Nobody will ever be able to accuse Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski of simply walking away from his job as he heads to the private sector. On a Saturday afternoon, literally hours before his role as the county’s financial guardian comes to an end, he’s been working up to the last minute to help keep people in their own homes.
Witkowski, who wraps up a 20 year career in public service tomorrow, is still working on behalf of the community, announcing today the result of his 2020 Hopeful Home Fund.
He writes, “As the county struggles with the Coronavirus COVID-19 and the effects it is having on lives and families, we would like to announce that because of the generosity of residents of Berrien County who have donated to United Way Hopeful Home Fund, the fund is able to help Toni Grisham of Mark Street in Niles Charter Township.”
Witkowski says that Ms. Grisham has struggled with some serious health issues the last few years and was in serious danger of losing her homestead. Fortunately, the generous donors to the Hopeful Home Fund helped keep her whole, staving off foreclosure.
Anyone willing to help others like Ms. Grisham and those selected over the last two years as well, can make a tax deductible donation by sending to United Way of SW Michigan at 2015 Lakeview Avenue in St. Joseph and earmark the donation for the Hopeful Home Fund.
Witkowski’s legacy will long be remembered as the man who helped return humanity to the foreclosure process in Berrien County through compassionate payment plans to keep people in their own homes. Tomorrow he leaves county government, headed to the private sector after more than 20 years in the service of his community.
Witkowski has accepted a position with Abonmarche of Benton Harbor, where he will help them set up asset management programming.
After more than 20 years as first a County Commissioner and then as County Treasurer, the 52-year old Witkowski says, “It has been an incredible blessing to be a part of Berrien County, and I hope in some small way my staff and I have done everything possible to help people keep their properties through the many different programs that we have developed and offered.”
Witkowski also established the Berrien County Land Bank program which has helped keep valuable land on the tax rolls while helping contingent property owners to gain access to additional land for their own homes and/or businesses.
Always keeping others in mind, Witkowski said in February while announcing his departure, “Because this is a critical time in the foreclosure process, I will stay as Treasurer through April 5th to help continue to keep people in their properties with payment plans and other assistance,” and added, “I hope people will continue to donate to the Hopeful Home Fund at United Way as a way to help out homeowners in very difficult situations.”
Witkowski has been with Berrien County since January of 1999. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and General Management from Ball State University in 1990. He has also been a long time color commentator and analyst with WSJM Sports radio broadcasts for many years working side by side with Phil McDonald at Mid-West Family in Benton Harbor. He’s a member of the St. Joseph High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Witkowski also served as Village Manager for the Village of Stevensville, and served on committees helping to restore local control to the Village of Three Oaks and the City of Benton Harbor. His first job out of college was working for Industrial Electric on Klock Road in Benton Harbor.