Dear Friends,

As we reflect on the dash between May 20 – June 20 we have been challenged beyond words, yet fueled by generosity, unity, and a longing to see this through.  Sparked by powerful destruction from a natural disaster this life-changing time span has reignited a desire to be a community.  It has been absolutely heartwarming to see the outpouring of sharing of one’s time, talent and treasure.  No doubt, philanthropy is playing a significant role in the tornado response efforts.  Over the past 30 days our mission, activate generosity for a strong community and organization pillars: building endowments, awarding grants, and convening leaders have been a real true platform (foundation) for our community. 

The Tornado Response Fund (TRF) of the Otsego Community Foundation (OCF) was established to provide a centralized opportunity for donors to invest in disaster relief efforts and a support mechanism for nonprofit organizations responding to the crisis. To date

  • 1400 donors from all over Michigan, 39 states, Mexico, and Canada have collectively given $1,025,000 to the fund. To learn more about the fund click here.  Thank you to all who have supported this effort. 
  • $390,000 has been awarded from the fund to support relief and recovery efforts led by the Refuge, Otsego-Antrim Habitat for Humanity, Otsego County United Way, and the Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery. Nonprofits seeking grants click here. Thank you for the countless hours our nonprofits have already dedicated to this disaster.

The TRF awards grants to organizations that are addressing immediate relief, short-term recovery, and long-term rebuilding.  Our local nonprofits continue to demonstrate incredible resilience, ingenuity, and tenacity as they increase and adapt their programs to meet the needs heightened by the tornado.  As a rural community, capacity of local nonprofits concern for years. The United Way has filled huge gaps in direct service typically provided by multiple organizations.  Since May 20, this small but MIGHTY organization has:

  • Assisted 474 people with 648 services
  • Provided $46,203 directly to support tornado survivors
  • Distributed thousands of dollars in essential supplies
  • Mobilized hundreds of volunteers

The OCF has invested many hours in forming new relationships with disaster experts from around the state and nation.  The road to recovery will include developing resources and bringing new programs to Gaylord.  Recovery is a long and arduous process. It is always complex. Those impacted need an advocate within the community who can navigate available resources and ensure all available resources can be accessed promptly by anyone eligible for those resources.  Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery (MDRR) was instrumental in assisting Midland with the 2020 flood recovery by utilizing its disaster case management experience (DCM).  A grant from the TRF awarded to MDRR will support two disaster case management positions.  Disaster case managers enable and empower local communities to work with disaster-affected families to determine their specific needs as they begin to recover. DCM goes beyond providing relief and meeting basic needs. It provides the tools and a vetted process to work with individuals and families on their own unique path to recovery. Applications are currently being accepted through June 22. To learn more about this position click here.

Our goal is to work collaboratively with the nonprofit, government, philanthropic and private sectors to accelerate recovery for a thriving, resilient and even stronger Gaylord.  The OCF is uniquely positioned to lead and support our community today, tomorrow, and forever.  We are purpose-built to get resources where they are needed most in a crisis, and to adapt quickly to changing needs on the ground. We have deep knowledge of our community’s needs, and strong trust-based relationships with local nonprofits, government, community leaders and donors.

It’s an honor to play a part in implementing local solutions.  The OCF understands that the effects of the tornado are far-reaching; that the recovery process is a marathon, not a sprint.  Our team is working diligently alongside many other community partners to find solutions for the many challenges.  Your continued patience with the complex process and support are encouraging.  We also want to make sure your questions are answered, and your thoughts are heard, after all, “U” are an important part of “commUnity.”  

I can be reached at or 989-731-0597. 

With gratitude,

Dana Bensinger
Executive Director