Nurturing Youth / Supporting Seniors

Nurturing Youth / Supporting Seniors

Pokagon Fund-summer-camp-header-1
New Buffalo Softball and Baseball collage

NEW BUFFALO SPORTS: SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL

Instilling in the youth of Harbor Country the spirit of competition and the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship are among the laudable goals of the New Buffalo Sports softball and baseball program, the longest continuously running program for youth that has been supported by The Pokagon Fund since 2007. Each year up to 160 boys and girls ages 5-14 representing eight local communities compete from April through July.

Grants from the Fund totaling over $100,000 have provided scholarship support through the years to ensure that no child will be left out of the program. Equipment and uniforms are also provided. All players proudly wear on their sleeve of their uniforms the words, “THE POKAGON FUND”.

The sense of self-worth and achievement gained by hundreds of youngsters through the years after completing a season-long commitment to a team effort makes this one of the most rewarding youth programs supported by the Fund.

New Buffalo Softball and Baseball collage

NEW BUFFALO SPORTS: SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL

Instilling in the youth of Harbor Country the spirit of competition and the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship are among the laudable goals of the New Buffalo Sports softball and baseball program, the longest continuously running program for youth that has been supported by The Pokagon Fund since 2007. Each year up to 160 boys and girls ages 5-14 representing eight local communities compete from April through July.

Grants from the Fund totaling over $100,000 have provided scholarship support through the years to ensure that no child will be left out of the program. Equipment and uniforms are also provided. All players proudly wear on their sleeve of their uniforms the words, “THE POKAGON FUND”.

The sense of self-worth and achievement gained by hundreds of youngsters through the years after completing a season-long commitment to a team effort makes this one of the most rewarding youth programs supported by the Fund.

Exterior of River Valley Senior Center, Meeting, and bingo night

RIVER VALLEY SENIOR CENTER

As the only facility of its kind in Harbor Country, the River Valley Senior Center is a welcome refuge for residents who are 60 years and older and able to take advantage of the Center’s educational, recreational, social, transportation and referral services.

A major renovation of the Center’s facility was completed in 2019 with the support of a $100,000 grant from The Pokagon Fund. In addition to a total revamping of the building entrance, including an ADA-compliant access ramp, automatic entrance doors installed during Phase I of the renovation have made access to the building much easier for seniors. Phase II of the renovation included a makeover of the main entrance room, new office spaces, two ADA-compliant rest rooms, modernization of the dining and recreational space in the lower level and other amenities.

Maintaining the physical and mental health of the seniors is a priority of the Center. Seniors who regularly attend the Center’s classes on balance issues and self-management classes on diabetes and pain issues have been able to spend less time with their medical providers or in the hospital. In addition, subsidized meals, and recreational activities, including cribbage, euchre, dance classes, bingo and watercolor painting classes have made the Center a big draw for the elders of Harbor Country.

Exterior of River Valley Senior Center, Meeting, and bingo night

RIVER VALLEY SENIOR CENTER

As the only facility of its kind in Harbor Country, the River Valley Senior Center is a welcome refuge for residents who are 60 years and older and able to take advantage of the Center’s educational, recreational, social, transportation and referral services.

A major renovation of the Center’s facility was completed in 2019 with the support of a $100,000 grant from The Pokagon Fund. In addition to a total revamping of the building entrance, including an ADA-compliant access ramp, automatic entrance doors installed during Phase I of the renovation have made access to the building much easier for seniors. Phase II of the renovation included a makeover of the main entrance room, new office spaces, two ADA-compliant rest rooms, modernization of the dining and recreational space in the lower level and other amenities.

Maintaining the physical and mental health of the seniors is a priority of the Center. Seniors who regularly attend the Center’s classes on balance issues and self-management classes on diabetes and pain issues have been able to spend less time with their medical providers or in the hospital. In addition, subsidized meals, and recreational activities, including cribbage, euchre, dance classes, bingo and watercolor painting classes have made the Center a big draw for the elders of Harbor Country.

Girls on the run running program race photos

GIRLS ON THE RUN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Inspiring young girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them one of a kind is the goal of Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan.

Supported by scholarships from The Pokagon Fund since 2017, this all-girls organization conducts a running program for girls between the ages of 8-14 at the New Buffalo Elementary and River Valley Middle School. Combining physical and social training with themes that girls can relate to, Girls on the Run addresses the whole girl—body, brain, heart, spirit and social connection. Life skills are learned such as team building, developing a support system, boundary setting, decision making, asking for and providing help and much more.

Over the course of a ten-week program, girls learn to appreciate the importance of health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to apply all that they have learned by completing a celebratory 5K event (3.1 miles).

Girls on the run running program race photos

GIRLS ON THE RUN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN

Inspiring young girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them one of a kind is the goal of Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan.

Supported by scholarships from The Pokagon Fund since 2017, this all-girls organization conducts a running program for girls between the ages of 8-14 at the New Buffalo Elementary and River Valley Middle School. Combining physical and social training with themes that girls can relate to, Girls on the Run addresses the whole girl—body, brain, heart, spirit and social connection. Life skills are learned such as team building, developing a support system, boundary setting, decision making, asking for and providing help and much more.

Over the course of a ten-week program, girls learn to appreciate the importance of health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to apply all that they have learned by completing a celebratory 5K event (3.1 miles).

Southold Dance Theater Live Play Shots and Rehearsal Photos

SOUTHOLD DANCE THEATER

The annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker, became a tradition in the cultural life of Harbor Country starting with the first grant awarded to the Southold Dance Theater in 2008.

The ballet provides a unique opportunity for local children ages 4 – 10 to dance in the ballet and perform before parents, grandparents, friends and relatives. The Southold Dance Theater recruits and provides training sessions that acquaint these young dancers with the basics of ballet and the roles that they will play in the live performance. Two full-scale productions are offered each year in December at no cost to residents of Harbor Country.

Significantly, this program not only enriches the lives of children in Harbor Country who have the opportunity to perform in a professional production, but it also serves the youth from South Bend who train and perform year-round with the Southold Dance Theater which is based in South Bend, one of the communities surrounding the Pokagon Band’s trust land consolidation sites in Indiana.

Southold Dance Theater Live Play Shots and Rehearsal Photos

SOUTHOLD DANCE THEATER

The annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker, became a tradition in the cultural life of Harbor Country starting with the first grant awarded to the Southold Dance Theater in 2008.

The ballet provides a unique opportunity for local children ages 4 – 10 to dance in the ballet and perform before parents, grandparents, friends and relatives. The Southold Dance Theater recruits and provides training sessions that acquaint these young dancers with the basics of ballet and the roles that they will play in the live performance. Two full-scale productions are offered each year in December at no cost to residents of Harbor Country.

Significantly, this program not only enriches the lives of children in Harbor Country who have the opportunity to perform in a professional production, but it also serves the youth from South Bend who train and perform year-round with the Southold Dance Theater which is based in South Bend, one of the communities surrounding the Pokagon Band’s trust land consolidation sites in Indiana.

Caring Circle photo and photos of New Buffalo Township senior-friendly adult exercise equipment

SENIOR SUPPORT PROJECTS

Support for seniors is always a consideration in the funding of programs that benefit the whole community, but also meet the particular needs of seniors. Neighbor by Neighbor (NbyN) is one such program.

NbyN serves primarily as a referral agency that connects residents of Harbor Country with resources and services to address immediate needs. NbyN has identified the most critical immediate needs, including utility payment assistance, need for food and finding housing. Seniors with limited income and resources are among those most in need of such assistance. The Pokagon Fund is committed to providing funding to NbyN.

Partnering with New Buffalo Township and the Harbor Country Rotary Club, the Pokagon Fund supported the creation of a “senior friendly” 7-station oasis of adult exercise equipment at the township’s Memorial Park.

The Fund also partnered with Caring Circle, a Lakeland Health affiliate, in the transitions program that provides programs for seniors with advanced progressive illness and their families who are experiencing grief to help them navigate the care continuum and make the best choices for their individual care.

Caring Circle photo and photos of New Buffalo Township senior-friendly adult exercise equipment

SENIOR SUPPORT PROJECTS

Support for seniors is always a consideration in the funding of programs that benefit the whole community, but also meet the particular needs of seniors. Neighbor by Neighbor (NbyN) is one such program.

NbyN serves primarily as a referral agency that connects residents of Harbor Country with resources and services to address immediate needs. NbyN has identified the most critical immediate needs, including utility payment assistance, need for food and finding housing. Seniors with limited income and resources are among those most in need of such assistance. The Pokagon Fund is committed to providing funding to NbyN.

Partnering with New Buffalo Township and the Harbor Country Rotary Club, the Pokagon Fund supported the creation of a “senior friendly” 7-station oasis of adult exercise equipment at the township’s Memorial Park.

The Fund also partnered with Caring Circle, a Lakeland Health affiliate, in the transitions program that provides programs for seniors with advanced progressive illness and their families who are experiencing grief to help them navigate the care continuum and make the best choices for their individual care.

Students playing instruments

SCHOOL OF AMERICAN MUSIC

The School of American Music (SAM) headquartered in Three Oaks offers quality, one-on-one instruction in instrumental music, voice, music theory and composition to the youth of Harbor Country. For those students who cannot afford classes, SAM provides scholarships. From a single student in April 2012, SAM has grown to serve more than 100 students, many of them young aspiring musicians. SAM also supports student performance groups that perform blues, bluegrass and pop.

The Pokagon Fund has supported SAM in the creation of its Arts and Entertainment Center in the building once used as the Three Oaks Village Hall where many of its classes for youth are conducted. One such class, World Drumming, provides training in percussion instruments for middle school students from the River Valley School District after the end of the school day.

Music has always been a way for young people to be creative and express themselves and is supported by The Pokagon Fund as a means to foster community vitality.

Students playing instruments

SCHOOL OF AMERICAN MUSIC

The School of American Music (SAM) headquartered in Three Oaks offers quality, one-on-one instruction in instrumental music, voice, music theory and composition to the youth of Harbor Country. For those students who cannot afford classes, SAM provides scholarships. From a single student in April 2012, SAM has grown to serve more than 100 students, many of them young aspiring musicians. SAM also supports student performance groups that perform blues, bluegrass and pop.

The Pokagon Fund has supported SAM in the creation of its Arts and Entertainment Center in the building once used as the Three Oaks Village Hall where many of its classes for youth are conducted. One such class, World Drumming, provides training in percussion instruments for middle school students from the River Valley School District after the end of the school day.

Music has always been a way for young people to be creative and express themselves and is supported by The Pokagon Fund as a means to foster community vitality.

Photo collage of reading programs

LITERACY PROJECTS

The main thrust of The Pokagon Fund’s efforts to promote literacy in the areas it serves has been to provide preschoolers and students with books, books and more books as well as literacy training.

Partnering with United Way of Southwest Michigan, the Fund participates in providing one age-appropriate book a month from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to all Harbor Country newborns in their first year of life through their fifth birthday, regardless of income. The Pokagon Fund also sponsored three literacy training seminars conducted in 2018 and 2019 by Education Trust-Midwest for teachers and administrators from the River Valley and New Buffalo School Districts.

In the Pokagon Band community of Hartford, the Redwood Elementary School was provided funding to build classroom libraries of age-appropriate books for children from kindergarten to 3rd grade by supplying 750 books to 19 classrooms. In Dowagiac, Literacy Kits were provided to third grade classrooms to increase early childhood literacy.

In South Bend, La Casa de Amistad was awarded funding for the La Casa Bilingual Pre-Kindergarten Program which was used to provide dual language programs in Spanish to pre‐kindergarten students. The education curriculum includes cognitive development, language literacy and math and reading comprehension.

Photo collage of reading programs

LITERACY PROJECTS

The main thrust of The Pokagon Fund’s efforts to promote literacy in the areas it serves has been to provide preschoolers and students with books, books and more books as well as literacy training.

Partnering with United Way of Southwest Michigan, the Fund participates in providing one age-appropriate book a month from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to all Harbor Country newborns in their first year of life through their fifth birthday, regardless of income. The Pokagon Fund also sponsored three literacy training seminars conducted in 2018 and 2019 by Education Trust-Midwest for teachers and administrators from the River Valley and New Buffalo School Districts.

In the Pokagon Band community of Hartford, the Redwood Elementary School was provided funding to build classroom libraries of age-appropriate books for children from kindergarten to 3rd grade by supplying 750 books to 19 classrooms. In Dowagiac, Literacy Kits were provided to third grade classrooms to increase early childhood literacy.

In South Bend, La Casa de Amistad was awarded funding for the La Casa Bilingual Pre-Kindergarten Program which was used to provide dual language programs in Spanish to pre‐kindergarten students. The education curriculum includes cognitive development, language literacy and math and reading comprehension.

Group Photo of Camp Millhouse

SUMMER CAMPS

Summer Camps take many forms, but they are all designed to allow children to learn new skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The Pokagon Fund embraces these camps because it considers them to be essential to the growth and nurturing of the youngsters in the communities it serves. Two of the camps supported by the Fund are described below.

The Summer Day Camp program of the River Valley School District has provided preschoolers through 5th grade students with a curriculum that teaches basic skills, including cooking, gardening, hiking and fishing as well as other purely fun learning experiences. By including families and community members in the camp, a very safe and stable environment has been created resulting in increased attendance over the years.

Camp Millhouse in South Bend is a special place for special people. It emphasizes empowerment, independence and compassion in a summer camp environment for youngsters who must deal with varying disability challenges. Campers rotate through exciting activities each day surrounded by fellow campers and staff who don't judge, but embrace everyone's differences. Every child can be themselves among their peers and others who have similar obstacles in their lives.

Group Photo of Camp Millhouse

SUMMER CAMPS

Summer Camps take many forms, but they are all designed to allow children to learn new skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The Pokagon Fund embraces these camps because it considers them to be essential to the growth and nurturing of the youngsters in the communities it serves. Two of the camps supported by the Fund are described below.

The Summer Day Camp program of the River Valley School District has provided preschoolers through 5th grade students with a curriculum that teaches basic skills, including cooking, gardening, hiking and fishing as well as other purely fun learning experiences. By including families and community members in the camp, a very safe and stable environment has been created resulting in increased attendance over the years.

Camp Millhouse in South Bend is a special place for special people. It emphasizes empowerment, independence and compassion in a summer camp environment for youngsters who must deal with varying disability challenges. Campers rotate through exciting activities each day surrounded by fellow campers and staff who don't judge, but embrace everyone's differences. Every child can be themselves among their peers and others who have similar obstacles in their lives.

Meals on Wheels and packing food

FOOD SUPPORT FOR YOUTH AND SENIORS

Of all the programs that The Pokagon Fund supports, the most critical need that requires funding is providing food to those in need. There are a number of these programs that are directed specifically at the young and the elderly.

“Backpack” programs are designed to ensure that students are provided food for the weekends when they do not have access to meals provided by their school districts. The Blessings in a Backpack program in the River Valley School District provides weekend nutrition during the school year via backpacks of non-perishable food. Teacher surveys found that students who received backpacks had improved attendance, were more alert and better able to concentrate in class. The Dowagiac Public Schools Backpack Program funded through St. Francis Outreach provided 3,840 meals during the school year to 120 children resulting in improved academic performance.

The funding of the “No Harbor Country Senior Hungry” program helped Harbor Country seniors by providing meals at community sites or delivering meals to client’s homes through Meals on Wheels. A total of 147 seniors were served 28,440 meals over a 2-year grant period.

Meals on Wheels and packing food

FOOD SUPPORT FOR YOUTH AND SENIORS

Of all the programs that The Pokagon Fund supports, the most critical need that requires funding is providing food to those in need. There are a number of these programs that are directed specifically at the young and the elderly.

“Backpack” programs are designed to ensure that students are provided food for the weekends when they do not have access to meals provided by their school districts. The Blessings in a Backpack program in the River Valley School District provides weekend nutrition during the school year via backpacks of non-perishable food. Teacher surveys found that students who received backpacks had improved attendance, were more alert and better able to concentrate in class. The Dowagiac Public Schools Backpack Program funded through St. Francis Outreach provided 3,840 meals during the school year to 120 children resulting in improved academic performance.

The funding of the “No Harbor Country Senior Hungry” program helped Harbor Country seniors by providing meals at community sites or delivering meals to client’s homes through Meals on Wheels. A total of 147 seniors were served 28,440 meals over a 2-year grant period.

Photo of two women trying on glasses

POKAGON FUND VISION PROGRAM

The Pokagon Fund Vision Program is the prime example of a Pokagon Fund program that fulfills the theme of this 2018-2019 Annual report, Nurturing Youth/Supporting Seniors. The purpose of the Vision Program is to provide in Harbor Country free comprehensive eye examinations and, as needed, a pair of prescription glasses to every youngster, regardless of family income, and to every senior over 50 years of age who meets prescribed income limitations.

In 2018, The Pokagon Fund took administration of the program in-house and engaged the New Buffalo office of Smoke Vision Care (Smoke) to be the sole provider of services for the Vision Program in Harbor Country. The Fund’s Board of Directors believed that it was not only important to use the services of a local provider, they also believed that the convenience of providing services in Harbor Country would result in greater usage of the program. They were proved correct.

After the first year of operation using the New Buffalo office of Smoke, the Vision Program has approved a total of 111 applications consisting of 80 seniors and 31 youth. The purpose and the benefit of the program is captured in this typical comment from a financially challenged senior who received new glasses: “Extremely satisfied! I can’t thank you enough for giving the gift of sight.”

Photo of two women trying on glasses

POKAGON FUND VISION PROGRAM

The Pokagon Fund Vision Program is the prime example of a Pokagon Fund program that fulfills the theme of this 2018-2019 Annual report, Nurturing Youth/Supporting Seniors. The purpose of the Vision Program is to provide in Harbor Country free comprehensive eye examinations and, as needed, a pair of prescription glasses to every youngster, regardless of family income, and to every senior over 50 years of age who meets prescribed income limitations.

In 2018, The Pokagon Fund took administration of the program in-house and engaged the New Buffalo office of Smoke Vision Care (Smoke) to be the sole provider of services for the Vision Program in Harbor Country. The Fund’s Board of Directors believed that it was not only important to use the services of a local provider, they also believed that the convenience of providing services in Harbor Country would result in greater usage of the program. They were proved correct.

After the first year of operation using the New Buffalo office of Smoke, the Vision Program has approved a total of 111 applications consisting of 80 seniors and 31 youth. The purpose and the benefit of the program is captured in this typical comment from a financially challenged senior who received new glasses: “Extremely satisfied! I can’t thank you enough for giving the gift of sight.”

For more information on The Pokagon Fund visit pokagonfund.org