N3 contributor forgoes nap and angling routine to step up and provide a take on the Center for Hope and Healing event.
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
I think it happened when we were sitting in a local restaurant. I was enjoying a perfect cappuccino and a delicious pastry. It was one of those moments where you are happy and enjoying the coffee and conversation. The restaurant was nice, there was a low buzz of conversation around us and the staff was making cooking noises and chatting in the kitchen. You have been in that place, your senses are dulled, you are kind of emotionally composed and then it happens, someone says, “we need to talk or I need a favor.” Your stomach turns over and your flight reflexes kick in and you look for the nearest exit. In this case, it was a favor, the less frightening of the two. My friend and Editor of Near North Now quietly mentioned that he had a hard family commitment and could not attend the Capital Campaign and Open House for the Center for Hope and Healing in White Cloud on Wednesday the 17th. His able, second-in-command Alexis wasn’t available either. She was off running a half marathon in the hills of Philadelphia on that day. “Would you mind so much to go and cover this important event?” A mental, auggggggggggggggggggg followed by a reluctant surrrrrrrrrrrrrre.
I have been plagued by friends, family members, and positions in organizations that require me to be better than I want to be. You know that situation, those expectations that you will get your responsibility and industry. Agreeing to this favor meant breaking my afternoon fishing routine, cleaning up and putting on real clothes, and meeting important adults. And for goodness’ sake, forgoing the afternoon nap! Ken the Editor knows I am a lazy storyteller and not a reporter. And writing is hard and writing small succinct interesting media articles is really really hard.
On the way home after a moment of whining and self-pity I consoled myself with the delusion that I did have a little foreknowledge of this subject. After all, the Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NCPCAN) Center had been housed down the street in White Cloud. They were in that ugly, cold, dank, occasionally vermin-infested pole barn by the railroad tracks on James Street. I had other intel as my wife Dianne was one of the minions helping get the new place ready for the open house. Wednesday came so quickly. In a blink it was time to suit up, find the advance Flyer, put my little N3 Press Badge on and get on over there and stand around and not embarrass anyone, especially myself.
After signing in I followed NCPCAN Executive Director Tara Nelson on a guided speaking tour of the new, soon to be repurposed 23,000 square-foot Center for Hope and Healing building located at 601 N. Evergreen Dr and just a bit North of White Cloud. After the tour I wandered around, met a few people, chatted, and took a bunch of photos. Later when I was standing in this great open space looking at an easel with a bare black-on-white line drawing of the new facility I had a sort of epiphany. This drawing was a metaphor for what I was beginning to feel. I know you have had those moments where you stand still and know that this moment is larger than the event or this moment in time.
Maybe it was the vibe, the light in the expansive space or because this place used to be a church. I don’t know but it was a biblical sort of moment.
It was that light against the dark in the drawing that made it feel like this event was a reset or resurrection and a rebirth was happening. Director Nelson had come out of that gosh-awful, dark, cold, damp pole barn to this place with light, good energy, and abundant space that is needed to do the work that needs to be done.
And there is plenty of work to be done.
Putting this in context the reason that we are here in this place is to address the muddy, messy complex problem of child abuse and neglect. It is that dark side of human behavior that we don’t like to talk about. Today sexual abuse is rampant in all branches of the Military, our religious institutions, and national youth programs like the Boy Scouts of America, College campuses, in our corporate offices, right on down to local schools and the family unit.
Here in Michigan, it is in our face. We are all too familiar with the high-profile case of the predatory Dr. Lawrence Nassar as he worked at Michigan State University's sports medicine clinic. His crimes reverberated from Michigan through the world of gymnastics all the way to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. It appears that these horrible abuses occurred unchecked over decades and were exacerbated by the failure of many adults who knew or should have known but did not take action to protect these young women.
Every year thousands of children in West Michigan are victims of abuse and neglect. It appears that these incidents can be embedded, generational and increasing as families and communities face the churn of raw cultural clashes that are intensified by the pandemic, political polarization, and economic and environmental uncertainty. To address this embedded and growing problem two organizations have stepped into the fray to mitigate the damage of our communal sins.
What would a biblical story be without some angels? Somewhere I heard or read something like this “I will send them without wings so that no one suspects that are angels.” I believe there were three angels at this open house. Tara Nelson, executive director of Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NCPCAN), Amy Taylor, Open Arms Child Advocacy Center (OACAC) executive director Wendy Samuels, chair of OACAC’s board of directors. These visionaries and leaders of the OACAC and the NCPCAN’ organizations have collaborated, then merged, and will leverage their strengths, expertise and staff. They will now operate from the new Center for Hope and Healing at 601 N. Evergreen Dr.
“The new Center for Hope and Healing will be a state-of-the-art facility that promotes trust, calm, and a sense of security for children and their loved ones. When built out there will be dedicated spaces for a range of services that will be offered to the residents of Newaygo, Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties. These services include:
Forensic interviews in child abuse investigations
Children’s rights education
Evidence-based safe sleep information
Play and reading areas for children
Summer activities programs
Meeting and gathering areas”
At 5:00 P.M sharp we gathered and the three gave a brief and professional introduction of their roles, their purpose of being and their mission. Additional details were presented by an excellent 6-minute video. Please click to review the video. 6-minute video
They concluded their presentation with thanks to the donors, volunteers, and attendees. Let there be no doubt for these three have driven a stake in the ground. They have proclaimed that here in the Center for Hope and Healing, we will do the dirty work in the messy, muddy, dark, heartbreaking arena of child abuse and neglect. It was obvious that they are committed to educating, discovering, intervening, helping and healing the abused and neglected child. Then, when necessary, help reform or adjudicate the transgressions. I felt that these three had raised the curtain and turned on the lights and illuminated the scope of this awesome challenge.
“Neither do men light a candle and put it
under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it
giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light shine before men, that
they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
I glanced around at the attendees and saw some smiles but just as many grim faces. Good news there because it was not so much about how many attended but who attended this event. In my opinion, they were the 20 percenters that are always there when things need to get done. There were the electeds, Drain Commissioner Twing, Register of Deeds Stewart, Commissioner Bryan Kolk, Mayor James Rynberg, and Representative VanSingle. The Judiciary with Judge Melissa Dykman, Friend of the Court Referee Michael Paige, Prosecutor Worth Stay, Undersheriff Chad Palmiter, White Cloud Police Chief Dan Evans, and other officials. The business community also had representation including Colleen Lynema and other members of the River Country Chamber.
There were the so very important donors like Dennis Adama and platoons of invaluablevolunteers. The Fremont Area Community Foundation was represented by CEO and President Shelly Kasprzycki and Mark Petz. The Foundation through their well-considered and compassionate grant program makes awards to projects, programs, and organizations that most effectively impact our community.
Then there was Abraham. Az Ibrahim the media magician was representing Spectrum Health and had helped organize and publicize this event. His article on the event can be found here:
To refocus, we know that our precious children are irreplaceable and will determine our collective future. We can rear leaders and astronauts or future abusers and lifelong criminals. We have the capacity to provide harm and hurt or love and support for our children. Therefore, it is time that we, the ones here with the responsibility and the means, to get up and step up and speak out for those that are hurt and harmed. Speak out through contributions or commitment to support this new Center for Hope and Healing and this righteous cause. We must help these brave people do what needs to be done in our community.
To contribute to this important campaign please access the following link. www.center4hopehealing.org.
Side Bar: Being a skeptic and a bit curmudgeonly I always like corroborating evidence for modern miracles and biblical stories. In the previous sermonette, we had three Angels, Abraham the Prophet and some good and faithful folks gathered for a good cause in a former church building.
Maybe we needed another Angel or a traveling Wise Man or good Samaritan to show up to add a little reinforcement to this story. As it turns out we had all three. Josh Guerrero was the traveling Wise Man and Good Sumatran and Beth Keloneva was the Angel. According to Beth “Josh Guerrero, (former marine) is hiking all 1200 miles of the North Country Scenic Trail that runs through Michigan. He is doing the Operation Wolverine Walk and raising funds for Veterans. He started August 22, 2021 in the Western UP, and after hiking for three months and 900 miles he was passing through Newaygo County.
Beth, a former NCTA Western Chapter President, was one of his “trail angels” in Newaygo County. Beth also serves as a volunteer at the Center for Hope and Healing and was preparing for the Open House when she also needed to pick up Josh in White Cloud. She asked Josh if he might be willing to help with the set up, and he willingly said, yes!
After learning the purpose of the Center for Hope and Healing, Josh was right on board with the mission. He said one of his other passions was the prevention of human trafficking. Josh volunteered at the center on Tuesday for nearly two hours helping to move nearly 50 heavy tables and chairs.
The next day Josh was back on the trail and continuing his mission!
Those that hike or run long distances know that a few minutes off your pace can change your estimated time of arrival or departure by hours. In three months and over 900 miles it would take more than coincidence or careful planning to put Josh the Good Samaritan in the Center for Hope and Healing on the days of this event. As for Angels, an Angel is as an Angel does. For me I am going to go with the supporting evidence.
Like I said it was a biblical sort of moment.
N3 Note: Region 6 includes Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa
The health care systems within Region 6 are at a tipping point - our individual and collective resources are being overwhelmed, and we need our communities’ help to get back on track. For all Michigan Region 6 care providers, the health and well-being of our patients, their families, our communities and our team members are our top priority.
The hospitals and EMS systems in our region are operating at extremely high capacity - and have been for weeks. While other areas of the country have seen the number of patients with COVID-19 decline, our numbers are on the rise. We are also seeing more patients with other serious health issues that cannot be further delayed or ignored.
How does that impact you?
• Wait times for emergency, urgent or primary care may be much longer than usual • Ambulance transfers may be delayed
• Surgeries or procedures may be deferred to a later date
• Visitor restrictions remain in effect
• You may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a bed in the hospital
Similar to other industries in the region, state and across the country, we are also experiencing staffing challenges. Our team members are exhausted and are doing their very best care for our communities.
It is important to note that the strain on our system is due to the COVID-19 response, plus the many other demands our teams are facing to care for seriously ill patients. If more people were vaccinated, that would help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, as most of the COVID-19 patients in the ED and admitted remain unvaccinated. This is impacting our ability to care for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or experience another medical emergency or issue. We are concerned there will be a surge of influenza along with the current COVID-19 surge adding to the capacity issues. We strongly urge people to get the influenza vaccine as well.
Please utilize your primary care office for minor or non-emergent problems. Urgent care is also available for non-emergent needs. If you have an emergency, please call 911 or go to the emergency department as soon as possible. During the prior surge some people waited too long because they did not want to burden the emergency department. Unfortunately, some of those people came too late to treat their emergent condition such as stroke, heart attack or diabetic emergency. Please be patient with our staff in the hospital as everyone is doing all they can to care for a large number of patients.
Everyone can pitch in to help. We’re pleading with our community members to do everything they can to avoid COVID-19 and lead a healthy lifestyle:
• Get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster if you are eligible
• Get children 5-18 a Covid-19 vaccination
• Wash your hands frequently
• Wear a mask when in indoor public spaces or outdoors when unable to socially distance
• Practice healthy behaviors such as socially distancing, getting good sleep, eating well and exercising.
We know that together we can get through this safely, but we need your help. Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate through these challenges.
Jerry Evans, MD, MMM, FACEP
Region 6 Healthcare Coalition
In cooperation with Region 6 Hospitals and EMS agencies
The changes wrought by Title IX
By Ken De Laat
On occasion I come across a post from one of my high school classmates that triggers a memory of those long ago days. A recent one came on the heels of doing the N3 articles on the all conference teams for the fall high school season.
Usually, putting together the names of our local scholar athletes is merely the tri-annual compilation to honor their efforts but, combined with the post, it gave me a bit of pause.
The original was a post about a female member of the vaunted Caledonia Class of ‘69 engaged in a biking competition and resulted in a thread with references to girls athletics at our school back in the day.
Pre Title IX.
Yeah, there were none.
While difficult to imagine if one has attended a sporting event featuring high school girls in recent years, les filles of Caledonia High School in that era could either sideline cheer for the boys or take part in something called the Girls Athletic Association. From my knowledge of the group (limited to a failed attempt to be in their photo for the yearbook) there were no competitions with other schools and games were limited to intramural type activity.
I think they played basketball, but nowhere near the basketball one sees these days. The speed and gritty defense of the Newaygo Lions as they marched to the state finals last year would not have found a place in the roundball rules I recall for girls in those days with stationary guards and forwards limited to one half of the court and a limit on the number of dribbles one could take. It was speculated that the rules were formed to protect the fragility of the fairer sex.
Then came 1972 and Title IX, the landmark gender equity law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, banning sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.
And while women’s sports were merely a part of this far reaching law and it took years to get traction toward the needed changes, today there are 16 sports for Caledonia girls.
Granted there are at least triple the number of kids in the newer hallways of CHS these days so the opportunities have expanded along with the resources.
But to my count there are also 16 sports for the boys.
Just like the girls, thanks to Title IX.
Cross, football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, tennis, golf and track were available to the boys.
The girls got to cheer.
6 of them.
And a male classmate of mine joined them one year so even cheerleading apparently wasn’t exclusively for girls
And while taking nothing away from those who support the teams on the sidelines?
It’s awfully nice to see them on the court receiving some of the cheers as well.
Next year when Title IX reaches the half century mark there is certainly raison de célébre (One year of French from Mr. Goodyke at CHS, circa 1967) given the hard fought progress that has been made.
My earlier reference to the Lions tournament run last winter is a testament to how far sports for women have come after seeing an entire town taken hold by the team. Much as they were a couple decades earlier when those state title banners were hoisted 2 years in a row.
It’s the kind of community excitement that spurs interest in the sport and eventually leads to more participation in more sports by younger girls.
I only wish the athletes among my classmates who plied their skills solely in gym class could have experienced the excitement and crowd support of interscholastic competition available to girls today.
Because if those early rules about competition were created at the time to protect the so-called ‘fragility’ of the girls, I am here to testify that most I knew back then were anything but fragile.
Determined, strong willed, wickedly smart and resilient, yes.
Not so much.
And given the chance they would have no doubt excelled on the playing fields of old ‘Donie.
Note: Thank you to Dr. Patricia Magle Jones for her assistance in securing the GAA photo.
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