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Coloma Public Library to refresh Teen Space with proceeds from $5,000 Berrien Community Foundation For Good Grant

Berrien County Veterans Services looks to replace transport van


Coloma Public Library is one of the many recipients of a For Good Grant from the Berrien Community Foundation, which will help refresh and modernize the teen space. BCF has awarded $154,475 in the most recent cycle of For Good Grants.



TEENS HELPING TEENS… Berrien County Foundation T.E.A.M. secretary, Josie Balkin (center) presents a For Good Grant check in the amount of $5,000 to Coloma Public Library Assistant Director Alicia Ford (left) and library director Mary Harrison on Dec. 27, 2023. The library was one of three applicants chosen by the T.E.A.M. youth advisory committee to receive grant money. (Contributed photo)

“We want the teens in Coloma to know this is their library, too, and we want it to be appealing for them,” said library director Mary Harrison.

A variety of new seating options will be ordered soon to replace the current chairs, and new books will be added to the collection. A reconfiguration of shelves will take place, too, to truly make it a designated space for teens.

Coloma Public Library offers several programs and events targeted for youth – game nights, movie nights, crafting nights and after-hours events.

Another recipient of a For Good Grant is the Berrien County Veterans Services, who will use the dollars to replace an aging and high-mileage van that transports veterans to and from medical appointments.

“The Berrien County Veteran Service Office is thrilled to receive the support of a $10,000 For Good Grant to help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 in matching funds to purchase a new DAV Van that transports veterans to their VA medical appointments in Battle Creek,” said Berrien County Veteran Services Office Director Maureen Adams. “With only 18% of veterans in Michigan engaged in their Veterans Affairs benefits, the DAV Van is a rolling billboard that helps remind vets to check into their VA benefits.”

Berrien County Veteran Service Office partners with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to purchase large transport vans at a reduced cost. The current DAV vans operated by volunteer drivers are showing their age.

“To be able to provide a service to those who served is an honor,” said Paul Donavin, one of several volunteer van drivers. “The new van will provide assurance and reliability to get our veterans safely to their appointments.”

The rides to and from the medical center are done at no cost to the veteran. The vans are on the road multiple days each week, logging tens of thousands of miles each year.

“For Good Grants fund projects and programming that making living in Berrien County ‘good,’” said BCF Program Director Susan Matheny. “There were so many wonderful applications this round that covered a variety of offerings and programs – arts, education, seniors, community development. We encourage local nonprofits to keep bringing these innovative and vital projects to Berrien County.”

In addition to the Coloma library in the Tri-City area, Coloma PTO will use For Good Grant money to update playground equipment that will improve children’s motor skills at the elementary school. Also, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan was awarded a grant to ensure that more girls in Watervliet and Coloma area have access to a Girl Scouts experience.

For Good Grants are awarded twice a year. Each cycle, applications are reviewed by community volunteers and T.E.A.M. (Teens Exhibiting Able Minds), the youth advisory committee for BCF. Requests cover a broad range of community needs including the arts, children, community development, education, environment, health, seniors, and youth leadership and development. In addition, BCF partners with donor advised fund holders to meet funding requests.

Applications for the next round of grants are due Feb. 1, 2024. For questions or more information, contact BCF Program Director Susan Matheny at susanmatheny@berriencommunity.org.

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