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By JoAnna Ness, Aug 28 2020 04:48PM

Shannon Thomas, Executive Director of Turning Point, shared that the mission of Turning Point is to supply housing to men, women, and children, and help them “to get back on their feet, spiritually, mentally, and financially.” In describing the realities Turning Point residents must overcome, Shannon noted, “we’re providing more than just a bed.” Turning Point comes alongside people and guides them through programs created to help them learn self-sufficiency. Some of the programming provided by Turning Point includes classes on nutrition, parenting, anger management, bible studies, and their most recent addition, courses to prepare for the Indiana High School Equivalency Test. They also offer classes on budgeting thanks to Flagstar Bank, and they partner with KeyBank to provide their residents with bank accounts.

The latest success story of Turning Point was shared most recently in the local paper, as they hired two new staff members who were both graduates of the program. These staff members will be able to use their experiences to give back to and improve Turning Point for the future. Turning Point has grown tremendously in the last 10 years from an organization that provided a few days of housing for around 70 residents per year, to an organization that provides housing and programming for an average of 5-6 months for approximately 190 residents per year. Turning Point is a unique organization, because unlike many other homeless shelters, they house a Family Wing where couples and families can remain together.

Turning Point works closely with Women in Transition, TLC House, and Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry to name few nonprofits, as they bring together a community to support their residents where they need help most. Thanks to generous donations, Turning Point is able to provide graduates of their programs with furniture and basic furnishings when they complete the program. Shannon shared she loves to see graduates excited for their new home, and to watch residents rebuild their self-esteem as they move through the program. She shared it is encouraging to see graduates from Turning Point doing well in the community and to hear from them about their successes. Turning Point will soon hold a Handprint Ceremony where they will invite graduates of the program to place their handprints on a wall in the Turning Point facility. This ceremony will serve as a physical reminder of the successes of their graduates for current residents.

Turning Point recently received a matching grant opportunity from the Steuben County Community Foundation’s Disaster Response Fund. Shannon shared that without Turning Point’s board and a community’s worth of support, she would not be able to do what she loves, and Turning Point would be unable to provide its vital programs to Steuben County.

By JoAnna Ness, Aug 13 2020 07:20PM

This year, nonprofits in Steuben County have faced new financial challenges. Canceled and postponed fundraising events disrupted their anticipated cash flows. Some individuals lost jobs, making it difficult to donate as generously. In the midst of this challenging time, SCCF was able to award more than $320,000 in grants to 74 organizations through donor-established designated funds.

The past two years, SCCF has celebrated this annual distribution at our annual public meeting.

“We decided that in the midst of COVID-19, our decision to cancel the public meeting shouldn’t overshadow these grant awards. We wanted to give our local nonprofits a reason to celebrate a little!” shared Jennifer Danic, SCCF President and CEO.

By JoAnna Ness, Jul 15 2020 03:20PM

Project Help started in 1989 as a grassroots effort of the Steuben County Ministerial Association. Their goal was to address the most basic needs of the community in one location, including providing food, toiletries, bedding, furniture, clothing, housewares, and school supplies. Today, Project Help serves as a community wide pantry for Steuben County residents, and helps direct people to the resources they need. They fulfill their mission of helping others to take a step towards self-sufficiency by collaborating with other organizations. Project Help has been essential in helping other organizations fill the needs of the community such as Faith Community Health Clinic and Mount Zion Coat Bank. Project Help also works to reduce any waste of perishable items, at times delivering them to other organizations including homeless shelters, halfway homes, and the VFW post.

The Second Hand Resale Store was started not only as a way to create sustainability for the programs at Project Help, but to act as a gateway to helping those who can’t or won’t ask for help. Help may not always look like giving things away, but giving others the opportunity to feel they can provide for themselves. Sometimes this means holding a coat for a gentleman for a week until he can afford to buy it at their store. Occasionally, individuals first become familiar with their organization by shopping at the resale store before they feel comfortable asking about other services.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Help has helped more than 100 new families. As a designated FEMA site, if they were to close their doors during a federal emergency, the National Guard would take over operations in order to continue giving vital services to the community. Knowing this fact strengthened their resolve to remain open to serving the public, despite challenges in recruiting volunteers. Amidst the pandemic, Project Help has received a matching grant opportunity from the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund. Sheri Frank, Executive Director of Project Help, shared that while we often think of giving to a food pantry through annual canned food drives, our dollars actually go much further. One dollar can be used by Project Help to purchase five times the food that a dollar’s worth of nonperishable items provides.

When asked what makes Project Help unique, Sherri Frank shared that the organization fills the deeply rooted needs of the community. Without Project Help, many of the people with the most need in our community would be without basic necessities.

By JoAnna Ness, Jul 7 2020 07:38PM

This year, two members of Forever Improving Steuben County Together, the youth philanthropy branch of Steuben County Community Foundation, are graduating from high school. Sydney, one of the graduating seniors, shared that FIST wasn’t “just a bunch of teenagers helping out in the community”, but it shows “how the youth could come together for the greater good of our community and future generations.” Isabell Deem and Sydney Kokinis share a passion for philanthropy and their community. Recently, each of them took time to reflect on their experiences with FIST.

This year's FIST President, Isabell Deem, is a graduating senior from Angola High School and the 2020 Steuben County Recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. During her time in FIST, she learned how to work together to inspire positive change. She shared that her favorite thing about Steuben County is “how willing the community members are to come together.” Isabell shared that FIST has helped her to feel like a “go-getter” and has bolstered her confidence. Every single meeting, event, or volunteer experience was Isabell’s favorite, “I really can’t pick just one.” She encouraged current members to embrace the experience and get more involved. Isabell will attend Indiana University – Bloomington in the fall to major in Chemistry as a Pre-Med student.

Sydney Kokinis is a graduating senior from Fremont High School. She will also be attending Indiana University – Bloomington to major in Business/ Marketing with a minor in Korean. Sydney shared she learned from her time in FIST that, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Sydney’s favorite memory from her time with FIST was competing with other volunteers and members to collect the most canned goods during FIST’s annual Trick-Or-Treat for Canned Goods which supports local food banks. Sydney encouraged other young people to speak up and let their voice be heard. Sydney, like Isabell and other FIST members, shared her love for the solidarity that can be felt in the Steuben County community. She said “schools still have rivals, but whenever it came to something big in the community, differences were set aside.”

By JoAnna Ness, Jul 7 2020 05:29PM

Although most people celebrate New Year's in the winter, SCCF enjoyed the sunny skies that accompanied the end of our fiscal year on June 30, 2020. This past year, SCCF granted $1.14 million to the community from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Some donors have specific organizations or causes they love to support, and approximately 75% of our grants are awarded with a donor’s defined intent in mind. However, some donors have a general love for the community and want the flexibility of supporting a variety of organizations as the needs in Steuben County change over time. They choose to support SCCF’s unrestricted grantmaking, meaning 25% of our grants are made by possible by donors who trust us to assess the current needs in our community and find ways to make a difference. SCCF uses a committee of local volunteers to represent perspectives from throughout Steuben County, reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the SCCF board of directors for this unrestricted grantmaking. This unrestricted grantmaking fund is known as the Spirit of Community Fund.

In the past year, SCCF granted $173,989 from the Spirit of Community Fund to 31 organizations to meet a variety of needs in the community. These include:

Angola Balloons Aloft

Angola Kids League

Boomerang Backpacks


Cameron Hospital

Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana

City of Angola

Community Anti Violence Alliance

Community Harvest Food Bank of NE IN, Inc.

Compassion Pregnancy Center

Downtown Angola Coalition

Erin’s House for Grieving Children, Inc.

Forever Improving Steuben County Together

Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce

Fremont Elementary School

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry

Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana

Lake of Lakes Family Health Services (Well Child Clinic)

LaGrange First Church of God/Lighthouse Montessori Education Center

Little Lambs Daycare

McMillen Health

Pleasant Lake Lions Club

RISE, Inc.

Science Central

Shape Up Steuben

Steuben County Council on Aging

Steuben County Literacy Coalition

Steuben County United Way

Trine University

Wee Creations Preschool

Women’s Care Center of NEI

As of the end of June, the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund has awarded $84,190 to 10 nonprofits in Steuben County who have been affected by COVID-19. These grants were awarded through a funding partnership with the Steuben County United Way. A more detailed update on the Disaster Response Fund will be provided in August 2020.

In total, 240 organizations received a grant from one or more of the 222 funds at SCCF in 2020, all of which is made possible by generous donors.

Nonprofits may apply online for a variety of grant opportunities at SCCF’s website: The deadline for the health and human services cycle is July 31, education grants are due January 31, and requests for the arts, culture, environment, recreation, and other cycle are due April 30. Nonprofits may submit a letter of inquiry for the Impact Grant Cycle until August 15.

Contact SCCF with questions about ways to support local nonprofits in need or to apply for grant funds, at 260-665-6656 or [email protected]