Imagine a young man who spent his teens in foster care. He turned 18 while in a group home and found out that foster care is releasing him. He had no family to assist him as he moved toward self-reliance, so his social worker helped him find a local job and a small apartment. However, his job required some nice clothes, and his closet consisted of three pairs of jeans and one pair of old tennis shoes. Where could he turn?
His social worker contacted an organization who works with transient teens, and they called the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation that had resources available from the “Teen Sharing Fund”. A voucher for new clothing and shoes set the young man up within hours so he could go to his first job with confidence.
So what was the Teen Sharing Fund?
What was the “Teen Sharing Fund” and how was it financed? The Teen Sharing Fund was established in 1999 with a monthly pledge by Dorothy Kennedy.
After serving her community as a volunteer for many years, Dorothy wanted to do more for area youth. She wanted to better understand what was being done to help youth, so she went to the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation in search of answers.
Pat Radecki, the Board Chair of the Community Foundation at the time, took Dorothy to talk to social service people, the local police and sheriff departments, school counselors, and the program director of the only local organization who worked with teens. What she discovered about the needs of our area youth sent her into action.
Personally pledging a donation to help teens on a monthly basis, Dorothy also went out and talked to friends in her church and other groups to which she belonged. She encouraged them to “make a covenant” to give monthly to this fund, so life could be better for teens in the Itasca Area. Dorothy Kennedy lived her values.
With Dorothy Kennedy’s small monthly donation, and the small donation of her friends, the Teen Sharing Fund was born. Between 1999 and her death in 2005 at the age of 92, Dorothy’s passion resulted in over 120 youth receiving small grants for immediate needs from $10 to $300.
A grant for $35 provided a teen with the support she needed to complete an electrical certification so she could get a job and support herself.
$280 provided a teen with the auto repair he needed to get to class and graduate from high school.
A simple grant of $10 provided a teen with the fee she needed to take a (dreamed about) shop class.
Dorothy Kennedy’s vision lives on
As a final testament to her big heart and generous spirit, Dorothy Kennedy left a gift to the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation in her will for $20,000.00 to continue her legacy of helping those in need. Dorothy’s legacy and passion lives on through the “Endowed Sharing Fund” at the Community Foundation.
The Endowed Sharing Fund
To get help: The Endowed Sharing Fund works with schools, churches and other human service organizations to provide crisis funding for teens, seniors and families in the Greater Itasca Area. If you or someone you know is in crisis, or needs help, contact First Call for Help by dialing 211.
To give help: Anyone can give to the Endowed Sharing Fund. Whether your contribution is $10 a month or a portion of your estate, you can personally impact the lives of people in need – right here at home.
The Community Foundation has over 280 stories to tell about individual donors in the community who have made a direct impact. Dorothy Kennedy’s vision and commitment started it, and her bequest ensured it would continue. Dorothy made the Community one of her heirs.
For more information on how you can make the community one of your heirs and leave a lasting legacy, please call or visit the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation. Additional information is available at gracf.org.
The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation serves communities, organizations, and donors throughout the Greater Itasca Area with a range of services including financial management, strategic development, technical assistance, education, and training. The Community Foundation works to build relationships with community leaders, donors, and their financial advisors to join charitable intentions with community needs.