Albion Area Philanthropic Women Adapt to Pandemic by Meeting Virtually in June

by Maggie LaNoue Contributing Writer June 11, 2020

It’s usually a reunion, of sorts. The Albion Area Philanthropic Women (AAPW) meets quarterly to hear both requests for support and feedback from former recipients. 

Friends and acquaintances would chat, sometimes over food, and use secret ballots to reach consensus. This time was different. Like so much else around the world this spring, much has changed.

About 100 women received an email for the June meeting to help them decide how to help one worthy organization. There were only two requests, Forks Senior Center, and Senior Care Partners, PACE.  

This time was different. Like so much else around the world this spring, much has changed. 
Luann Sommers, Director of Forks Senior Center, explains the network of volunteers checking in on Forks members, new safety standards for the center to reopen, and requests funds for the fitness room, and a cabinet for the reception area.

 Luann Sommers, Director of the Forks Senior Center, created a video from her home office, describing the organization’s works and programs. Her request was the third time that the Forks Senior Center had made this same request for physical fitness equipment and cabinets for the reception area.

The “ask” includes funding for a Leg-Press exercise machine for $4,640, a treadmill for $4,425, and a laminate topped cabinet for the reception area costing $900.

All of these purchases coordinate with previous funding purchases from the AAPW award in 2015. The Forks Senior Center has 366 members, aged 60 years old and above. In 2019 there were 62 new members. Thirty percent of the members are in their 60s, forty-five percent are in their 70s, and twenty-five percent are 80 and above.

The Fitness Center at Forks Senior Center is a popular spot during the pre-pandemic days

A one-year membership is $75/year, with assistance available for persons with lower incomes. For most of the members, the physical fitness center is the reason they joined. Volunteers make weekly calls to Forks Senior Center members to check on them, even though the center is closed due to the pandemic.

Forks Senior Center entryway is located in the back of the County Building on S. Albion Street in Albion

They are also receiving calls and working with the Area Agency on Aging to help with requests for food, face masks, or other needs. Sommers expects that the center will be open by mid-July but notes that it depends upon the situation. She explained that for the sake of safety, many activities would be curtailed, including games like Bingo and Euchre, which are not possible to do with social distancing.

For the fitness center, the county has taped off every other piece of equipment in the fitness room to provide for social distancing. 

The second presentation was also for a group providing services to senior citizens.
Senior Care Partners is located near the Dialysis Center in Albion and has lots of parking very close to the entrance.

Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator for Senior Care Partners, explains how their organization provides services for at-risk seniors, and asks for a donation to provide GrandPads for Albion senior who qualify.


Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator for Senior Care Partners, PACE,  described how their organization helps medically complex seniors to stay safe at home.

His request was funding for 40 “GrandPads,” which are like iPads for Grandparents. The cost of each GrandPad is $250. There are currently 28 medically compromised adults in Albion being cared for at home by Senior Care Partners.

The additional GrandPads will be provided to future Albion residents who need to stay connected and are over 75 years old and who qualify for help. Since seniors have had to stay at home or stay isolated since March, many of them are suffering from loneliness, anxiety, and even depression. The GrandPads can help them to stay connected. The devices are straightforward to use with large icons on the screen and no passwords. They can connect to the Senior Care Partners staff, or family, or essential news and music. This connection to the world allows at-risk elderly who are isolated at home to share photos and Facetime to talk with their grandchildren. Senior Care Partners will cover the cost of monthly fees also.

Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. new location at 290 B Drive N in Albion

The services are often provided at no cost to the participants because most of their clients qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid insurance.  Senior Care Partners offers medical support, food delivery, and more to eligible participants.  Senior Care Partners PACE provides holistic and all-inclusive care with physical, mental/emotional, and social services. PACE stands for Program for All-Inclusive care for the Elderly. Senior Care Partners has offices in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Portage, and a new center in Albion, near the Oaklawn Dialysis Center.

  See more information about the new Albion Center and the services offered on this link:

The Albion Area Philanthropic Women will be deciding this week which group will receive funding through an electronic voting system set up by Caroline Dobbins-Hurteau, a group member and tech consultant. Former recipients of the group’s funding usually come to about $10,000 per quarter, including the Coca-Cola Mural Restoration Project, The Albion Food Hub, and Albion Recreation Department. In recent communications with each group leader, the updates included some setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Laura Overholt, Manager Albion Food Hub


Laura Overholt, the Facility Manager at the Albion Food Hub, gave this report:

“The Albion Food Hub is in a holding pattern concerning the generous funds received from the Albion Philanthropic Women (from the March 2020 meeting.) The funds were received shortly before the shut down due to Covid19. We already have had a quote for the work, but now construction work is badly backed up, and some supplies difficult to procure. The Albion EDC board approved a reduced staffing plan in May as a result of anticipated budget shortfalls due to Covid19. My hours have been cut to only 16 per week until at least July 10, 2020, making it very difficult for me as the single staff person to manage the logistics of the numerous food distributions that have been happening at the Albion Food Hub. We have distributed or delivered (in the case of seniors or immune-compromised) over 100,000 pounds of food in the last few months. All of this work could not have been completed without the generous help from numerous community volunteers and organizations like the Albion Homer United Way and the Albion Community Foundation that raised funds for food for our local community and helped with delivery. We look forward to getting our progress back on track as we move forward with the EDC board’s permission in July.”



Linda Kolmodin, the organizer of the Coca-Cola Mural Restoration Project, received funds from the APPW after being chosen in September 2019. She also led a successful Patroncity campaign and arranged for financial support from the Coca-Cola company. Kolmodian wrote, “COVID-19 has certainly affected progress on our Restore Our Coke Sign fundraising three downtown art projects. We’re excited to see some timelines coming together this summer. We have to be patient and know these downtown enhancements will happen!”


Kolmodin also reported on the progress for the overall project as follows:

“Just recently had a virtual meeting with the conservators. Looks like tuck point and any facade repairs will happen this year and actual painting in the spring/summer of 2021. Conservators have not been able to work during the state COVID-19 restrictions and have to complete other projects they had started before the shutdown. So, we felt getting the facade work complete would make sure the surface has plenty of time to cure and be finished properly so we are not racing the fall weather ‘clock!’ Preparation work will begin this summer. Our Malleable mural will get underway and should be complete this summer/fall! We have the artist’s renderings and will see actual progress soon! Our tee-ball statue and plaque are ordered, and we are waiting for the landscaping work to be completed by the Calhoun County Land Bank. No time frame on that work, but our part will be ready for placement when possible.” 

Larry Williams, Director Albion Recreation Department


Albion Recreation Department has received funding from AAPW after approval at the December 2019 meeting to help install better access to the pool at the Albion Community Center. The Community Center is part of the Marshall Opportunity High School building on Watson Street. Even before the pandemic hit, Larry Williams, the Director of Albion Recreation Department, gave an update at the March meeting of the Albion Area Philanthropic Women. He explained that the project’s delay was due to some additional work required in the pool. With the pandemic happening, workers are not able to install the upgrades, and it is also not safe to use the pool.

Albion Area Philanthropic Women members Nancy Roush, Juanita Solis Kidder, Mae Ola Dunklin, Cathy Campbell, Caroline Hurteau,
Marcia Starkey and Lance Waito of the Sheridan Township Fire Department admire the Jaws of Life made possible by a donation of $10,000 toward the
equipment purchase from the philanthropic group.


The Albion Area Philanthropic Women group was founded in 2007 by Cathy Campbell and the late Maggie Konkle, who each asked five friends if they would give $100 quarterly to help Albion-focused non-profits. 

Over the years, the AAPW group added new members and has met dozens of times and provided funding for special projects for dozens of non-profit organizations.

More information about the AAPW group, including the recent $500,000 milestone reached by the group and some of the supported non-profit organizations, can be seen at To learn more about the next meeting that scheduled for September, read the Albion E-news. The Recorder newspaper will publish the women’s decision for the June meeting in next week’s paper.


The Albion Area Philanthropic Women decided to fund the project at the Forks Senior Center.  The group meets again in September to consider other worthy applications for support.




Other posts about Albion Area Philanthropic Women, Forks Senior Center, and Senior Care Partners, are below.