Tag Archives: Hometown Heroes

Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Judge Sara Smolenski

smolenskiWe are continuing a series of posts highlighting the award recipients  for the 2015 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, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan is proud to honor Judge Sara Smolenski with the Mabel Boardman Spirit of Volunteerism Award. Judge Smolenski has proven her commitment to her community through the many services she provides including her active volunteer efforts.

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Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Frederick Bw’Ombongi

View More: http://emilyraephotography.pass.us/wmrecc-5-28We are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 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, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

This year for our Hometown Heroes Celebration, we’re incredibly honored to recognize Frederick Bw’Ombongi for his contributions to not only the West Michigan community but also his efforts internationally. When I first met Frederick in his office at Spectrum Health, he was very humbled to be nominated for the Henry Dunant Global Impact Award, which recognizes an individual who has looked beyond their backyard to serve and improve the lives of people from around the globe. Frederick embodies this spirit and truly enjoys his work locally and internationally.

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: A Passion for the Community: Jamie Mills

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 Victoria L. Kobza-Sotak

ImageThe American Red Cross of West Michigan is proud to honor Jamie Mills with the Clara Barton Humanitarian of the Year Award.  She is being recognized for her impact on quality health care services locally and for her devotion to many non-profit organizations that serve to strengthen the fabric of our Grand Rapids community.  She is a talented professional, business owner, mentor, health care advocate, philanthropist and community organizer. 

 

Jamie Mills is a native of New York City.  She graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in American culture.  She also earned a certificate as an employee benefit consultant from the Wharton School of Business.    She is the owner of Mills Benefit Group, and was a recipient of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Business Award in 2012, which recognized Mills Benefit Group as the premier employee benefits consulting firm in the region. 

 

Throughout her career advising local employers on employee benefit plans; Jamie has served companies and individuals as a health care advocate.  She helps companies manage the full spectrum of benefits; but is uniquely known for her devotion to ill patients as they begin to navigate what is sometimes an unfamiliar and complicated health care system.  She knows and appreciates the local and regional health care system, from the individual physicians, specialists, hospitals and lab facilities and helps direct patients to the facilities best equipped to provide good outcomes for their particular health issues.  She makes it her business to ensure that the critically ill or chronically ill patients she works with receive the best care that is available for them in this area.

 

In this respect, Jamie’s care and personality are very much akin to Clara Barton’s.  Clara Barton was born in Massachusetts on Christmas Day in 1821.  She was at first a teacher and later a nurse and ultimately founded the American Red Cross in May of 1881, at the age of 60, and served for the next 23 years.  The American Red Cross website notes that:  “Her understanding of the needs of people in distress and the ways in which she could provide help to them guided her throughout her life.  By the force of her personal example, she opened paths to the new field of volunteer service.  Her intense devotion to serving others resulted in enough achievements to fill several ordinary lifetimes.” 

 

Clara Barton was determined to provide the best care wherever it was needed and drummed up support to establish field hospitals near the battlefields during the Civil War.  She had the amazing ability to inspire others in this cause and as a consequence made a huge difference in the outcomes for many, many soldiers.  Jamie Mills’ ability to care for individuals in their time of distress and to inspire others to do the same is legendary on a local level and is the reason why Jamie and Clara seem like kindred spirits to those who know Jamie through her work and volunteer service.  One can just imagine the two of them in the same room exuberantly swapping “war stories.”

 

Jamie also works with industry leaders to design health care programs that work.  She generously supports the research efforts of the VanAndel Institute. In 2012, she and her partner, Alec Mazo took the lead on the “Dancing for a VARI Good Cause” and helped raise $82,000 for cancer research efforts, winning both the fan favorite and the overall event after several months of Arthur Murray Dance Boot camp! 

 

She tirelessly donates her time to many other organizations, including her several years on the board of Junior Achievement, the United Way’s Tocqueville Society, the Economics Club of Grand Rapids, being a sponsor of Gilda’s Laugh Fest and member of Gilda’s Club’s Red Door Society, Paws with a Cause, Bid for Bachelor’s, Friends and Families of Cystic Fibrosis, St. John’s Kid’s First Home, and her ongoing support of the American Red Cross of West Michigan.

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Jamie donates her time to a number of local organizations including Paws with a Cause.

 

She is committed to local philanthropy, with significant time commitments to non-profits and personal financial contributions.  She believes that using all her energy and passion doing for others less fortunate is key to building a stronger Grand Rapids community.

 

In an interview with the Grand Rapids Business Journal in 2013, Jamie said, “I believe for anyone to be successful in business, you must give back to the community that helped your success.”

 

We are honored to recognize these many years of service to others by naming Jamie Mills as our Clara Barton Humanitarian of the Year for 2014.

Hometown Heroes 2014 Profiles: Heroes Take Flight: Spectrum Health Aero Med

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 Heather Goodale

 

ImageThe American Red Cross of West Michigan is so pleased this year to honor Aero Med team at Spectrum Health for its contributions to the West Michigan community and the heroic actions of the physicians, nurses, and other crew members that save lives every day by performing in-flight emergency care.

 

The physicians and nurses at Aero Med work tirelessly to provide top-notch critical care to patients in need – and every day is different; in this type of job, you never know what your day will look like when you come into work. There could be no calls or 5 calls, and the patients’ needs are always different. 

 

Whether the patient is 9 days old or 90 years old, the team does everything in its power to provide the best care possible for the patient. Sometimes it isn’t enough to save a life, but the team picks up the pieces and cares for the next patient to the best of its ability. There’s “nothing glamorous” about the job, says an Aero Med team member.

 

ImageThe Aero Med program in Grand Rapids was launched in 1986 and took its first flight in 1987. One team member, an experienced flight nurse that’s been with Aero Med since 1993, is humbled by the Community Heroes nomination.

 

 

The team does its job for the love of doing the job and the opportunity to help those in need – not to receive awards.  They don’t view themselves as heroes. While they may not regard themselves as the stuff of legend, for nearly 30 years West Michigan has relied on the men and women of Aero Med to care for our neighbors in theirAero Med is ready to serve West Michigan around the clock.

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!