When you admire a garden, you’re seeing the beautiful flowers, the lush foliage, the tempting fruit. When you take in the sight of a forest, you’re seeing the bright green leaves, the sturdy trunks of the trees, the colors of the forest floor.

You don’t see what makes all that beauty possible. You don’t see what provides the water and nutrients that allow the flowers and trees to grow.

Even though they’re one of the keys to the health of the garden or the forest, you don’t see the roots. And the trees can’t grow, the flowers can’t bloom, and the fruit won’t ripen, unless the roots can expand.

My great-grandfather, Herbert H. Dow, was an avid gardener. He understood the importance of a strong root system to a healthy forest or a productive garden. That understanding is what led my great-grandmother, Grace A. Dow, to create this Foundation: to help create a strong, growing root structure to feed, nourish and strengthen the community.

Strong arts and cultural roots feed the ethical and emotional growth of the people — creating a more compassionate, enlightened and well-rounded community. Strong educational roots feed their intellectual growth and achievement — strengthening the economy, the community and the world. Strong spiritual roots feed their faith and sense of purpose — making us a stronger, closer community.

That has always been the purpose behind this Foundation — to strengthen and expand our community’s roots in religion, charity, science, education and the arts, so that we might improve the lives of the people of Midland and Michigan.

Just as a good gardener uses time-tested tools and techniques to ensure the health and beauty of a garden, we see our investments as tools to do very specific things:

Sustainability: We like perennials. We want the seeds we plant to keep on growing, year after year. So we invest in initiatives that are sustainable and will have a lasting effect by becoming self-supporting.

Capacity Building: A farm or fruit or vegetable garden is designed to maximize yield. We do this through matching grants, offering organizations the incentive to raise even more funds on their own to improve and expand their services.

Collaboration: A garden or a forest is an ecosystem in which various plants and animals work together to strengthen all. We do this, by encouraging organizations to pool their resources, efforts and expertise. All benefit from the symbiosis and cross-pollenization.

Over the past year, we have laid the groundwork to expand our roots even farther: to touch more people, enhance more lives and do more good. Our garden and our forest — both figuratively and literally — will grow more beautiful and fulfilling.

This makes it a very exciting time for us. And for that, I thank you, whether you are a trustee, staff member, volunteer, donor, recipient or partner. You have played an important role in helping the garden my great-grandparents envisioned become one that continues to enrich the lives of the people of our community.


Macauley Whiting, Jr.