Faith Small Foundation donates $13M to Jackson-based organizations

Local News

Three Jackson-based organizations and one university will receive $13 million dollars in a donation from the Faith Small Foundation.

Spring Arbor University, Ella Sharp Museum, Jackson Symphony Orchestra and the Youth Haven Ranch were announced as the recipients of the gift.

The Faith Small Foundation is a Jackson-based 501c3 nonprofit that was made in the name of Faith Small, who died in 2016 at age 94. She was the previous owner of two manufacturing companies: Dawlen Corporation and Jonesville Tool.

The Faith Small Foundation’s gift will help to fund the following Jackson organizations:

The Ella Sharp Museum is a historical museum based in Jackson. Ella Sharp is remembered as the first woman in Michigan to take up forestry as a cause, according to the museum website.

The Jackson Symphony Orchestra has been entertaining the Jackson area since 1949. Per its website, the orchestra has performed with many legendary figures in the world of music including Dizzy Gillespie, Grant Johannesen, Ralph Votapek and Ian Hobson. Mannheim Steamroller, Ann Murray, and the Manhattan Transfer have invited the orchestra to do multi-state regional tours with them.

Spring Arbor University is a private Free Methodist university located in Spring Arbor. It enrolls roughly 3,400 students and its annual tuition as of 2016 is $26,730. On Nov. 4, Spring Arbor University announced the completion of a $1million renovation for its 6,330-square-foot fitness center, which was named after Faith Small. Small served on the SAU Board of Trustees from 1984 until she died. She also played a significant role in SAU’s athletics for many years, the university said in a press release.

The donation of more than $13 million will be split between the four organizations. 55 percent will go to Spring Arbor University, while the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Youth Haven and Ella Sharp Museum will each get 15 percent.

The ceremony celebrating the Faith Small Foundation’s gift was held in the Weatherwax Hall at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, a room which received extensive renovations thanks to the gift.

“We used about $250,000 of the funding to add a balcony that added 120 seats. All new paint, new chairs, a brand new floor,” Executive Director and Music Director Matthew Aubin said.

According to a program for the event, Small wanted the gift to remain anonymous, something Brent Ellis, President of Spring Arbor University, said fit her personality.

“If you knew Faith, Faith was a very deep person. She was a quiet person, so she wasn’t somebody who was going to walk into the room and command presence within a room,” he said. “But when Faith spoke, you knew that what she was gonna communicate would be something that you’d really want to pay close attention to.”

But trustees of the foundation say it was time to honor her, something Lars Carlson, the President of Youth Haven says was the right thing to do.

“I even read in the program that it’s time to take that anonymous away because she needs to be honored, and I agree with that,” he said.

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