Our community is awesome, often because of people with a unique plan. And acts of philanthropy are as unique as the people who practice them. There is no one-size fits all approach, and the creative possibilities are endless.
Years ago, two brothers – Joseph and Alphonse Gapczynski – were looking for creative ways to honor their parents, Cash and Jennie. Because of that dream, generations of residents and visitors to Presque Isle County will enjoy a piece of untouched, beautiful land – forever.
Cash and Jennie Gapczynski founded a local Rogers City, Michigan business, Cash’s Motor Sales, in 1946. Over the years, their son Joseph became very involved in the family business selling cars, farm implements, and home appliances. The business evolved into Cash’s Automotive Supply – a business still in operation today.
As a lifelong resident of Rogers City, Joseph enjoyed his northern Michigan upbringing, and the life the family business helped to provide. Out of a passion for family and community came the idea between Joseph and his brother, Alphonse, to find a way to honor their parents in the place they all held close to their hearts.
The brothers’ original idea was to have a natural park area where people could enjoy – on foot – the beauty of northern Michigan, particularly in Presque Isle County. Alphonse passed away in 2015 before the idea could be realized, but Joe was set on seeing the project through.
The perfect place for this dream turned out to be a section of land adjacent to 40-Mile Point Lighthouse in Rogers City; and the perfect partners to help make it a reality were the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, and the County of Presque Isle. Thus, the Cash and Jennie Gapczynski Nature Park Fund was established, creating a permanent legacy for the family.
In 2017, Joseph Gapczynski donated the 16-acre property to the County of Presque Isle, with the agreement the land would remain untouched, save for a few park benches and signage for visitors. To make sure the land can be cared for forever, Joseph then established an endowed fund at the Community Foundation to provide enough funding every year to maintain the land as needed; and provide resources to prepare the land for public use.
So many places we visit, sights we enjoy, and memories we make throughout northeast Michigan exist partly because people like Joseph – and people like you – care enough to find a way to make these things happen. What legacy will you create?