Howard and Julie Veneklasen

The Veneklasen Family Fund — part of our Community’s Endowment

It’s been almost twenty years since Howard and Julie Veneklasen first established the Veneklasen Family Fund, an endowed field of interest fund for youth.

“We‘ve always been passionate about giving to youth causes. All of our hopes and aspirations for the future of our community lie in our support of the younger generation. We have to put our faith in them, mentor them and bring them along. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s future,” said Julie.

Julie witnessed firsthand the positive impact one can have on the lives of youth as a mentor through Kids Hope USA. “That experience continues to inspire me. Investing in our local youth is a real family priority for us,” said Julie.

Their field of interest fund allows the Veneklasen family to support the special interest area most meaningful to them while relying on CFHZ’s community expertise in selecting grant recipients working in that area.

CFHZ makes grants on behalf of the Veneklasen Family Fund and reports back on the programs and projects that have been selected. Over the years, their fund has supported organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Center for Women in Transition, Latin Americans United for Progress, and Good Samaritan Ministries.

Howard and Julie Veneklasen — photo credit: deVries photography in Zeeland, MI.

“We grew up with giving. When you have a local business, it’s your responsibility to give back to the community that supports you, whether its giving of your time or your resources,” said Howard.

The Veneklasen family has been in various businesses in Holland/Zeeland since 1847.

The Veneklasens now have business interests in many locations. “We are blessed to travel, but Holland will always be home for us. There is no place like home in Holland/Zeeland,” said Julie.

“The many years of working together alongside our family members, business partners, and dedicated employees has furthered our belief in the importance of giving back. It’s a team effort in this community.”

Howard and Julie feel fortunate that their parents taught them both the importance and the joy of giving at a young age. “Howard was born and raised on the east side, and I’m from the north side. Both of our families have been part of this community and have been giving back for more than 100 years. We’re so proud of our heritage and history here,” noted Julie.

“The Community Foundation is the natural facilitator for giving because it’s so broad-based. We take pride in being part of the Community Foundation because it’s a forever organization. If you have a strong foundation, you have a strong community,” said Howard.

To the Veneklasens, Holland/Zeeland is a “very special place rooted in faith, with a strong education system and strong business culture.”

They plan to continue to grow their fund and hope to encourage and inspire others to give back to the causes closest to their hearts.

Howard noted that one thing he and Julie have learned is that “you can never give enough because you always get more in return.”

Originally featured in the Community Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report. While this was written by CFHZ’s Communications Manager Nicole Paquette in 2015, we believe that stories of generosity are timeless and always relevant.