We couldn’t do our work without the generous and tireless support of our volunteers. This month’s volunteer spotlight features Cindy Pushman, a valuable six-year veteran of our grant committee.

“Cindy is a great asset on the Grant Committee. Her knowledge of social services in Otsego County has made her invaluable in connecting non-profits with other entities and services to extend their grant dollars. She is such a reliable, calm presence on the committee.”

Cherie Nutter, grant committee co-chair.

Cynthia (Cindy) Gill Pushman, daughter of Alice and Tom Gill, moved to Gaylord in 1972. Cindy graduated from Gaylord High School and then from Lake Superior State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. Cindy worked in the field of social work, spending the majority of her career at the Otsego County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Prior to retiring in 2020, Cindy was fortunate to work with all the Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula DHHS offices. Cindy is also the Secretary of the Cheboygan – Otsego – Presque Isle Educational Service District Board of Education.

Here is what Cindy had to say about her experience volunteering for the OCF:

What attracted you to becoming involved with the OCF?
I worked in an agency that assisted at-risk families and individuals. I believe to be effective in my job it was important for me to be aware of all the programs in the community and to be a voice for the at-risk population through this help to create resources that are needed but do not exist.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
OCF helps to determine the needs of the community, current resources and their needs. OCF utilizes the information to strengthen, enhance or create the needed resources by connecting funding and information to resources.

What’s it like to volunteer for the OCF?
I have learned so much about our community’s generosity, innovations, compassion, and tenacity. Volunteering allows me to grow in both knowledge and the ability to utilize that knowledge to improve my community.

What do you hope the organization will achieve soon? In the long-term?
I am hoping the organization will be able to positively impact our goals by understanding the needs and funding programs, and by leveraging resources during our next grant cycle.

My long-term goal is that OCF will be able to be proactive in strengthening our community by understanding how to create a community in which families and individuals can be healthy and at-risk factors are reduced or eliminated prior to becoming a need.

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement? In providing inspiration? 
Both of my parents were active in our community throughout their lifetimes. My father and his three siblings had been removed from their parents and placed in a Children’s Home. My father believed what allowed him to be successful in his work and as a parent was adults in the community that took an active role in his life. He talked often about different people who believed in him and gave him opportunities to learn and be successful both as a child and as a young adult. My father instilled in me to be thankful for what I have and to be generous with my time and resources. He was very active in philanthropic activities throughout his lifetime.

I have also been very fortunate to work with many youths and adults like my father, and I have seen the importance of a supportive and healthy community. I have been able to see the positive impact a needed resource has or a negative outcome when a needed resource is not available.

What do you wish other people knew about OCF?
I would like people to know how the OCF has been able to coordinate with other funding agencies, groups, and individuals, which has allowed much more advantages to our resources seeking funding. This cooperation has allowed one grant application to be shared with the majority of the funding sources. In addition, the funding sources come together to listen to the grant presentations and then discuss all requests. This has allowed valuable sharing of knowledge, other resources, and positive outcomes that would not have occurred had the cooperation not existed. I believe the granters also learn a great deal from each other and through listening to presentations for other funding sources. This funding source collaboration has been a win/win for our community, and it is not something that many other communities have been able to achieve.

Do you have a message to share?
I always think others can utilize words so much better than I can so I like to use a quote that reflects my heart: “While we do our good works, let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” Chinua Achebe.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for the OCF?
Volunteering with the OCF is a great way to be inspired by positivity. I am always impressed with the good work we have already achieved in our community and amazed at the wisdom and passion of our youth advisory council. This work always gives me hope!