community. The vision is to build strong, vibrant and sustainable communities through the power of everyone’s giving. Staff support, investment management and grant administration is available giving individuals and non-profits the ability to establish funds for specific purposes.

The CFNEM provides support through 485 funds. In the fiscal ending September 30, 2017, awards were made for $400,000 in scholarships, $150,000 in community impact grants, $50,000 in Northeast Michigan Youth Advisory Council Grants and $21,000 in Women’s giving Circle Grants.

Giving Tuesday (Nov. 28), is a good time to log on to and learn about your community foundation.

Returning to the returnable Dr. Pepper can, if the 10 cent deposit had been invested in the stock market in 1978 when the Michigan Bottle Bill was implemented, it would now be worth $4.42 – a total gain of 4,326.67 percent. So pitch in and help!

“The world is more malleable than you think, and it is waiting for you to hammer into shape.”

Paul David Hewson (Bono)

Irish singer-songwriter


Tom Brindley can be reached via email at