In honor of Mother’s Day, we are highlighting two OCF funds: the Kathryn Tripp Scholarship Fund and the Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund. Both funds were created by loving family members in memory of their moms.


When Elaine Nowicki saw an act of inspiration – whether it was a great shot on the basketball court, an amazing hit in baseball, an outstanding round at the racetrack, a leap of faith, a feat of courage, a random act of kindness, or a selfless response to someone in need  – she would outwardly exclaim “Aaaawwwesome!”.

When she passed away in December after a battle with pancreatic cancer, her family was in search of a way to preserve her caring legacy. The Nowicki family knew of the Otsego Community Foundation because Elaine’s grandson, Ryan Meisner, served on the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) from 2014-17.

“My mom was so proud of Ryan’s role with the Youth Advisory Committee and his new-found understanding of the ‘business of giving’”, shared Elaine’s daughter, Brandie Meisner.

This January, the family established the Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund at the Otsego Community Foundation. The purpose of the Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund is to provide both the financial patronage and inspiration necessary to be “Aaaawwwesome!”.

“I believe her fund is a natural extension of her legacy in our community, which will allow my dad, Erik, the boys and me to remain actively involved,” stated Brandie.

The Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund is a donor-advised fund (DAF). DAFs are a great product for donors who want to be engaged with local philanthropy. Donors work with OCF staff to identify possible grants that may benefit a variety of causes and organizations unique to their wishes.

“Connecting people who care to the causes that matter is a pillar of our work. Having knowledge of the needs in the community, we can share philanthropic opportunities with donor-advised funds. Working with families like the Nowicki/Meisners is a highlight of my career as I can introduce them to causes that are a perfect fit with the legacy of Elaine, their beloved wife, mother and grandmother. I am really excited to see what grants the family recommends,“ said Dana Bensinger, Executive Director of the OCF.

Elaine is pictured here with her husband Mark and grandsons Ryan and Kevin.  Elaine loved encouraging her grandsons in all that they did, being philanthropic.  Each Christmas she gave them a gift of cash to be used on a want, including specific instructions that part would be donated to a charity of their choice, which they would reveal at the family Christmas celebration.


Kathyrn Tripp was known for her love of teaching, her love of family, sense of adventure, and sense of humor. As an educator at Gaylord Community Schools, she particularly loved sixth grade camp.

“I can still hear her packing for camp and singing, ‘we’re the campers, not the dampers, and our ears are made of leather, how they flop in windy weather,’ which any of us who went to camp in the 70s, 80s and 90s will certainly remember,” said Chris Clark, Kathryn’s son.

After her passing, Chris wanted to inspire others to pursue careers in education, as well as make sure all students, regardless of financial circumstance, could participate in sixth grade camp. With those goals in mind, he established the Kathryn Tripp Scholarship Fund at the Otsego Community Foundation. Since the fund was created in 2004, 30 sixth graders have received support to attend camp and 15 high school graduates have received scholarships to college.

According to Debbie Putnam, Gaylord Intermediate School Principal, “the sixth grade camp experience is invaluable to our students. Graduating seniors often agree that their sixth grade camp week was the biggest highlight of their entire school experience. Students grow in so many ways out at camp that can’t be simulated within the walls of our classroom. They are able to experience many of our science standards outdoors in a hands-on, 640 acre property on the shores of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. The whole week they are outdoors getting fresh air, being physically active, laughing, building friendships and discovering themselves. They are encouraged to push outside their comfort zone on a variety of team-building activities and challenge courses, including a high-ropes course and a 50-foot climbing wall and zipline. And when the week is over and they’ve gained that self-assurance and independence, we remember all over again how powerful this experience truly is. Although Camp Hayo-Went-Ha works with us to make this experience as affordable as possible, the Kathryn Tripp Scholarship Fund is invaluable in ensuring that every student can be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“[Kathryn] would be very pleased to know that her legacy is also felt through the support of young people who want to make the world a better place,” said Chris.

2018 Kathryn Tripp Scholarship Recipient Reese Jeakle.
The first semester went great! This semester is even better…I’m really excited about my next few years here at NMU.  With the Tripp scholarship I am able to strive for my goal of being an elementary school teacher. 


If you would like to make a gift to either the Elaine Nowicki Awesome Fund or the Kathryn Tripp Scholarship Fund, click here.  Additionally, you can give a gift to any fund in honor of your mom for Mother’s Day, and we’ll send her a letter notifying her of your thoughtfulness.

A fund can be established in your name or in the name of your family, your organization, or anyone you wish to honor. Funds can also be established on an anonymous basis. All grants made—today and in the future—are awarded to charities in the name of the fund. If you would like to learn more, call us at 731-0597. A fund is a beautiful way to link your community investment with a special person or purpose, forever.