Posts Tagged ‘West Michigan’

If You have Wings…Use Them!

March 17, 2011

It’s funny sometimes the lessons that nature can teach you.  Just watch some of the critters in your neighborhood sometime and you will be amazed.

A couple of weeks ago West Michigan was provided one of those rare early spring days where the sun was shining warmly and there was only a slight breeze.  I decided to eat my lunch at a local park and enjoy a few moments of quiet.  As I surveyed the area I looked out over the small pond taking notice of the large gathering of ducks huddled tightly in the one area of open water no longer covered with ice.  Since this is quite the hangout for the city duck population I quickly noticed several other smaller gatherings.

However I was particularly drawn to a quant group of four.  They busily made their way up the lawn and into the parking lot, rounding my vehicle in search of whatever morsel intrigues a duck these days.  Their self-guided tour eventually led them to the other side of my vehicle and a small ridge of now icy snow melt.

Surveying the obstacle before them, the first duck steadily climbed to the top and then proceeded down the other side in the most self-controlled, not to be outdone, Shaun White take some notes slide.  This duck was cool! 

The second duck could not see what lay on the other side of this ridge, but was able to surmise that his friend had indeed done so safely.  Duck #2 climbed to the top, confirmed the status of his cool friend and also slid down to the other side.  While his performance was not nearly so stylized or even controlled he did reach the bottom with all feathers and dignity still in tack.

Then it was time for duck #3.  Duck #3 struggled some to reach to top of the obstacle but after some exertion did manage to do so.  At this point duck #3 began to study the surroundings.  There was a little lean to the right, a lean to the left and slight tilt forward and then a whole lot of roll.  We’re talking tail feathers over beak, complete summersault, look-out below, crash landing spectacle.  Once this poor creature reached the bottom there was a great ruffling of feathers in an attempt to regain whatever shred of dignity remained.  It was a sight.

Now the remaining fourth duck could not see the sight that lay before from it’s vantage point.  The fourth duck only knew that 3 ducks had climbed up, disappeared and miraculously waited on the other side.  Duck #4 paused from a moment.  I could tell this was going to be good.  Suddenly with great grace, poise and ingenious thinking, duck #4 flapped its wings, took off into the air and gently landed in the middle of the other 3.  If a picture says a thousand words, the look on this duck’s face spoke volumes.

The obvious question raised (after laughing loudly of course) was did you forget?  We’re ducks!  We can fly!

How often do we forget our own abilities, skills or natural talents?  How often have we just simply followed the crowd, without thinking that there may be another way? 

Don’t forget the natural strengths and power you already possess.  We all have our own set of “wings”.  Use them!

Non-profit Spotlight: Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids

February 11, 2010

Cancer is one of those words that stirs deep emotions. Nearly every person has been impacted by the disease in some way, either personally or along side someone they know and love.  Gilda Radner felt the emotional and physical impacts of cancer first-hand when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986.  However, a significant difference in her journey was when she became part of a cancer support community.  Knowing the benefits of having the support of others who understand and truly care, Gilda wished that anyone dealing with cancer would be able to receive the same kind of support she did.  After her death three years later in 1989, Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder, and her cancer therapist, Joanna Bull, began to plan a free cancer support community called Gilda’s Club.  The first club opened in 1995 in New York.

Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids began out of a similar expression of love and compassion.  Twink Frey went through her cancer journey without a community and social and emotional support and knew there had to be more.  She was soon joined by two other cancer survivors, Deb Bailey and Susan Smith to change this.  Together they founded Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and opened their doors in February of 2001.  Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids opened a second Clubhouse in Lowell in September, 2009.  These clubhouses serve the six-county area of Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa. 

“We need Gilda’s Club to fill the gap that exists between the doctors and the patient.  Gilda’s is a great place to get information and support during the entire process.”

~Al Kaczanowski

Gilda’s Club is more than a support group; it is a community of compassion and understanding that travels the cancer journey with everyone impacted by the disease – patient, spouse, children, extended family and friends.  Their entire goal is to make the path that cancer leads you down a little easier.  From the moment you walk through their doors you instantly feel at ease.

“Gilda’s Club has been a tremendous source of support for us as we have adjusted to what this cancer diagnosis means for our family. We feel welcomed, supported and understood here.”

~Kathi, Age 40; Andrew & Megan, Ages 12 & 9

Each month more than 200 support groups, lectures and workshops are offered for free to adults, children and families with program activities also offered in Lowell and Allegan.  Events range from health and fitness classes to formal lectures to casual social gatherings.  Classes and support groups focus on every stage: diagnosis, treatment, grief; for all ages.  The point of each one – you are not alone.  

“Gilda’s Club is a place to come and get support, love and friends. It’s a home away from home that is always open when you need it. The people at Gilda’s Club are there to help you in whatever way they can, and they actually care about every single person who walks into that red door.”

~The Stob Family

It is very easy to get involved with Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids if you would like to help.

  1. Volunteer.  Your help would always be welcome to help with mailings, serve as a program host, assist at events or make phone calls.  Volunteer orientations are available twice a month that will introduce you Gilda’s Club and help you find ways to use your talents.
  2. Financial Support.  Your generous gift will be used to help anyone on a cancer or grief journey.  The non-profit organization exists entirely on donations.  Therefore 100% of every dollar donated stays in the local community.
  3. Share.  Tell everyone you know about the amazing community of support that Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids offers.  This Monday (February 15) Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will be 9 years old.  To celebrate, they are hosting an Anniversary Open House at the Grand Rapids Clubhouse on Monday, February 15 from 9am – 9pm.  Come out for a slice of cake and a tour!      
  4. Empower others.  Awareness Home Funding is proud to partner with Gilda’s Club.  We donate $250 every time we close a home loan.  This program applies to all our home loan programs, purchase or refinance.  If you don’t need a home loan right now, we can still help.  Please refer us to your family, friends and colleagues and together we can help Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. 

 “Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is extremely grateful to Awareness Home Funding and its customers for donating funds to help families living with cancer and grief in our community. Every single dollar raised stays right here in West Michigan and makes such a difference to our members who come to Gilda’s Club to learn, share and laugh together on their cancer or grief journey. Cancer happens to the whole family and we believe that the social and emotional support for all ages available at Gilda’s Club is as essential as medical treatment. The need for our free program is currently up by 40%, while donations have decreased by 30%. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Awareness Home Funding for helping us close that gap and for recognizing the important need for a Gilda’s Club support program here in West Michigan.”  

~ Lindsey Rodarmer

The Forced End of a Tradition

January 28, 2010

It has long been the tradition of a large mid-western university to hold a televised auction each spring to support public broadcasting.  This auction has been a mainstay of support for the past 35+ years.  However, the university recently reached a tough decision to end this fund raising effort because of a growing negative return on investment.  This is a major blow to their financial situation as well as the on going livelihood of the program.  Over the past 3 years, the auction has been able to raise over $150,000. 

So how will the university be able to replace this influx of support?  In the current economy what are other organizations of any size doing to counter this growing challenge?  How are you being affected?  This is not a new problem, nor merely a local blow.  Non-profits all across the country are being forced to answer hard questions of how to generate revenue while keeping administration and overhead costs at a bare minimum.

How about a ray of sunshine and an idea that works?  What if there was an option that generated real, sustainable income?  What if anyone could participate, the program was self-funding and self-maintaining, and applicable to any non-profit organization.  (At this point, any organization that does not have a need for a single dollar more please stop reading.  Everyone else, read on!)

Awareness Home Funding gives $250 to any 501(c)3 organization that our clients specify when their home loan closes.  That’s it!  Think about this.  Interest rates are at an all time low, there are plenty of homes to choose from, and home buying credits are still in effect.  We handle your supporter’s home loan (and by the way, we do what we do very well) and they tell us about you.  After the loan closes, we have $250 going your way.  But it doesn’t just end there – this is a sustainable program after all.  Your supporters know people.  They have families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, associations and long time relationships.  Anyone they tell about this program is now a source of support for you.  Suddenly, ‘going viral’ has mass appeal.

Today, generating support for an organization is so much more than candy bars and televised auctions.  You need a partner, who cares about you, your cause, your community; a company with support for your home and your heart.  Contact us today and let us start working for you.


A team approach

January 21, 2010

When you see the real impact that groups working together can have, it is impressive to say the least.  This morning we met Paula Deen, well known chef, restauratuer, and spokesperson.  She has been partnering with Smithfield meats in their effort to end hunger in the United States.  The reason for her visit was for their donation of 40,000 pounds of meat products to Feeding American West Michigan Food Bank.

Perhaps what impressed me most, was her personal connection to those struggling to provide food for their families.  She was once “there”.   As she explained the goals Smithfield and Feeding America has, she was moved to tears that this problem still faces so many. 

As a company, Awareness Home Funding is structured to help organizations like Feeding America help others.  As individuals, we may not have much impact.  But, as Paula indicated, working together we surely do.  When we are able to help you, your friend, their colleague, and that person’s family member that single donation from each loan suddenly has tremendous impact.  The power of one telling one.  Tell someone you know and let us help you help them.

Giving – It’s in the ‘Jeans’

December 24, 2009

In our company, Friday is jeans day.  Nothing unusual, it is just a day to dress a little more casual in your favorite pair of appropriate jeans.  (The pair of jeans we all really love probably should never be worn outside of the house.)

John Arnold, Executive Director of Feeding America W. Michigan (right) and Gary Gunnett, Director of Charitable Parnerships with Awareness Home Funding (left)

Anyway, for the month of December we, as employees, were given an opportunity to wear jeans any day of the week in exchange for a small donation that would be equally matched by the company.  We had over 95% participation!  But the bigger news is that we were able to support two local organizations –

Shirley TenHarmsel, Director of Buist Community Center and Larry Buist, Owner of Buist Electric

Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank and The Buist Community Assistance Center.  Both organizations seek to help those who might otherwise go without a meal.

Giving to others always feels good – regardless of good jeans or not.


How you can help

If you have ever considered helping a food bank your first thought is to probably stop by with a bag of groceries.  However your desire to help can do a tremendous amount more if you donated money instead of the actual items.  Through their connections they are able to gather exponentially more food than what you or I would be able to purchase on our own. 

In this case, the donation of actual dollars really has more impact.  Of course, with the growing number of families these organizations (and others like them) are able to help, the gift of your time is always appreciated too.

A Zest for Life

December 15, 2009

Presentation of $250 Donation

Today Awareness Home Funding had the distinct pleasure of meeting John Mulder, Vice President of Medical Services, and John Norden, Vice President for Development from Faith Hospice.  We were also able to tour their Trillium Woods facility.

Based in West Michigan, Faith Hospice strives to help their patients experience all the joy, hope and fulfillment of life possible while dealing with a life-limiting illness or condition.  The Trillium Woods location is a fully staffed, in-patient facility.  In their primary role they are not so much an organization that focuses on dying, but on living through the last phase of a loved one’s life.  They partner with a patient and their family to increase understanding with compassion.  Having had first-hand experience, Faith Hospice really does embrace an entire family through what can be a very difficult time.

However, they also help patients with serious ailments with treatment options often unavailable in traditional medical settings so that they can return to their lives again.  John Mulder stated his purpose this way, “As long as there is still air in [a patient’s] lungs, they have life yet to live.  I intend to help them to live that to the fullest.” 

It was also a pleasure for us to be able to donate $250 to this non-profit organization to help them continue their work in the community.  To learn more about them and their services click here.