Grant funds summer programming for Finland youthStop by the Clair Nelson Center in Finland this summer and you’ll probably hear some young voices.
By: Sonja Peterson, Lake County News Chronicle
Stop by the Clair Nelson Center in Finland this summer and you’ll probably hear some young voices.
That’s because Friends of the Finland Community is already putting to use a $3,000 Northland Foundation grant the group received this spring to provide summer programming for area youth.
Friends of the Finland Community is a 501c3 nonprofit organization formed in 2007 when community members developed a Comprehensive Plan for Crystal Bay Township and began working on the creation of a community center.
“We realized we needed an organization flexible enough to raise funds and also eventually manage the new community center,” said its director, Honor Schauland.
Many grants and donations helped fund the construction of the Clair Nelson Center, which opened in 2011. But this is the first time the group has received a grant from the Northland Foundation, which focuses on funding programming rather than capital projects such as the center.
“We’re really excited to have them on board,” Schauland said.
This summer’s programming includes softball, fishing, pottery and mosaic classes. Several community members are volunteering to lead the programs.
One is Ronald Van Bergen, helping to lead softball activities on Tuesday nights. He’s an “old-time ball-player” and helps take care of the field in Finland.
The softball group is small but growing. “Some have softball experience, some have none,” he said. “We’re already seeing some improvement.
Van Bergen said that though some Finland youth travel to Silver Bay to play softball, others aren’t able to make the trip, especially in the summer.
“There are some left out here that never get that opportunity,” he said. “We’re pretty remote.” He hopes to introduce more local youth to softball, perhaps preparing some of them to join a team in Silver Bay.
Schauland said Friends of the Finland Community is looking to continue youth programming year-round.
“This is just the beginning,” Schauland said.