By Sarah Spohn
Created in 1982, the Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan is proud to provide a voice for children and their families, aiming to create safe, healthy environments.
Executive Director, Michael Foley, spoke about this unique organization.
“We were created legislatively,” Foley said, “and we’re an interesting organization in that we’re not a traditional department, we are a public nonprofit organization. Most of the money that we have and raise to do our work is basically privately contributed to us.”
Though the Michigan chapter is part of a larger, nationwide effort, the idea for a Children’s Trust Fund has local roots.
Foley told the story of a local man whose involvement and passion helped create the fund.
“The vision for trust funds not only started here in Michigan, but it started right here in Lansing,” Foley said. “There was a pediatrician right down the street, at Sparrow Hospital, by the name of Dr. Ray Helfer.”
“He said, ‘we need protected money in this state to protect at-risk families.’ He started thinking about this in 1980, and we still stay true to that mission today. The money that comes to us enables us, in any given year, to distribute about $2 million throughout the state; and the purpose of those dollars is to do child abuse prevention work,” Foley said.
Through private funds, tax-deductible donations and the special Children’s Trust Fund license plate, Michiganders’ contributions make up about two-thirds of the organization’s budget. The remaining one-third comes from federal funding.
April marks a very special month for the Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan, as it is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each year, the nonprofit organizes Michigan’s Prevention Awareness Day rally on the state Capitol steps. This year’s rally will take place on April 19, beginning at 11 a.m.
“The theme is, first of all, to acknowledge that too many kids in this state are abused and neglected,” Foley said. “But second of all, to celebrate all the great work that our network is doing throughout the state to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
Patricia Headley, Fund Development Coordinator, said that 150-200 people usually attend the rally. Apart from the rally, Headley said the organization’s biggest event is the Pam Posthumus Signature Auction event.
“It’s the only thing I can think of going on that is truly a bipartisan event; everybody cares about children and the well-being of children,” Headley said. “It’s an evening where everyone puts away their swords and plays nice together. It’s a well-attended and respected event.”
Foley compares it to the iconic Mastercard ‘Priceless’ ads.
“The live auction is worth $100,000; the sponsorships are worth $250,000; but the fact that we have an event where as many as 600 people come together under the same roof all having a good time in the name of the Children’s Trust Fund and what we do — literally is priceless to us,” Foley said.
The Pam Posthumus Signature Auction event will be held May 18 at the Lansing Center. For more information, call 517-373-4320 or click here