by BETH ALTENA Santa, police and plenty of smiles marked the seventh annual Shop with a Hero event at the Rockford Meijer Sunday, Dec. 12. All on volunteer time, Rockford police, usually with the help of a spouse or family member, enjoyed helping children choose items from a list of necessities and at least one treasured toy of their choice. Each Christmas season the officers, assisted by a spouse, friend or family member, help children from Rockford schools choose items such as boots, hats, snowpants, pajamas and more, working off a list of needed items provided by parents or guardians. The Rockford Lions Club, one of the service organizations that donate to Shop with a Hero, also turns out on the day of the event to assist. According to Lynda Nance, who joined the Rockford Lions in October, the event is just one of many causes the group supports. “My dad was a Lion for over 30 years. When Polly VonEschen invited me to join, I decided it was time,” she said. “All we do is raise money and do good things. It’s a great group and so much fun.” This year’s Shop with a Hero was the first for Officer Mike Thomas. “It’s fun to shop with other people’s money,” he said. “It’s fun getting things that people need.” Fifth-grader Zachary Smith said he felt lucky because his Shop with a Hero was Dave Jehnzen, who is Rockford’s D.A.R.E. officer. Smith said he believes the lessons he learned in D.A.R.E. will stay with him all his life. One of the techniques the program taught him is to “give the cold shoulder” when pressured in a bad situation. “You just turn and walk away. You don’t have to say a thing.” Meijer Store Director Phil Morrow said many Meijer stores hold similar events with police, ambulance and fire department personnel. The company annually donates tens of thousands of dollars for the program. “It’s the right thing to do,” Morrow said. “This is touching the community, giving back and helping these families out. These people probably shop here every day.” Morrow also pointed out that the kids invariably pick out items for someone else, a sibling or friend. “They aren’t just buying things for themselves, they […]
December 16 2010
by BETH ALTENA One family’s dedication to protecting the land and their generous spirit is good news for all in Rockford. The Cok family has preserved 126 acres of property along the Rogue River as a conservation easement through the Land Conservancy of West Michigan—an action that ensures the property will never be developed. Stu Cok was one of the speakers at the annual meeting of the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) and spoke before the group at the Rockford Community Cabin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, describing why a nature easement was the right choice for his family and their land. Cok said land has been important to him since he was a child in the Great Depression and was in seven schools in three years. As a young man just out of service in the Marine Corps, he drove around Kent County looking for waterfront property. He was determined to find his own homestead and stay put. “I bought the land in 1953,” he said of his property on the Rogue River downstream of Sparta. Property prices actually slowed the timeline and size of the easement, Cok noted. The easement allows the Cok family to be compensated for some of the value of the land, but with property prices so low it was difficult to get an estimate. “While we felt it was important to protect the land with a conservation easement for a multitude of reasons, here are just a few that stand out,” Cok stated. Cok described the importance of land for his family as well as himself. “We built our home here in 1964 and all of our children, and now our grandchildren, have grown up on the land. We feel that all of us have been able to form a close relationship with the natural world here, and preserving its natural beauty was very important to us.” “Also, while we have contemplated developing small portions of the land in the past, we have come to the conclusion that even minimal development would do irreparable harm to the beauty and natural values that we hold dear. These forests and wetlands drain into a valley, creating a tributary stream, which flows into the mainstream of the Rogue River, all on our land. […]
State Rep. Tom Pearce recently presented local resident David Jazwiec a tribute in honor of his volunteer efforts as a North Kent Community Services (NKCS) volunteer. “A great community becomes one through the hard work and devotion of individuals within its limits,” said Pearce, R-Rockford, in the tribute. “These select individuals, such as David, possess the qualities to solve problems and reach out to those in need, regardless of circumstance. One person can make a difference in a community if they persevere and maintain their path.” Pearce personally presented the award to Jazwiec at the NKCS’s Christmas party on Tuesday, Dec. 7.