Tag Archives: west michigan

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: A Global Vision: Arend D. Lubbers

This week we continue our series of blog posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2014 Hometown Heroes Celebration hosted by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, May 1 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

 

ImageThe American Red Cross of West Michigan is proud to present the Henry Dunant Global Impact Award to President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers. He is being recognized for the precedence he set for the students of Grand Valley. As president, he valued the experiences of a global community and encouraged students of Grand Valley State University to reach beyond the borders of the classroom, regardless of political concerns, to engage with communities around the world and to bring those experiences home to Grand Rapids.

 

Lubbers is a native of Holland, Mich., and a graduate of Hope College, where his father, Irwin Lubbers, served as president. He received his master’s degree in history from Rutgers University in 1956, and then taught at Wittenberg College in Ohio before returning to Rutgers in 1958 to pursue his doctorate. In 1962, Life magazine named him to its list of the top 100 young men under 40 in the United States. Before coming to Grand Valley, Lubbers worked at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where he served as president for nine years. At the time of his appointment to that position at Central College, Lubbers was the youngest college president in the country, at 29.

 

President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers became president of Grand Valley in 1969 at the age of 37, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. When he retired in 2001, he was the longest-serving public university president in the country. In the 32 years in between, Lubbers led the university’s evolution from a small, liberal arts college to a regional university.

 

“He started with not much more than a field in Allendale and a handful of faculty clustered in separate colleges,” said Kate Cragwall, colleague of president Lubbers and fellow 2014 Hometown Heroes Award recipient. “But, his vision for Grand Valley went way beyond building a university of bricks and mortar.”

 

As President of the University, Lubbers set the tone for compassionate internationalization for the growing institution.  Infusing global
understanding as part of the educational mission for GVSU, Lubbers founded the International Studies program and personally fostered institutional partnerships with universities behind the Iron Curtain, including in Poland and the former Yugoslavia.  His Imagecommitment to the peaceful exchange of ideas and students was almost unheard of for U.S. universities in the Cold War era.

“It was as if he could see the future—of how the world would become a global community,” observed Cragwall.

If you’re interested in learning more about the amazing work of president Lubbers, you can check the book Old Hopes for a New Place: The Legacy of Arend D. Lubbers at Grand Valley State University by Stephen Rowe.

Join the American Red Cross of West Michigan at our annual Hometown Heroes Celebration on May 1 at DeVos Place as we recognize Arend Lubbers for his incredible career!

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: Tackling Problems of All Sizes: Kate Cragwall

This week we continue our series of blog posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2014 Hometown Heroes Celebration hosted by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, May 1 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

Story by Jon Breems

ImageThe American Red Cross of West Michigan is excited to honor Kate Cragwall with the Dr. Charles Drew Health Advocate Award for her leadership and commitment in the field of mental health.

Throughout her career, Kate has exemplified the selfless dedication to the health and wellbeing of others the Health Advocate Award embodies. For more than 40 years, Kate has served her community as a clinical social worker, trainer, consultant, and volunteer.

Dr. Charles Drew (1904-1950) was a pioneer in the field of blood transfusion. His research led to improved techniques for storing blood and creating centralized blood banks. Eventually, out of his work came the American Red Cross Blood Bank. Each year, the American Red Cross of West Michigan honors the pioneering work of Dr. Drew to the Red Cross by presenting the Dr. Charles Drew Health Advocate Award to individuals who have dedicated their lives to the health and wellbeing of the community.

This year is the first time the Dr. Charles Drew Health Advocate Award has been given to someone in the mental health field. In her career, Kate has focused on being an agent of change—both in the personal lives of clients and in the larger picture of mental healthcare. Kate likes to talk about how she switches back-and-forth between the two ‘levels’ of mental health work—the “macro” and “micro”. At the “micro” level, for decades Kate, in clinical practice, has helped individuals and families from all walks of life.

“I just felt like it wasn’t enough to just do things at an individual level,” she added.“While that was important, you weren’t dealing with some of the systemic problems”.

Indeed at the “macro” level, Kate has been an influential member of a multitude of organizations and societies in West Michigan. She has served on numerous volunteer boards including Spectrum Health, Heart of West Michigan United Way, Michigan Multiple Sclerosis Society, and National Voluntary Hospitals of America Foundation She has presented widely on the behavioral treatment and management of stress disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, and Dissociative Disorders. She has been a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, a Board-Certified diplomat in Clinical Social Work, a Clinical Member of both the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the International Society for the Study of Dissociation. She has served as a delegate to the National Assembly of the National Association of Social Workers.

Join the American Red Cross of West Michigan at our annual Hometown Heroes Celebration on May 1 at DeVos Place as we recognize Kate for her accomplishments!

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: Investing in Our Community: The Right Place

This week we continue our series of blog posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2014 Hometown Heroes Celebration hosted by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, May 1 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

Story by Marjorie Steele

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In February of 1917, Kent County resident Mrs. Caroline Campbell received a telegram instructing her to establish a local chapter of the American Red Cross. That same month, Caroline assembled the first meeting of the American Red Cross of Kent County, and by July of that same year, the chapter had amassed over 37,000 contributing members.

 

Each year, the American Red Cross West Michigan Region recognizes one individual or organization with a Community Impact Award that carries on Caroline Campbell’s legacy of affecting extraordinary positive change in the community. This year, the economic development non-profit the Right Place is being highlighted for its pioneering work in West Michigan’s economy, and for the measurable and positive change it has brought about in the lives of people living here.

 

The aptly named “Right Place”has served West Michigan for nearly thirty years as a non-profit economic developer. In that time, the Right Place has assisted thousands of local companies, has affected the investment of over $3 billion in capital and has spurred the creation of over 40,000 jobs. In 2013 alone, this powerhouse nonprofit worked with nearly 1,700 companies, supported $102 million in new investment and helped create or retain over 2,500 jobs.

 

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Birgit Klohs has been the President and CEO of The Right Place since 1987

The Right Place has been led by President and CEO Birgit Klohs since 1987, just two years after its founding. Having worked in economic development in West Michigan for nearly thirty years, Birgit’s dedication to the region’s growth has spurred the Right Place to keep our local economy thriving, through prosperity and recession.

 

To learn more about this organization, we dug deeper into the organization’s mission and values with VP Tim Mroz.

 

How would you describe the Right Place’s vision for West Michigan?

The Right Place, and our board of directors, share a common vision for creating long-term, sustainable economic growth here in West Michigan. We want this to be a region where freedom and independence can be gained through quality employment opportunities.

 

Can you give a few specific examples of our communities’growth over the past thirty years?

One look at downtown Grand Rapids, and you get a sense for the tremendous economic progress West Michigan has made over the last three decades. Our businesses have grown and diversified, our quality of life has improved, and our ability to work together in a private-public collaborative spirit has strengthened.

 

What are a few examples the Right Place’s programs and initiatives which have led to positive change here in West Michigan?

Over the past few years, the Right Place has led an effort to establish a 13-country economic development collaborative in West Michigan. This is the first time in our region’s history that a region this large has been able to come together under the common vision of spurring economic growth throughout all our counties – not just in our urban hubs.

 

What did the Right Place do in 2013 which has had the biggest impact?

One of our largest and more recent projects is a good example of the impact economic development can have on a community. That work was successfully retaining Spartan Stores, which are now SpartanNash. When we first heard about Spartan’s plans to merge with Nash Finch, we knew it would mean a lot of change for Spartan Stores in West Michigan. At the time, we weren’t sure whether that change would be good or bad, we simply knew something big was on the horizon.

 

We began to meet with the Spartan executive team, and we learned a few important things: 1) as a publicly traded company, the deal was by no means a “slam dunk”, and 2) our competitor would be Minneapolis, a bigger city with arguably more resources and assets.

 

We wasted no time putting together a team of local and state resources, the governor’s office, workforce development support, and everything else we could possibly do to assemble the most competitive business incentive and support package possible.

 

The results were an astounding win for West Michigan. Today, we’re proud that 620 jobs are still here in the region, and 372 new jobs will be coming to our community over the next three years.

Everyday Ticket, Extraordinary Value: Leonard’s Story

April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week. This special week is another opportunity to recognize the extraordinary service and dedication of the nearly 400,000 volunteers who support the American Red Cross. This week on our blog, we will feature stories of the amazing work being done by Red Cross volunteers here in West Michigan.

Story by Jon Breems

Sometimes the life-changing work of the American Red Cross can be as simple as a plane ticket. Leonard Garyson, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a 19-year-old U.S. Army service member stationed in Mannheim, Germany, when he found out his uncle had passed away.

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Leonard Garyson (front) was stationed in Mannheim, Germany in 1972

It was 1972 and Leonard had been in the military for less than a year, sent to Germany to transport supplies for the Army. His monthly stipend wasn’t enough to cover a ticket home and no one could lend him the money—that’s when the American Red Cross stepped in to help. They paid for Garyson’s ticket home to be with his family.

“It’s not easy to get home when you’re 1,800 miles away from home, and you’re 19 years old,” said Garyson. “Without the Red Cross, I know I wouldn’t have come home.”

Leonard’s uncle held a special place in his life, and he knew he had to attend the funeral.

“My uncle was like a dad to me,” he added. “That would have been a big part of my life missing if I hadn’t come home.”

The plane ticket was Leonard’s only interaction with the Red Cross during his time in the military, but the gesture’s value did not wane over the years. He decided then, in 1972, that when he had spare time, it would be given to the American Red Cross.

More than 30 years later, in 2004, Leonard began volunteering at the Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids.

“Joining the Red Cross—I was just grateful to give back,” he said.

Today, Leonard is a familiar face at the Greater Grand Rapids chapter and serves as the Disaster Services Program Administrator for Kent, Barry, Montcalm and Ionia Counties. He says one of his favorite parts about volunteering with the Red Cross is that anyone can do it.

“Some organizations require yoImageu to be a specialist to volunteer, whereas with the Red Cross you can be an everyday individual.”

Garyson certainly knows how the “everyday” can sometimes be special. It was a seemingly everyday plane ticket paid for by the Red Cross 32 years ago that he’ll always remember.

“I couldn’t pay that back. It was priceless to me… I still carry that with me today.”

To learn about Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: From Military Hero to Hometown Hero: John & Nancy Colburn

This week we are starting a new series of blog posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2014 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, May 1 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

Story by Heather Goodale

ImageThis year for our Hometown Heroes Celebration, we’re honored to present retired Army LTC John Colburn and his wife, Nancy, with the General George Marshall Patriot Award for their amazing contributions to the Red Cross and the military community. The Patriot Award is given to individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to the United States and our country’s men and women in uniform.

As a military veteran, I know how valuable the services the Red Cross provides to the military are – I’ve taken the calls for Red Cross messages, delivered news to soldiers, and coordinated with the Red Cross to help get soldiers home for joyous actions such as the birth of a child, and heart breaking situations such as a loved one’s funeral.

As a LTC in the Army, John dealt a lot with the Red Cross in his role and saw the impact the Red Cross had on soldiers. He started volunteering his time in the Kalamazoo area shortly after retiring and, 19 years later, he is still active with both the Red Cross and the military.

LTC Colburn

LTC. John Colburn and his wife, Nancy, are the 2014 recipients of the General George Marshall Patriot Award

As  case worker and station manager, John has traveled to Washington, D.C.; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Hood, Texas; Alaska; Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; Fort Irwin, California; London, England; Germany; Japan; Italy; and countless other locations.

He spends months apart from his wife Nancy, also a Red Cross volunteer; 2 years ago, they were both home in Michigan for Christmas for the first time in 10 years.

Nancy Colburn started volunteering with the Red Cross as an assistant station manager and station manager when John was the station manager at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The assistant station manager and station manager from Fort Irwin, California, were both deployed to Iraq and the Red Cross asked John to take over at Fort Irwin on very short notice, but that would leave Nellis very short handed – so Nancy applied for his position and started her Red Cross career.

The Colburns spend their off time traveling the world and gaining new experiences, but always return home to Michigan for a period before setting off on the next Red Cross adventure that will inevitably separate them while also bringing them closer to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines that they serve.

When John was in Italy, Nancy volunteered to serve in Iraq while it was still designated as a combat zone. For Red Cross volunteers, deployments are not required but Nancy felt this was something she needed to do to help people, teach people, and interact with military service members in need on a daily basis.

John and Nancy still joke about how his record number of cases in a non-combat zone is 21 in a month, while Nancy’s record number of cases is 21 in a DAY from her time in Iraq. John calls his time with the Red Cross a “pretty marvelous” experience and knows that volunteers are so important to the organization. We really couldn’t do it without dedicated volunteers like John and Nancy Colburn!