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31 Random Acts of Giving

As the end of the year nears, we like to take the time to recognize people and organizations that have made a positive contribution to the greater good. Every day through December, we are wholeheartedly giving to good people and organizations living out big dreams. We'll be giving out a total of $120,000 over the course of the month. These are random acts of kindness, so most of these organizations don't know what's coming - we're hoping to brighten up their days and spread the love.

We will update this post weekly so check back regularly!

December 31st: Glen Arbor Art Association -- $7,500

The GAAA is a dynamic organization started in 1983 with a goal to make art accessible to all, and the organization itself, an important part of the fabric of the Glen Lake community.  This is seed money to start a program to support Outdoor artists and also to collect outdoor art around the Art District in Glen Arbor, so it truly feels like an art district.


December 30th: Putney Open Door Fund -- $3,500

Putney Student Travel offers high school and middle school students the opportunity and insight to shape their world through travel, unique cultural engagement, friendship, and fun.  This donation will provide scholarships to several students in memory of Christopher Cady, a program leader who was passionate about the outdoors and international travel.


December 29th: Top Secret -- $4,000

One secret gift.  This one will stay undisclosed.  It is too close to home and personal to be publicized.


December 28th: Traverse City Health Clinic -- $5,000

This is the most depended upon free health clinic in our region.  We have never made a large donation like this to a health cause.  Not because we don’t believe in this issue, but because donating to health issues is just a drop in the bucket.  And it is a bucket full of holes.  Everywhere in our community, there are stories of people unable to cover their health care costs due to a recent health crisis or accident. We're happy to know that the TC Health Clinic will help those people.


December 27th: Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear -- $3,000

This is an ongoing donation to our friends working to preserve the landscapes and buildings in the Port Oneida Historic District of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  This money will go toward general operations.


December 26th: Tilian Farm Development Center -- $3,000

This series of entrepreneurial fruit and vegetable plots on farmland just outside of Ann Arbor is preserved forever and this money will go toward supporting Tilian Farms Farm Incubator Program and their Farmer Residency Program in Ann Arbor.


December 25th: Sleeping Bear Dunes Bay to Bay Trail -- $5,000

Why not highlight another gift to an initiative that I am tremendously excited about-- The Sleeping Bear Dunes Bay to Bay Trail.  This will be a kayak, canoe and hiking trail that will start at one end of the park and finish at the other end.  This $5,000 contribution will cover some of the cost of the environmental assessment, which is estimated at $13,000.  This trail will be finished fall of 2015.


December 24th: Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes -- $5,000

$5,000 to the Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes to begin to finance the design and construction of a single track Mountain Bike Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  It will cost $50,000 to $75,000 to make it happen and will take 18 months, but by July of 2015, Mt bike riders will have a professionally designed trail for all abilities.  My oldest, Colebrook will be 9 by then, and I really truly feel like I am giving this present to him.


December 23rd: The Leelanau Conservancy -- $4,000

This is an annual contribution to this organization who protects the natural and pristine as well as our counties precious farmland.


December 22nd: Glen Lake Association -- $2,000

$2,000 goes to the Glen Lake Association.  This organization protects the Glen Lake watershed-- water flows from Hatlem Creek into Glen Lake, then into the Crystal River and finally into Sleeping Bear Bay.   There are many initiatives they are working on to keep our prize lake crystal clear-- from dredging Hatlem Creek, to pushing for a new septic ordinance.


December 21st: Flow & Circle of Blue -- $3,000

Here are two donations supporting the protection of our worlds most precious resource-- FRESH WATER.  Flow is a new group founded by long time environmental lawyer Jim Olson to protect the Great Lakes watershed.  Circle of Blue is an international group that monitors and highlights those regions of the world that are drying out.  Both will receive $1,500.


December 20th: Kenny Leinbach and Rick Reece -- $3,000

Two Glen Lake High schoolmates who have important international nonprofit organizations will receive $1,500 each.  Ken Leinbach has the Urban Ecology Center, a wilderness park within the Milwaukee city limits that is teaching kids about wild and nature.  It has been such a success that Kenny speaks all over the world.  Rick Reece is Executive Director of Village Focus International organization based in Laos that helps remote villages provide for themselves services that most citizens expect governments to do-- like schools, health clinics, clean water...


December 19th: Tzu Chi International -- $3,000

This Taiwanese organization I learned about while visiting Taiwan has 2 million members all over the world and has had some of the most innovative programs to clean and rebuild the Philippines after typhoon Yolanda.  They just finished a program where they hired 40,000 of the people most-a-loss from the typhoon to help clean up after the typhoon.  This money will go toward building temporary schools for students.  This donation goes in the name of the Ann Arbor Chapter of Tzu Chi. Here's a blog about it.


December 18th: Buckets of Rain -- $2,000

This donation supports the work and lives of two special Glen Lake residents, Sue and Chris Skellenger, who have a passion to establish small household gardens around the world.  Their biggest program is run in Detroit.  They are showing our region people how to take the positive energy and resources up here in northern Michigan and share it with more needy regions.


December 17th: Helping the Homeless -- $4,000

Over the last few days, Kelly Ciolek and Josh Miller have been shopping for 6 homeless families.  We are doing our best to help cover some of their basic food, clothing, and other basic needs, to help them have a joyful Christmas, and start them off toward a better 2014.


December 16th: The Leelanau Schools -- $5,000

This little private boarding school on the shores of Lake Michigan plays an important role in Glen Arbor.  So many friends work there and do such good things for high schoolers from all over the world.


December 15th: Legacy Land Conservancy -- $2,500

This is a new conservancy we are supporting in the Ann Arbor area.  We have proudly supported the conservancies up here and look forward to a long stretch of supporting the work Legacy does in the Ann Arbor area for years to come.


December 14th: Glen Lake Schools' Discretionary Fund -- $1,500

This is a fund for the school counselors to manage to help level the playing field and make sure no kid is handicapped at school because they can’t afford the basics.  $1,500 to Glen Lake Community Reform Church’s Deacon’s fund to help area families out in a time of crises.


December 13th: ISLAND -- $8,000

Institute for Sustainable Living, Art and Natural Design.  This small group has become the key organization supporting small farmers.  They just started a big new project-- to manage a farmer residency at Grand Traverse Conservancy at their Maple Bay Farm, helping talented beginning farmers make the leap into full time sustainable agriculture.


December 12th: Bethany Christian Services -- $2,500

We had a suggestion that we donate to this non-profit adoption service that also supports the needs of young unmarried woman who have unplanned pregnancies who intend to keep their baby.  There are two children in my life who have been adopted through Bethany Christian Services and I make this donation in their names--  Michael Joseph Houtteman, (my boy's best friend) and Patrick Dale Sutherland, (their favorite cousin).


December 11th: Washtenaw Camp Placement Association - Ann Arbor -- $2,000

$2,000 goes to the Washtenaw Camp Placement Association.  It feels right to donate to Ann Arbor city kids to ensure that some of them get a positive experience having fun in the Michigan outdoors.  This association places on average 100 high risk kids in camps all over Michigan.  (Years ago, I worked at a camp that accepted these kids and working with them enriched my life tremendously).


December 10th: Leelanau Outdoor Center -- $3,000

$3,000 goes to the Leelanau Outdoor Center in Glen Arbor for creating an all new summer outdoor recreation program for Glen Lake area children.  LOC offers programs for school kids fall, winter and spring, but has never had the resources to run a program in the summer.  This donation kicks off what they hope will be a terrific summer long outdoor education and recreation program for children ages 7 to 13.  It will be for both locals and summer visitors.  There will also be some kids nights and some tours provided for families as well.  Be on the look out for more detailed information coming this spring.


December 9th: Family Services Organizations -- $2,250

It goes without saying that at this time of year, we remember to help those in need.  Three agencies working to support families in crises in the Grand Traverse Region that will receive well deserved donations from us today are Third Level Crisis Center ($750), Child and Family Services ($750) and Father Fred ($750).


December 8th: Josh Sisco & Morgan Weston -- $1,750

Throughout the year, Cherry Republic proudly supports our young seasonal employee’s dreams of travel.  This past summer, we supported Kelsey, who volunteered at a lion refuge in South Africa.  She ended up getting a full time job and is there now.  Here is her blog.  We’ve also supported many others.  This Christmas, we give $1,250 to Joshua Sisco who will be volunteering in Nepal this winter.  Josh is a terrific young man with a big heart and big dreams.  Josh promises to keep us updated on his travels.  We also give $500 to Glen Lake High School senior Morgan Weston who is traveling on a student exchange trip to Germany.


December 7th: Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail -- $10,000

$10,000 goes to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  This spring, the next 4 miles of this paved multi-use bicycle trail get’s built.  By July, kids will be safely riding from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb and on to Empire.  Our donation will go toward building the segments heading north from Glen Arbor toward Good Harbor Bay.


December 6th: Well Being Journal -- $2,500

A check for $2,500 goes out to a favorite publication of mine called the Well Being Journal.  The magazine heralds the integration of medicine with physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of health.  It is a small health magazine doing really good things and we send this with no earmarks, just love and encouragement to keep up the good work.


December 5th:  Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes- Bow Lakes Trail System -- $2,000

The Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes is the partner organization for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  It manages much of the local fundraising and volunteer programs within our favorite National Park.  Cherry Republic has partnered with the Friends on many projects within the park.  We've volunteered our staff time, helped raise money and make many donations ourselves throughout the year.  Bob was a founding board member of the group.  Cherry Republic's COO, Todd Ciolek is a current board member.

This donation is to help the friends complete a new trail system in the remote and untrammeled Bow Lakes area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. This projected should be completed in late spring.


December 4th: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Farmland Preservation- $5,000

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) is dedicated to protecting significant natural, scenic and farm lands and advancing stewardship, now and for all future generations. The GTRLC has protected 34,000 acres of land and more than 100 miles of shoreline along our lakes, streams and rivers.

$5,000 will be donated to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy for general support.  Cherry Republic has contributed to GTRLC for 15 years.  We focus our money on supporting the operations of their farmland preservation programs.

Learn more about the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.


December 3rd: Leslie Science and Nature Center, Ann Arbor - $2,500

The Leslie Science and Nature Center is a nonprofit organization that provides environmental education and experiences for children, families and other individuals. It strives to foster the understanding, appreciation, stewardship and respect for the natural world.  Their grounds, trails, and raptor enclosures are open every day from sunrise to sunset, completely free of charge.

$2,500 will be donated to the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor for general support.

Learn more about the Leslie Science and Nature Center and make your own donation if possible.


December 2nd: Glen Arbor Township Parks Commission - $2,500

$2,500 will be donated to the Glen Arbor Township Parks Commission to start a youth tennis program for the area.  Over the years, we have noticed that everyone is learning tennis up here but the locals.  The resorts, camps, and yacht clubs teach tennis to the kids that come up for the summer, but few locals are having the chance to learn this lifetime sport.  And our township has four of the most beautiful courts in the country.


December 1st: Providence Farm, Central Lake - $8,000

Providence Farm is located in Central Lake, halfway between Traverse City and Petoskey, on 27 acres of beautiful northern Michigan soil. It is owned by Andrea and Ryan Romeyn who years ago, when just out of college, worked at Cherry Republic for a season or two and have kept in touch with Bob ever since.   Providence Farm is one of the biggest small farms in northern Michigan and provides garden shares to CSA members, sell fruits and vegetables at the farm markets, and to some local grocers and restaurants.  They are committed to sustainable farming practices.

Cherry Republic donates $8,000 to Ryan and Andrea to help them get their farm to the next level.  This money might help them purchase more cooler space, or help them build a heated pole barn to process vegetables out of the weather, or to help them cover the expenses of researching better practices from farmers a few years ahead of them.  This donation was unsolicited.  It will be a big surprise to this hardworking family of six.

Learn more about Andrea and Ryan, and Providence Farm.