Cook County Community Fund celebrates 10 years

Against a backdrop of artwork from the Frozen Photographers’ show at the Johnson Heritage Post gallery in Grand Marais, the Cook County Community Fund celebrated its 10th anniversary on Tuesday, October 8. Community members gathered at the gallery to enjoy music by talented local guitarist Pete Kavanaugh and to enjoy the art exhibit featuring the beauty of our area. At 6 p.m. a short program was offered, highlighting another beautiful aspect of the community—its generosity.

Howard Hedstrom, chair of the Cook County Community Fund, welcomed everyone and gave a brief history of the community fund and its affiliation with the Duluth-Superior Community Foundation. Hedstrom introduced and thanked current and past members of the Cook County board. He expressed great appreciation to Leigh Mathison of Lutsen who was one of the driving forces behind creating the Cook County Community Fund.

He asked Mathison to speak and she explained why, as an attorney specializing in estate planning, she felt so strongly that Cook County needed a mechanism to accept and manage large estate gifts. She noted that Cook County is a very giving community and people want to be able to leave a legacy gift to non-profits or to the community in general. It would have been too difficult for one of the area’s small nonprofits to set up an endowment, said Mathison, which is why the Cook County group is so grateful to have its affiliation with the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. Mathison said that organization made it possible for the Cook County Community Fund to be successful.

Holly Sampson of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation spoke next, sharing how much she enjoyed traveling up the North Shore to visit the Cook County group. She said she too, was delighted with the success of the Cook County Community Fund, recalling that it all started at a small meeting at the Blue Water Café at which $350 was collected.

The Cook County Community Fund now has assets totaling $1,091,000, some in special funds such as the Birch Grove Foundation Fund, WTIP Community Radio Fund, Violence Prevention Center and others. In the past 10 years, the fund has assisted area nonprofits by awarding 58 grants totaling $63,897 from its unrestricted funds.

Mike Carlson of the Cook County Community Fund had the honor of presenting grants to this year’s recipients. He noted that the fund had approximately $40,000 in grant requests but had only $13,000 to distribute in this grant cycle. He said the selection committee had a very difficult time determining which nonprofits should receive funding this year as they were all very worthwhile. After much deliberation, the committee agreed to make the following awards:

* Cook County Council on Aging      $1,000 To purchase an AED unit for the senior center.

* Violence Prevention Center $2,482             In support of youth programming.

* Cook County Higher Education      $1,000 To assist with conversion to computerized GED testing.

* North Shore Health Care Foundation          $2,500 For continued youth oral health programming.

* North Shore Health Care Foundation          $826    In support of Care Partners.

* Grand Marais Playhouse     $2,000 In support of youth theater productions.

* Cook County Extension      $2,000 To fund Project Start, an anti-racism program.

* Cook County Local Energy Project             $323.   In support of community energy workshops.

* North Shore Collaborative   $1,000 In support of the LOTS reading program.

If you would like more information or are interested in making a donation to the fund, call (218) 726-0232 or visit: