She first met CARE (Citizens for Animal Rescue and Emergencies) in an office building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Saginaw Streets. Meeting in a small space with two other volunteers, Phyllis Carter liked the people she met and what they did.
Since 1973, CARE has been a vital animal welfare resource in Genesee County. Its programs include help with spay and neutering, free pet food and financial support for medical care. Serving as treasurer, Phyllis used her accounting skills to manage the books, and her people skills to solicit donations.
Phyllis recalls the first time that someone asked her about a bequest. Known as "the cat lady" at Courtland Center Mall where she cared for feral cats, the woman offered Phyllis a partnership. She would donate to CARE if Phyllis would find good homes for her cats after she died.
"When she died, the lawyer called and said she had left a large amount of money in her will to CARE," said Phyllis. "It was so wonderful and we were all so thrilled that some had left us some money. That was our first large donation and since then we've had quite a few."
In 2013 Phyllis recommended that CARE connect with the Community Foundation to establish a donor advised fund. Her long-time colleagues at CARE, Peggy Vaughn and Donna Thompson, embraced the idea.
"We felt like we're getting older and we didn't want anything to happen to CARE, Phyllis explained. "We decided we had enough money and with the foundation investment, we could carry on that way."
Now other animal welfare organizations can apply for grants through the Citizens for Animal Rescue and Care Fund.
"I just love dealing with people and animals, says Phyllis, adding that animals are a lot smarter than we think.
"I think the rescue dog is so grateful that somebody loves and care for him. People will say how good the dogs are. They are showing their gratefulness. They are happy to be loved."
Nonprofit organizations wishing to apply for a grant through the CARE Fund may contact a program officer at 810-767-8270.