Archive for January, 2011

A Cause, A Story & An Opportunity

January 17, 2011

As a home loan lender you know that what you doing impacts lives.  Buying a home is not something that people do everyday.  Building a relationship with a client and walking with them through the process is very rewarding.  Added to that is our business philosophy to give back with every home loan we close.  This fact brings us in contact with some amazing groups.  Allow us to introduce you to a recent opportunity we had and invite you to join in.

This year we were again invited to participate with the Grandville/Byron Center Varsity Hockey team in their quest to not only be a winning team, but to also support a local charity.  This is a project the entire team gets behind.  The organization chosen this year is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  JDRF is a global leader in diabetes research, the go-to organization for the diabetes research community, and the best source of hope for better treatments and a cure for people with type 1 diabetes and its complications.  Most people know of diabetes, but really don’t understand the disease. 

Diabetes is a chronic and debilitating disease that affects every organ system.  There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that enables a person to get energy from the food they eat.  Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin, but it is unable to use it effectively.

Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes with a new case being diagnosed every 30 seconds on average.  Worldwide, 285 million people currently have the disease and that number is expected to grow to 435 million by the year 2030. 

Diabetics do have to make changes in their life.  It requires constant attention to diet, exercise, stress, fatigue, medication, illness and more.  But, it doesn’t have to stop life.  Following is one person’s personal journey.

My Journey With Diabetes

By Stephen Flood

 I was just the normal high school student living the life.  I had no worries in the world when I was on my way to South Carolina for spring break with the baseball team.  I was just a sophomore traveling with all upper class men in a minivan.  I never felt so embarrassed when I started to have the feeling to pee…ALOT.  I would have never thought that I had diabetes then, so there I was eating starburst and chocolates.

We finally made it to our home in South Carolina, and I never felt so relieved when I could finally pee whenever I wanted to.  But it only got worse and worse. During my practices, I was taking a knee just to catch my breath while doing simple drills.  I never felt so physically exhausted in my life.  I also had the worse case of cotton mouth, my lips were so dry that I had to make an effort to open them.  My legs were dead.  My lungs felt like they were going to collapse. Sleeping was nonexistent since I was getting up every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom.  I felt bad for my roommate because I kept waking him up getting out of the bed or flushing the toilet.  I told my mom what was going on, and she told me to drink cranberry juice because she thought I had a bladder infection.

We got home from our trip, and I started to feel better so we kind of just let it be for a little bit, and if it came back again we would go to the med center.  Well, it came back, and there we were sitting in this little room waiting for the doctor. I told him my symptoms, and we ran some tests.  The blood test is what had the doctor worried.  The blood sugar level wasn’t processing.  So we tried it again, and still nothing.  The meters that the doctors had only went up to 500.  The doctors sent me right to the E.R room and told me good luck.  I was confused on why they were saying good luck, because I still had no idea what was going on.

I was laying down on this bed built for 10 year olds, I had my legs dangling from the end of the bed and a needle in my arm.  Yet I was still able to enjoy myself since we were watching the Detroit Red Wings playoff game.

 The nurse made me very comfortable and I still am very thankful for him as he calmed me down.  I asked for a pillow and he jokingly hit me with the pillow.  It was now 11:17 pm when the doctor dropped the ball.  “You do have diabetes Stephen.” The doctors explained.  It didn’t really hit me when he told me.  I just had no clue what to do.  I didn’t know what was going to happen, no clue on how everything was going to change.

Lying in my own bed that night after the doctors let me go home, it hit me.  The doctors told me that I couldn’t eat anything that night, and the last time I ate was in the morning.  I thought to myself “Wow, this stinks!”

The next day, I didn’t go to school.  I had the whole day basically learning about everything there is to diabetes.  I was there from 9am in the morning to 2 pm and I had a baseball game that day.  My dad rushed me back to the game, where I started in left field.  That’s when I realized that I can make it easily.  It’s just another new challenge I have to face every day now.

Now, I’m a senior at Grandville High School, playing three sports this year.  I’m just a little bit different than a normal person, and yet I’m still living the life.  

 So what can you do?  For starters gain a little information.  The JDRF website  has information on the disease, the latest research, support, and tips for living with diabetes.  You can also stay informed to what is happening locally on their Facebook page .

Second, get involved!  January 29, 2011 the Grandville/Byron Center Varsity Hockey team will be hosting the Second Annual Charity Game.  This is a great evening of hockey all while supporting JDRF.  Game starts at 4:00pm at the Georgetown Ice Arena in Hudsonville, MI.  An auction of collectable sports memorabilia and more will take place after the game.

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One Really Good Day

January 6, 2011

Yesterday was awesome!  Let me start by saying it wasn’t due to the sun shining on newly fallen snow or that I won the lottery.  (Just for the record I didn’t even play.)  Yesterday was a truly great day because I was able to visit three area non-profits with gifts of support to help them continue their efforts.  For extra measure I even threw in a visit to a new friend who is organizing an upcoming event you really should attend.

The reason for these visits was the result of the AHF Charity Gridiron Challenge game we have been playing this NFL season.  Every week we encouraged friends, family, co-workers and supporters of all non-profits to register and play by picking the teams they felt would win their respective games.  The player with the most correct picks received a $50 gift card.  The non-profit organization they were playing for received $250 from Awareness.  While the game created some friendly competition and interesting office dynamics, the most important part was the ability to support some great organizations. 

The day started with a brief stop to see Jay Starkey, Executive Director at In The Image.  This is an organization that connects families in need with donated clothing, furniture, appliances and more.  Every year they also help area at-risk kids get a new pair of shoes for school.  Last year they were able to help nearly 9,000 kids and have a goal of helping 12,000 kids this year.  Jay, his staff and many more friends played with great enthusiasm all season long with a desire to win “at least just one week”.  That was just what they did the last week of the regular season thanks to a long-time friend of Jay’s.  $250 to In The Image means helping 25 kids with new shoes.  This day was getting brighter as I began to see what these organizations can do with a relatively few bucks.

I then made my way across town to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.  If you have not heard about all the excitement going on there lately where have you been?  Gilda’s Club is a place where people of all ages gather to learn about cancer, share experiences with others, and have the opportunity to laugh along the way.  This March Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will celebrate 10 years of keeping that signature red door open and warmly welcoming all who want to enter with Laugh Fest.  This is the first annual 10 day event that is sure to tickle every funny bone you have. 

I was extremely honored to deliver to them as our grand prize winner, a check for $2500.  It was fun to watch the faces of three weekly winners who also happen to be on the staff of Gilda’s Club beam with pride at their successful efforts.  However, it quickly sank in that this money also meant they had more work to do, more lives to help, more smiles to share.  Incidentally I also had another contribution for them.  You see the real difference in the Awareness business is that we make a contribution of $250 with every home loan we close; and a client had  just asked us to help Gilda’s Club as a result of their loan.  That is one part of my job that will never grow old.

I took a slight detour from delivering checks from the Charity Gridiron Challenge game to deliver one for the next event we are sponsoring.  The Grandville/Byron Center Varsity Hockey team is hosting their second annual charity game.  This year they are raising funds and awareness of Juvenile Diabetes by supporting JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).  A team mom decided to chair the event this year since her son, a senior on the team, has type 1 diabetes.  (If you missed his story in our January e-newsletter, sign up to receive it for free.)  The charity game is January 29 at the Georgetown Ice Arena.  Visit our Facebook page for all the details under the Events tab.

By now I wondered if there was anything to top my excitement.  I had already brightened the day of 3 groups and had one more stop to make – Harbor House Ministries.  Peg Driesenga is the Executive Director of a Christian residence for people with severe mental and physical disabilities.  Like Gilda’s Club, Harbor House is not a place of dimmed lights and hushed tones.  The rooms are open and bright with an air of energy and excitement.  Laughter and conversations drift from all around.  Life is in full swing here.

Peg showed me The Cove, a new activity and physical therapy building on their property.  They have a personal goal of remaining debt free and our contribution was another partner making sure that stayed a reality.  I was really impressed by the love and compassion the staff at Harbor House possesses to care for their residents.  Hopefully we can bring you their full story sometime.

This was one really good day.  And to think it all started with a simple game of picking football teams.  I guess the bottom line is that it’s not about how big the act of kindness is, but that you do act.  It’s not about the value of the check, but the value of the intention behind it.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day, what are you doing to make a difference with yours?