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Building A Sense of “Community” in Oceana

“Wherever there’s a need, there oughta be some help,” said Dale Lathers of Mears, as he humbly accepted the Community Foundation for Oceana County’s “Greater Good Award” during its 2017 Annual Dinner Program on Oct. 2 in Pentwater.  CFOC gives the award each year to recognize an individual or couple that has created large scale community impact by donating their time, talent and treasure.

Lathers and his wife, Jan, were recognized for their stewardship of the William R. Lathers Trust, which honors his late brother.  The Lathers Trust supports efforts by area charitable organizations that make capital improvements within Oceana’s Golden Township and improve the community’s quality of life.

“Building Community” was the theme of the annual CFOC event, and attendees also heard examples of efforts underway in Walkerville and Pentwater to benefit those communities.

CFOC Executive Tammy Carey outlined why philanthropy in Oceana is so necessary by offering a few statistics showing that the county is one of Michigan’s poorest.  “The fact that we have so many residents struggling to make ends meet is the root cause of the county’s challenges.”

She then gave examples of how CFOC tackles these challenges.  One is its involvement in the Oceana County College Access Network, which encourages students to continue their education beyond high school.  The other is the Read Early, Read Often program; two thirds of the county’s students aren’t proficient in reading.

Carey then reviewed recent highlights of the Foundation’s work.  It is comprised of a collection of individual charitable funds, which currently totals 135.  Seven were added last year and eight so far this year.  These funds are formed by individuals, couples, families and organizations to fulfill their philanthropic goals of helping others and making a difference.  The combined assets of these funds now total more than $11.6 million.  They collectively awarded almost $600,000 in grants and scholarships in 2016, including 175 scholarships averaging almost $1,000 each.

“Wherever there’s a need, there oughta be some help,” said Lathers.  It’s worth repeating.