A part of John Gaedert’s philosophy on generosity was about many people coming together in a small way to make a difference in the lives of many. Part of his love for the newspaper industry was its ability to affect so many people in a positive way.

One of the first Charlotte Generosity Fund grants, generated from the annual John Gaedert Generosity Celebration, is the perfect example of how John’s philosophy can be brought to life. A collaborative effort among the Eaton County Treasurer’s Office, Housing Services for Eaton County (HSEC) and Olivet College is helping to reach residents in Eaton County who are at risk of tax foreclosure. The collaborative received a $1,000 grant from the Charlotte Generosity Fund this past year, which helped pay for postage to send out mailings to at risk citizens. The mailings provided information on how people could get help to avoid tax foreclosure.

“The collaboration with the Generosity Fund has been a big part of our efforts,” said Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson. “These funds were used to inform people about the free services that are available in Eaton County.”

Denise Dunn, executive director of HSEC said the partnership with the Treasurer’s office has helped the non-profit reach individuals at risk of tax foreclosure. Previously, her office dealt primarily with mortgage foreclosure issues.

“We didn’t have a resource to reach people on the tax foreclosure list,” Dunn said. “Now we have information to help people get through MSHDA’s Step Forward program.”

Dunn said individuals can take advantage of the Step Forward program on their own, but HSEC has dedicated individuals that can guide them through the process.

“It can get overwhelming,” Dunn said of the application process. “It’s nice to have somebody like Emily Smith or Christie Harry in our office to help you through that without all of the emotions of going through a foreclosure. It’s very valuable and gives the person an anchor to hang onto.”

Robinson said the partnership with Olivet College is important to developing long-term financial education to residents of Eaton County.

“We want to help prevent foreclosure, but would also like to provide additional financial education assistance,” Robinson said. “We saw in 2013 the largest number of tax foreclosures in the county’s history. While mortgage foreclosure has reduced in the last year, tax foreclosures have gone up because there is a lag period.”

The John Gaedert Generosity Celebration serves as a major fundraiser to the endowed Charlotte Generosity Fund, which was established in 2013 with funds raised at last year’s celebration.

The 3rd Annual John Gaedert Generosity Celebration will take place Friday, Feb. 7 at the Eaton Area Senior Center from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 and are available at the Eaton Area Senior Center, Fay’s Evelyn Bay, Fulton Lumber and The County Journal. Tickets will be $25 at the door.