Can you tell me how you first got involved with the Allegan County Community Foundation?
I became involved with the Allegan County Community Foundation in 2007, as a sophomore in high school. I was asked to join the TAG Team as a representative of Hamilton High School. I served on the TAG Team throughout my sophomore, junior and senior year (2007-2010). I was also co-President of TAG during my senior year.
Can you expand on your time with the TAG Team? What did it teach you? How have those experiences helped to shape you?
The TAG Team is a phenomenal program through the Allegan County Community Foundation. TAG Team provides an opportunity for local Allegan County students in middle school and high school to collaborate, represent, and serve their peers. TAG Team promotes a sense of service and allows the TAG members to see adversities or challenges their peers, friends and other students throughout the county face. Many students do not recognize the struggles their classmates may face, including hunger or homelessness. As a member of the TAG Team I had the opportunity to see those adversities through a different light. I had the opportunity to collaborate with students across Allegan County, hearing their experiences first-hand and being able to have those tough conversations together, respecting each person’s viewpoint and opinion. The TAG Team empowered young adults to have honest conversations, to make tough decisions to better serve and represent our peers throughout Allegan County. The ability to read, discuss and decide on the various grants, teacher mini-grants and scholarships gave us, as young adults, the chance to make a difference in the lives of others, not otherwise provided to us.
When/how did the decision to join the ACCF Board happen?
Shortly after graduating college, Theresa Bray reached out to me with an opportunity to serve in a new realm. Theresa asked if I would be interested in becoming a Board of Trustee to the Allegan County Community Foundation. After serving three years on the TAG Team in high school, I was elated with the opportunity to serve my community once again!
You are likely the youngest president the Board of Trustees has had, how does it feel?
The experiences and conversations throughout TAG and my involvement with the Foundation have expanded my outlook on the meaning of service as well as the needs of the Allegan County community that I otherwise would not have been aware of. It is an honor to represent the Board of Trustees as President. Serving as President at such a young age has been nothing shy of nerve-racking but it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow as a young adult. The support of my fellow Board members, Theresa and the ACCF staff has been truly incredible. Without their support and faith in me, my term as President would have been immensely challenging. Serving as President has encouraged me to embrace the new leadership role and seek further opportunities to serve, grow and challenge myself.
What has been one of the hardest decisions you have had to make either as a TAG member, board trustee or board president?
I think some of the most difficult decisions I have had to make is serving alongside the other members of the Distribution Committee. Thankfully the challenging decisions are not made alone, however there are difficult conversations had as we discuss the best way to serve Allegan County residents through the grants submitted by non-profits. The decisions made as a Distribution Committee are similar to the difficulties faced as a TAG member. On the TAG Team, we had the wonderful opportunity to serve our peers through grants, teacher mini-grants and scholarships. Those discussions were challenging yet gave light to new perspectives and conversations as each member interpreted the needs and requests differently.
Why is philanthropy important to you?
Philanthropy is important to me because it allows me to serve others. Without the generosity of donors and the belief in the Allegan County Community Foundation, our mission could not come to fruition. The TAG Team sparked my interest in philanthropy and joining the Board of Trustees has allowed me to continue to serve. I am fortunate to serve alongside the wonderful Board of Trustees and staff of the ACCF. I feel truly blessed to have had such a wonderful opportunity to serve, lead and grow as a young adult.