by NICHOLAS J. CONKLIN The West Michigan Whitecaps have been an integral part of the West Michigan sports scene over the past 15 years. With the successes of league championships in 1996, 1998 and 2006, and the many other accomplishments, the parents and families of the players take a large amount of pride in their sons. But, while many of these players tend to come from across the country and even around the world like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Taiwan, the question of where they live is often one that is forgotten. Unlike major league players, the players just breaking into the minor leagues often do not have the large contracts and salaries of their big league counterparts. With the added movement that many players make throughout the different levels, apartment hunting may be too time consuming and costly for them. That is why the West Michigan Whitecaps decided to adopt a unique and personalized way in which to help house players. By calling upon the support of the surrounding communities, the Whitecaps were able to establish the Keep-a-Cap program. The program has been a team initiative since they began play in 1994. Although totally voluntary, nearly 90 percent of players yearly participate in the program, and over 50 families have been involved since its inception. In order for a family to become hosts, they must pass a selection process as well as a home evaluation. The process typically begins around the beginning of January for the upcoming season. Whitecaps Community Relations Coordinator Anna Peterson begins the applicant process by sending an application to current and past host families. After communicating with the interested family, a home visit is scheduled and then, if the family can be approved, the family profile is complied and sent along to the players. The host families are required to provide the players with a room and bathroom facility, as well as cooking and laundry facilities. However, the players are mainly on their own when it comes to cleaning and transportation—and pay a small fee for their living expenses. Rockford has been one area that has taken to housing many of the Whitecaps over the years. With over six host families in the Rockford area, and over 20 families […]
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Cash 4 Kibble provides food, shelter for pets Help animals at Humane Society, throughout West Michigan Cash for Clunkers may be coming to an end, but the Humane Society of Kent County is launching its Cash 4 Kibble program in hopes of placing more animals into loving homes as well as helping to feed pets in need throughout the community. Cash 4 Kibble allows individuals to bring in donations of new or unopened pet food and receive cash toward their adoption fee. All pet donations will go to the Humane Society’s Kibble Konnection pet food bank program. For every 20 pounds or more of pet food donated, individuals will receive $25 toward one pet adoption fee at the Humane Society. The maximum discount is $25 per adoption. The program runs from August 25 to October 1, 2009. “We distribute around 7,000 pounds of pet food to families in need each month,” said Karen Terpstra, executive director for the Humane Society of Kent County. “We are in desperate need of pet food in order to continue to help these animals. Plus, our adoptions at the Humane Society are low, so in an effort to help both the animals here at our shelter and throughout the community we developed Cash 4 Kibble. It’s a win-win.” Pet food donations can be dropped off during the Humane Society’s adoption hours Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A $25 Cash 4 Kibble coupon will be issued at the time of drop-off and is good until December 1, 2009. Dry dog and cat food are needed the most. For more information on the Cash 4 Kibble program, please contact Jennifer Self-Aulgur at (616) 791-8066 or visit www.hskc.org.