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Heart of Cook Awards Nearly $53,000 in Grants to 29 Area Non-Profit Organizations

by on June 1, 2016
Joel Gebbie, SVP and chief nuclear officer, presents a 2016 Heart of Cook grant award to representatives of LOGAN Community Resources.  Photo by:  Dave Lefor

(Story by Bill Downey)

BRIDGMAN, Mich. — The Heart of Cook provided grants to 29 area non-profit organizations totaling almost $53,000 at a grant reception at Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant May 17. The Heart of Cook is a corporate advised fund held by the Berrien Community Foundation.

Grants awarded this year supported a wide range of programming from human trafficking awareness, to a local robotics team to a unity garden growing project. The Heart of Cook focuses on programs that address education, human services and environmental projects and gives priority to programs that involve Cook Nuclear Plant employees.

“Cook employees are very active in initiatives to improve our community,” said American Electric Power Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Joel Gebbie. “This is just one more way for us to support these important causes.”

While the Heart of Cook grant program is administered by the Berrien Community Foundation, a committee composed of Cook Nuclear Plant employees reviews all of the grant applications and makes decisions. Heart of Cook received over 40 grant applications for a total of $310,000 in requests.

Cook Plant Licensing Activities Coordinator Danielle Burgoyne has been involved with this committee work for several years. “There are always so many amazing organizations doing such terrific work in our region,” Burgoyne said. “It’s very hard narrowing it down. But we are always proud to be able to help increase the impact these programs have in any way we can.”

Organizations in the area surrounding Cook Nuclear Plant receiving grants and the projects in 2016 funded were:

  • AIDS Ministries/AIDS Assist – Food and Nutritional Program; Alano House – Alano House of Southwest Michigan;
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien & Cass – Expansion of Services in Berrien County;
  • Chikaming Township Park Board – Chikaming Ice Rink Skates for Kids; Countryside Academy – Fishing for Knowledge; Curious Kids Museum – AED and First Aid Kits;
  • Fairplain Presbyterian Church – Community Food Pantry; Fernwood – Education Center Green Roof; First Church of God – CARS Ministry Expansion;
  • Grace Christian School – Safe Doors; Green Bridge Growers – Greenhouse Expansion/Job Development;
  • Harbert Community Church – Half Day Plus Program; Healing Paws – Building Best Friends;
  • Lakeshore High School – Lincoln REALWELD Welding Training Program; Leadership LaPorte County – Youth Summer Camp; Living Epistle Fellowship – Manna House Food Pantry; LOGAN Community Resources – Sensory Swings and Bags for a New Benton Harbor Autism Learning Center;
  • Michiana Search Dogs – Team Jackets; New Life Baptist Church – New Life Church Food Pantry;
  • Southshore Concert Band – Summer Concert Series; Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force – Human Trafficking Awareness; Southwest Michigan Kickers Soccer Club – AED/Emergency Oxygen Device; Southwest Michigan RACERS – 2016 Olympic Day;
  • St. Joseph High School Key Club – Senior Prom for Senior Citizens; St. Paul’s Lutheran School – FIRST Robotics Lego League Team; Support Our Troops Festival – 6th Annual Support Our Troops Festival; and
  • Unity Gardens – Unity Gardens Growing Project; Volunteer Southwest Michigan – CASA of Berrien County; and Watervliet High School – Graphing Calculators and History Supplies.
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