A Message From Dawn

Like many of you, I had a couple of days off over Christmas so I gave myself the gift of reading.  A friend of mine loaned me a book he enjoyed titled Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Sadly, no relation…because he’s a brilliant writer).  I’m so glad Keith shared this book with me because if he hadn’t, I assure you I never would have picked it from a shelf.  I’ve never been accused of being athletic, or event coordinated, so the sports genre isn’t my ‘go-to’—and this book is about the 1936 American Olympic Rowing Team.  I laughed.  I cried.  I was inspired.  I was sad when I finished it.  There is something to be said about the story of an underdog…or a team of underdogs.  Add in an Olympic berth and you can’t help but cheer on the salt-of-the-earth, work-for-all-you’ve-got, never-say-die group of nine men that brought home the gold from Germany in 1936.  Then, the author threw in a bit of romance and he had me at hello!  This book had all the ingredients of a great story…and so does Grant County. Last year brought us contradictory statistics noting our children as the first most impoverished...

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, someone who works at the Community Foundation may or may not have been born in a car in the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie Grocery Store.  Unfortunately, her parents didn’t name her Dixie, so it could be any one of us.  We all have a story.  We’re all writing our story each day in what we do, how we help, who we love.  I write this blog just to tell you about a few of them, because they’re remarkable.  Author Donald Miller says, “A good writer can make just about anything interesting because they know everything is.”  I love that!  I believe that.  That’s exactly why our annual report this year was titled, “Not All Superheroes Wear Capes”. We’ve been having big fun at the Community Foundation toying with our theme.  We’ve been saying things like ‘truth, justice, and the American Way’, talking about the variety of superpowers at our disposal, and dropping action words like BOOM!, POW!, and yes, Sherri Rush…BIFF! like they are part of our common, everyday language.  But, the best part of it all has been concentrating on all of the humble, ordinary people in Grant County doing extraordinary...

-by Dawn Brown Our community has failed our children. Under no circumstances will people say, We care for the next generation. That’s an untruth, the reality is Our community has been an utter disappointment. In believing that We actually succeeded Is destructive. It’s true that Looking out for #1 Is what’s best. Working together, for the greater good, with hopefulness Is a ridiculous notion. Disregarding our children Will be a difficult task, but we should do it anyway. Making Grant County a better place Isn’t something we’ll be remembered for. Abandoning hope Is how we approach adversity. All-hands-on-deck Isn’t going to happen. We all know that Most think we are destined for failure. It’s probably true, Unless we decide to flip the script. (Now read this poem from the bottom up.)              ...

The taller the hair, the closer to Jesus.  I’m not sure if I learned that during the Aqua Net era of the 80’s or while I lived in Texas.  But, the 80’s are long gone and everything’s still big in Texas, so that should tell us all something. It was the fall of 1990 when I met a fellow teacher, future roommate, and lifelong friend, Julie.  As a Hoosier, known as a Yankee in those parts, I was just learning the lay of the land in the Lone Star state.  I wasn’t even saying y’all, fixin’, or drinking sweet tea yet!  And I certainly wasn’t prepared for my first car ride with Julie—the one where I learned two important life lessons from the state of Texas:  (a) Nothing happens as fast as Texans drive fast and (b) Like it or not, country music is a stellar storyteller. You see, in Texas there is the fast lane and then there’s the really fast lane—that’s it.  You lead, follow, or get out of the way.  And while that may work in on Texas highways, it rarely works anywhere else—especially in communities trying to make significant change or sustainable impact.  Dr. Wright, President of IWU,...

Someone once told me, “If Clorox Bleach, the county fair, and M&M’s could all use your mission statement, then it’s probably not tight enough.”  True enough.  That’s the beauty of the Community Foundation of Grant County.  Our target area is easily defined in our very name…Grant County.  And our mission is true to form:  Connecting people who care with causes that matter.  So, in our little section of the world it’s paramount that we do our best to help the most generous people in our community find the most worthy causes in our community.  I guess we’re like philanthropic matchmakers…not eHarmoney, but pHarmony! So, when we began noticing ‘donation dumpsters’ littering the parking lots all across our community, we thought we should check them out.  Sure, the bins seemed to provide a concrete convenience and their request to feed them with donations pulls at your emotional heartstrings…seems like a match made in heaven, right?  Wrong.  This is what common-day marketers refer to as sticky. The old Trix Cereal campaign from the 1960s (YES, that long ago!) was sticky; Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.  The message sticks with you even after all these years.  Sticky messages are straight forward, yet tug at your...

It’s getting close to Halloween.  How can I tell?  Well, my 8 year-old niece keeps offering to do small chores around our house if we agree to pay her in Hershey bars.  Deal!  (Her parents may not be aware of this arrangement; it may be best—for me and her-- to keep it that way, if you don’t mind.)   This is one reason why Katie loves to come and visit the Community Foundation; Halloween or not, we have a year-round Candy Bar.  It’s a unique way to interact with donors and county visitors when they walk in to drop off donations, mail, or simply to learn more about Grant County.   One donor comes in several times a month instead of mailing her donations.  She said her husband likes it when she picks up some “sweets for her sweetie”.  We ran into another donor at lunch who said he was going to be stopping by soon and hoped we would have his favorite York Peppermint Patties when he came by.  (Meagan ran over to CVS right after lunch and we were ready when he came in to make his donation a few days later.)  Our little Candy Bar is just part of...

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...