Fremont Area Community Foundation recently created two new awards to help recent graduates overcome barriers to employment: the Graduation Award and the Ready2Work Award .

The Ready2Work Award is designed to help minimize the impact of barriers by providing a one-time award of $250 to students who recently obtained a certificate, credential, or college degree. To be eligible, students must have received a scholarship from the Fremont Area Community Foundation from 2010 to present, live in West Michigan, and must have earned a degree or higher credential. A copy of the certificate or diploma will be required.

“In 2011 the Community Foundation launched Goal 2025 to help local residents obtain career credentials ranging from trade certificates to college degrees,” said Carla Roberts, FACF President and CEO. “To reach this goal we have partnered with our local school districts, NC RESA, and WE CAN! Newaygo County as well as significantly increased the amount of scholarships for adult students returning to school.”

“What we are discovering is that after people finish their program or graduate, there remain basic barriers to getting employment,” added Lindsay Hager, chair of the FACF Board of Trustees. “The needs vary from having the proper tools or attire for their new trade to purchasing clothing to wear to an interview.”

Former scholarship recipients who have achieved their higher education goals but do not live in West Michigan are eligible to apply only for the $50 Graduation Award. Applications for the Ready2Work Award and Graduation Award can be completed online.

“We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates,” said Roberts. “The completion of a skilled trade program, certificate program, or college degree is a tremendous investment in oneself. These awards will also allow the Community Foundation to learn about barriers graduates face as they enter the workforce as well as allow us to collect data on the impact of our scholarship program as our county works together to reach Goal 2025.”

More information about both awards can be found here.

At their annual meeting on June 4, the Members of the Fremont Area Community Foundation elected two new Trustees to the Community Foundation board.

Micheal Anderson and Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark were elected to join 13 other Trustees who guide the organization’s operations, strategic direction, and grant allocations.

Anderson is from Hesperia and is the facilities maintenance manager at North Lake Correctional Facility. He has long been active in the community, serving as a school board member and coach. He has also been a member of the Fremont Area Elderly Needs Fund board.

“I’m looking forward to serving people and learning more about all the different aspects of the Community Foundation and what they do,” said Anderson. “My hope is that when I’m all done, people can say that Micheal Anderson served with an open heart and gave back to the community.”

Lori Tubbergen Clark was born and raised in Newaygo County. She was a teacher in White Cloud and Fremont before becoming the superintendent of the Newaygo County Regional Educational Services Agency (NC RESA). She holds a PhD in program evaluation.

“I am very supportive of the Community Foundation’s direction of strategic philanthropy,” said Tubbergen Clark. “I am passionate about program evaluation and hope to bring that expertise to the board. I also like the diverse perspectives and varied backgrounds of the Trustees. I look forward to learning from them.”

Anderson and Tubbergen Clark will fill vacancies left by retiring Trustees Robert Zeldenrust and Richard Dunning. Each served on the Community Foundation board for nine years.

Carla Roberts, Community Foundation President and CEO, expressed her thanks to the retiring Trustees and welcomed the two new members who will play vital roles in the organization’s future.

“We are so grateful for the years of faithful service given to the Community Foundation by Rob and Dick,” she said. “And we are excited to welcome Micheal and Lori. Their deep knowledge of the community and their expertise will further enhance our work in Newaygo County.”

At the annual business meeting, new officers were elected: Lindsay Hager, Chair; William Johnson, Vice Chair; Cathy Kissinger, Treasurer; and Dr. Robert Clouse, Secretary.

Fremont Area Community Foundation, in partnership with the Fremont Area and River Country chambers of commerce, kicked off the 2015 Leadership Series last week. This series is designed for local professionals who are interested in honing their leadership skills, expanding their networks, and engaging in community change.

As an extension of the Community Foundation’s Community Partner Effectiveness initiative, the Leadership Series is an opportunity to provide additional learning resources for nonprofit leaders while also including the local business sector and other community leaders.

Programming began last week with the first of four free workshops. On May 5, Dave Medema of Pondera Associates presented on leading through change to two capacity crowds.

The remaining three workshops will be held at the Community Foundation and will each be offered twice: from 8:30-11 a.m. and again from 3:30-6 p.m. Workshops are free to attend but space is limited. Visit the links below for more information and to reserve your spot.

Public Speaking: How to Present Like a Pro!
May 21 | Zoe Carmichael
The fear of public speaking is often listed as the number one phobia of Americans, but how can we overcome it? This workshop will help you grow confidence and develop skills to conquer fear and develop thoughtful, organize, and tailored presentations. Both sessions of this workshop are now full.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation
September 10 | Warren Hills
Everything seems easier when people are getting along, but what happens when conflict arises? This workshop will help you develop conflict resolution skills, learn the art of mediation, and construct strategies to resolve conflict in the workplace and community.

Time Management: Managing Yourself Within the Time Available
November 5 | Dave Medema
Often we don’t need to manage time, we need to manage ourselves within the time available. This workshop will help you improve your personal relationship with time, delegate effectively, and set priorities.

Fremont Area Community Foundation has selected Maria Gonzalez as Foundation Manager to serve three affiliated foundations: Osceola County Community Foundation, Mecosta County Community Foundation, and Lake County Community Foundation. She will also support the Amazing X Charitable Trust and Elderly Needs Fund.

As Foundation Manager, Gonzalez will serve the trustees of the affiliate advisory boards and connect them to resources around strategy, development, donor relations, grant programs, and community engagement activities.

“We are excited to have Maria serve our geographic affiliates and supporting organizations,” said Carla Roberts, FACF President and CEO. “She brings great energy and attention to detail to this position. She will be an outstanding asset to Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties as well as the Fremont Area Community Foundation.”

Gonzalez is a graduate of Newaygo High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University where she studied political science and public relations. Most recently, she worked as district representative for Senator Goeff Hansen and served for two years on the Community Foundation Board of Trustees.

“The connectivity to community is one of the things I have appreciated most about my experience so far with the Community Foundation,” said Gonzalez. “The whole staff is dedicated to moving communities forward.”

In her new position, Gonzalez hopes to enhance this same sense of connectivity with the geographic affiliates. “I most look forward to forming connected relationships with the trustees of the affiliate advisory boards, and the communities as a whole.”

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently welcomed three new members to its Board of Trustees.

Lola Harmon-Ramsey, Kent Karnemaat, and Denise Suttles were elected in June and joined 12 other Board Trustees who guide the Community Foundation’s operations, strategic direction, and grant allocations.

Lola Harmon-Ramsey is a lifelong resident of Fremont. She and her husband have two children and own Cart-Right Recycling. Growing up, her family made community involvement a priority, and Harmon-Ramsey has continued this commitment as an adult.

“It’s important to be involved and to help make change,” said Harmon-Ramsey. “If I don’t do it, who will be there for the programs and services that have helped me, my grandparents, and my kids?”

Harmon-Ramsey said she is looking forward to being part of an organization committed to helping other nonprofit organizations grow and become more sustainable. She also hopes to encourage her peers to become more involved in community philanthropy. Above all, she said, “it is an honor to be able to have a voice for the residents of Newaygo County.”

Kent Karnemaat, an owner of Karnemaat Farms, was also raised in Fremont. He and his wife chose to raise their 10 children in Fremont as well. With a deep commitment to Newaygo County’s quality of life, Karnemaat cites education and employment as two areas of special interest.

“I want to do anything I can to encourage people to get an education,” he said. “We have to make sure we have an educated, trained work force in Newaygo County.”

Serving as a Trustee was a unique way to contribute to Newaygo County. “I have been a recipient of all the benefits of living in this community,” said Karnemaat. “All good things take effort and work to get started and to keep them going. I am at a place in my life where I can help do that work.”

Denise Suttles moved from Grand Rapids to Woodland Park 15 years ago and quickly immersed herself in the community. She became a pastor at First Baptist Church of Woodland Park where she helped build an extensive youth program. She also worked with Project Focus and volunteers in local schools.

“I have a heart for youth and for breaking the generational cycle of poverty,” said Suttles, whose motivation stems from her own childhood. “I was one of those children. I can identify. It takes radical passion to change generational cycles.”

Suttles brings that passion to the Community Foundation where she is particularly excited about the developing poverty to prosperity work. “I like the focus on community and long-range goals of changing the mindset of poverty,” said Suttles. “I’m excited to be here for these changes. It’s a joy.”

All three new Trustees will play a vital role in the future of the Community Foundation.

“We are excited to welcome Lola, Kent, and Denise to the Board of Trustees,” said Carla Roberts, Community Foundation President and CEO. “Their knowledge, perspectives, and commitment to the people of Newaygo County will only serve to enhance our work in the community.”

Lynne Robinson learned about the importance of service from her parents and grandparents.

“They always looked for the positive in people,” she said. “They taught me to help find solutions, not be part of the problem.

On June 30, Lynne and her husband David were honored for a lifetime of service by receiving the Council of Michigan Foundation (CMF) Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy. The award was presented at the Governor’s Service Awards event in Detroit.

Lynne, a retired elementary school teacher with 33 years of experience, completed nine years of service as a Trustee of Fremont Area Community Foundation in June of this year. She has been an active ambassador of the Community Foundation and was involved in several committees during her tenure, chairing the distribution and education committees. Under her leadership, the Community Foundation adopted the ambitious Goal 2025 and created a partnership with WE CAN! Newaygo County, the local college and career access network.

David, a retired registered nurse, is currently a board member at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and serves on the board of education for Grant Public Schools. He is also the vice president of the board for the Newaygo County Regional Educational Services Agency (NC RESA) and served on the academic preparation/high school graduation action team for WE CAN! Newaygo County.

The Robinsons received the Russell G. Mawby award for demonstrating a lifetime commitment to encouraging private action for the public good though the giving of time, talent, and resources.

David and Lynne’s contributions to the Grant and Newaygo County area are widespread. They include leadership in a successful campaign for a new district library in Grant, volunteering to help catalogue over 10,000 artifacts for the Newaygo County Museum and Heritage Center, and giving to numerous funds at the Fremont Area Community Foundation for two decades. The Robinsons were also active in the Community Foundation’s 2006 Hunger Initiative in cooperation with Feeding America West Michigan. This work involved volunteering at numerous mobile food pantries.

As one judge for the award said, “Lynne and Dave see a need and pitch in—we should all be so lucky to have them as neighbors!”

Carla Roberts, Community Foundation President and CEO, also praised the Robinsons.

“This award is the highest honor given by CMF each year to applaud a lifetime of giving and service,” she said. “Lynne and Dave have been tireless in their volunteerism and work to make the Community Foundation, schools, and other local nonprofits be sustainable organizations that improve the lives of Newaygo County residents.”


CMF and the Michigan Nonprofit Association created the Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy in 1995 to honor the founder of both organizations. Mawby is also the retired chairman and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The award honors Mawby’s work and philosophy in encouraging private action for the public good through philanthropy.