Under 50? It's Your TurnWe’re excited to introduce – in honor of our 50th – an incentive for those who are younger than we are: the Next Generation Donor Advised Fund! If you’re 50 or under, this year you can start a DAF of your own for $5,000…50% off the normal fund minimum.
2010 Financial Review
Download our 2010 Financial Review from Consulting Group here.
IRA Rollover is Back!
Welcome news...the IRA Charitable Rollover passed! On the afternoon of December 17, 2010, the President signed into law The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. This bill restores the IRA Charitable Rollover retroactively for 2010 and permits its use in all of 2011.
How does it work? It's pretty simple as far as tax rules go: if you're 70½ or older, you can contribute a total of $100,000 in IRA assets to a qualified charity...and yes, we'd recommend a Community Foundation Fund! The payout can satisfy the Required Minimum Distribution. You don't take a tax deduction for your gift, but neither do you have to report the payouts as income. That's the key - without this provision, you might lose some benefits. Your tax deduction itself could be limited because of other tax rules, or else the donation might boost your reported income, possibly raising Medicare premiums or taxes on Social Security payments. Instead, the donation bypasses tax calculations altogether!
If it feels like too much to think about at this busy time of year, don't despair...Congress gave you a little extra time. The bill allows for transfers made in January 2011 to count as 2010 distributions. Whether or not you've taken your 2010 RMD, give your tax professional a call to see if the charitable rollover is a smart move for you!
On October 25, 2010, our Board of Trustees met and approved grant awards to a variety of community organizations in support of projects throughout the Muskegon region. A combined total of $75,249 was awarded from a variety of funds that make up the Community Foundation portfolio of assets. Highlights of the grant awards developed through the work of numerous volunteer committees and ratified by the Board of Trustees are listed below.
Grants from the Distribution Committee are made from the Foundation’s unrestricted pool of funds and can support a broad range of community needs including: Arts, Community/Urban Redevelopment and Improvement, Education, Environment and Health & Human Services.
- Lakeshore Health Network – $5,000 to support a community-wide safe medication disposal program.
- Muskegon Museum of Art - $2,000 to support underwriting for the exhibit “The Enduring Gifts of Martin Ryerson, Jr.”
- Pioneer Resources - $3,600 to support a new housing model of supported living.
- Planned Parenthood - $4,600 to support HPV and HIV/AIDS testing for low income women.
- Read Muskegon - $2,500 to support adult literacy in Muskegon County.
- West Michigan Symphony - $2,000 to support underwriting for an April 2011 concert, “Sustainability: A West Michigan Journey”.
Environmental Endowment Fund:
The Environmental Endowment Fund of the Foundation was established in 1998 to support proposals and grant requests that build community environmental capacity and awareness, that educate young and old, both formally and informally and promote the environmental interests of the Muskegon region. Specific interests include a smart growth approach to land-use planning, protection and restoration of green spaces and watersheds as well as the restoration of critical dune areas and other natural resources.
- Grand Valley State University/MAREC – $1,000 to support student awards for the first Renewable Energy (RE) Technology Fair to be held in May 2011.
- Muskegon Environmental Research and Education Society (MERES) - $2,370 to support a habitat restoration project at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.
Greater Muskegon Women and Children’s Fund:
Grants from the Women & Children’s Fund support projects that will improve the quality of life for women and children in the Muskegon area.
- Hume Home of Muskegon – $3,000 to provide three air conditioning units for the comfort of residents and guests in the public gathering spaces at the Home.
- Music with a Message for Kids – $2,000 to provide 10 free educational and motivational music programs on the topics of Reading, Anti-Bullying or Self-Esteem to Elementary Schools or Youth Organizations in the Greater Muskegon area.
- Muskegon Family YMCA - $1,500 to renovate a portion of the men’s locker room so that it can be used as a family changing area.
Thomas and Geraldine Seyferth Fund:
Grants from the Thomas and Geraldine Seyferth Fund support community development projects and programs that benefit the youth in Muskegon County, as well as awarding scholarships to students pursuing a post-secondary 4-year degree.
- Community enCompass - $10,000 to support housing foreclosure counseling services.
- West Michigan Therapy - $10,000 to support the Housing Plus Program which provides services for unserved or underserved populations in need of housing or to prevent homelessness in Muskegon County.
White Lake Community Fund:
Grants from the White Lake Community Fund focus on meeting the needs of residents of the White Lake area including the Cities of Whitehall and Montague.
- Easter Seals of Michigan - $5,000 to support the purchase of a Liberty Swing for the handicapped to be placed in Goodrich Park.
- Ferry Memorial Reformed Church – $3,000 to support 250 food baskets at Thanksgiving to needy families in the White Lake area and to provide 110 turkeys to the White Lake Giving Tree Program
- White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce – $4,000 to support building renovation and improvements.
- White Lake Senior Center– $2,500 to provide funds to paint the inside of the center which is needed due to water damage that has been repaired.
Youth Advisory Council:
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) of the Foundation will consider applications that address projects and programs that address student academic stress and expectations. Examples of fundable projects include: support for a multi-district motivational speaker, school pilot projects that address teacher-student communication, career counseling and tutoring; support of mentoring programs that match juniors and seniors with business professionals, college and career preparation, and programs by mental health agencies that teach coping skills to deal with time and stress management. Highest priority will be given to programs or projects that include multiple school districts.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters - $5,000 to support an AmeriCorps volunteer who will assist the organization in supervising Big/Little matches for 60 children and their mentors.
- Muskegon Area Intermediate School District - $1,980 to support distribution of the “Up from the Bottoms” curriculum to Muskegon County middle and high schools
- Muskegon County - $2,699 to support distance learning equipment and materials for the youth at the Juvenile Detention Home.
- Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company - $1,500 to support busing costs, education supplies and actor stipends to present “The Merchant of Venice” to area high school students in March 2011.
Century-old fountain flows again
Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle
MUSKEGON — The Miller and Root families are still remembering Byrd Miller Root, more than a century after her death, thanks to her mother, Annie Galbraith Miller.
Miller, who was a pioneering woman entrepreneur in Muskegon, donated land for a park next to the family home in 1902. She paid for a memorial fountain to be built in honor of her daughter, who had died unexpectedly.
Thanks to Miller’s great-granddaughter,Mary Gust Bytwerk of Norton Shores, other surviving Miller-Root family members and community leaders like Mark Fazakerly, the memory of Byrd Miller Root will live on for generations.The family and community supporters gathered last week at Root Memorial Park at the convergence of Apple Avenue, Muskegon Avenue and First Street to rededicate the fountain that was renovated this summer and flowed with water for the first time in decades.
The stretch of Apple Avenue alongside the park was Miller Avenue until downtown traffic changes in the 1950s, and the Miller house is now the site of an office building. But Bytwerk still had visions of what the park once looked like to her great-grandmother who donated the land to the city and constructed the original fountain through the family’s Miller & Co. Iron Works in Muskegon.
“Annie gave the park across the street from her home so she could gaze out the window and remember her daughter, Byrd,” Bytwerk said.
Byrd Miller Root, the story goes, died five months after her young husband, Russell Lee Root, was killed in a train accident in the Upper Peninsula. Her cause of death was said to have been “a broken heart.”
The Root Memorial Park fountain had been left to deteriorate over the decades and was recently being used as a flower pot. Conversations between Muskegon City Commissioner Larry Spataro and Eagle Alloy co-owner Mark Fazakerley resulted in the fountain restoration.
Fazakerley and foundry staff at Eagle Alloy have worked on other city iron-work restorations in Hackley Park and the Kearny Fountain at Terrace and Peck streets.
“We have always known it was here but never paid much attention to it,” Muskegon Mayor Steve Warmington said at the fountain rededication. “Now it looks like it did 100 years ago. It is a tribute to public-private partnerships. Mark and Eagle Alloy have given up time and talents to give back to the community.”
Bytwerk and other family members have established the Mary Curtis Foote Gust Bytwerk Fund at the Community Foundation for Muskegon County to maintain the fountain and park for the future.
“The fountain is beautiful,” Bytwerk said. “Annie Miller would be so very proud. A leader in her day, she has left a timeless gift of true love.”
Saving downtown -- from itself
Susan Harrison Wolffis: Saving downtown -- from itself
The truth is, we were this close in the mid-1970s to knocking down the Michigan Theater, the gorgeous space we now know as the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon
Thirty-odd years ago, the wrecking
ball was poised and ready to swing in the name of urban renewal, aimed
directly at the big old theater standing on the corner of Third Street
and Western Avenue.
The plan was well-intentioned, even if in some people’s minds, misguided. Others called it progress.
Down went the Occidental Hotel, the Regent Theater (which some insist was even more beautiful than the Michigan), the uniquely shaped Flatiron Building, little shops like Newmode Hosiery and big department stores like Grossman’s that once lined Western Avenue.
For awhile, it was like being in a demolition derby downtown, everything smashed and destroyed, piles of rubble left behind. The idea was out with the old, in with a new and covered mall on what once was the community’s main street: Western Avenue. To be fair, it was considered cutting edge architecture at the time, enough that it drew national attention in urban renewal circles.
City officials from across the country came to see what Muskegon was doing, how it was resurrecting and reinventing its downtown, which had faded from glory as people moved into the suburbs — away from the urban center.
In one plan, a parking lot was needed where the old Michigan Theater, which had fallen on bad times in the 1960s and ’70s, stood. Built in 1930 at the height of the Depression, the theater was a sorry sight. No one disagreed that it had seen better days aesthetically or that it had lost the bulk of its clientele to newer, more modern movie theaters.
But there was a group of people in town, a coalition of historic preservationists, civic-minded citizens and emerging philanthropists, who put their collective feet down, and said: No, not this one. Not the Michigan. This one stays.
As the reporter who covered the arts beat in those days, I interviewed people who stood emotionally and physically in front of the wrecking ball — grandmothers who loved old buildings, guys who saved houses that became Heritage Village downtown, men and women who had too memories connected to the theater to see it go.
They saved the Michigan Theater from certain destruction. It was a heroic effort, but their work wasn’t done. The Community Foundation for Muskegon County, an emerging organization, used $475,000 of a $1.5 -million gift from Muskegon industrialist Harold Frauenthal to buy not only the theater, but the entire block from Third to Fourth streets on Western Avenue.
Together, the foundation and those willing to defy the wrecking ball saved a piece of Muskegon’s past.
In an unprecedented move, members of the town’s labor unions volunteered their time and expertise to transform what became the Hilt Building next to the theater into classrooms, meeting spaces, an art gallery and small theater.
Because of them, and more grants from the Community Foundation, the Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts rose from what could have been rubble.
The theater would need saving again. In 1995, the residents of Muskegon County voted to help fund a $7.5-million renovation of the theater and bring it back in all its historic glory.
This weekend, the Frauenthal is celebrating its 80th anniversary, a testimony to what a community can do when its people decide to preserve its past. The irony, of course, is that in doing so — in saving a bit of history — we secured our future.
Once again, downtown Muskegon is rising up, reinvented and resurging. And its cornerstone? The place that brings thousands of people through its doors every year?
That theater some people wanted destroyed, all in the name of progress.
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