Little Lake

A recent donation has allowed ACRES Land Trust to protect Little Lake, just west of Albion.

Like many ACRES enthusiasts, Dave, who asked to be anonymous, can’t recall exactly how or when he first learned about ACRES Land Trust.

“Likely from a friend,” he says. But his reasons for investing in the organization are much clearer: “Nature is the place where I get the most spiritual renewal. It’s my cathedral.”

Dave also shares that “children and adults alike are missing out on the nurturing nature provides, the way it was intended.” When you add that he and his wife enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, it’s clear there’s a lot about ACRES that Dave enjoys.

“I think and live local. I feel responsible to live in and contribute to my own environment. This is my place, and I’m grateful that ACRES exists, that this land is cherished by others as well as me,” he said.

Several months ago Dave called the ACRES office to discuss an opportunity he had to do something really special for the land trust. In 2018, he’d received an unexpected inheritance from an estranged cousin whom Dave had seen only once in adulthood. His cousin’s life in California was lonely and challenging with no support system, no close relatives. Dave and other cousins received modest bequests.

“I didn’t feel excitement about this gift. We didn’t know each other, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. It didn’t feel right to benefit from my cousin’s sad death,” Dave said.

After considering many options, he said, “Since this isn’t my money, it should go someplace where it can do some good.”

Dave chose charities that his cousin — had he had a support system — likely would have benefited from, and he also picked a few that were important to him, like ACRES.

It turns out Dave’s decision about how to spend this inheritance resulted in far more than its monetary value.

“I’ve experienced so much joy giving away the money. I spent most of the year carefully researching the best ways to give, and it’s been a lot of fun. I had no desire to simply send checks to people. I wanted the experience to be purposeful, something I could identify with,” he said.

After reviewing options, Dave asked ACRES to invest his gift in the last bit of fundraising needed to acquire Little Lake, just west of Albion. He and his wife recently met Heather Barth, advancement director for ACRES, on site in order to deliver the check in person and glimpse the special place he is helping permanently protect.

“Thank you for allowing me to see and feel the place,” Dave said. “I now have a picture in my head that’s really valuable to me.”

In 2017, two conservation-minded families protected the 24-acre property with ACRES. The Tipton and Richman families previously owned, respectively, the southern and northern portions of what is now an ACRES preserve. Little Lake is closed to the public.

Planned giving can be as easy as listing ACRES as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. It also includes making a charitable gift during your lifetime, which takes a little more planning and foresight. To learn more about how you can leave a legacy during or after your lifetime, visit

Lettie Haver manages outreach for ACRES Land Trust. She grew up in rural DeKalb County.

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