Underground Railroad Society of Cass County receives grant

DOWAGIAC — Help is on the way for The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County.

The historical organization was awarded $10,000 by the Michigan Humanities Council on Thursday. In a press release, the MHC announced it had granted $661,085 in emergency CARES Act funding to 116 Michigan cultural and community organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Cass County, the URSCC, the Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library and the Dowagiac Area History Museum were recipients of the grant.

When the MHC received a block of grant money as part of the CARES Act, it offered all nonprofits in their database the opportunity to apply for a different type of grant, said Cathy LaPointe, a member of the URSCC. “This money would offer general operating support, as opposed to funding particular programs. They realized, as a result of COVID-19, programs would be postponed or canceled, funding would be affected, and there was concern that organizations couldn’t meet their ongoing financial responsibilities.

Founded in 2009, the URSCC is an organization dedicated to providing a focal point for exploration into the origins and activities of the Underground Railroad system in Cass County.

Due to COVID-19, URSCC had to shut down operations, including Cass County Wax Museum events in the spring as well as its annual Underground Railroad Days festival. Hosted during the second weekend of July, the festival is a collaboration between the URSCC and the village of Vandalia, which celebrates the legacy of the Underground Railroad.

The James E. Bonine House, the Bonine Carriage House and the Stephen Bogue House — three Underground Railroad-related buildings in the process of being restored — are closed for tours, usually occurring from June through September.

Memberships and donations to URSCC have understandably and drastically declined during this time, LaPointe said. The grant from MHC is allowing URSCC to pay utilities, security, lawn care, pest control and other obligations connected with our three properties. Since we are all volunteers, none of the money has gone for salaries, another approved use. Having this fund to draw on has meant security during this uncertain time. We are very grateful to Michigan Humanities Council, the National Institute for the Arts, and the U.S. Congress for extending a helping hand to URSCC and many other organizations like us.

Underground Railroad sites may be closed for the time being, but it is possible to visit them online at urscc.org. The website features narrated PowerPoints, locally written and illustrated books and a 19-site, self-guided driving tour that can be downloaded.

LaPointe hopes that the URSCC will be able to host Christmas at the Bonine House — an annual event hosted at The Bonine House in Vandalia — in December and plans on the organization being fully operational in 2021.

Donations to URSCC can be made online at urscc.org or by check to P.O. Box 124, Vandalia MI 49095.

Cass County

Woman in stable condition following Sunday shooting

Cass County

Suspect pleads guilty in Dowagiac murder case

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in southwest Michigan

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD Parents as Teachers program receives national recognition

Dowagiac

Sister Lakes Brewing Company hosts Dewey Lake Monster conference

Giving

Chili cook-off benefited displaced veterans through chow, competition and charity

Cass County

Cass County seeks volunteers for boards, committees

Berrien County

Operation Safe Stop runs this week

Cass County

Woman shot in Calvin Township, suspect arrested in Goshen

Cassopolis

Cassopolis Middle School student tests positive for COVID-19

Berrien County

Buchanan Township man hospitalized following Friday evening stabbing

Dowagiac

Dowagiac District Library launches new programs

Dowagiac

Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac to host fifth annual mommy, son event

Dowagiac

Rotary ready to volunteer at Sandhill Crane Run

Berrien County

YMCA of Greater Michiana opens full day childcare at Northside Child Development Center

News

Fall hiking tour planned at Madeline Bertrand County Park

Berrien County

Cass, Berrien counties to see internet accessibility expand

Cass County

Illegal immigrant sentenced on drug, cockfighting charges

Cass County

National Underground Railroad Network to include URSCC program

Cass County

Cass fire chief honored as VFW Michigan’s Firefighter of the Year

Berrien County

Berrien County holds at one official school COVID-19 outbreak in Stevensville

News

Niles History Center, Friends of Silverbrook offer virtual tour of Silverbrook Cemetery

Cass County

Cass County seeing influx in domestic violence, burglary

Cass County

COA hosts presentation on haunted lighthouses