Ferndale Community Foundation Redefines, Encourages Ferndale Social Awareness
The grassroots organization nourishes Ferndale's sense of community awareness and helps fund local nonprofit initiatives.
Ferndale is no stranger to community involvement. With armies of volunteers putting together its many festivals – the Ferndale Blues Festival or the DIY Fest – or the various bar crawls they have organized, it seems as if volunteers power every city event.
But why? What exactly makes Ferndalians so active in the community? Well, a key piece to that is the Ferndale Community Foundation, an organization whose mission is to help nourish this sense of community awareness in the city and as well as to raise and keep funds within the Ferndale borders.
The foundation assists a number of the community initiatives, including FernCare, the Ferndale Youth Assistance program, and several initiatives within the Ferndale Public Library. It also has supported projects within the public schools, such as funding for advanced biology equipment, as well as more for politically active groups, such as the Peace Action Committee.
So who are the individuals behind all this work, and how do they manage to help or fund so many organizations in Ferndale?
Board member and foundation president Dan Martin said foundation staff and board members are all unpaid volunteers from the community.
“It is not the work of one person, but rather the facilitation of very talented people,” said Martin. “Our focus is to raise money year-round to provide an annual grant cycle that any project in the city can apply to for funding."
Martin himself is an example of how the Ferndale community thrives in coming together for its residents.
Martin, 38, moved to Ferndale in 2004 at the suggestion of his friends. He didn't intend to become actively involved in Ferndale, let alone become the president of an organization that promotes active involvement in the community.
But he did. And four years later, his Ferndale resume oozes with involvement. He's on the board of directors of the Michigan AIDS Coalition, served on Ferndale’s Arts and Culture Commission and was on the Police and Fire Board.
“Ferndale has a tremendously healthy nonprofit culture and has a genuine desire to improve the community in general," Martin said. "If you want to get involved in something, come to Ferndale."
Craig Covey, Oakland County's 25th District commissioner and former Ferndale mayor, helped begin the foundation with former City Manager Tom Barwin in 2002. Covey served three years as the first board president and is still on the board.
“There are no staff persons or overhead costs," Covey said. "We set up a lofty goal of creating a $1 million endowment within 10 years. While that is a steep climb, it could happen, and the benefits would be astounding."
Another board member, Jeannie Davis, said the foundation is successful because its board members are always doing something in Ferndale.
“The foundation participates in many of Ferndale's events: the art fair, DreamCruise, blues fest and winter fest,” she said.
The foundation also offers assistance and consulting in the grant-writing process, often the most difficult part for nonprofit organizations trying to get their first funds.
“The nonprofits we award grants to are always Ferndale groups and tend to be groups (that) aren't always in the public eye,” said Davis.
On March 8, the foundation will host its annual Taste of Ferndale fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations at Via Nove, complete with a silent auction. Volunteers can help facilitate the event or even donate to the silent auction.
For more information and to get involved, e-mail Dan Martin at email@example.com or call 248-672-4667.
Correction: Dan Martin moved to Ferndale in 2004.