June 28 2012

Endowment gives nearly $58,000 in first responder grants

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue’ by BETH ALTENA  Fourteen fire or police departments have funding for life-saving equipment they needed thanks to the generosity of those who supported the West Michigan Healing Fields (WMHF) memorial to 9/1/1 held last September. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) met last month to give away the money raised by the sponsorships of the 3,200 flags—each representing one of the people who died 10 years ago in terrorist attacks that changed the U.S. in one horrific day. According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the project was brought to RACE by Susan Bodenner, who heard about the program. It allows communities to honor those lost while raising funds for grants to first responders, many of whom were among those killed. She brought the idea to the RACE board, where it was enthusiastically embraced. “We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue,” said Young. “The franchise was $50,000, so RACE could either lose $50,000, break even or make money.” In addition to covering the initial franchise fee for the WMHF, the project raised nearly $60,000 more given away at the RACE annual meeting held at Rockford City Hall on Tuesday, May 18. Not all of the 20 grant applications or all of the grant request amounts were approved, but an amazing $57,840 in grants were given for worthy needs of local rescue. The grants included $5,000 each to Cannon and Courtland township fire departments, the City of Rockford Police and Fire, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division, which is located in Rockford in Plainfield Townshhip. Plainfield Fire Department received $4,900 to purchase thermal imaging unit equipment; Algoma Fire Department received $4,882 for needed equipment; Sparta Fire Department received $4,785; Grand Rapids Police Department received their entire grant request of $4,473; Wyoming Police and Grandville Police departments were given $3,500 of their grant request; Grattan Fire Department received $2,400 of their requested grant; and Grandville Fire Department received a check for $2,200 of their requested grant. Polly VonEschen, who is an at-large member of the RACE board, said the grants represented the most the board has given since her tenure on the board. The endowment was formed in the early […]

Rockford resident organizes Azerbaijani Boys’ Leadership Experience

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

Activities benefit thousands of community members around the world Throughout the summer months, Peace Corps volunteers worldwide facilitate educational, empowerment and environmental summer camps for girls and youth of all ages. Many volunteers raise a portion of the funds for each camp through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), which helps support Peace Corps volunteer and community projects worldwide. Today, five percent of Peace Corps volunteers work in the youth development sector, working with communities to form youth groups, clubs and sports teams. Volunteers also develop extracurricular activities that help local youth build confidence and develop decision-making, communication and leadership skills that promote positive relationships with peers, parents and adults. One example of Peace Corps volunteer-led camps taking place this summer is Peace Corps volunteers Colin Jones of Las Vegas, Nev., Nate Storey of Phoenix, Md., Jacob Winn of Falmouth, Maine, and Richard Wiersma, 24, of Rockford, Mich., are working with local community members and Peace Corps staff to organize the seventh annual Azerbaijani Boys’ Leadership Experience (ABLE) camp from July 14 to 16 in Azerbaijan. During the camp, 50 boys aged 13 to 17 will participate in sessions on topics including leadership skills, teamwork and how to make a positive impact locally. A portion of the funds for ABLE camp will be raised through the PCPP. “The primary objective of ABLE camp is to show campers how they can make a positive difference in their communities,” said Wiersma, alum of Liberty University and Grand Rapids Community College, who has been serving in Azerbaijan since 2011. “We guide them in a process of defining community, identifying needs and assets, and leading initiatives that benefit their communities such as park cleanup campaigns or creating educational opportunities for students. We also emphasize teamwork, motivation, and respect for others.” One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project. Those interested in supporting camp ABLE can visit www.peacecorps.gov/donate. The project number for the camp is 314-098. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 9,095 volunteers are working with local communities in 75 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 […]

Rockford firefighters hose down students

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

For some relief of a very hot day, the Rockford Fire Department brought a pumper and hoses to the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) administration building to cool kids off. Much to the delight of the students in the preschool through fifth-grade summer care program, firefighters sprayed water for the kids to run through. Many thanks from RPS and students to the Rockford firefighters for their kindness!

Rockford Lion Rock Wood elected as district governor

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

Rockford Lions Club member Rock Wood was recently elected to become the district governor for Lions of West Michigan District 11C-1. The district governor is the highest-ranking Lions district position, and provides policy and program oversight and administrative support for clubs in 42 towns and cities throughout West Michigan. Wood is a 12-year member of the Rockford Lions, and is the first district governor in the 50-plus-year history of the Rockford Lions Club. He is a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award recipient, the highest form of recognition for exceptional service to the district. Wood also was recently awarded the Lions International President’s Award for outstanding global service for outstanding humanitarian service coordinating, among other projects, a local tree-planting campaign in which over 12,000 trees were planted at more than 50 locations by 35 Lions clubs, working with youth groups throughout West Michigan. Wood noted that the Lions International is the largest service organization in the world, dedicated to serving the community, with an emphasis on serving the needs of the visually and hearing impaired. In addition, the Rockford Lions Club (established in 1954) is one of the largest and most active Lions clubs in West Michigan, with more than 70 members who raise funds to support more than 15 groups/programs, such as Rockford Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, D.A.R.E., Leader Dogs for the Blind, Michigan Eye Bank, North Kent Community Services, Shop With a Cop, Sight Seer Radio, and many others. Not only does Wood serve the local community through the Rockford Lions Club, he currently serves as a member of Optimist International (Greenville club), the Courtland Township Planning Commission, and the President Gerald R. Ford Boy Scout Council Board of Directors, which oversees the administration and activities of the Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs of West Michigan. Wood has also organized or volunteered for over 200 state-licensed charity events and serves many other charitable and nonprofit organizations. Wood’s professional accomplishments as an attorney for the law firm of Dickinson Wright in Grand Rapids include being listed among the Best Lawyers in America and by Michigan Super Lawyers for multiple years. This past year, he was honored as the 2012 Best Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year: Grand Rapids Litigation-Banking and Finance. When asked what […]

Annual Rogue River cleanup cancelled due to cleanliness

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

Rockford resident Andrew Kersting has been organizing the annual Rogue River Cleanup from the Rockford Dam down to Childsdale Ave. since he was in his early teens. This year, after walking the proposed route with Nicole DeMol of Trout Unlimited, who is leading the Home Rivers Initiative, and Rogue River Project director Andrew Kersting decided to cancel the event for this summer due to the lack of trash on the Rogue. Kersting said he would like to think his dedication in getting the word out about not “trashing” the Rogue may be part of the reason the Rogue looks so clean this summer. Kersting began his clean up events after an injury made him realize at a young age that you never know what life has in store for you and that you should do as much good as you can while you are able to. Over the years Kersting has had support from D&W Fresh Market of Rockford, which has supplied trash bags and water, and AAA Canoe Rental. BC Pizza of Belmont and the Rockford Corner Bar have provided Kersting’s group of volunteers with a great lunch for their hard work. Celebration! Cinema and the Coopersville & Marne Railway have provided great items to be given away to volunteers after the event. The Rogue River Cleanup is scheduled to take place again in the spring of 2013. For this year, a big thanks goes to those on the Rogue River who took their trash out with them and to all the people who, like Kersting, give back by donating their time and effort for a very beautiful cause.

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