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My Town: Nominations sought for Heart of West Michigan United Way awards

My Town: Nominations sought for Heart of West Michigan United Way awards

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—Heart of West Michigan United Way is seeking nominations for its inaugural GIVE, ADVOCATE and VOLUNTEER awards.

The awards are meant to celebrate nonprofits, companies and people who have made a difference in the community.  The GIVE Award goes to a company that has displayed generosity within the community, and created a culture of giving within its organization last year.

The ADVOCATE Award honors a person or nonprofit organization who leads and works with people to improve the health and wellness of the community, leaving a lasting impact on Kent County.

The VOLUNTEER Award goes to a company that promotes and provides year-round opportunities for employees to volunteer within their community, improving Kent County.

My Town: Wellspring Prep student among top poetry orators

My Town: Wellspring Prep student among top poetry orators

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—One of the state’s top poetry orators is roaming the halls of Wellspring Prepatory High School.

Carl Kreiner was names first runner-up at the Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Competition, held in East Lansing on March 14.  Kreiner competed against 35 others, reciting “A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest and the Road Unknown” by Walt Whitman.  He was judged on articulation, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty and accuracy.

“Our teachers and our students are thrilled about Cal’s accomplishment,” said Koree Woodward, principal at Wellspring Prep. “He has put a lot of time and effort into this venture, so it is a pleasure to see his hard word rewarded.”

My Town: Photo contest for Grand Rapids Life Calendar

My Town: Photo contest for Grand Rapids Life Calendar

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Spring is just a few days away, but one local business is already looking ahead to 2015.

Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes is calling for photo submissions for its 2015 Grand Rapids Life Calendar.   Those who submit the winning photos will get a $50 cash prize.  Each local photographer can enter up to five photos taken after Jan. 1, 2010.  Each entry should come with a short story explaining the photo and how it relates to “Life around Grand Rapids.”

The winning photos will be selected by Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, local professional photographers and Ad Shop.

You can find the complete contest rules and information here.  To submit your entries, email Lee Karelse at leekarelse@lifestorynet.com

My Town: American Red Cross continues history of helping

My Town: American Red Cross continues history of helping

For 133 years, the American Red Cross has taken the lead in organizing an army of volunteers to help communities devastated by disasters.

Without volunteers, the organization wouldn’t function.  That includes the more than 3.5 million people who volunteered to give blood last year, providing  a life-saving resource for patients in about 3,000 U.S. hospitals and transfusion centers. 

 “While the world changes around us, our mission never does,” said Todd Kulman, communications program manager for the American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region. “We’re all about helping others during times of great need – and we can do that because of the generosity of countless volunteers and donors—including people who roll up their sleeve and give blood.”

If you’d like to join the efforts, the following blood drivers are scheduled:

My Town Grand Rapids: Design class lets students design Grand Rapids' future

My Town Grand Rapids: Design class lets students design Grand Rapids' future

My Town Wyoming: Help needed to make 'Read n' Give' a success

My Town Wyoming: Help needed to make 'Read n' Give' a success

WYOMING, Mich.—The LEAGUE Michigan is looking for more schools, organizations and businesses to help encourage literacy through a statewide book drive.

“Read n’ Give” is focused on boosting literacy among youth.  Schools, organizations and businesses collect K-5 books, which are donated to students involved in literacy programs with Camp Blodgett, The Salvation Army and Schools of Hope, which includes the Grand Rapids, Godfrey-Lee and Godwin Heights school districts.   When students are finished with the books, they are encouraged to donate them back into the program the next year, to foster the continuous cycle of giving.

Bridget Knight, who works with The LEAGUE Michigan, says participants in last year’s program collected 65,000 books statewide.  More than 39,000 books of those books came from West Michigan.  Knight says the goal this year is to collect 70,000 books.

Literacy Center of West Michigan adds to its Board of Directors

Literacy Center of West Michigan adds to its Board of Directors

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Two new faces are among the leaders of The Literacy Center of West Michigan.

 Charles “Chip” Behler and Raul Alvarez joined the organization’s Board of Directors last December.  Behler is an attorney for Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in Grand Rapids; he was previously a member of the Literacy Center’s donor development committee.  Alvarez is the chief communicator with the GTSD group and is highly experienced with nonprofit communications and marketing.

“We’re excited to have Chip and Raul on the team.