Returned missionaries share Haiti stories

Television crews film Cliff VanKoevering and his daughter, Anna, 10, on Saturday, January 23.

Television crews film Cliff VanKoevering and his daughter, Anna, 10, on Saturday, January 23.

Rockford residents knew more about the earthquake in Haiti before missionaries and Haitians did, said Cliff VanKoevering, of the Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM) in Rockford.

VanKoevering was with several volunteers with the mission in Haiti during the earthquake and the 6.1 aftershock. At a press conference held Saturday, January 23, VanKoevering, John Bredeweg and George Meppelink, all just returned from the ravaged country, shared their experiences with members of the media.

VanKoevering goes to Haiti every year and performs maintenace work on vehicles for BHM. He was working on a dump truck when the quake hit.

“At first I thought the truck had started running rough,” he said. When he saw the ceiling start to come down, for a moment he thought the truck’s dump unit had risen and was tearing up the building.

“Immediately after the earthquake there was this eerie sense of stillness,” he said. Then came the dust clouds and the pandemonium. Because communications systems were destroyed, no one on the ground in Haiti knew the extent of the quake, or who was safe.

VanKoevering said the worst of what he saw is too graphic to share. What impressed him the most was the resiliency of the Haitians and how quickly the missionaries were able to reorient themselves into relief work.

Baptist Haiti Mission volunteers took photos of the devastation,

Baptist Haiti Mission volunteers took photos of the devastation,

From one day to the next after the earthquake VanKoevering switched from relatively routine work of fixing vehicles to emergency relief delivery.

At the BMC compound and hospital near Port-au-Prince the structures survived surprisingly well, allowing the missionaries to provide desperately needed medical services.

The resiliency of the Haitian people impressed VanKoevering and others. They said it was amazing to see people who had lost everything—homes, possessions—show up for work every day to offer their help.

VanKoevering said it wasn’t difficult to return to the United States and felt that the window of time when he, Bredeweg and Meppelink could be of service had passed.

“It’s hard for people to relate to what it is like there, how limited are the facilities,” said Ron Sparks, board member of BHM.

VanKoevering said he believes it was time for the next level of relief workers to take his place, whether it be medical help or rebuilding. “Long after Haiti is out of the news, there will be great need,” he said.

VanKoevering himself will return to Haiti. “It gets in your blood,” he said. He and his wife Deb have six children, two adopted from Haiti. He was greatly moved by his experiences during this difficult time. “My plate is very full as far as being able to process this. I don’t know where it will end,” he said. To find out more about BHM visit online at www.bhm.org.

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Deputy McCutcheon named president of WMCPA of Michigan

Deputy Tom McCutcheon

Deputy Tom McCutcheon

The West Michigan Crime Prevention Association of Michigan (WMCPA) voted Deputy Tom McCutcheon of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office to a one-year term as their president for 2010.

Deputy McCutcheon, a 19-year police veteran, is a D.A.R.E. officer for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy McCutcheon has a passion and commitment for crime prevention and looks forward to using his experience to further expand crime prevention practices in West Michigan. His passion for people extends not just in his routine daily job but also off duty with his involvement in teaching, mentoring and coaching children in the community. Most recently, McCutcheon had served as central vice president for WMCPA.

WMCPA of Michigan provides training and crime prevention resources to police and sheriffs’ departments throughout Michigan. The association, which boasts over 100 members, is recognized as the leader in crime prevention practices.

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Pucker up for Best Lips contest

scoutslips

Lips are fun! Enter the Squire Best Lips of Rockford contest (see form on page 13). Here Webelos Pack 3264 enter the contest during their visit to the paper. Pictured below are Joey Miller, Eric Von Rosen, Conor Von Rosen, Michael Bolam and Sean Lausin.

 

scouts110

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Bi-monthly luncheon to feature Danny Beckett

RCC-luncheon

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) is pleased to announce the first installment of its popular Bi-Monthly Luncheon Series for 2010. The luncheon is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1 at the American Legion Post 102, located at 330 Rockford Park Drive (on the northwest corner of Northland Drive). The event will feature the culinary delights of long-time RCC member Sam’s Joint.

The topic, Social Networking 101, will be presented by Danny Beckett, who is the marketing whiz behind Spearia, an Internet marketing and design firm. During his presentation, Becket will help demystify social media networking, which is the networking wave of the future.

Beckett, a former professional motocross racer who has been sponsored by some of the world’s largest motorcycle companies, is the president/CEO of Spearia. He compares running his firm in Belmont with lessons he has learned on the track.

Please register by Friday, Jan. 29 by contacting the RCC office at (616) 866-2000 or by e-mailing Jeannie at membership@rockfordmichamber.com. The luncheons are open to everyone, so RCC members are asked to invite a friend. Cost is $15 for RCC members and $20 for nonmembers. (Please note that if you are unable to attend the luncheon and have registered, please contact the RCC office prior to the luncheon to avoid being charged.)

Be sure to attend this timely luncheon and learn how you can best utilize social media networking—and your business, too, can be on the fast track.

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Local resident participates in AQHA Horseback Riding Program

Sherrie Logsdon of Cedar Springs recently earned an award for logging 1,500 hours in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Horseback Riding Program. The program recognizes and rewards AQHA members for time spent with their American quarter horses in activities such as trail rides, working cattle, pleasure driving and simply riding.

A unique aspect of the program is its simplicity. Current AQHA members complete a program application and pay a one-time $35 enrollment fee. Each enrollee receives an official AQHA log sheet to record their hours driving or riding an American quarter horse. Participants need not own their own horse, but all official hours must be accrued with a registered American quarter horse.

Fifteen subsequent awards are presented at 25- to 5,000-hour levels and range from merchandise gift certificates from Drysdales Western Store to a Montana Silversmith trophy belt buckle at the highest level.

Other awards provided by AQHA corporate sponsors include a $25 gift certificate at the 25- and 250-hour levels, good toward any item from Drysdales Western Store, and 750 hours earns a Horseback Riding denim jacket. For each additional hour level achieved, members will receive Montana Silversmith products as rewards. Also at both 500-hour and 5,000-hour award levels, recipients receive recognition on AQHA’s website at www.aqha.com.

Stephanie A. McCommon, AQHA manager of membership services, said, “AQHA is very proud to offer this program, rewarding people who enjoy riding and driving American quarter horses. Enrollees are doing such diverse activities that it’s obvious this program literally fits everyone who likes spending time with horses!”

AQHA actively encourages horseback riding as a recreational activity that can be enjoyed alone or shared with family and friends. For more information about AQHA and its programs, visit www.aqha.com or call (806) 376-4811.

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