Without saying a word, Larry Baum's excitement was shown through his smile and motion of a thumbs-up as he viewed the new additions to the football stadium at Hastings High School.
Baum had a stroke about a year ago and has struggled with his speech since then. His wife, Earlene was able to share their story, which began at Hastings High School.
"He was a football player," Earlene said. "I saw him walking down the hall and he had a broken arm. That’s how I noticed him. Then after high school he went into the Air Force and I went off to college and it wasn’t too long that we were apart when we decided that we didn’t like being apart and so we ended up getting married."
The two settled down and started a family in Hastings and own Hastings Fiber Glass. Earlene said the business has given them the opportunity to employ dozens of community members and it allowed them to give back to their alma mater and other parts of a community they love.
"We’re really proud to live here and call Hastings home," Earlene said.
Through the Baum Family Foundation, they've donated $1.2 million to Hastings High School that has gone towards eight new tennis courts, a new track, two new sets of bleachers, a renovated press box and new scoreboard. That donation is on top of another $1.2 million, the foundation contributed for a new turf field and field house within the past decade.
Hastings Athletic Director Mike Goggins said the Baum family's generosity over the years has created facilities he could never have imaged for the student-athletes.
"I’ve never asked Larry for anything," Goggins said. "He approaches us and asks what’s on the list of things we need right now. Let's see what we can do."
For the past decade, the Baum Family Foundation has also donated about $70,000 every school year so no Hastings student has to pay to play.
"It just makes you feel really good to think that you are able to help out in this way and enable students to do things they might not otherwise be able to," Earlene said.
Goggins said the Baum family's generosity has created a trickle down effect to the entire Hastings community.
"It’s kind of helped build the spirit of giving in our community," Goggins said. "Our community is very generous and I think part of that is that the Baum's kind of lead the by example."
The Baum family foundation paid it forward to far more places beyond the high school. They have also contributed to the amphitheater downtown, the dialysis center and the $12 million Baum Family Surgical Center at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital in Hastings. The list goes on.
Baum Family Foundation consultant, Chris Cooley said by making these contributions, Larry and his family hope Hastings will become a place people want to be.
"The things he does to help the community are great for the citizens who live here," Cooley said. "But it’s also the type of thing where someone would visit Hastings and say, this is a place I’d like to live."
The Saxons host the Coldwater Cardinals at 7 p.m. Friday. The game is the fifth of the year for both teams because state-ordered COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings put the Michigan high school football season on hold.
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