By Megan Wirts
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” - Buddy The Elf
Christmas songs carry some of my most favorite and treasured memories. I love them all. When I was a little girl I would belt out any song at the top of my lungs anytime, but at Christmas time I went into overdrive. This remains true to this day, not many things have changed. I may still burst out into “O Holy Night” at any time during the season.
That one’s my most favorite. So much drama, so beautiful and if the acoustics are just right...mmm...chills down my spine. Every year I tell my friends and family that I will write and produce my dream show called, “The Megan Wirts Christmas Spectacular!”. A little music, a little comedy, a few sparkly dresses, a bunch of guest stars, and a lot of me in said sparkly dresses. Since this seems like it might cost money that I don’t currently have, my next best option is to go Christmas Caroling at the local nursing homes.
A few weeks ago I created a Facebook event and invited anyone and everyone to join me. I was pretty excited about the initial buzz. It looked like I was going to have quite the group to spread some holiday cheer. I made a list of my favorite songs, typed up all the lyrics and had little song books made. I was ready!
The day came and people started dropping like flies. Even my own daughter was trying to get out of it. Like most good mothers though, I threw out some major guilt and forced her to go. My mom joined us and the three of us, donning our finest holiday apparel, headed over to Fountainview Retirement Village of Grant and were met with three other happy faces to sing with us. One of whom had broken her arm the night before. Now that is commitment!
The people of Fountainview seemed to really enjoy our little group as they ate their lunch and we sang classics like, “Let it Snow” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Even when I started “The First Noel” in a key that only opera singers should try, and the six of us strained to hit those high notes, they clapped and smiled. It was a great start to the day!
After we finished the festivities at Fountainview, two of our six singers had other commitments, plus one had a new broken arm, so they headed on their merry way. I had considered going to area businesses and just busting out into song, but with so few in number, we felt a bit awkward. Instead we opted for lunch at The River Stop Cafe in Newaygo. With our tummies full, fueled with caffeine and a few hours in between our next nursing home visit, we decided to do a little local shopping at 37 North and Market 41. Some Christmas presents were purchased and we got our photo taken with Santa (who, by the way, knew my name and said I was on the nice list) then we headed on to Fremont to the Newaygo Medical Care Facility.
My grandmother is 93 years old ,has Alzheimer’s disease and has lived at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility for a couple years now. She doesn’t recognize us anymore, but she knows we belong to her when we visit. She also loves to sing and dance, mostly dance, and she always loved to sing with me. I remember being a very tiny girl and we would sit on her double swing and sing “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” and rock back and forth as if we were on a boat. She may not remember rocking with me, but she does remember the words to that song.
When we arrived in Fremont, we went back to the memory care unit where grandma lives and got ready to sing. We were greeted warmly by most of the residents. One of them was not in the mood and obviously at the point in her life where she just says what she feels. She called us jackasses as we left.
More power to her! But like I said, most of them were happy to see us. They sang along and asked us to come back again someday. As we were leaving, we were stopped by some staff members and asked if we would continue our caroling in the atrium because the group that was scheduled to appear never showed up. We were more than happy to help!
Waiting for us, was a large group of residents ready to sing some Christmas Carols! I was super happy to have plenty of song books to pass around to everyone.Then we had ourselves a good old fashioned sing-a-long. The highlight for me was when one resident busted out into a solo during Jingle Bells and we all cheered.
We were a small but mighty group and the joy that we felt afterwards was tremendous. Even my angsty teenage daughter was happy that I made her come along. I’m so thankful to those that joined us and I hope next year is even more spectacular.
May your holidays be merry and bright and may you be filled with the joy of the season.
Time to close the door on fast-moving home fires
By Travis Kroll, Chief of Newaygo Fire Department
A simple behavior change could save your life.
In today’s world, consumers expect everything to happen fast. A hot meal at the door in 30 minutes or less. Groceries delivered in a matter of hours. Coffee order ready for pickup at the push of a button. In many cases, speed makes our lives a little bit easier. But when it comes to fire, speed is killing people in their homes.
The pace at which a fire races through a home has increased at a dramatic and deadly rate. About 40 years ago, people had an average of 17 minutes to escape a burning home after the activation of a smoke alarm. Today, that window has shrunk to about three minutes or less. Natural furnishings and building materials have given way to synthetics, which burn much faster. Combine that with the popularity of open floor plans and it becomes the perfect habitat for an escalating fire.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 379,000 residential structure fires in the US in 2017. As a result, they saw 10,600 civilian injuries and 2,630 civilian deaths.
What if a simple act – one that takes under 10 seconds to complete – could have a potentially life-saving impact during a fire? Would you do it?
In the event of a fire, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) found that rooms with closed doors had average temperatures of less than 100 degrees and 100 ppm of carbon monoxide, compared to 1000+ degrees and over 10,000ppm of carbon monoxide in the rooms with open doors.
Lexi King survived a house fire by closing her door. Her family, however, wasn’t as lucky.
Lexi liked to sleep with her bedroom door closed, but her brother’s was always open. When an overnight fire destroyed their Texas home, she was the only one to survive. Both her brother and parents died in the fire.
“What I had was a closed door. I had oxygen. I had time to collect my thoughts. I had time to prepare myself,” said King. “There literally is not a day that has gone by that I haven't thought of them and their beauty that they brought.”
Each day our department responds to a variety of calls, some more easily controlled than others. This is why we are leading a campaign across the community to encourage a simple behavioral change – “Close Before You Doze.”
In partnership with UL FSRI, we want every family to make sure they close all of their doors – bedrooms, bathrooms and basement – at night in order to starve any potential fire of the oxygen it requires to grow. It will give you much more time to escape.
To increase your chances of survival during a fast-moving house fire, we suggest the following:
After a fire starts, there's very little time to act. Take these fire safety and prevention steps today and you'll sleep easier at night.
Employees Give Generously to United Way Campaign
FREMONT- Gerber FCU employees presented a check in the amount of $14,083.50 to the Lakeshore Newaygo County Director James Rynberg (pictured center). Pictured (L to R) are Marielle Richie, Education Coordinator for Gerber FCU; Sherrie Anderson-Patterson, Vice Chair-United Way Newaygo County; James Rynberg, Director-United Way Newaygo County; Lori Little, Chair-United Way Newaygo County and V.P. of Operations at Gerber FCU, and John Buckley, President & CEO of Gerber FCU.
“Our incredibly generous employees raised $9,389.00 for the United Way,” said John Buckley. “Adding the Gerber FCU 50% company match, we contributed $14,083.50 to the United Way of the Lakeshore and designated agencies!”
Second Annual Festival of the Wreaths comes to Newaygo
Hope 101 Ministry, Inc., a transitional housing ministry serving the homeless of Newaygo County, is sponsoring its Second Annual Festival of the Wreaths. The event will take place during the Christmas Walk in Newaygo on Friday, December 6 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturday, December 7, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. It will be held at Family of God Community Church located at 90 Quarterline in Newaygo.
There will many wreaths and other items up for bid. Tickets are only $10 for 25 chances to win. The drawing will take place on December 7 at 2:00 p.m. and you do not need to be present to win.
All the proceeds from the event will go to support the ministry of Hope 101.
FOG hosts Wednesday night event
"We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie."- David Mamet, Boston Marriage
THANKSGIVING EVE PIE AND PRAISE
Everyone is invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with Pie and Praise at Family of God Community Church, 90 Quarterline Rd, Newaygo, on Wednesday November 27 at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome, come as you are! Dress is casual and children are welcome.
Pastor Chelsea Reynhout and her husband, Eric, will lead an evening of music, fellowship, pie, and gratitude. Praise God from whom all blessings (and pie) flow! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Bekka Neelis, Invasive Species Technician, North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA)
Reprinted with permission from the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly Newsletter
Born and raised in Cheboygan, I was new to the area when I accepted a seasonal position as an Invasive Species Technician for the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA). My main objective was to complete a survey of invasive plant species along the upper Muskegon River. My work required roughly 200 miles of kayaking through Missaukee, Clare, Osceola, and Mecosta counties.
We will use the data collected from this survey to develop an invasive species management plan and to help create a river guide containing information and location on canoe liveries, campgrounds, and public restrooms along the river.
Accompanied by another technician, I began the survey at the end of June and completed it in the middle of August. The perfect time with perfect weather. Thanks to the summer conditions many other kayakers, tubers, swimmers, and anglers joined us on the water.
Missaukee was by far the most beautiful but most challenging part of the survey. High winds and erosion of the riverbank have caused a mess of woody debris. Trees stretched across the river while some were hiding beneath the surface of the water. The high-water levels in early summer made this section more manageable because it covered most of the debris that would normally make the trip nearly impossible to complete. Although potentially dangerous, particularly, to new and unexperienced kayakers, the fallen trees offered interesting and sometimes difficult obstacles to maneuver.
With each river bend came a new adventure. Sharp turns between down trees, building momentum to cross over logs floating just below the surface of the water, and ducking inside my kayak to slide under the fallen trees. The northern part of the Muskegon is mostly quiet forested areas with signs of wildlife at every glance. Birds like kingfishers, osprey, and bald eagles roamed the sky looking for prey. Blue and green herons, and various species of ducks tried to hide out of sight in the cattails and along the bank. Turtles basked in the sun and the sound of pileated woodpeckers carried throughout the forest. In Osceola and Mecosta counties, the river widened, became shallower, rocky, and clear. Peace and quiet was replaced with noise. Geese, gulls and pets replaced the wildlife. Businesses and homes replaced the mysterious green forest, but the shimmering horizon remained beautiful.
One of my favorite but borderline embarrassing encounters occurred the day that I came upon two conifers that had fallen, one from each bank, and just met in the middle of the river. Hoping that there was just enough space to push through the two tips of the trees, I began paddling hard enough to pick up speed to slide between them. Just as the nose of my kayak was about to reach the small opening, I looked to my right and saw a snake enjoying the sunshine on the fallen tree trunk. With a loud gasp, I threw my paddle up about chest height to catch on the branches and bring me to an abrupt halt, filling my kayak with needles. Now, I do not fear snakes but do not wish to share my single person kayak with anything that I don’t invite in myself. However, I did fear the phone call confessing the tipping of my kayak because I was spooked by a small and harmless snake. Needless to say, I chose a different route and pulled my kayak up on the bank to portage around the trees.
Granted, a beautiful sight seen from a boat or riverbank, a peaceful and quiet paddle down the Muskegon River has so much more to offer and adventures to experience. At times the water may seem calm, but it is important to remember that there can be logs, rocks, and a strong current hidden underneath. Different river conditions can be fun but unpredictable, so regardless of age and experience I highly recommend wearing a life jacket throughout your trip and never travel alone. If you did not make it out this summer, start planning your spring or summer trip and be on the lookout for a new river guide to help you on your way. The Muskegon River will not disappoint!
Tamarac Turkey Trot helps one man turn his health – and his life – around
FREMONT – For John Hance III, the Tamarac Turkey Trot is a milestone toward wellness and in many ways, a better quality of life.
On Thanksgiving Day, Hance will run in his first 5K, a formidable challenge for a man who carried a self-described watermelon belly and took prescription drugs for at least three chronic conditions as recently as May. Hance slept with a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine and he weighed 290 pounds.
“I thought life was great, but I was unknowingly slowly dying, as many like me are today, until I took action,” said Hance, a finance and sales professional from Fremont, in a widely read LinkedIn article he published Nov. 8. “I fell into what I call the ‘success trap’ for decades. I would get home from work, get a big dinner, watch TV and go to bed. During the day I put zero thought into what I ate, just ate whatever sounded good, and ate until I was full. Second, third, and even fourth helpings of something good were the norm.”
Three life-changing events helped push Hance to begin the journey out of the success trap and toward health and wellness.
One was his son, Gabe Hance. In July, Gabe, who was going through basic training in the U.S. Army, asked him to run a 5K with him.
The Thanksgiving Turkey Trot came to mind.
“We have always known about the race in our area as they have promoted it well over the last few years,” John Hance said in an interview Nov. 13. “It was the first one to come to mind. It was local, and it was far enough time out for me to use as a great target. As soon as I mentioned it, Gabe locked me up on the commitment right there and then.”
That happened in July. He’d also been warned by his doctor to do something about his health – or get put on what he called “nasty statins.” And his 21-year marriage was hitting a rough patch.
Hance went on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. On June 10, he walked in the gym at Tamarac for the first time feeling intimidated.
“I just slid onto the first machine that I came to and figured that I would keep my head down and do this for a week or so to establish a pattern, get a feel for the place and get past my feelings of intimidation,” Hance said. “Fortunately for me it was one of the Precor exercise bikes up front that I landed on. I loved bicycling and always have.”
He researched physical activities and exercises he could do. He steadily increased the intensity of his workouts. He bought some good earbuds. He lost 12 pounds the first week. Hance was hooked, and he never looked back.
Over the course of the summer, Hance and his wife April, who kept up her own running schedule, lost a total of 125 pounds.
By the fall, Hance’s routine included lifting weights for 10 minutes and doing 30 minutes on the treadmill, mixing runs with walks, and he’s planning to increase his cardio workout.
On Thanksgiving Day, Hance will run his first 5K together with his son, Gabe, who completed basic training on Nov. 12.
“He cares about me a lot and is very excited that I did what I did for him,” Hance said in his recent interview. “I do not know of any other father to make and keep a promise to his son like that. He was really scared of the physical work in basic training as he had not run at all in preparation. I looked him right in the eye and promised him that I would do it at home also and we could suffer together.”
Sign up for Turkey Trot 2019 on Thanksgiving Day:
Read Hance’s full LinkedIn article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/surviving-success-trap-how-i-saved-my-own-life-you-can-hance-iii/
Gerber Memorial nurse gets DAISY honor for exceptional ‘compassion, professionalism and gentleness’
Fremont – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial surprised registered nurse Drue Berry with the DAISY Award recognizing exceptional care shortly after he finished checking in on his patients in the ICU floor, doing what he loves best.
“What I like about being a nurse is doing the little things and being able to help someone through the hard times,” Berry said. “Doing that one little act of kindness that gets them through, I think that’s the thing that I like most.”
As a DAISY Award honoree, Berry received a certificate commending him for being an “Extraordinary Nurse.” The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.” The honoree also receives a beautiful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved from serpentine stone by artists of the Shona tribe in southern Africa.
Nurses may be nominated by patients, families and colleagues, and they are chosen by a committee of nurses at Gerber Memorial to receive the award.
The nomination Berry praised his “compassion, professionalism and gentleness” with his patient, a parent of the person who nominated him.
“He openly communicated with me at all hours of the day and night,” the nomination read. “His personality was comforting. He took the time to explain what was happening. He had a calming, reassuring presence.”
Part of a national program, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is part of the DAISY Foundation's program to recognize the super-human efforts nurses perform every day.
Nomination forms are available at nursing stations throughout the hospital and patients can submit those forms either by placing them in gray boxes near those forms or by handing them to a nurse or other hospital staff. Nominating forms will also be available at the hospital’s main lobby, as well as included in admission packets.
The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation is based in Glen Ellen, Calif., and was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes. Barnes died at the age of 33 in 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Barnes and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.
For more information about The DAISY Award and the Foundation’s other recognition of nurses, faculty and students, visit www.DAISYfoundation.org.
Patients, visitors, nurses, physicians, and associates are encouraged to nominate a deserving nurse by filling out the nomination form at reception located at the main hospital entrance. Completed forms can be dropped off or emailed to email@example.com.
Come to a FREE Quit Tobacco and Nicotine Class for the annual Great American Smokeout and enter to win a Thanksgiving turkey and sides! The Class is on Thursday, November 21st from 6pm-7pm at Vera’s House, 18 Justice St. Newaygo, MI. 49337.
The free class is open to the public, and is sponsored by BreatheWell Newaygo County, Headway Coalition and Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. “We are going all out to help people quit smoking once and for all at this year’s Great American Smokeout,” stated Caitlin Schuker, BreatheWell Chairperson.
The Great American Smokeout (GASO) is an annual American Cancer Society event that inspires thousands of people to quit for the day or quit for good. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day, start with day one. By quitting tobacco and nicotine use, even for 1 day, smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.
“The Great American Smokeout is the perfect time to make a plan and get the help you need to quit smoking, stop vaping, or be through with chew,” states Caitlin, who is also a Community Health Program Specialist and Tobacco Treatment Specialist at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial.
Tobacco continues to be the single largest preventable cause of chronic disease and premature death in the world. Tobacco and nicotine use, whether from cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco like chew and snus, all cause dozens of kinds of cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, circulation problems and even gum disease, cavities and tooth loss.
“Most people who successfully quit tobacco get support from a specialist who has been trained in how to help people break their nicotine addiction and smoking routines. The GASO Start Fresh planning events will help people learn about the best medications, nicotine replacement products, tools and professional help so this time they can quit for good,” added Mrs. Schucker.
People interested in learning more about quitting tobacco, chew or vaping are encouraged to attend our free “Great American Smokeout- Quit tobacco” class on November 21st. Those who attend will receive a quit booklet along with resources about local classes and coaching programs. Participants will also be entered into a drawing to win a free turkey and Thanksgiving sides.
The free GASO Quit Class will be held:
Thursday, November 21st from 6pm-7pm at Vera’s house – 18 Justice St. Newaygo, MI. 49337.
Registration is not needed to attend. For more information about these programs, call Caitlin Schucker at 231.924.7589, or email:
Mary Johnson, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial nursing supervisor who served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm, addresses a gathering at the Healing Garden at the hospital in Fremont on Monday, Nov. 11, as the nation honored Veterans Day. More than 140 Gerber Memorial staff and their family are veterans who have served in uniform.