The DeKalb County Community Foundation is thrilled to announce the Michael and Lana Haines Family Fund. This new Donor Advised Fund will align with the charitable interests of the Haines family and provide a tangible way for them to participate in philanthropy. Their interests include protecting land, air, and water for today and future generations, supporting organic, sustainable gardening and farming, increasing access to food and health care, promoting education and literacy, and creating beauty accessible to the community.
Michael and Lana Haines both attended Northern Illinois University (NIU). It was here that they met, and they married in May 1970. They lived in DeKalb for several years before moving to a 5-acre farmette in Malta. The additional land allowed them to expand their efforts in organic gardening, offer garden space to others, and raise dairy goats, chickens, and turkeys. In 1977, they purchased ten wooded acres near the Kishwaukee River in rural Kingston. They built a passive solar home and still reside there. Michael and Lana have two adult children and four granddaughters.
Michael graduated from NIU with a master’s degree in mental health and began working as the director of Mother Sunshine, a DeKalb nonprofit. Mother Sunshine was a substance abuse treatment, prevention, and education program and was the first homeless shelter in DeKalb County. He was a certified addictions counselor and enjoyed working directly with people and helping them daily.
He said, “I became convinced that the solutions to community problems already exist within that community, and all that’s needed is to identify, support, and strengthen them.”
From there, Michael worked at NIU for the next 26 years. He was the director of NIU Health Enhancement Services, the campus health promotion and prevention program. During the last eight years of his career, he was executive director of the National Social Norm Resource Center, a grant-funded service now housed at Michigan State University. The grant enabled his team to research and apply normative influence for mass behavior change for public health.
Lana graduated from NIU in 1971 with a degree in education. She began her career as a special education teacher in Waterman and later in DeKalb, retiring after 23 more years in the Genoa-Kingston district. Lana was a third-grade teacher for her last 12 years, continuing her commitment to helping each student succeed.
“One of the most important things I did as a teacher was to create a sense of community in my classroom,” she said. “We worked together to focus on what we did well and encouraged and helped each other to grow and learn.”
Because of her concern that children in Kingston would not have access to books during the summer, Lana put out a call for people to donate books they no longer wanted. The “Kingston Library” made its debut in 2002 at the Kingston Village Hall. The books soon outgrew the space, so the Haines bought an historic building on Main Street. The Kingston Sharing Library functions as a part of Hand in Hand Community Project, a local nonprofit. The library is staffed entirely by volunteers. Thousands of books and other materials are donated or purchased with small donations or grants. “Amazingly, we can offer so much to the children, adults, and families in the community, all supported by the generosity of others,” she said.
After moving to Kingston, Michael took on a special project of his own. He developed a tallgrass prairie and wetland on property they purchased near their home. This 63 acres of rolling prairie has a quarter-mile of Kishwaukee River frontage, protecting a mile of Haines Creek. The entire acreage was sold to the DeKalb County Forest Preserve and will become a portion of the 160-acre Haines Creek Conservation Corridor.
The Haines remain community-focused. Between the two of them, they have volunteered and served as committee and board members of Voluntary Action Center, DeKalb County Nursing Home Foundation, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, Hand in Hand Community Project, Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society, and the DeKalb County Community Gardens. They still serve as volunteer referees for the Genoa-Kingston-Kirkland American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO).
In 2021 they created the Michael and Lana Haines Family Fund at the Community Foundation. The idea for the Fund was to instill generosity in their children and grandchildren. “We want to continue and encourage philanthropy within our family for years to come. The most exciting part of the Fund is that we’ll do this together.”
“I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Michael and Lana for many years and have seen their passion and love of community first-hand,” said Community Foundation Executive Director Dan Templin. “They have supported the Foundation’s proactive engagement in DeKalb County for years. We are thrilled to be helping them achieve their personal giving goals through a Fund.”
Donations to any Fund at the Community Foundation, including the Michael and Lana Haines Family Fund, can be made online or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, IL 60178. For questions or to get started creating your charitable Fund, please contact Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or email@example.com.Donate to the Michael and Lana Haines Family Fund >