1951: The Holland Community Foundation is established.
1973: The Zeeland Community Foundation is established.
1996: The Zeeland and Holland Community Foundations merge and become the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.
A Milestone Anniversary
September 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Zeeland Community Foundation! In 1973, the Zeeland Community Foundation (ZCF) was established to provide a tax-free method for individuals, families, and companies to fund charitable, educational, and civic projects for the greater Zeeland area. The original Board of Trustees was comprised of Melvin Boonstra, Robert Den Herder, Jack DeWitt, Frank Hoogland, Robert Hoover, Ronald Klamt, Raymond Schaap, Adrian Vandenbosch and Ruth Wolbrink. In the early years of ZCF, the organization funded a wide array of community projects including lighting for local softball fields, advanced medical equipment for heart attack patients, and a location for the Zeeland Historical Society.
“Funds were raised and distributed in the same year,” said Ann Query, who served on the ZCF Board (and later the CFHZ Board) and was Chair of the Distribution Committee. “There wasn’t an endowment. A fundraising goal was set, for a particular project, and Board members worked their connections to secure donations.”
In the mid-1990s, ZCF Board Chair, Grace Piersma, and Holland Community Foundation (HCF) Board Chair, Ken Peirce, led their respective organizations in a conversation about a merger. Along with Bill Vanderbilt, President of HCF, they worked diligently to build trust in the respective communities. The opportunity to raise $2 million in unrestricted endowment and complete a second youth endowment fund challenge match from the W.K. Kellogg Company secured the deal.
In 1996, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area was established. In celebration, one of CFHZ’s first grants was designated to the Paw Paw Drive Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge. “The walking bridge connects the City of Zeeland to Holland Charter Township. It became a symbol of the linked areas and the future of collaboration represented by the Community Foundation,” said Ann. Today, the bridge displays engraved bricks honoring members of the Bridge Builder Legacy Society, individuals who have made legacy charitable commitments which will benefit our community for years to come.
RECOGNIZING THE DEN HERDER FAMILY
The Den Herder family are long-standing, valued supporters of the Community Foundation. Tom Den Herder is serving as Chair of our Board of Trustees exactly 50 years after his father, Robert, was the founding Board Chair of the Zeeland Community Foundation!