PULSE OF PHILANTHROPY: Cherishing the Essence of Door County

10 Years of Transformative Philanthropy

As I reflect on my journey over the past decade with the Door County Community Foundation, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude and reverence. These 10 years have remarkably demonstrated the power of collective philanthropy and the enduring generosity that defines our cherished Door County community. 

When I joined the Foundation in March 2014, I embarked on a mission to inspire people to give back and sustain the community we love. Little did I know that this journey would be a transformative experience, not only for the county but for my own personal growth and understanding of what it means to be a part of something greater than oneself.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the incredible impact of thoughtful philanthropy in our community firsthand. Initiatives like the Door County Scholarship Network have streamlined scholarship access for our brilliant students, while the Door County Civility Project has fostered civility in our daily lives. The Mental Health Support Fund promotes awareness and education, and the Women’s Fund of Door County has grown into the peninsula’s largest charitable fund focused on women and girls’ needs. My connections with the passionate individuals who endowed the Women’s Fund will forever be treasured.

Some efforts have worked to address core community needs – like the COIN micro-loan program, which stimulates economic activity and job creation, and the Workforce Housing Lending Corporation. Others, such as Celebrate Water Door County, rallied residents around protecting our precious natural resources; Growing Older in Door County brought our community together, fostering the need to create a supportive environment for our aging population.

In times of crisis, the Door County Emergency Response Fund stood as a beacon of hope, raising an astounding $1.2 million to support organizations providing relief during the pandemic and resulting recession. The Food Pantry Coalition, born out of this challenging period, has become a shining example of cooperation and resource-sharing, ensuring that no one in our community goes hungry.

During my time with the Foundation, we’ve had the opportunity to support numerous wonderful diverse local causes through campaign support, such as environmental conservation, the arts, historical preservation and childcare. We’ve supported vital initiatives like Willie’s Cornerstone Foundation for those facing life-threatening illnesses and the Crime Prevention Foundation for projects such as the local K-9 units and School Resource Officers.

All of this work has been truly incredible. The mission of the Door County Community Foundation is, “Inspiring people to give back to sustain and advance the community we love.” However, what’s genuinely beautiful is that over the past decade, it has been the people themselves who have inspired me beyond measure. 

Hearing firsthand the deeply personal stories of our donors, understanding the profound values that guide their philanthropic spirit, and learning about the lasting impact they hope to create – this is what has truly cemented my love for the Door County community. These interactions have been nothing short of humbling, reminding me of the extraordinary generosity and compassion that resides within the hearts of those who call this peninsula home.

Their stories have genuinely resonated with me, revealing the unwavering dedication to preserving the beauty, character and vitality of our beloved community. Each donor’s unique journey has been a testament to the transformative power of giving, and their commitment to making a positive difference has been a constant source of inspiration. Through my work at the Foundation, I have forged some of the most cherished relationships of my life.

It is through these deeply personal connections that I have come to appreciate the true essence of Door County – a community bound together by a shared sense of purpose, a desire to uplift one another and an unwavering commitment to the creation of a brighter future for generations to come.

To the people of Door County, thank you – for your generosity, your compassion and your unwavering commitment to making our community a better place. Your spirit of giving has been the foundation upon which our achievements have been built, and it is your continued support that will propel us forward into the next decade and beyond. 

The remarkable feats we’ve accomplished together are just the beginning. As we embark on this new chapter, the same determination and resilience that defined our past successes will propel us forward. Let us continue to inspire, to give back, and to sustain the community we all love so dearly.

KACIE MUELLER is the Philanthropic Service Officer for the Door County Community Foundation.

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