North Family Center is dedicated to improving our community

For Mary Draves, it’s all about giving back.

Draves, now the Global Director of Environmental Remediation and Restoration for The Dow Chemical Company, knows the economic challenges faced by many northern Midland County families.

“I grew up in that area, so it’s really humbling to now be a part of serving the families there,” said Draves, a longtime board member at Greater Midland North Family Center, 2601 E. Shearer Road in Mills Township.

Since first opening its doors in 1991, the Center’s mission is to provide programs and services in an area that’s had limited help. Its mission is promoting the social, emotional, intellectual and physical well being of area residents.

Northern Midland residents face many challenges because of the area’s struggling economy, experts say. But North Family Center serves as a hub of activity for individuals, families, and seniors with licensed childcare, fitness center, a gymnasium and 3D archery course. In addition, there’s an emergency food pantry, tutoring and free clothing room on site.

“We strive to make the center a second home for families in Northern Midland County,” said Terrah Johnson, executive director of Greater Midland Family Centers. “We want it to be a place where families feel comfortable and supported, a place where families can connect with one another, and also a place to access resources in times of need.”

The Family Center is also a great meeting place for senior citizens who gather for lunch, games, and conversation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Its teen leadership program encourages young people to become role models to other teens and to give back to the community by volunteering at other local non-profits. Every other Friday night is "Teen Night" where over 150 teens have access to a designated space at the center, computers, a gym, and game nights with prizes.

Greater Midland employees and board members such as Draves work together to spread the word about the many services available at North Family Center.

“It’s very exciting to watch people learn about North Family Center and then become supporters of it,” Draves said. “We’ve got a lot of people who put their heart and soul into this.”

Johnson said the Greater Midland North Family Center is a better place because of Draves.

“Her passion for the children, teens, and residents of northern Midland County shows through in everything she does,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s assisting children with 4-H animals, getting her hands dirty on the playground, or raising money to help a graduate go to college, Mary gives 110 percent in everything she does.”

In honor of Draves’ many years of service, North Family Center created the Mary Draves North Family Center Endowment Fund. The annual fund will be awarded to a student in northern Midland County’s service area to help pay for college or trade school, Johnson said.

Draves said she is honored to have this fund bear her name.

"This fund is designed to help kids at North Family Center who may not have the means to further their education,” Draves said. “Our family feels that improving our community starts with each of us: Service above self.  This scholarship will help young people in our community have that opportunity to grow.”

“I’m happy to help.”

-- To donate to or apply for the Mary Draves North Family Center Endowment Fund, please contact the Midland Area Community Foundation: 76 Ashman Circle, Midland, MI 48640, 989.839.9661,

For donation purposes, checks can be made to “MACF – Mary Draves Fund” and made online via the link below. Type Mary Draves into the Fund name. Gifts are also accepted by mailing-in or dropping off a contribution card with either cash, check, or credit card.