Community Services

Consumers Energy Makes $100,000 Available in Grants to Support Tree Planting in Michigan Communities

July 16, 2015 // 0 Comments

Consumers Energy is offering $100,000 in grants to Michigan communities this year to plant trees, an effort to encourage responsible tree planting and sustainable urban forests in communities across the state. “We appreciate the interest from our community partners in planting trees in the right place,” said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy delivery. “The Community Tree Planting Program is a responsible way for us and the communities we serve to leave our state better for the next generation.” Up to $2,500 is available per community for grants. Consumers Energy sponsors the program annually to encourage responsible tree planting and sustainable urban forests in communities across the state. The Michigan Forest and Park Association reviews applications and forwards its grant recommendations to Consumers Energy. A tree planting project must meet criteria to avoid conflicts between trees and overhead lines to be eligible. Consumers Energy provides communities with a guide titled “Right Tree Right Place,” a concept developed by the National Arbor Day Foundation, which shows how to choose appropriate tree species and suitable sites in community locations near electric lines. Consumers Energy spent more than $40 million statewide on work to clear trees from power lines last year, leading to continued improvements in electric reliability. The company also joined Michigan International Speedway this year in providing 50,000 trees to be planted through the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, and annually sponsors the Michigan Big Tree Hunt through ReLeaf Michigan. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Regrets Spoken at End-of-Life Hospice of Michigan more than managing physical challenges

July 16, 2015 // 0 Comments

  I wish I would have made amends with my sister. We always said wed get married we just never got around to it. I always said Id finish my degree when I had more time. Now time is running out. Regrets. While many try to live without them, they have a way of creeping up but it doesn’t have to be too late to rid your life of regret. Marnie Squire, social worker with Hospice of Michigan, explains that its often not until patients begin hospice care that they examine their life and want to right any wrongs. Working through regrets at the end of life can be an important part of dying a peaceful death, Squire says. Hospice is about more than just the physical pain; its about the emotional pain, too. Patients often need to work through that before they’re ready to let go. When Hospice of Michigan begins working with a new patient, the team asks if the patient has any regrets and when regrets are shared, HOM makes addressing them a priority. This often involves all members of the hospice team: the doctor, nurse, social worker, aide, chaplain and volunteers. We’ve planned a lot of weddings, Squire recalls. We’ve planned baptisms, held ceremonies to honor veterans and have been a peacemaker between family members all in an attempt to fulfill last wishes, rid the patient of regret and provide the opportunity to die a peaceful death. Squire explains that a common regret is a rift with a family member or friend. When people die, they often want to feel like they’re leaving the world without feelings of contempt. When people realize they’re nearing the end-of-life, its common to look at past disagreements differently and reconsider the decision to cut ties with a loved one, Squire said. We do our best to help with this. We talk with the patient and family and determine if it’s appropriate to reach out the estranged family member or friend with a phone call. If the patient can no longer communicate, it might be as simple as holding the phone up to the patients ear and letting the person on the other line talk to them. If a call isn’t appropriate, we can help the patient […]

Rogue River “Green Team” improving the watershed

July 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

Last month, the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative in Michigan hired 8 high school students to form a “Green Team” to install and maintain green infrastructure practices throughout the Rogue River watershed. Four students worked during the month of June and are celebrating their last work day today. The team, comprised of Beckett Vigh, Claire Gault, DeAnna Clum, and Sam Burgess, were led by local gardener and native plant specialist Georgia Donovan. During their four weeks, the students were exposed to many aspects of the environmental field and received valuable job training to shape them into future stewards of their local- and global-watershed. “Being on the Green Team has been a great opportunity to not only help the environment, but also to learn about environmental issues and how to resolve them in the future,” said Green Team member Beckett Vigh. Although many of the students hope to pursue a career in aquatic ecology, the knowledge they are gaining through this experience will help them make good decisions as a citizen of the planet in every aspect of their life. At Calvin College, they took classes with biology professor Dave Warners and learned about watershed ecology, native and nonnative plants, and even helped college students with their own research projects. They collected native seeds from the wild and learned how to grow them in a greenhouse – and those seeds will be planted in the Rogue River watershed next summer. Beckett, Claire, DeAnna, and Sam then used that classroom knowledge to do their own on the ground restoration. Their largest project took place at homeowner Jack McClellan’s property in downtown Rockford. Jack lives on Rum Creek and reached out to Trout Unlimited to help him protect the creek on his property. Since stormwater runoff is the largest threat to the Rogue River and its tributaries, the Green Team installed a vegetated buffer comprised of native flowers, grasses, and shrubs to reduce and filter the runoff entering Rum Creek near the confluence with the Rogue. During this project, the students learned proper techniques for working on a stream buffer, such as use of an erosion control blanket to prevent excess sediment entering the creek. In total, the Green Team worked on 7 different rain gardens, stream buffers, […]

Women Who Care Kent County Donates $11,900 to North Kent Community Services

July 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

Women Who Care Kent County, a local philanthropy group, donated $11,900 to North Kent Community Services on June 25. Kathy Florentine and Sharon Stiansen, founders of the group, toured NKCS and presented the generous gift. NKCS was selected as this quarter’s recipient of funding from Women Who Care Kent County, a group of 100+ women who collectively pool their money to make one large donation to a nonprofit group in our community. Three charities were given the opportunity to make a pitch at the June 4 event at Blythefield Country Club; afterword each woman in attendance votes and writes a $100 check to the charity that garnered the most votes. “This gift is significant for North Kent Community Services,” said Executive Director Claire Guisfredi. “The donated money will be a huge help as we gear up for our next round of educational programming this fall. We are trying to move people out of poverty and Women Who Care Kent County is helping us do that.” North Kent Community Services is the largest food pantry in northern Kent County, serving families and individuals from 5 Mile to 22 Mile Roads and east and west to the county lines. They provide food, clothing, Senior Meals on Wheels, tax preparation and more to those in need. The Thrive Empowerment Program, launched in September, equips women in the area to empower themselves by advancing their education, starting a business or finding livable wage employment. Since its founding in 2013, Women Who Care Kent County has raised more than $95,000 for local nonprofit organizations. “It’s amazing to see the impact 100 women can make in just one hour,” said Florentine. “All women in Kent County are invited to join and be a part of this incredible group.”  The next gathering is Thursday, September 3 at Blythefield Country Club. For more information, visit their Facebook page by searching Women Who Care Kent County.

Rockford bikers take on long ride for Haiti

July 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

On June 22 a group of 15 Rockford area residents departed Cannon Township Offices for a 6-day, 300-mile bicycle ride to raise awareness and money for an orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti. All of the participants have raised money for HIS Home for Children, based in Harrod, Ohio, which is where the riders are biking to and arrived on Saturday morning. Geoff Van Berkel, a Rockford resident and HIS Home board member and his wife Judy have adopted five children from Haiti – one of which was rescued after being found as a newborn left in a dumpster –and have organized a 300 mile bike trip to raise money and awareness of the needs of Haitian orphans for the past 5 years.

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