By Ken DeLaat
Lately the rich, famous and powerful have been falling at a rather rapid clip when it comes to sexual harassment. Well-known names from the entertainment industry, corporate heads, folks from the media, and, of course, politicians have all come under the microscope for past (and/or present) behavior of an unwanted nature.
My cynical attitude regarding our career seeking politicians whose role on the public dole seems to be sustained incumbency aside, my hunch would be the outing of this particular group might be just starting to get a little traction for the runaway train looming ahead for them.
And if you look at the list of people being outed and their response? Some are apologetic and contrite, some (particularly pols) publicly deny deny deny, some (CEOs, etc in particular) have attorneys who perform their denying for them…
And some will say “Yes that was wrong, BUT…….
I learned long ago that generally everything anyone says before ‘but’ is B.S.
“You might be right but...
“I’m sorry but…
“I don’t mean to be rude but...
Each followed with a statement negating the pre ‘but’ phrase.
“Ken I don’t want to hurt your feelings but...
‘Then let’s agree to stop right there because my hunch is what’s about to follow will most certainly hurt my feelings.’
So here are a few apres ‘BUT’ lines that have thus far been associated with this issue. And while it is doubtless there will be more excuses, sidesteps and elaborate defenses forthcoming this trio most assuredly deserves response.
....it was a different era.
Different era? Seriously? You mean back to a time when it was ok?
“Yeah we bought and sold human beings. Yep, owned them like you would anything else ‘cept they could talk and all. ‘Course that was a different era.”
“Well, I reckon you could say the so-called Indian Wars amounted to a huge number of massacres involving as many men, women and children as possible so we could take their land and all but, hey, that was a different era.”
“Of course we kept women from voting. We felt like it was for their own good. But, you know, that was a different era.”
Different era? Geez, who thinks up this crap?
...it’s not like he was the only one doing it right? Look at all the others, like…..
So let’s say this once and hope that it perhaps sinks in.
A misdeed isn't redeemed by its prevalence.
The fact that ‘others are doing it” didn’t get me far when used as an argument with my parents and in turn when my own children employed this time honored rationalization (Parenting: All about paybacks) it equally failed to move the decision dial even an iota.
When this classic defense emerges and the ‘it’ involved is unmistakably wrong there’s a cultural problem. And believe me, it’s a much tougher road to impact an atmosphere allowing for misdeeds than to punish a group who violate trust.
...you can’t say she was totally innocent in it all...
It is clearly not ok to blame or discredit the victim or in a cultural sense, victims. Not now not then not ever.
Consensual? Rarely is it one and only one person making the accusations right? When someone comes forward generally others follow because someone has ‘broken trail’. Thus the defense of assuming there existed mutual interest loses a bit of luster when it seems to happen so frequently. Unless, of course, one is self deceived as to the sheer magnetism they exude, a possibility unfortunately not as far fetched as it should be.
And yes, I know there are false accusations. Truth is, they don’t come close to the number of those that have merit. They don’t even comprise a significant percentage.
Granted, it’s discomforting to say the least to have inappropriate personal behavior brought to light. Embarrassed and exposed, the tendency when one is in such distress is to find an escape hatch. Denial and projection are the most common reactions. So when denial falls short the true villains become the accusers, and, of course, those who put them up to it (we all love conspiracy theories), and, let’s not forget that damned media pushing out their ‘Fake News’.
(Side Note: Come on, really? Isn’t crying ‘fake news’ a bit like a playground “Am not!” these days? It’s not even a real defense anymore, just a knee jerk reaction when nailed for something that might not behoove one to fess up to. If anything, crying ‘Fake News’ has become so trite it should be a clear clue that the person is lying.)
After all it’s not like we’re in some golden era of accountability here. If there is one thing rampant in our society it is the absolute endless array of ways to fend off responsibility for one’s actions.
Those punishing emotions that often accompany true accountability can spur change in a person (sometimes) and certainly change in a culture that is hopefully beginning to get it about harassment being (in the words of an old friend)’serious as a heart attack’. It might not bring the the red light we’re looking for but perhaps a yellow light of caution could help people make better decisions and alter assumptions of ‘how things work’.
No one deserves unwanted and undesired attention of a sexual nature. Whether it’s a comment toward a passerby, a too long stare not involving eye to eye contact, suggestive statements or more overt gestures it’s simply unacceptable.
Such dynamics can shift roles toward an imbalance of power to dramatically transform the playing field.
And underlying the many reactions to these overtures from bravado to disgust to indifference there generally exists a bit of fear. That despite progress in many areas a sense of vulnerability continues to dwell at the core of it all.
And that is truly not ok.
We need to be better.
With the city of Newaygo moving ahead on plans for a medical marijuana manufacturing facility our county seat has also decided to enact ordinances paving the way for a similar facility in their Industrial Park.
Going a step further than their neighbor 10 miles south, the White Cloud City Council will allow any of the five licenses attached to the new law regarding MM including dispensaries.
December 15th is the date the new state regulations go into effect and licenses can be applied for and both cities have interested parties.
While controversy continues and opposition to these initiatives exist, municipalities throughout the state are responding to the economic benefits to be had when new businesses arrive in their towns and townships bringing the promise of revenue and jobs.
We spoke with White Cloud Mayor Charles Chandler and asked him to share a few words on the recent decisions made by the City Council.
Thanks N3 for the opportunity to comment on the Council’s recent approval of Resolutions 2017-26 and 27.
These are our Ordinances that will regulate the medical marihuana business in White Cloud. For me; my decision to vote to approve was an easy one because of all the incredible preliminary work the White Cloud Planning and Zoning Commission had done to craft these Ordinances. When it appeared that we would have an opportunity to attract some medical marihuana business to White Cloud the Planning Commission Chair Candice Dault, and members Jerry LeBlanc, Becky Hooper, Dale McConnaughy, and Council Rep Richard Dault committed to the task at hand.
This was a new business opportunity for White Cloud and one that is receiving a lot of national media attention. The Commission, again in my opinion, wisely disregarded all the controversy and local drama surrounding recreational marihuana and focused very carefully on the business of regulating a medical marihuana business. They did their research, reviewed a lot of data, and took a very pragmatic and objective approach to developing ordinances that would meet the needs of prospective business owners and operators, and the statutory requirements. They took directions, advice and counsel from City Manager Lora Kalkofen, Police Chief Dan Evans, Zoning Administrator Robert Hall, and Mark Guzniazak from NCEDO, Consultant Christopher Grobbel PhD and City Attorney Cliff Bloom.
After several months of hard work and seven or eight iterations as well as a public hearing they felt they had Ordinances that could be presented to Council and that would best serve the long term business and social interest of White Cloud. If you read these Ordinances you will agree they are robust, will stand the test of time and could be used as a model for other municipalities. The result of their hard work was easy approval of these Ordinances by and with thanks from the Council and positive comments from some of the residents of White Cloud.
It was our hope that the Ceres Solutions Co-Op milling operation under construction in the Industrial Park would be an anchor and attract additional business to the Park. It appears that this may happen soon and in my opinion our Industrial Park is the right place and this is the right time and Medical Marihuana is a right business for our long term growth plan. The Ordinance became effective as of November 15 and now we are a Community that is welcoming the medical marijuana business to our industrial park.
Well Done Planning Commission.
City of White Cloud
Mary Frens To Speak At HTRJ
"Oil Drilling and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Don’t Mix"
The public is invited to a presentation on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northern Alaska and the effect that Oil Drilling will have on the Environment, the Porcupine Caribou Herd and the lifestyle of the Alaska Native Gwich’in Indians, also known as the “ People of the Caribou”.
The Gwich’in live in northeast Alaska and northwest Canada and are integrally and nutritionally connected to the Caribou whose birthing grounds are in ANWR. This presentation will be given by Mary Frens, retired Episcopal priest from Fremont, who lived with the Gwich’in People in Alaska for 3 years.
Mary has been an advocate for the Gwich’in Nation and the protection of ANWR and the Porcupine Caribou Herd since 2005 when oil drilling in ANWR was placed in a Congressional Bill just as it has been recently placed in the new Tax Bill.
This presentation will be at “Hit the Road Joe Café” located at 7291 Elm Ave. in Newaygo (past Croton, and off from M-82) on Tuesday, December 5 at 6:30pm and at the Fremont Area District Library at 104 E. Main St. in Fremont on Tues, Dec. 12 at 6:30pm in the Community Room
All are invited. Questions? Call 231-519-2792
Students at Fremont Christian School have been busy this fall giving back and serving communities near and far!
By Melinda Barnhart, Director of Family Relations, Fremont Christian School
Education at Fremont Christian School goes beyond textbooks and exams to include teaching the importance of being God’s light in a world full of need. This fall staff, students, and families at FCS partnered with organizations in Fremont and Grand Rapids to serve those in need and to give back!
On October 26, Kindergarten through 2nd grade staff and students hosted an Art Prize and Cake Walk event, where votes bought for student artwork and tickets sold for a cakewalk together brought in over $2,500 for World Renew’s hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. World Renew director Carol Bremer-Bennett visited to receive the check and gave a presentation to students on what the money raised will be helping with. It was extra special when an anonymous donor who heard about the event decided to match that gift!
Following the hurricane fundraiser event was the annual CANter fun run. Every year 3rd-8th grade students run a two-mile race and collect canned goods to subtract minutes off their finishing time. Younger students cheer on the staff and student runners and collect canned goods to earn extra recess/break time! This year students collected 1,570 lbs. of food for TrueNorth’s food pantry! 7th grade students then delivered the collected food to TrueNorth and helped stock the pantry. 7th and 8th grade students also recently served at TrueNorth’s food truck (which they will continue to do throughout the year), helped set up for the annual Coats for Kids event, and will help sort toys for Toys for Tots.
At the beginning of November, 3rd through 8th grade staff and students served the Fremont community by walking around town and raking leaves where needed. This is a yearly event at FCS, and includes students of all ages working alongside each other, and often many parent volunteers as well, searching out those that could be blessed with a little extra help with their yard work.
The 8th grade students also continue their tradition of selling popcorn twice a month to raise money for cancer care bags created for local cancer patients. These bags include water bottles, water flavor packets, hard candy, handmade blankets, hats, bandannas, and socks all placed in an FCS drawstring bag and delivered to Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial twice a year.
Lastly, staff and students are currently trying to reach a goal of collecting 2,500 pairs of new and gently used shoes to be distributed to 25 countries around the globe. Local businesses have partnered with FCS and contributed to this need as well!
The Fremont Christian School family is thankful for the support and opportunity to teach students the importance of serving others!
A Grandfather's Lament
By Charles Chandler
On Saturday September 23rd the Annual White Cloud Trail Town Celebration had wrapped up and it was time for a little down time and this aging author knew the perfect place for that to happen. After a lazy Sunday morning it was down the hill to Newaygo and Brooks Park for the “We Are Still Here” Native American gathering. As mentioned in a previous N3 article I had spent years down in Oklahoma among members of the various Nations and Tribes where I had developed a deep respect for Native Americans and had developed a manageable addiction to Powwows with drumming, singing, dancing in tribal regalia, traditional foods and my favorite, storytelling. This was also a mission of some importance because last fall I had momentarily let my fishing ego escape and made a grievous mistake that somehow needed to put right.
That Sunday afternoon in Brooks Park was just about Michigan perfect, cool, blue sky and as I walked to the Park I heard drumming and had that first faint delicious smell of fry bread. I saw an acquaintance Larry Gouine, Chippewa, and the Chair of the Native Circle of Newaygo County talking with friends. I am sure he saw me as well and I also knew not to rush over like some paparazzo because I had learned that in many Native American cultures that would be rude and disrespectful.
Larry is also a very talented artist and a storied steelhead fishing guide and I needed some fishing advice and some supplies for atonement for the previously mentioned grievous mistake. To digress for a moment to tell this cautionary tale: last year I had a most successful steelhead fishing season and the ole Muskegon had been so generous to the point that I had finally after about 20 years or so of steelhead fishing believed that I had finally broken the code on how to catch these beautiful and unpredictable “King of Trout”.
Needless to say this was fake news if there ever was because all who pursue these colorful and capricious fish know the advantage is always theirs and to land one of these beauties is most often pure unadulterated luck. However, being fishermen we are born to brag, make up stories and excuses, and on rare occasions tell outright lies about our experiences.
My reckless mistake happened last fall when I was in the Muskegon River Fly Shop buying yet another batch of unneeded tackle to hoard in various Tupperware boxes. I was looking through the new stock when I overhead this fishermen talking to shop owner Charlie Atkinson about his inability to catch steelhead using the traditional Center Pin method. Charlie is an expert in this methodology and has a good heart, a helping nature and gives advice with the best of intention and never presents himself as anything other than lucky. I momentarily lost my sense of self and my fishing mind and rudely interrupted Charlie’s conservation with his perspective customer presenting myself as a gifted center pin fisherman and telling what techniques I used and stating for all the world to hear how many fish I had recently caught and where. Both Charlie and the other fishermen stopped talking and stared at me for a long moment.
They knew and so did I as soon as I regained my senses that I had bragged about catching steelhead and committed the sin of sins, stating numbers caught. I apologized for the interruption and slunk out of the Fly Shop with a growing but unmistakable feeling of remorse and dread knowing that I had dire but yet to be determined consequences coming for that little tumble.
I knew the fishing deities were scowling and their gremlins were coming my way and I was heading for “the basement” ”the dreaded slump” that fearful fishing purgatory where the next catch never comes. Over the next few months I lost my ability to make good fishing decisions, I tried this or that, made one mistake after another, broke two of my favorite rods, my malfunction boat spent some much time in Tracy’s Custom Riverboat garage that he had to hire more help. I put so much money in truck repairs until I asked the guys at the dealership if they would like to buy it and they did. Maybe because it was is such great shape after all the new parts or maybe for mercy as one of the Owners was a steelhead fisherman. Needless to say the bad luck continued until the migratory steelhead had safely deposited their precious eggs in the Muskegon’s gravel nurseries and fled back downriver to the cool depths of Lake Michigan. The fishing truck replaced, the boat repaired and tackle finally put away for the season giving me time to find ways to makes amend for my carelessness.
Therefore one of my reasons for attending the “We Are Still Here” event was to see if one of the Native American vendors had some pungent sage and sweetgrass for sale. The plan was to turn my garage into a smoke house hoping to smudge the tenacious gremlins from my gear and bad luck from my fishing life in general.
My first stop was the booth of Ms. Christy Pollack (Sparkling Woman) a member of the Iroquois and Oneida tribes. She didn’t have the desired sage or sweetgrass but told me who did. As we chatted about the weather and how she was enjoying the event I also watched a young man behind her expertly knapping beautiful arrow and spear points, knives and other chert tools. After some small talk I asked about the items that were carefully arranged on her booth shelf. She picked up each one and in turn quietly told wonderful stories about how they were used in the traditional tribal way. Her last and most interesting story was how Turtle helped create earth therefore making a home for humans and all the other inhabitants. I thanked Ms Pollack for patiently answering my questions and for the wonderful stories and headed over to purchase my smudging supplies and a round of fry bread and wild rice soup.
It was a little before 3:00 PM and according the day’s agenda Ms. Beth Moody a member of the Potawatomi and Shawnee tribe was going to be the next speaker. I took a front row seat and ate my soul satisfying lunch and listened to Ms. Moody tell about the sacredness of water to women and the First Nations Peoples of Turtle Island. By the way that wild rice soup was the best that I have ever had even when served in a Styrofoam cup and eaten with a plastic spoon. The nutty taste of the wild rice, the creamy texture of the potatoes seasoned with a pinch of salt was perfect with the greasy, crusty fry bread, all paired with a big off brand orange soda. Oh my, just take me back to Oklahoma.
Ms. Moody was a great story teller and in my opinion a strong, unabashed feminist and political activist who wove those themes expertly and with passion into her presentation. Her stories were informative and entertaining. For example I learned that Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 gave her the right to free speech, press, and assembly and that many aspects of various Native American religions had been prohibited by law until Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978. All in all I guess it took an act of congress in order for her to have the freedom to stand up in Brooks Park and tell a story about the special relationship between Native American Women and water. I was good with the veracity of her story as Ms. Moody was for all to see a Native American Women as well as a professional midwife that by her count had delivered about 1,320 babies. I thought this would certainly qualify her to talk a little about the sacredness of water. The perfect afternoon was soon over was restful and happily spent among some wonderful people and great storytellers.
On the way back up the hill to White Cloud I was listening to the latest news and of course the primary topic was about the most recent tweet from our Commander and Chief. I could not help but compare the current forms and content of public and social media to the wonderful oral history and storytelling art that I had just enjoyed for a few short hours. Most of us now use smartphones and emojis, emoticons, symbols of all kinds, selfies and short tweets to convey content and personal and public information. Not saying this method of communication is wrong or not effective, I use it myself, however I am saying that it should not replace a good story.
A lot of Anthropologists and others smart folks will tell you that we humankind evolved in some large part by constructing, using and enjoying stories; it was the way we developed our language, literature art, music, material culture and transported all across time and space. From first fire side to Disneyland, we use stories in books, movies, television programs, operas, classroom curriculums, business boardrooms, in traditional Christmas plays and in our Michigan deer camps. We teach our children about the world with bedtime stories that help explain the unexplainable and they help define us, our country, our family and we as individuals. Telling and retelling our stories validates us and our lives.
Never ever be afraid to tell a good story especially about one of your or family experiences. It is an innate human form of communication; stories usually have a recognizable beginning, middle or explication, and an ending. They can vary in length, be about any subject, and usually have a valuable lesson to be learned, important information to be given about cultural values and mores or as a cautionary note with justice served for some transgression of same. Good stories travel well and withstand the test of time; some examples are the Epic of Gilgamesh, Murder on the Orient Express now appearing in theaters near you, Green Eggs and Ham, Cinderella and one of my favorite that appeared in N3. A great short about a lucky kitten named Zippy. Children are wonderful storytellers and our seniors have great life stories that can fill the blanks in our family history and so often never get told or repeated. Sometimes ask them to tell you a story and deal with the digressions or the forgotten names or dates and this story being the perfect example of digressions.
Storytelling is a timeless human tradition and must be practiced and perpetuated and holidays and family gatherings are a great time and place to tell stories. Storytelling is one of the ways that we bond to the folks in our families and other social groups. Here are a couple of challenges, first please don’t let your personal or family stories become tweets, blogs or Facebook posts. Next during the Thanksgiving dinner when the clan is gathered around the sacrificial turkey and along toward the end of the meal clink your glass asking for a moment of quiet and attention then announce that you would like to tell a family story. Then do it and then ask someone else if they would like to tell one of their favorite family stories. I bet you will be pleased with the results. There is no greater gift or something so long remembered as a story well told.
And by the way did I ever tell you that story about the time I met this unusually attractive lady from Texas that had this ostentatious gulf side Condo on Padre Island? Well this one weekend we had arranged for me to come down to Padre for a visit and I wound up in Oregon standing on top of Mt Hood with an Ice Axe in my hand, now that was a story.
Down and Out in Beverly H…….I mean, Newaygo County
By Ken DeLaat
Diana Hanna penned (keyboarded?) a guest article we posted a couple days ago about homelessness in our midst and the response was electric. It was liked, loved, emojied, shared, commented on, and viewed by thousands and continues to draw readers to the poignant piece so well crafted by Ms. Hanna.
And many of the comments went directly past the “Oh that’s so sad” to the “What can be done!”
Because that is who this community is.
We are people who want to help.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not like we’re existing in some utopian bastion of compassion or anything. There are many out there who, like the Pink Floyd lyrics, want everyone to “share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie”.
But truth is, any community is measured by how well they respond to its members most in need.
And this is a community with a great deal of people who step up. If a neighbor is going through a rough time whether it be an illness in the family, a house fire, or some other personal tragedy these folks show up. They help. And most of them do it without a lot of fanfare because personal accolades ain’t the reason they’re pitching in.
Now granted, tackling homelessness is no small potatoes. The need is great. The challenges are many and they go way beyond providing a place to live. The hoops required to jump through to even try to make an impact are significant.
And yet there are efforts being made and they are good ones. Ones that are changing the lives of people in need.
But as I said, this is an issue with several layers. Poverty, unemployment and its partner underemployment, child care issues, bad credit, no credit, to say nothing of a critical shortage of affordable housing to name a few.
Then there are the problems that might be inconvenient when you have adequate income but become game changing when you are barely scraping by. Car repairs, uncovered medical expenses, job change or loss and any other unexpected costs can spiral things down rather quickly.
Now add some of the other issues that can create homelessness. Divorce or family disputes that cause a loss of income, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, physical problems, the list can go on and on.
Seem pretty daunting? Well, it is. And while it is always a good thing to contribute to food banks and adopt a family at Christmas time and donate clothing and support the agencies that are doing the good work day in and day out, if you want to do more? If you feel compelled to be a little more on the front lines of this struggle?
Then check out Circles a program at TrueNorth that seeks to help local families overcome poverty. Or contact Hope 101 an initiative through Family of God Church creating housing and help for the homeless and see what you can do to pitch in. Don’t just contribute to the food banks, volunteer to work one and see for yourself what want looks like in our community.
And above all remain indignant, displeased and more than a bit miffed that homelessness is such an issue and a local issue at that. Don’t stop talking about it. Learn the truth about why it exists then challenge those who so simplistically blame the victims. Combat attitudes others might share about ‘those’ people.
In short, become an advocate.
And most importantly….
“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”- Shannon L. Adler
By Ken DeLaat
Wow, what a weather week, huh?
Some outrageously beautiful blue skies along with the first snow arriving arm in arm with a spiteful kind of cold snap. The old ‘hurts your face’ kind of nip that catches one unprepared after being lulled into denial by an extended summer-like autumnal run. Instead of the old line about something going zero to 60 this is more like going 60 to zero.
Despite overwhelming evidence that there is likely to be a winter each and every year some of us mitten dwellers tend to arrive at the onset of the season decidedly unprepared.
Oh, there are guys out there, my age and above generally, who have been geared up since June with the snowblower newly primed and readied, new sack of sidewalk salt standing by as well as the usual accouterments that come in handy when embarking on a snow removal mission.
Mostly it seems these are retired types in perpetual search of things to do that are productive, and likely in possession of a genetic predisposition toward being well organized, I do not share in. Being gifted with an innate ability to do absolutely nothing when the mood warrants, procrastination is a trait that comes to me easily.
But I have always admired their preparation skills and longed to acquire them at times such as these.
You see, typically there’s a bit of a scramble that occurs at first snowfall. You know, seeing if there’s gas in the blower after pulling the cooler, beach toys, and a sack of potting soil off of it then wondering as to where the key fob thing for it might have ended up.
Looking for the snow shovels that slowly inched their way to the far reaches of the garage corners through sheer neglect can be a challenge as well. Then of course the innovative thinking that needs to be employed when wondering if it would be ok to scoop some pellets out of the softener to help melt a nasty patch of ice on the porch.
There are ice scrapers to be found, footwear other than sandals to ferret out of wherever they were placed during last spring’s first day over 40 degrees and puzzlement over why my personal hat box doesn’t contain a single winter hat, but is filled with promotional baseball caps I cannot recall ever wearing.
Thankfully it was a mere dusting and set off the alarm to begin the process of gathering the winter needs. Blower out, shovels readied, a little ice melt from last year found when trying to extricate an errant scraper from behind a trio of bicycles and even some suet cakes for the birds in case those little cage things they go in might perhaps be located at some point.
Being organizationally challenged is no picnic in the long run and I made my annual vow to be better prepared for the changing of seasons from here on out (coincidentally while staring at a garden hose currently coiled in a frozen state). I pledged to be done with having to do so much busywork that could be prevented by merely doing things the proper way the first time.
Immensely satisfied with myself I envisioned this bright future when, through proper preparation, every task before me would fall gently into place with none of the frustration that accompanies disarray during transition periods.
Then I looked in the corner and saw them.
The Christmas lights.
Rolled up indiscriminately into a kind of snarly ball-shaped mess created during a cold day in March after they were finally extracted from the ice and snow they had been buried under for months.
And long past the brief January warm spell when LSC Lil (a woman of substantial patience) advised that it might be a good time to take them down.
Unfortunately I deferred action at the time.
Mostly because I couldn’t find my gloves.
By Diana Hanna
The face of homelessness can often be hidden from view.
Unlike, in urban areas where homeless people are in plain sight on street corners and sidewalks, homelessness is not as evident in rural communities like ours.
Take one perspective from among the personal stories we have encountered at TrueNorth Community Services. Let’s call her Carol.
Carol had a good-paying job three years ago when she got into a car accident. That caused her to be unable to work and pay her bills. She ended up losing her job, and that led to her to losing her home through foreclosure.
Because she could not pay for electricity nor water, she lived without either. She bathed with water bottles filled at a friend’s home. She washed clothes by hand. She managed to get by and survive.
Carol applied for disability, but such assistance does not come quickly. While awaiting word on disability, she was forced to leave her home. She had to, at least temporarily, move and live in a tent in Manistee National Forest.
But life did not get any easier nor cheaper for her. She found being homeless is expensive.
Carol had no means to preserve food. That meant relying on non-perishable food from pantries. She also needed to keep gas in her car to get donated food, seek places to shower and clean up, and search for temporary jobs to earn money.
She found ways to take care of things, often doing so before meeting her own individual needs.
Carol was embarrassed to reach out for help, having always been able be self-supportive. But as last winter approached, desperation set in.
So, she went to TrueNorth and found help. She got food from the TrueNorth Food Pantry and the Feeding America West Michigan mobile food pantry. She got approved for a federally-funded housing voucher to get into a rental home.
Carol is just one face, or composite, of homelessness in a rural community.
There were an estimated 66,483 people homeless in Michigan in 2016, according to a Michigan State Development Authority report released in October. Those included 9,975 families with children, with 69 percent of those from single-parent homes.
While there has been a 9 percent decrease in homeless the past two years (credited to expansion of the Healthy Michigan state Medicaid program), the reality is reducing homelessness does not come easily.
While the average single parent needs to make $3,680 per month to make ends meet, the average income for homeless families was $770 monthly, according to the Michigan League of Public Policy. An estimated 15 percent (that’s about 1.45 million) of Michiganders live below the poverty line, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in September.
When there is no way to make ends meet, people lose their homes and become homeless.
The homeless in our community live in vehicles. They stay in camps. They couch surf. They reside in sheds and other places.
That is not a way to live and thrive. That is simply survival.
Providing shelter to help the needy is challenging. There are scarcities of places to shelter people temporarily. There is a shortage of affordable housing. There is a lack of public transportation.
TrueNorth Community Services is among many concerned parties working hard to help people who find themselves homeless for whatever reason.
As the Michigan State Housing Development Authority-designated housing resource agency for Newaygo, Lake, and Mason counties, TrueNorth worked with about 1,200 adults and children from 451 households last year. Those people needed our help to find shelter, comfort and support.
There are many ways for you to help reduce homelessness. You can donate food to the TrueNorth Food Pantry or other local food banks or pantries. You can donate cash and/or gasoline cards. You can volunteer in a hands-on way. If you’re a landlord, you can provide an affordable residence.
Shelter and food are basic needs. Please do your part to help the homeless.
Diana Hanna is hunger and homeless services director for TrueNorth Community Services, which is based in Fremont. Hanna oversees efforts engaging Newaygo, Lake, and Mason counties.
By Tracy Kehr
Editor’s Note: Tracy Kehr is an occasional contributor to N3 when she gets time from her busy schedule as an artist, realtor, community volunteer and, most importantly, a Mom. Her son Gavin played his first year on the White Cloud Varsity and we asked Ms. Kehr to share a few thoughts on the season.
It’s always hard to believe the days and events in our lives pass by so quickly. Seems the season just started – how can it be over already?
White Cloud High School opened up the doors to workouts this summer led by dedicated instructors who didn’t miss a day leading this enthusiastic group of athletes. I saw these workouts being advertised on Facebook for students to get a jumpstart to the season with endurance and strength regardless of their sport. I was intrigued because I’ve got kids who’ve spent the last few years working hard at an online academy at home.
Gavin spent his nights working on school and his days building and finishing our home with his dad and grandpa. He learned all about permits, laying Pex for a heated cement floor and getting 2x4’s straight. After seeing these posts we decided it would be important to the kids’ education to be part of a team and the personal responsibility it brings.
I had been thinking this year, my son’s junior year that he needed to be involved in the great group of kids playing football instead of getting a job. The exercise would do him good and I thought playing football was the perfect job for a 17 year old. Gavin spent this summer dedicated to being at the daily workouts without being reminded to go.
It isis always a struggle with kids being determined enough to do it themselves without having Mom or Dad watching the clock for them. We constantly tell Gavin that we are not his babysitters and stress the need for him to be accountable for himself.
“If you want to play then be there on time and be ready to go.”
And he was.
This year White Cloud had an exceptional group of 22 young men playing football who worked extremely hard as a team and as individuals. Having low numbers made it difficult to fill the holes created by injuries, suspensions and illness, however for the first time since the 2006 and 2007 seasons White Cloud had back to back multiple wins. It was also the first time the Indians beat a conference foe since 2009. And the offense scored the most points since 2007.
The coaching staff of six is a dedicated group of leaders who selflessly give back by coaching these young men. Daily workouts and the amount of organizing that goes with the jobs could test the best of us, but these guys step up and go for it. Not only do they coach sports but they usually also end up being a sort of life coach, helping these students learn to make good decisions.
Grades not good enough? You don’t play. You get in trouble in school? You don’t play. I’m sure none of these kids want to tell their coaches they had an incident and cannot play.
We all strive to be better human beings.
Coaches are stepping stones on that path.
By Julie Burke, Family Health Care Outreach Specialist
In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. These discussions at the national level have created some confusion with where the law currently stands. As of the end of October 2017, the most recent attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have not been passed. What does this mean for those enrolled or who are eligible to enroll in the health insurance Marketplace?
The individual mandate that requires all citizens to have health insurance is still in effect. Those who do not have the minimum essential coverage will be fined. The fine for 2018 is 2.5% of household income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 for each child under the age of 18. The fines will be assessed at whichever of the two are higher, but cannot exceed $2,085. To see if you qualify for one of the exemptions available, visit www.healthcare.gov and search for “fee for not having health insurance”.
There are two subsidies available to help keep premiums and out-of-pocket costs down. The first is the Premium Tax Credit (PTC). The amount of the PTC is based on your household size and income, and can help keep the monthly premium costs affordable. PTCs can be used in any plan. The second subsidy is called Cost Share Reduction. This is also based on household size and income, and provides cost savings for out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and can reduce the maximum out-of-pocket costs. These savings are only available for “silver plans” offered in the Marketplace.
There are some changes to the Affordable Care Act for this year. The first is the reduction of the open enrollment period by six weeks. You must enroll, change your plan or update your Marketplace account between November 1, 2017 and December 15, 2017. It’s a good idea to update your account even if nothing in your household has changed because you may qualify for a higher premium tax credit that can help reduce your monthly premium.
After December 15, 2017, you will not be able to enroll in or change a Marketplace health care plan unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods become available if you lose qualifying health care coverage (like Medicaid, an employer health plan or COBRA), or have a change in the size of your taxable household (marriage, childbirth or adoption) or certain exceptional circumstances. To qualify for a Special Enrollment period, you must be able to prove that you meet the criteria, including having been enrolled in minimum essential coverage before your change occurred. You only have 60 days after your change occurs to take advantage of a Special Enrollment Period.
If you have considered allowing your plan premium to lapse and eventually become dis-enrolled, you may want to think again. By doing this, you will be required to pay the unpaid premiums in order to enroll in another plan from the same company. To avoid this; call your health care plan and cancel your insurance.
Lastly, in order to avoid unnecessary frustration with the enrollment process, Healthcare.gov will be down periodically for scheduled maintenance. Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on Healthcare.gov every year during open enrollment. System downtime is planned for the lowest-traffic time periods and is necessary for the maintenance across federal agencies involved with open enrollment. These down times are generally scheduled for Wednesday, November 1, 2017 overnight, then on Sundays from 12:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., except on December 10, 2017.
There are many trained staff in our area to help you understand, enroll or update your Marketplace account. You can access local help by visiting healthcare.gov and searching for local assistance.
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