Decades of philanthropy

HOUGHTON – The Keweenaw Community Foundation is celebrating its 20th birthday with a “Keweenaw Gold” gala dinner and fundraiser Wednesday at the Continental Fire Company.

And much like an adolescent entering adulthood, it’s a time of transition for the foundation, according to executive director Barbara Rose.

“We’re at a tipping point,” Rose said. “We have 70 funds and we need to start programming now.”

After a social hour, Rose said Portage Health President and CEO Jim Bogan would be reliving some of the highlights of KCF’s growth to this point, and pointing to how that philanthropy would pay dividends for the Keweenaw’s future.

“People have placed their trust in us,” Rose noted. “They’re willing to invest in us and create endowments that are going to be sustainable.”

Steph Olsson will be talking about the foundation’s next major fundraiser, to fund operations and the administrative endowment, which ensures KCF’s ability to continue supporting other causes.

For that fundraiser, the foundation will be selling engraved bricks for a pathway at the Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton. Bricks will be available for $100 on up to celebrate friends, family members, even children – who Rose said might be especially excited to see their name engraved in stone at a park where they love to play.

LLJ president Jon Julien, Rose said, has been a force behind that project.

Rose said Portage Health head chef Mark Pittilo will be handling the dinner. He’s cooked for KCF in the past and members are excited about his return, she said.

The event runs until 9 p.m., and business wear will be the norm, Rose said, noting “It’s an elegant kind of event, but in winter we find it’s best not to do totally formal.”

About 130 people have already bought tickets, Rose said, but there is still space available. Tickets cost $75 per person and can be purchased online at, by check at the foundation’s office at 236 Quincy Street in Hancock, or even at the door. For more information, call the foundation at 482-9673, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday or Wednesday.