Algae Blooms Detected on Hess
Health Dept urges caution
With Labor Day weekend looming and many lake dwellers looking to take to the water for one of the last summer flings, the appearance of algae blooms on Hess Lake resulted in this information for our friends at the Health Department:
District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) was notified by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that algae blooms were detected on Hess Lake in Newaygo County.
Just recently, after being notified about what looked like algae blooms on Hess Lake, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) took samples on August 24, 2022, which were sent to the MDHHS lab where results came back positive for microcystin, an algal toxin released by some types of algae in lakes or rivers. Algae blooms can form when there are high nutrient levels within bodies of water along with warm temperatures. Signs have been placed in and around the boat launch area to notify individuals to avoid contact with the water.
“Algae blooms look like a green mat right on top of the water that smells bad and has a gelatinous texture to them,” stated Michael Kramer, Environmental Health Director for DHD#10. “The algal toxins that are released can be harmful to aquatic life, pets, and humans so it is very important to avoid these areas.”
Below are some steps to take when near waterways:
People and pets can experience the following symptoms after exposure to algae blooms:
Tuesday M37 Closure
TOTAL closures for road work are scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on M-37 from the White River in White Cloud to 40th Street. Detour- East on 40th Street, north on Laurel Drive, stay left to continue north on Oak Avenue, then west on M-20 to M-37.
Suspect Vehicle Crash Proves Fatal
Baseline/Oak site of crash
From the Newaygo County Sheriff's Office
Deputies from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a residence in Wilcox Township on a shots fired complaint. The suspect vehicle was described as a red Dodge Charger. Undersheriff Chad Palmiter observed a vehicle, matching the description of suspect vehicle, traveling eastbound on Baseline Road. The Undersheriff followed the vehicle and confirmed that it was the suspect vehicle. He activated his emergency lights and siren to stop the vehicle at which time the suspect accelerated and failed to stop.
The suspect continued eastbound on East Baseline Road, crossed the centerline east of S. Oak Ave. went off the roadway and struck a tree. The suspect was declared deceased on scene.
The Michigan State Police Hart Post and Sixth District Accident Reconstructionist were requested to conduct the investigation.
“A Big Family Gathering”
Ribbon Cutting at the Center for Hope and Healing in White Cloud
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
I think Modern Miracles do happen but it takes Angel's work and collaboration with kind-hearted and generous folks to manifest them. We gathered in White Cloud on August 23 at 5:30 PM under a blue sun bright Michigan sky to participate in the ribbon cutting and official opening of the Center for Hope and Healing. In my opinion a perfect example of a certifiable Modern Miracle. About a year ago we met here to tour what was then a large empty building and hear some frighting statistics about child abuse and neglect. The staff from two non-profit organizations Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse (PCA) and Open Arms Child Advocacy Center (OACAC) presented plans to combine their resources and develop this Center for Hope and Healing. This concept would provide "prevention, intervention, and wrap-around services all at one location."
At the first concept presentation, the need to support our precious children and PCA’s reasons for getting out of their miserable old pole barn was clearly stated. After touring their new place, a really big empty building, and looking at the renovation plans and timelines I thought maybe they were a little bit aggressive if not aspirational.
There is ALWAYS a doubting Thomas.
Fast forward about a year and here we are again sitting out front in the warm sun watching Tara Nelson the Executive Director for Newaygo County PCA and Laura Britting Executive Director of the Open Arms Child Advocacy Center (OACAC) making microphone checks and attending to other last-minute details for the Center for Hope and Healing ribbon cutting.
On reflection between the first concept meeting which we can call point A and today's ribbon cutting which we will call point B is where the Modern Miracle stuff happened. You could think about it this way. Management and staff from PCA and OACAC are standing on the bank of a large fast-moving river. They have to get down this river from point A to Point B. They have lots of caring supporters and plenty of resources but they still have to get in the river and go from A to B. What they need is a good raft. Being who they are they make a leap of faith and gather up some materials, hold hands and jump in the river. They would build their raft while floating down this swift river. The river is a metaphor for the time and effort it took to manage a 24,000 sq ft building renovation and capital campaign. In addition to that arduous project, they had to meet their organizational and personal commitment to our children and families that are in crisis or require intervention. They had to get these people onboard as they were speeding along and building a usable raft.
To that end, this year in addition to that renovation and fund-raising stuff they have met their commitments. They have given; "35 car seats to families in need, delivered 52 Pack n’ Plays, provided over 500 infant safe sleep training classes, and hosted 677 children for the Summer Magic Program. They made Kids Have Rights presentations to 3,108 children and donated 2,701 lbs of food. Sadly, OACAC conducted 126 forensic interviews in 2022 through July. In 2021, OACAC conducted 215 forensic interviews." Keeping in mind this was taking place during a Covid Pandemic.
But back to point B and the ribbon cutting. Laura Britting, the new Executive Director of OACAC stepped to the front and made a short presentation again reminding us why we were here.
"Childhood sexual abuse is a growing tragedy in America today. The data is clear: one in 4 girls and one in 13 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Sexual assault traumatizes children. The scars, however, cut deep and can go beyond the child, affecting family and friends closest to the victim. In many cases, those who are most affected have no place to turn.
"That's where the Center for Hope and Healing comes in.
"With Open Arms Child Advocacy Center and our partner Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, this center will provide the resources, information, and trained, compassionate and caring staff to children who have been victims of abuse and assault."
Then it was PCA Executive Director Tara Nelson’s turn. She welcomed us all and recognized all the great contributions and sacrifices that the staff, board members, donors, partners, contractors, and her family had made to make this magic happen. These included the usual suspects. County Prosecutor Worth Stay, Undersheriff Chad Palmiter, Commissioner Bryan Kolk, Chief Dan Evans, Azlan Ibrahim organizer, and fundraiser. Lisa Lightfoot the Coldwell Banker super salesperson who helped get PCA out of their old pole barn into this incredible new building. Randy Fulton and Toni Fulton, the hammer and nail team that probably slept in the building to get the renovations finished in three months.
Lastly and so very important, the generous and deep pocket folks. The Fremont Area Community Foundation, The Gerber Foundation, Dennis Adama, D.R. Adama family gift fund. Joe Vanhoven from the Fremont Meijer, the United Way, The River County Chamber of Commerce, The County Municipalities and their police departments, and other important folks that I failed to notice. I apologize for these omissions but the warm sun on my shoulders was affecting my attention.
Interestingly enough, I have noticed that warm sun seems to affect seniors and lazy house cats in the same way.
After the short professional presentation and ribbon-cutting photo ops it was show time. You must see this building. It is spacious, white, clean, and bright with wonderfully safe and well-furnished places for the children to play. Most impressive were the very private, comfortable rooms for conducting forensic interviews. Most enjoyable was a tour of the onsite store by Tashina Kerr. This dear heart was so excited about this new facility and store that she was buzzing with joy.
It is overwhelming to think that these people stand in for us and our community to address some of our most dark and damaging behaviors. They and the generous folks around here have stood up and built this Center for Hope and Healing so that some of these grievous behaviors can be prevented or mitigated. We all should be so very thankful they and this place are here in our community doing the work they do. We too must continue to support them in every way possible. Including, when we become aware of such, we must point out these terrible behaviors.
On my way out, I asked Tara if she was relieved that the ribbon cutting and official opening were over. “Not really,” she said. “It was just like a big family gathering."
Hmm… Super Heroes or maybe just more Angel work?
The Gerber Foundation is delighted to announce the hiring of Sara Hohnstein as the next Gerber Foundation Director. Sara steps into the position pioneered by Cathy Obits, who is retiring at the end of 2022.
‘Sara brings a wonderful perspective to the Foundation with her rich background in private foundation operations and focused experiences in academic research related to science and health. Sara impressed the Executive Committee with her grounded approach to grant administration, alignment with the Foundation’s mission and articulate communications” stated Barbara J. Ivens, President of the Gerber Foundation.
For the past ten years, Sara has overseen the operations of a private foundation (the Issachar Fund in Grand Rapids) which primarily focuses on academic research related to science and human flourishing. She has honed her skills as a foundation administrator and brings a wealth of experience in grantmaking.
A DeVos Children’s Hospital "NICU mom," Sara and her husband, Chad, welcomed their premature twin sons twelve years ago. “My husband and I sat by the incubators of our babies for several weeks. That experience has made a lasting impact on me, and I continue to be passionate about the health and well-being of infants and toddlers. I would be honored to use my professional experience to advance the mission of the Gerber Foundation,” noted Sara.
Sara has always been interested in children's health, safety, and flourishing. She looks forward to joining the Gerber Foundation and helping to advance the Foundation’s mission to enhance the quality of life for infants and young children. Sara will join the Foundation in early September.
Established in 1952, the Foundation is a private foundation whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of infants and young children. The Foundation provides funding for academic research grants nationally and in West Michigan for youth programs and scholarships.
TOTAL M-37 Closures August 23, 24
From Michigan Department of Transportation
UPDATE- Short-term detours on M-37
Newaygo to White Cloud- See maps above and below.
TOTAL closures for road work are scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on M-37 from Evergreen Drive (Old M-37) in Newaygo to 40th Street.
Detour- Head SW on Evergreen Drive, north on Centerline Road, west on 48th Street, north on Gordon Avenue and east on 40th Street to M-37.
On Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-37 will be CLOSED between 40th Street and the White River in White Cloud.
Detour- East on 40th Street, north on Laurel Drive, stay left to continue north on Oak Avenue, then west on M-20 to M-37.
The work is weather dependent.
Sign up for email from MDOT: http://bit.ly/14ucwY2
Follow MDOT's Grand Region on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/MDOT_West
For up-to-date information on this project and others, go to the list of statewide lane closures at: www.michigan.gov/drive.
Follow MDOT at www.twitter.com/MichiganDOT or www.facebook.com/MichiganDOT
The Fremont Harvest Festival Committee is currently seeking nominations for the 2022 Harvest Festival Family. This year the Fremont Harvest Festival will be held Thursday, September 22nd through Saturday, September 24th.
The Harvest Festival Committee is looking for nominations of a local family that has outstanding traits. Some of the characteristics this family would possess include: hardworking, active members of the farming community for many years, livestock and/or produce farmers, and live in the Fremont area.
Our winning family will preside over the Harvest Festival Parade on Thursday evening as the Grand Marshalls.
We encourage you to submit a written nomination with their accomplishments by Friday, September 9th to:
Harvest Festival Committee
Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce
7 E. Main, Fremont, MI 49412
Please include in your nomination an explanation of why you feel the family (maybe it’s yours) should be recognized for their contributions to the farming community.
DHD#10 ANNOUNCES NOVAVAX COVID-19 VACCINE NOW AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTS 18 AND OLDER
Based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation, District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) is now offering a limited supply of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine available for residents 18 and older to begin their two-dose vaccine series.
“We are very excited to announce that the Novavax vaccine is now available in our district,” said DHD#10 Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Morse. “COVID-19 is still a serious problem, so it’s great that we can now offer an additional vaccine to our residents. The Novavax vaccine has been shown to be over 90% effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. If you have not already, it is not too late to get vaccinated!”
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose vaccine series, separated by three to eight weeks. However, the three-week separation is recommended for individuals that:
No booster doses are currently recommended for residents receiving the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
To schedule to receive the Novavax vaccine, or any other COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose, please visit https://www.dhd10.org/schedule or call 888-217-3904. If no appointments are available, consider going to a pharmacy or your primary health care provider.
DHD#10 now supplies COVID-19 at-home tests; however, supplies are limited. COVID-19 test kits are limited at each DHD#10 office and are available on a first come, first served basis. Individuals are asked to take one kit per person, and up to four kits per household. Each kit has two tests inside and expire March 2023. Test kits are also available at most pharmacies. Be sure to call your pharmacy ahead of time, as demand remains high.
For more information about the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/novavax.html.
For more information on COVID-19, visit https://www.dhd10.org/coronavirus.
DHD#10 ANNOUNCES LIMITED AVAILABILITY OF MONKEYPOX VIRUS VACCINE
Risk to the general public is low
District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) now has a limited supply of the monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccine and will distribute it on a case-by-case basis.
“While our district has not had any confirmed cases of MPV, having the vaccine allows us to be proactive in our ability to protect residents,” said DHD#10 Health Officer Kevin Hughes. “However, at this time supplies are limited, so we’re only vaccinating if folks meet specific eligibility requirements.”
Current supply of the MPV vaccine is limited. While MPV can affect anyone, vaccination is limited to those that are at the highest risk for MPV infection. Guidance and eligibility are subject to change based on vaccine supply and changes in the risks of infection. Contact your local health department if you have recently been exposed to MPV or are at high risk for exposure. Vaccine recommendations can be found here.
Transmission of MPV
MPV is a viral illness. It primarily spreads through close or intimate contact with those that are infected through contact with rashes, scabs, bodily fluids, or extended face-to-face contact.
Symptoms of MPV
MPV infection typically begins with flu-like symptoms that progresses into rashes on the face and/or body. Additional symptoms include:
For more information on eligibility requirements of the MPV vaccine, please visit https://www.dhd10.org/monkeypox-virus-mpv. If you believe you are eligible and would like to schedule an MPV vaccine, please call: 888-217-3904.
For more information on MPV, visit https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/keep-mi-healthy/communicablediseases/diseasesandimmunization/mpv or https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html.
Fremont-based Great Lakes Bee Company to provide honey products for Whole Foods
When Whole Foods opens its first West Michigan store in Kentwood, on Wednesday, August 17, it will feature a variety of local products including Hasselman’s Honey brand and honey infusions produced by Fremont’s Great Lakes Bee Company (GLBC). GLBC has been in operation for nearly 50 years. All GLBC honey is collected from hives around Newaygo County, a region that specializes in honey production due to its unique environment that GLBC bees forage on, producing 150,000 pounds of Michigan honey each year.
As a local Whole Foods vendor, GLBC will have its original Hasselman’s Honey and 3 oz. flavored honey infusions available for purchase inside the new store. Whole Foods is set to open at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, in the Radcliff Plaza shopping center, 2897 Radcliff Ave SE, in Kentwood.
Genji LeClair, co-owner of GLBC, can be available onsite between 2-4 p.m. during the store’s opening day to share about bringing GLBC’s Hasselman’s hometown honey into the world’s leading natural and organic grocer.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Announces Change to Laboratory Hours at 211 W. Pine Lake Drive in Newaygo
Newaygo, Mich., August 12, 2022 – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial is changing the laboratory hours at its Newaygo draw station at 211 W. Pine Lake Drive beginning on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.
The current hours at the laboratory in Newaygo are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The new hours beginning September 6, 2022 will be Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The laboratory at this location will be closed on Labor Day, September 5, 2022. These new hours will begin that week on Tuesday, September 6.
About Spectrum Health
Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, instill humanity and inspire hope. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.
Consumers Energy to Conduct Siren Tests Near Rogers, Hardy and Croton Dams August 18
Consumers Energy announced the emergency public warning siren systems near its Rogers, Hardy and Croton hydroelectric generating plants on the Muskegon River will be tested on Thursday, August 18, at about 9 a.m.
· The test will include a voice message, a 30-second siren and a second voice message. The public does not need to take any action during the test. The siren systems are tested each August and December.
· The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires hydroelectric facilities to be able to quickly notify residents and visitors of any developing emergency at the plants.
· In an emergency, the sirens would be used only if the threat of a dam failure is imminent at one of the facilities. At that time, anyone on or near the river should evacuate at once to high ground. Additional information would be provided on local radio and television stations.
Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded nearly $2.5 million in its first community grant round of 2022.
Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations serving Newaygo County residents, including programs addressing economic growth, literacy, housing, food insecurity, and more. Most grant awards concentrated on the Community Foundation’s three focus areas of community and economic development, education, and poverty to prosperity.
More than 40 grants were awarded in total, including a $25,550 grant to The Right Place Foundation. The grant will support the development of a strategic plan to preserve and showcase the communities of Woodland Park and Idlewild and promote economic development. An experienced consultant will be hired to lead the collaborative project. In addition to the grant, three donors contributed a total of $4,450 from their donor advised funds.
Grant Public Schools received a $3,809 grant, along with contributions totaling $1,500 from two donor advised funds, for their Salmon in the Classroom program. This hands-on learning opportunity will allow Grant third graders to observe and study the life cycle of salmon, raising them from eggs until the fish are released into the Muskegon River.
A $39,200 grant was awarded to Hope 101 Ministry’s transitional housing program. The organization serves individuals and families in Newaygo County experiencing homelessness and provides mentors and case management to help residents set goals and achieve self-sufficiency.
The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. Applications for the second grant round of 2022 are due on September 1.
View a full list of grants awarded, as well as information on how to apply for a grant, at facommunityfoundation.org/grants.
CE Schedules Dam Discussions
“Public input will be an important component in our long-term strategic planning regarding the future of our dams.”
JACKSON, Mich., Aug. 9, 2022 – Consumers Energy is starting this month to gather opinions from the public about the 13 dams they own and operate on five Michigan rivers to help guide their decisions about the future of those electric generating facilities.
“We need to perform due diligence now as the licenses to operate our dams begin to expire in 12 years. We do not want to assume we know how individuals and communities feel about our dams as we develop plans to either continue investing in or remove any of our river hydro facilities,” said Norm Kapala, vice president of generation operations at Consumers Energy. “We are keenly aware dams have great significance for local communities and impact recreation for Michigan residents and visitors statewide. Public input will be an important component in our long-term strategic planning regarding the future of our dams.”
The energy provider hired Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based nonpartisan research and consulting firm that specializes in public engagement, to develop an adjacent property owner survey and conduct public meetings near each of Consumers Energy’s dams from August through October this year with the goal of collecting unbiased feedback regarding the facilities. Anyone is welcome to attend any of the public community meetings. Owners of property adjacent to the dams should expect to receive the survey in the mail the week of August 15.
For community meeting details, to provide comments, and more information about the process access: ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture.
Consumers Energy makes decisions based on the Triple Bottom Line that ensures benefits for people, the planet and Michigan’s prosperity. Factors Consumers Energy considers in determining the future for its dams include regulatory compliance, safety, community impacts, operating costs and environmental impacts. These topics will be covered at the public meetings by PSC and Consumers Energy dam experts. Community feedback will be solicited, as well, during a facilitated discussion.
The 30- to 40-year federal licenses to operate the dams Consumers Energy owns and operates on the Muskegon, Manistee, Grand, Kalamazoo and Au Sable rivers are set to expire beginning in 2034 through 2041.
Schedule of public meetings: (All meetings begin with an open house at 5:30 p.m. and the public meeting will begin at 6:00.)
Wednesday, August 24
Newaygo High School Cafeteria
360 S. Mill Street, Newaygo, MI
Thursday, September 8
Newaygo High School Cafeteria
360 S. Mill Street, Newaygo, MI
Tuesday, September 20
Mecosta Township Hall
19729 11 Mile Road, Big Rapids, MI 49307
NCRESA Seeks CNA
From our friends at MDOT
Newaygo to White Cloud- See maps
Lane closures for road work are scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on M-37 from Evergreen Drive (Old M-37) in Newaygo to the White River bridge in White Cloud. On Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-37 will be CLOSED between 40th Street and the White River. Detour- East on 40th Street, north on Laurel Drive, stay left to continue north on Oak Avenue, then west on M-20 to M-37.
On Thursday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-37 will be CLOSED and detoured between Evergreen Drive and 40th Street. Detour- Head SW on Evergreen Drive, north on Centerline Road, west on 48th Street, north on Gordon Avenue and east on 40th Street to M-37.
MDOT and county maintenance forces are working together to patch and seal this section before winter. A $30 million reconstruction investment is slated for 2028.
The work is weather dependent.
By N3 News
And another primary election is in the books.
In Newaygo County the turnout was predictably low with 72% of registered voters sitting this one out.
Well, if you don’t mind your governmental leadership being decided by a small group of voters or perhaps you remain apathetic about who is sitting in those decision making seats there is no need to read on.
Let’s say you belong to a condo co-op, or maybe a pickleball club. There are 100 voting members. Unfortunately only 28 are allowed to vote, thus a majority of 15 people get to make the decisions for the 100 members.
Of course it feels frustrating because quite often the votes go drastically against what you want. Suddenly the condos begin to allow weekly fireworks and couches on porches while banning visits from grandkids
Or maybe the pickleball group has decided to require 4.5s to partner with 3.0s or lower for all matches (It’s a p-ball thing) while also opting to restrict players over the age of 60 from all morning play.
You’re not happy, right? We get it.
But there’s nothing you can do because you agreed to allow 15 voters to dictate the rules.
As was done in this recent election, you ceded the authority to them.
By not voting.
Home Township had the best turnout at 41% with 93 of their 225 voters finding their way to the polls. Big Prairie Township (18%) and the city of Newaygo (19.5%) were the lowest.
Here are the unofficial results of contested races. Numbers are from the Republican side with the Democrats on the ballot running unopposed.
You can find all the Newaygo County results at
Paul Mellema 816
Amber Wakefield 436
Burt Cooper 67
Ken DeLaat 503
Lavern Willett 460
Thomas Smith 181
Brenda Bird 788
John Clark 659
D2 Brian Kolk
D3 Chuck Trapp
D4 Jim Maike
D7 Mike Kruithof
101st District State Representative- Republican (Numbers on right side are Newaygo County votes)
Joseph Fox 5011 3404
Kelly Smith 4840 2739
Diane Schindlbeck 4082 2365
Chad Pierce 1119 499
101st District State Representative-Democrat
Amanda Siggins ran unopposed
33rd District State Senator
Rick Outman (R) and Mark Bignell (D) ran unopposed
Governor- Republican (Numbers on the right side are Newaygo County votes)
Tudor Dixon 134,438 3083
Kevin Rinke 68,466 1436
Garrett Soldano 63,250 1563
Ryan Kelley 51,937 2654
Ralph Rebandt 13,641 352
Gretchen Whitmer ran unopposed
US Representative-Republican (Numbers on the right are Newaygo County votes)
John Moolenaar 77,391 5399
Thomas Norton 41,272 3397
US Representative- Democrat
Jerry Hilliard ran unopposed
A Way of Saying Thank You
Organizations, volunteers come together for FAD
By Ken DeLaat, N3 News
While Farm Workers Appreciation Day has been going on for some time, the past few years the event has become a drive thru due to COVID concerns. But in pre COVID days it was an extravaganza with music, games, food and giveaways that greeted the hard working families who are the backbone of the agricultural economy in our region.
Mary Rangel works for District Health Department #10 in the Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) Division and also serves as chair of the Sparta Area Migrant Resource Council. Her office is in the Community Center in Grant. She also gathers the support and volunteers necessary to put together this annual doings where hundreds of farm worker families are able to access needed items for their children and themselves.
We caught up with a busy Ms. Rangel during the Sunday event after an extensive search of the Grant Middle School campus where scores of cars lined up to take advantage of the gifts of appreciation. Volunteers we asked reported sightings of her here and there as she moved about the area ensuring the operation was going smoothly and answering a boatload of questions.
Having corralled her for a moment or two she kindly agreed to answer a few more questions from N3.
Tell us a little about FAD.
“This is an event where we celebrate the migrant and farm working families who come into our community to work with our farmers. Some of these families come in every year, some from different states and some who go from one farmer to another and stay here all year round. They do the apples in the winter, then the strawberries, the blueberries, the cherries and so on. They’re people who we know and they know us,”
How did this get started?
“About 20 years ago a lady named Luvy Rodriguez worked for the state of Michigan and she started this event. She did it for a couple years then passed the baton on to me. Since then I have chaired it and gotten it organized with all the volunteers who come from the community to make it possible.”
“We get funding primarily from the Fremont Area Community Foundation, Choice One also gives a donation toward the shoes and we get smaller donations from other sources as well.”
This helps our migrant families. They don’t qualify for food stamps or a lot of the stimulus packages aimed at small children because they don’t have social security numbers. They don’t qualify for unemployment. So let’s say a packing company closes down because of COVID or some other reason. They get nothing and are out of work until it reopens. This is a way of helping.They come here and help us so we’re trying to give back.”
Why are you involved?
“Coming from a migrant background my passion is for the migrant families that come through here. Being a child in a migrant family the simplest things in life meant so much. If you go through the line you’ll see we’re providing backpacks, clothing and shoes for the children. We also give out socks and underwear and a grocery bag of culturally friendly groceries and then add a small door prize.
“To you and I the door prizes would mean nothing. Like a fan or an Igloo for carrying water. We might use the cooler to take to the beach but these people use it every day. Everything we provide here is a necessity and to me it means a lot that we can help our families in that way.”
We recall sitting down with Mary 5 years ago, our first time at FAD. The atmosphere was bright and smile producing as traditional music and dance blended splendidly with the games for all ages, food items and the giveaways that are now dispensed by car.
It was then that Mary told me of her upbringing in a migrant family.
“When I was 9 years old my Mom and Dad had a baby and I stayed home taking care of the 6 week newborn baby, Thea, and my 8 year old sister Irma. When I was 11 years old I started working for the same farmer my dad worked for. We worked in the fields for many summers, my sister Irma and I. I remember going back to school in the fall and listening to all the other kids talk about their summer family vacations.
“We never knew what a summer vacation was.”
I do this because it’s my passion to help others, but especially the migrants and farm working people because I know what it’s like to have very little. I have a beautiful memory of my Mother taking my sister Irma and I to an agency in Fremont to get new coats for school.. The memory of feeling like a "Queen" with my new coat is one I will never forget.
Well done Ms. Rangel.
And well done to the FACF, others who contributed, the sea of volunteers and all who helped make this not so random act of kindness happen.
.“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”-Alain de Botton