“For it is in giving that we receive.”- St Francis of Assisi
Last week Sheriff Bob Mendham posted this on the SD social media page:
“If you noticed our armored vehicle (MRAP) out and about on Wednesday, it was for a good cause. Detective Scott Rios of the Sheriff's Office came up with an idea to assist local food banks over the Holidays. Drop off sites were located around the county campus and Newaygo County employees collected food to fill the MRAP for food pantries.
“Not only were we able to fill the MRAP, but we were able to fill a van as well. The food was delivered today to the following food pantries: Love Inc. in Grant, Benny’s House in White Cloud, and True North in Fremont.”
We caught up with Detective Rios to pose a few questions about the project.
What led you to initiating this drive?
I have been very fortunate and I know there are families in our community who need a little help. The Sheriff's Office has had a project to give back to the community the past 2 years and this year we expanded to include all Newaygo employees and our DHHS partners. I wanted to continue helping those who need a little help. I then wanted to make sure these gifts were spread around Newaygo County.
How did you get it off the ground?
I started by talking with a few of my coworkers and then set a goal of what we hoped to accomplish. I initially was worried the goal of filling the MRAP was not attainable however I was soon convinced we could do this.
What surprised you the most about it?
I was amazed by the generosity of my co-workers. I believe we are all called to serve others and I was excited to see the enthusiasm of my coworkers to be servants by giving back to those who need a little help.
Will there be a repeat performance?
We have picked a different project each year. We started by giving some Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts for families to this year collecting food for pantries.I have not given much thought to next year and If I do not retire I am sure we will have another event as an opportunity to serve.
I would like to say thank you to all who generously gave for the food pantries. I would like to say thank you to the food pantry volunteers as they are serving those people who need a little help.
If had one parting thought it would be say we all need to be servants.
Well done donors for getting into the spirit of the season to help fill our much needed local pantries.
And well done Detective Rios.
Your efforts are indeed an example of servant leadership at its best.
Circles USA Studies Cliff Effect in Michigan
Circles USA recently released a study of the impact of the phenomenon known as the “cliff effect” on Michigan families. The study was commissioned by Fremont Area Community Foundation in conjunction with Circles Newaygo County, a program of TrueNorth Community Services.
The cliff effect occurs when even a minor increase in a family’s income causes an abrupt loss of eligibility for social safety net programs like food, housing, and child care assistance. The salary increase is often not enough to cover the resulting gap and families end up falling farther behind. To avoid the cliff effect, individuals may stay out of the workforce or turn down raises, promotions, or better-paying jobs. In addition to keeping workers from advancing, the cliff effect can be a barrier to local workforce development as employers struggle to fill positions and retain and promote talent.
The Circles report combines research on the cliff effect with data from Michigan households utilizing public support. The report summarizes the commonly used public support programs in Michigan and offers an overview of efforts undertaken in other states. For example, many states have implemented policy reforms specifically to reduce the cliff effect as it relates to child care assistance.
In addition to research, the report offers several policy recommendations. Recommendations include restructuring programs, adjusting household income limits, and adjusting child care reimbursement rates to reflect market rates for highly-rated daycare providers.
“Social safety net programs are especially important to the more than 40 percent of local workers who have jobs but still struggle to make ends meet each month,” said Carla Roberts, Community Foundation president and CEO. “There is more month than paycheck and safety net programs are critical for those families. Addressing the cliff effect is also crucial to strengthening our local workforce and economy. As we understand more about how the cliff effect works in Michigan, we’re learning more about how we can work together with the community and policymakers to address these challenges.”
To read the full report, visit facommunityfoundation.org/circles-report.
Circles USA is a national organization that seeks to engage communities in addressing and reducing poverty. A local chapter, Circles Newaygo County, is funded in part by grants from the Community Foundation.
More than 1,900 children in Newaygo County are going to find a brighter Christmas thanks to our community’s selflessness and generous support through TrueNorth Community Services’ 67th annual Children’s Christmas Programs & Toys for Tots.
The distribution for the Children’s Christmas Programs & Toys for Tots (CCP) was December 9 to 13 at the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont.
The atmosphere for CCP was festive over the five days, with Christmas music and volunteers helping participants select their items. Through CCP, children from disadvantaged households receive toys, games, art supplies, sporting goods, a book and a stocking stuffer in addition to the essentials of two pairs of socks and mittens, gloves and a scarf or hat.
“More than 500 volunteers are pitching in on CCP, and that means a lot,” said Mike Voyt, TrueNorth Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator. “CCP is truly a community effort that helps ensure a joyful Christmas for as many children as possible.”
The volunteers taking part in CCP contributed more than 1,000 hours. They included groups from Gerber Life Insurance Company, ChoiceOne Bank, Newaygo Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society and Project Citizen, Fremont Christian School and Wesco in addition to 56 volunteers at two Friendraisers gatherings.
TrueNorth conducts CCP in partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. CCP’s corporate sponsor is Gerber Life Insurance Co., a Western & Southern Financial Group company. CCP is funded, in part, by grants from The Gerber Foundation, the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Keith Johnston Memorial Fund at the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
“There were countless monetary and other donations for CCP,” said Mark Kraus, Community Liaison and Development Director for TrueNorth. “We’re still getting and accepting contributions.”
A month-long CCP collection drive for new and unwrapped toys and gifts had 45 drop-off sites across Newaygo County in Croton Township, Fremont, Grant, Hesperia, Newaygo and White Cloud.
Every year since 1952, TrueNorth has run CCP with the community’s help, generosity and full embrace to bring Christmas morning joy and good memories to thousands of local children.
Photo courtesy of NC Sheriff’s Department
What better way to build relationships for the future and strengthen the connections that will in the long run help to make our community safer than to take a kid Christmas shopping?
This initiative is one of the coolest things going this time of year and we applaud all of our local law enforcement folks for climbing aboard the Christmas Express to spread a little seasonal joy to our community’s young folks. Last Thursday thanks to a slew of local sponsors there was a sea of blue (and brown) in Walmart as coppers became shoppers and kids reaped the benefits.
“Events like this bring law enforcement and the community together for a great cause,” said Newaygo County Undersheriff Chad Palmiter. "The Fremont Police Department and many donors do a wonderful job and put many smiles on kids faces.
"We are glad to be a part of the event and giving back to the community that we love to serve”
Voice of Reason of White Cloud High School celebrated their 18th year of hosting the Jimmy's Kids Holiday Fun Day at the White Cloud Elementary School on Friday, December 6th. Kindergartners and first graders were part of the holiday spirit as they sang, danced and visited with Santa.
High school students participating this year were: Front row: Jace Silverthorn, Carsyn Scarlavai, Olivia Bowman, Alexis Strait, Kiara Edwards, Taylor Bode and advisor, Janet Tuman.
2nd row: Aleeya Grifford, Angelique Bell, Kyleah Baker, Krystianna Faltinowski, Elizabeth Compeau, Santa, Jacob Foster, Jemi Perrin, Emily Feldpausch, Rylee Hewitt, Ceara Bode and Lillie Keith.
Back row: Valerie Saville, Courtney LaClair, Kobe Canning, Zane Keith, Layna Yeiter, Jordan Richmond, Cassie Watson, Naomi Thompson and Alex Clark.
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.