What enticed you to volunteer with OCF?

I think working with the community schools created a natural opportunity for me to become involved with OCF. My job allows me to connect with the community and our needs daily. I believe in the mission of OCF – of improving our way of life and creating a strong community. I also believe the leadership of OCF is strong and helped me decide to get involved.

In your opinion, what is the most important work OCF does?

I think the foundation has a high level of awareness of what our community needs to become stronger. There is a strong sense of communication and networking, as well as strategic planning that goes into community strengthening. The boards and committees are built from strong community leaders and members who are committed to making our community stronger. I think the work the foundation does to bring the community together and to centralize planning is critical in the allocation of all of the many resources we have to offer.

What’s it like to volunteer for the OCF?

The OCF is a great organization! The satisfaction from the work I do with the foundation is not for personal gain, but for seeing the community work together as a whole to help improve the lives of all. I am thankful to be part of it!

What OCF committees have you been involved with?

I have served on the education committee. In this committee, we discuss ways to help make careers and college more accessible and attainable for our students, whether financially or opportunistically. 

What do you hope the organization will achieve soon? In the long term?

One thing I would really like to see eventually is finding ways to make college more affordable for our students. Currently, with our scholarship offerings, as well as our early college programs, we can help offset some of the costs of attending college or university. Ultimately I would love to see a program similar to that of the Kalamazoo Promise or the Northport Promise where in-state college tuition is paid in full for students who attend school in these communities. 

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement with OCF? In providing inspiration?

Gaylord Community Schools Superintendent Brian Pearson is the individual who asked me to serve on the education committee. Brian has been a mentor and a leader in our community for many years and continues to provide opportunities for people as well as inspire them to do more and be involved. He is also on the OCF board. Another person who inspired me to do more in our community is Rich Marshall, who currently sits on the education committee. He hired me as a teacher many years ago and has always been a good mentor to me. Katie Makowski, who also sits on the committee is the superintendent of Johannesburg-Lewiston schools. I had the pleasure of working with Katie as a principal and appreciate her drive and dedication to her community. And finally, Jim Hilgendorf, former Johannesburg-Lewiston schools superintendent. What is there not to admire about Jim?!

What do you wish other people knew about OCF?

OCF is a great avenue to get involved in our community. The leadership, committees and staff are wonderful people who truly care about our community. They are open to ideas and volunteerism. It is very easy to get involved!

Do you have a message to share?

I am thankful to be able to raise my children in this community!


What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for the OCF?

Just do it!


Short Bio:

Dennis Keck was raised in Northport, Michigan, a small community at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. From there he attended Western Michigan University and received a degree in Elementary Education. This is where he also met his wife of 14 years, Marlana Keck. They moved to Gaylord in 2005 to teach and have been here ever since – and love the community! Together they have 3 active boys who attend Gaylord Community Schools.

Dennis has taught 5th and 6th grade, and middle school math. He has been a math consultant, K-8 principal, and is currently the Director of Special Education and Curriculum for Gaylord Community Schools.