From our 2010 Spring Newsletter
Sustainer Treva DeJong has always been a planner. She is a firm believer that big things can happen if they are tackled a little bit a time. This is a philosophy she shared with her late husband, Arn. As a result of her “eat an elephant one bite at a time,” Treva recently reached the Founder level in her giving to the Leelanau Conservancy. (Founders are those donors with lifetime giving that exceeds $25,000.)
The couple’s giving began back in 1994 when she and Arn joined our Sustainer Circle and also carved out $100 from their monthly budget to help permanently protect Whaleback. When their Whaleback pledge ended, they decided they might as well keep giving $100 a month to help with other land protection projects. “If you do things a little bit at a time, it’s not that big of a deal,” she says. “That’s the way I approach a lot of things. Every week when I’m at the grocery store I buy a canned good that’s on sale for the food pantry, so when the Thanksgiving food drive rolls around I have a lot to give.”
Treva explained that she and Arn had both been raised in strict Dutch reformed households and that both of their fathers were ministers. “We had been involved with a number of churches over the years and were raised to believe that to show gratitude we should tithe,” she said. “You don’t have to be in a church to believe in God. I sit at my kitchen table and look out at the lake or go out into the woods and this is my church today. So we decided a while ago that the Leelanau Conservancy should be our primary tithe. If you are going to honor your creator, what better place to do that than in Leelanau County?”
The couple’s Leelanau history began like so many others; visiting with friends on Glen Lake and then camping at Leelanau Pines. In 1991 they bought a place on Little Traverse Lake. Arn was in the midst of a battle with lung cancer that went on for 25 years. “For many years he did not let the disease slow him down,” says Treva. They biked, hiked, went bird watching and spent hours out on their pontoon boat. “He always said that if you had a fishing line in the water no one ever asked you what you were doing. He loved life, especially in Leelanau, and that’s the reason he lasted as long as he did.”
We are grateful to Treva and Arn for their forethought and dedication to the Leelanau Conservancy’s mission. We think they set a great example on how one can make a very big impact with a little bit of planning!