A Message From Dawn

1989. Do you know what you were doing that year? I was a senior in college. A gallon of gas was 98¢. Tim Berners-Lee theorized what is now the modern-day Internet. Lloyd Dobler became the poster-guy for the perfect boyfriend in the movie Say Anything. And, Taylor Swift was born. Whether you’re a Tay-Tay fan or not, it’s pretty hard to deny the music icon that she is with her sold-out crowds and legendary status as an award-winning performer. She’s a country/pop crossover artist who has the attention of the media and the masses. As of September, 9th Billboard Magazine reported that her 1989 World Tour had already sold over 1.1M tickets! I find this fascinating, not because she’s just a 25 year-old who never knew life without the Internet, but because she penned a few stanzas about Grant County’s very own James Dean in one of her biggest hits on the 1989 album, Style. You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye And I got that red lip, classic thing that you like And when we go crashing down, we come back every time 'Cause we never go out of style We never go out of style. Rumor has...

Last year we took a lovely vacation to Saugatuck, Michigan where we enjoyed touring a delightful small town filled with lovely shoppes, some once-in-a-lifetime deep-sea fishing, and a heart-palpitating ride on a schooner at the Saugatuck Sand Dunes.  So.  Much. Fun.  If you’ve never experienced a sand dune ride, add it to your bucket list before you forget! The sand-filled hills create sort of a land-coaster effect and the schooner is very Jurassic Park, sans the dinosaurs, of course.   And, although the adrenaline rush was amazing, the educational commentary offered up by our tour guide was pretty fascinating, too.  Did you know that one of Michigan’s main exports to the Arab Nations is sand?  Seriously, I’m not even kidding here!  I know it sounds like selling snow to the Eskimos, but it’s actually true.  Arab Nations actually NEED sand imported in order to make glass and concrete to construct their buildings.  How can that be, you ask.  Well, apparently, just because you have sand, doesn’t mean it’s good sand.  Not all sand can make quality glass or concrete.  And, without those two things, ones construction options are severely limited.  So, to solve their problem, they import sand from the U.S. and...

I just love Post-It Notes…love them! And, I can actually track back to the exact time in my life when I fell in love with those colorful little sticky inventions; it was 25 years ago when I was a 1st grade teacher in Texas. The year was 1990 and I was blessed to work under an incredible principal, Janie Milner.  Janie was both a model teacher and a remarkable leader and I am thankful for my years in Texas spent with her.  My all-time favorite thing that she did was to visit EVERY teacher’s classroom EVERY week.  Seriously, who does that?  She was incredible!  Although the visits were brief, she’d sit back and watch us teach and interact with our students.  Because of her frequent presence, she knew my student’s names just as well as she did the staff who worked with her. And the best part?  Before she left she’d grab one of her stellar stacks of sticky notes and leave us a quick message about what she saw us do that she just loved.  It might have been a book we were reading or how we ‘caught’ a student doing the right thing and made a big deal about...

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. No offense to Dickens’ classic Tale of Two Cites, but this is exactly what it feels like to send your first-born off to college. But, as hard as this move was, it was actually the second toughest move we’ve made with our son Griffin. The first one was a full 18 years ago…in a plane…when he was a baby. Have you ever been the one traveling in-a-plane-with-a-baby? I know two things for sure.  People do love babies. People do not love babies on planes. It all started after I graduated from college and decided that I wanted to teach in the one the best school districts in the U.S. at the time. That district happened to be in Plano, Texas. So, I packed up my stuff and made that loooooooong drive from Indiana to Texas. I was all alone in my unairconditioned Ford Escort with the smallest U-Haul available for rental dragging behind me. (Mainly because that was all the horsepower my car could pull, but it was the perfect size to actually move everything I owned in the entire world!) I was in Texas a full 8 years...

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming! That’s one of my favorite movie lines by none other than Dory from Finding Nemo. No doubt, there has been more than a few times I’ve repeated that line to myself in the past 3 ½ year. It was at that time I was promoted to the position of Executive Director at the Community Foundation. It was also at the time when I learned that my current position of Development Manager wouldn’t be filled. The staff was shrinking from 5 to 4, but the workload remained the same. That’s the definition of bittersweet for sure. But, we had a job to do and with fewer people to get it all done, there was no time to waste. So, we just kept swimming. And, not just any kind of swimming. I’m talking Michael-Phelps-Gold-Medal-Winning-Olympic-Swimming. And, it worked. Over the past 3 ½ years, we’ve increased the number of donors, number of donations, and overall donation amounts significantly. Above I’ve compared 2013 results to both 2014 and 2015 to show the impressive increases. Additionally, since Lilly Endowment was so generous in 2014 with their $1,000,000 gift and matching opportunity and knowing how that type of donation can really...

Have you ever had a DIDJA? It’s a genius idea really…one my family took advantage of on a recent vacation. DIDJA as you might guess stands for ‘DID YOU’. On the restaurant menu they had a category entitled DIDJAS. These DIDJAS were served as super-small appetizers for adventurous diners young and old. For example, “DIDJA ever want to try escargot?” And, if you never had, but always wanted to try it, a small sample would quickly arrive at your table. If you loved the DIDJA, great. If you hated the DIDJA, fine. It didn’t really matter since it was just a sample. They removed the risk involved in partaking of new, exotic delights: cost and waste. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘DIDJAS’. There’s no question that life is full of limits. Limited time. Limited money. Limited knowledge. Perhaps the only thing limitless is the potential challenges you might experience in the face of real-life, non-foodie DIDJAS. DIDJA ever want to increase your community’s literacy rate? DIDJA ever want to guarantee every student the opportunity to go to college if that was their desire? DIDJA ever want to make a donation to charity that you knew would decrease...

In the words of the great philosopher, Katie of Gas City, (my 8-year old niece), “Go big or go home. And since we’re already home, we have to go big.”  Well, there you have it folks.  If you’re already home, you have to go big.  And, Grant County is our home, so we really have no choice, now do we?  There’s been a wholelotta ‘going BIG’ going on at the Community Foundation lately.  We just ended our fiscal year, and although the final count isn’t in yet, it looks like our donations exceed $3.3M this year.  The generosity around here just boggles the mind. In addition to that, we completed our inaugural BIG IDEA grant cycle.  For the first time ever, we offered our local charities the opportunity to apply for a grant of +/- $150,000! That’s a considerable amount of money when you see that our average grants in the past were approximately $6,500.  There were 38 BIG IDEAS submitted.  Thirty-eight!  That’s a lot of applications to review and nearly 6 months of meetings before we came to a decision. We had many sidebar meetings with local stakeholders, conducted a great deal of due diligence, and then had even more discussion...

It’s just past noon and I’m already on my second airport for the day:  Chicago O’Hare.  Now I sit writing this blog from a swivel chair at a swanky tech-table with more power outlets within reach than I can count on two hands.  During my jet-setting days airports weren’t so savvy.  I recall sitting on dirty airport floors next to other traveling professionals grabbing power from the only wall outlet in sight.  Good times, good times.  But, my most vivid memory of the O’Hare Airport was a failed attempt to make it back home from L.A. due to a massive snow storm in Chicago.  Thankfully, American Airlines put me up in a hotel for the night so I could fly out safely in the morning.  I recall the snow pelting my face as the shuttle picked me up.  Then, a few blocks later, the driver dropped several stranded passengers off at the nearest hotel.  And this is where it gets weird, I mean memorable.  I walked into the lobby to discover that I was smack dab in the middle of an Amish Convention.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.  At that time, the extent of my knowledge for the...

When I was a little girl, screen printed t-shirts were all the rage. I remember that there used to a be a store in the Mercker’s strip mall in Gas City where you would go, pick out your shirt, choose the picture you liked the best, and watch as this big hot copy machine-looking contraption would iron on the transfer on the front of your shirt ,and your name on the back. (I must admit that the only type of iron on I use now is when I try to press a wrinkle or two out of my dress while still wearing it, but I may be sharing a bit too much. :)) On one particular trip to this store my sister, Robyn, and I both got t-shirts. You can see a picture of her actual t-shirt to the left. I have no idea where mine went, but I do know it was a ringer shirt just like hers, but I chose baby blue instead. However, this second part I remember well. I wanted to put the picture on the back of my shirt and put my name on the front of the shirt. The salesman kindly told me...

I learn a lot from my students.  This is probably why I’ve continued to teach a Communications class at Indiana Wesleyan for the past 11 or 12 years.  They’re young and bright.  They’re encouraging and energetic.  They love deeply and care actively.  They’re full of life and all that it has to offer.  The hope that bubbles over when I’m with them is contagious.  They believe that anything is possible.  And, I don’t know about you, but I need that.  I need those reminders.  Because whether I like to admit it or not, something happens to us as we age.  With age comes wisdom.  But, does age also bring apathy?  Do we care less, lose hope, stop trying?  Do we believe that things will never change so we stop trying to make a difference?  I like to think that I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky gal with a can-do approach.  But, even I have to admit that this week’s been a doozy.  So, I look to my students.  I think back to when I was as spirited as they are.  I fondly remember back when it was me against the world and I liked the odds.   And I remind myself what matters. ...