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Local nonprofit leader receives statewide award for outstanding service

Marge Palmerlee, Executive Director at Degage Ministries, has received the 2013 statewide Liberty Bell Award from the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) for her passionate work at the ecumenical organization.

The Liberty Bell Award is given each year by local bar associations, in conjunction with Law Day, to honor outstanding citizens within the local community. This award recognizes outstanding service performed by a non-lawyer citizen who has given time and energy to strengthen the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law, in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.

Palmerlee began her journey with Degage 20 years ago when she and her then-13-year-old son began volunteering at the ministry. At the time, Degage had four employees and served coffee every evening to about 50 people. Palmerlee knew they could do more. It wasn't long before her passionate giving led to the next logical step: attaining the position of executive director a few years later.

"We started meeting with people and asking them how we could help them in their journeys," Palmerlee says. "We listened to their most pressing needs and we acted."

That action resulted in the addition of a laundromat, hair salon, and showers; expanding their dining room; and starting a state ID program, as well as other programs and services, most recently the Voucher Program, which offers a commonsense solution to panhandling.

Degage also added Open Door, an overnight center for women who need a safe haven. Since its inception in 2003, the center has served more than 2,000 women. As for Degage, the ministry now serves about 500 people per day, 10 times more than it did when Palmerlee took over.

Established in 1967, Degage Ministries helps build relationships and offers programs that foster dignity and respect. Degage Ministries is an independent 501(c)3 ecumenical organization.

Get involved:
- Learn more about Degage, how to volunteer, and how to donate on their website.

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Degage Ministries

Habitat for Humanity raises millions to revitalize GR's West Side

The West Side is about to become the best side. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has raised $3.5 million as part of its $5 million Building Blocks campaign to revitalize Grand Rapids' West Side neighborhoods. Launched in January and chaired by community leaders John Benz, Laurie Termaat, and Ted Adornato, the Building Blocks campaign takes a holistic approach to transforming the western core of the city. Residents, businesses, churches, local government, and other nonprofits work together to implement a shared vision of renewal.

"This has been an absolutely amazing experience for Habitat and for our donors, friends, and families," says Mary Buikema, Habitat's executive director. "We started this year with a dream and a goal, and here we are, nine months later, and we've already raised 70% of that goal. The generosity of this community is humbling."

The Building Blocks campaign's objectives are to fund the construction, rebuilding, or renovation of more than 200 homes on the West Side; and to fund improvements at Habitat's ReStore outlets, which sell gently used home improvement items.

In its initial "silent phase," more than 120 community donors supported the fundraising effort. Now, as the campaign enters its next phase, the hope is to garner even more support. "We want to reach out to those who haven't yet participated and ask them to join in restoring our neighborhoods," says Benz. "You can see the trend in our community. Reinvestment and rebirth is happening on the West Side, and Habitat is helping to lead the charge."

Laurie Termaat of Chemical Bank says, "We are privileged to have one of the nation's most respected Habitat affiliates here in our community. It is our responsibility to ensure that it continues to impact our local neighborhoods in a positive and permanent way."

The public announcement of Building Blocks is both a celebration and a call to action, says Ted Adornato of Spartan Stores. "Raising $3.5 million in a recovering economy is something the entire community should be proud of," he says. "We now hope the public will embrace this campaign and help us raise the funds needed to complete our effort."

Established in 1983, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County builds hope and transforms lives through neighborhood revitalization and homeownership for families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. Habitat Kent has helped more than 350 families turn their dreams of homeownership into reality and has lifted more than 1,000 children out of substandard housing.

Get involved:
- Support the campaign by donating online or by dropping off a donation at the Habitat Kent offices at 425 Pleasant St. SW.
- Volunteer at Habitat.
- Stay current with Habitat happenings on their Facebook page.
- Learn more about Habitat by visiting their website or by calling (616) 774-2431.

Source: Philip Zoutendam, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

'Attendance Works' director Hedy Chang to deliver keynote address at Community Literacy Summit

Over 30 million adults in the United States can't read above the third grade level, a status that is categorized as "low literacy." In Grand Rapids, the low literacy rate of adults is 22%; in Kent County, it is 14%.

Low literacy affects all of us. Children who do not read at a proficient level by the third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, not attend college, and become low literate adults. Studies have shown that adults with low literacy skills are more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, and suffer from poor health conditions.

It doesn't have to be this way. Whether you're a parent, an employer, an educator, a health care provider, or other service provider, you can be part of the solution. Here's one way to get involved: Attend the Literacy Center of West Michigan's Community Literacy Initiative's second Community Literacy Summit on Wednesday, September 25 at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center, 1607 Robinson Road. The Community Literacy Summit's goal is to develop a community that is 100% literate.

The Summit will feature workshops on age-speci?c literacy, working with schools, English as a Second Language (ESL), and many other topics related to literacy. Delivering the keynote address is Hedy Chang, director at Attendance Works. Attendance Works is a national- and state-level initiative aimed at advancing student success by addressing chronic absence.

A skilled presenter, facilitator, researcher, and writer, Chang co-authored the seminal report, Present, Engaged and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, and other articles about student attendance.

Chang has spent more than two decades working in the fields of family support, family economic success, education, and child development. She served as a senior program officer at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and as co-director of California Tomorrow, a nonprofit committed to drawing strength from cultural, linguistic, and racial diversity. In February 2013, Lang was named by the White House as a Champion of Change for her commitment to furthering African American Education.

Registration for the Community Literacy Summit is $35.00 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and workshop materials.

The Community Literacy Initiative (CLI) is a literacy coalition that seeks to empower community leaders, parents, and residents to improve literacy for all ages in West Michigan. CLI is a new formation of the coalition formerly known as Greater Grand Rapids Reads.

Get involved:

- Register online or download a registration packet. The cost for the Summit is $35.
- Visit the Literacy Center's Facebook page.
- Volunteer.
- Donate.

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of The Literacy Center of West Michigan and  Attendance Works

'Michigan Saves' offers incentives and financing for businesses to save energy, boost bottom line

Upgrading costly refrigeration units or HVAC systems, replacing old light fixtures, or even adding insulation to a commercial space can help lower energy consumption and save businesses money. And now, there is an attractive incentive to do so: Michigan Saves offers business financing up to $150,000 as low as 5.9% for up to five years. Food industry businesses can get financing for a rate as low as 1.99% APR and an additional $2,000 rebate if consumption is cut by 20%.

Lansing-based Michigan Saves screens a statewide network of authorized, professional building contractors and other professionals with expertise in energy efficiency and on-site renewable-energy systems. With innovative, affordable financing for energy-focused building and equipment improvements through its Business Energy Finance program, the nonprofit aims to increase awareness and demand for greater efficiency.

Beginning the process with Michigan Saves is easy:
-       Find a Michigan Saves authorized contractor on the Michigan Saves website to get an estimate. Have an energy assessment or pick from a list of qualified energy improvements.
-       Complete the loan application. Your authorized contractor will help you, and you will get a decision within 48 hours.
-       Once the loan is approved, your contractor makes the energy improvements. Your contractor is paid directly by the lender once the work is done to your satisfaction.

Michigan Saves makes affordable financing and other incentives available through partnerships and grants with lenders in the private sector. The organization has no employees but is staffed by contract with public sector consultants and the Delta Institute in Chicago.The nonprofit offers programs for residential and commercial customers, and supports energy efficiency, geothermal, and solar PV projects.

Get involved:

- Learn more about Michigan Saves and begin the process.
- Visit their Facebook page.
- Become an authorized contractor.

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Michigan Saves

Degage Ministries offers a dignified way to donate, respect, and help panhandlers

Last summer, a Grand Rapids federal judge overturned the state panhandling ban based on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Since then, the number of people panhandling at Grand Rapids intersections has increased dramatically. You've seen the homemade signs: 'Homeless,' 'Will work for food,' 'Out of work vet,' and several variations on those themes.

Whether these folks are truly homeless or not may be open for debate, but one thing is certain: Drivers can be uncomfortable with panhandlers. Many want to help but realize that the money they give often goes to feed addictions.

What if we took money out of the equation and changed the way we respond to this need?

Degage Ministries offers a way to help folks who are down on their luck with $2 vouchers. Go to Degage's website, click on the blue 'donate now' button, select 'purchase of $2 vouchers,' pay via credit card or e-check, and a few days later, you'll receive paper vouchers in the mail. The voucher program provides a positive means for both immediate help and long-term support. When a patron uses a voucher at Degage, he or she is exposed to the many services available there.

"You may not have the opportunity to say, 'How can I help you?' but a voucher will give someone the chance to come into Degage for a meal where workers there can sit down with [him or her] and ask, 'How can we help?'" says Marge Palmerlee, director of Degage Ministries.

Each $2 voucher is good for one of the following:

- meal
- hair cut
- one load of laundry
- locker for a week
- pair of shoes

Serving 400-500 individuals daily, Degage Ministries offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in our community. Responsive programming is designed to address both immediate and long-term needs, such as overnight respite for women in crisis, food, referral services, and hygiene facilities.

Get involved:

- To purchase $2 vouchers, email Carole (carole@degageministries.org) or call (616) 454-1661.
- Vouchers are also available online: click 'donate now' and then select 'Purchase of $2 Vouchers' from the drop-down list. You'll receive the vouchers in the mail.
- Volunteer at Degage.
- Donate to Degage.
- Follow them on Facebook.
- Follow them on Twitter.

Source: Marge Palmerlee, director of Degage Ministries
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Degage Ministries


Grand Rapids GiveCamp donates time and expertise to help West Michigan nonprofits step up their game

Funds for nonprofits are in a slump, staff and resources are stretched thin, and there is little time -- let alone money -- to redesign websites, develop databases, or beef up a social media presence, all of which are critical to a nonprofit's success.

So, what's a nonprofit to do?

Enter Grand Rapids GiveCamp. One of about 45 GiveCamps nationwide, GR GiveCamp is a weekend-long event that brings technology professionals -- such as designers, developers, database administrators, marketers, and web strategists -- together with nonprofit organizations to launch their efforts to the next level. Now in its fourth year, the event is comprised of approximately 20 nonprofit organizations and 150 technical professionals. This year, the event takes place November 8-10 at The Factory, 38 West Fulton, Suite 400. West Michigan nonprofits that wish to participate have until October 1 to apply.

Here's how it works: GR GiveCamp matches each nonprofit to the local technology professional that best meets the organization's needs; over the course of the event, nonprofits receive free technology services, such as new websites, databases, e-newsletter programs, and social media campaigns.

"The average annual value to the nonprofit community of the work completed at GiveCamp is $250,000 in donated technology services and resources," says Ross Hunter, president of GR GiveCamp. "With the 2013 event, we expect to surpass $1 million in total donated services since we began holding GiveCamp in Grand Rapids."

Suffice it to say that the customers are satisfied. The Land Conservancy of West Michigan, which participated in last year's event, ended up with a "professional, dynamic, and user-friendly" website, says Keri Amlotte, communications coordinator at the Land Conservancy. "The new site has improved our efforts in donor and volunteer relations and community engagement," she says.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan also participated in the 2012 GiveCamp and received a "robust, flexible, and mobile inventory database, specifically tailored to the Red Cross's needs, [which] will provide huge time and cost savings," says Chip Kragt, the organization's regional emergency services director. "The new database will be used and tested by the West Michigan Region of the American Red Cross before being implemented in additional parts of the country," Kragt says.

Since the idea's inception in 2007, GiveCamp programs around the country have provided benefits to hundreds of charities, worth millions of dollars of developer and designer time in services.

Get involved:
- Learn more about GR GiveCamp.
- Volunteer your time and expertise.
- Apply to GR GiveCamp.
- Follow them on Facebook.
- Follow them on Twitter.

Sources: Ross Hunter, president of GR GiveCamp; Keri Amlotte, communications coordinator at the Land Conservancy; Chip Kragt, regional emergency services director at American Red Cross of West Michigan

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Adam Bird, Rapid Growth Media

Sponsor a local child struggling with hunger for only $1 per weekday or $20 per month!

Elementary years are an important time for a child's academic and physical well-being. But without access to regular nutritious meals, they can suffer long-term effects, both academically and in overall growth and development.

Here's your chance to help kids in our community. Now you can sponsor a local child struggling with hunger for only $1 per weekday or $20 per month, thanks to a new Kids' Food Basket program known as the "Sack Supper Club." A generous donor is matching all Sack Supper Club donations leading up to Kids' Food Basket's first day of service for the 2013-14 school year on September 16.

"One in four children in Michigan struggle with hunger," says Kids' Food Basket Executive Director Bridget Clark Whitney. "Our goal is to increase the number of children fed through the Sack Supper program over the school year and serve over 5,400 kids each weekday... in a way that's dignifying and accessible.

"We know that when kids have access to food their minds and bodies grow strong and they do better in school," says Whitney. "This is a community problem, and we have developed a community solution. Kids' Food Basket's mission is to ensure children in our community have the nutrition they need to succeed in school and in life."

Kids' Food Basket is the only organization in West Michigan focused solely on childhood hunger. As of July 1, the organization has served more than 680,000 kids in the 10 years since its inception.

Get involved:
- Learn more about the Sack Supper Club by calling (616) 235-4532 or visiting Kids' Food Basket’s website.
- Volunteer.
- Donate.

Source: Ashley Abbott
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images courtesy of Kids' Food Basket

Green Gala: The greenest bash of the year offers great music and farm-fresh food

Get your green on at the Third Annual Green Gala on Thursday, Aug. 22, 6:30 - 10:30 p.m. It's happening in the parking garage at the Plante Moran/Christman Building at Fish Ladder Park, 634 Front Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.

The Green Gala is Friends of Grand Rapids Parks' signature fundraising event. It takes a lot of time, planning, resources, and money to plant trees, rehab playgrounds, protect natural areas, and rebuild vibrant parks. That includes help from citizen volunteers, city workers, neighborhood organizers, philanthropists, and businesses.

"Vibrant parks and public spaces are essential to our community's environmental health and cultural wellbeing," says Steve Faber, executive director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. "The Green Gala raises funds that allow us to coordinate volunteers, cover capital costs related to development, and raise money that isn't connected to grants, so we have more flexibility in the way we can spend it."

This year's Green Gala will sport a 'picnic on the farm' theme accompanied by a bluegrass band and featuring a photo wall with barn slats and farm implements for your photo opp pleasure.

Green Gala guests will get updated on several projects, including the Tree Map that lets you explore, map, and add trees to make the Urban Forest Tree Map complete; a new park in Heritage Hill; and a green space acquisition on the west side that is in the works.

Tickets are $85 at the door.

Founded in 2008, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen-led, nonprofit enterprise that works closely with but is separate from the City. FGRP's mission is to identify specific park projects and to mobilize people and general resources to protect, enhance, and expand the City's parks and public spaces.

Get involved:

- Invest in your neighborhood and support the City's Parks and Recreation Department by voting 'yes' on the millage this November. For only $49 per year on a home valued at $100,000, the millage will help fund some much-needed city park improvements. Get more info here.
- Donate to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.
- Check out FGRP's Facebook page.

Source: Steve Faber, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images of the 2012 Green Gala: Terry Johnston Photography and Ian Anderson (StellaFly)

A Place for Mom: No-cost help finding a senior living option that fits your family elder's needs

Finding an appropriate, affordable place for a family elder can be a daunting, stressful task, especially if a decision has to be made quickly. There are myriad options, levels of care, and a wide range of price points to consider.

Launched in 2000, Seattle-based A Place for Mom (APFM) is a national senior living referral service that offers seniors and their families an easier way to find senior care. Although the company name focuses on "mom," they help dads, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters, too -- anyone who may need help finding senior living options. (Full disclosure: Back in 2009, APFM put me in touch with a local West Michigan advisor, who helped me find a great retirement community that fit within my elderly mother's budget. Mom couldn't be happier.)

APFM's knowledgeable Senior Living Advisors and online resources help families and seniors make informed decisions, save time, and feel less alone as they face the many challenges of caring for aging parents or other loved ones. The advisors work one-on-one over the phone with families to understand a loved one's needs, and help them navigate through available care options to find the best fit for each family situation. This includes providing specifics on costs and potential resources to help finance senior care.

Participating communities and providers pay APFM to be listed in their national network, so the service is offered at no charge to families. The organization does not endorse or recommend any particular community or provider. The Senior Living Advisors visit communities in their local area to experience the features firsthand and build relationships with the local staff. Each year, APFM conducts an annual licensing review and violations audit.

Get involved:
- If you need help finding a place for your family elder, call toll-free (866) 344-8005. After answering a few initial questions you will be connected with a Senior Living Advisor in your local area or near the location where you need to find care. Multiple searches across the country are also made easier.
- Take a needs assessment here.
- Visit APFM's Facebook page.

Source: A Place for Mom website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of A Place for Mom website

Two powerhouse, brand-building agencies merge to DOMOREGOOD

"There's a seismic shift in the marketplace," says Bob Blanchard, CEO of DOMOREGOOD, a new agency formed out of the merger of Hanon McKendry in Grand Rapids, Mich. and The CSK Group in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The vast majority of consumers -- 87 percent according to a 2012 study -- want businesses to place at least equal weight on societal issues and business interests, yet only 28 percent believe businesses are performing well in this regard, says Blanchard.

"At the same time, brands that score the highest on the annual Meaningful Brands Index outperform the market by 120 percent," Blanchard says. "We don't believe this is a trend. It's a permanent market shift."

This trend is not limited to nonprofits. Many businesses recognize that operating with conscience and higher purpose is no longer a luxury, but a requirement, says Blanchard.

Operating out of its two offices in Grand Rapids and Colorado Springs, DOMOREGOOD will provide strategic and creative brand-building services to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations that are committed to making a positive impact on the world around them. Services include market analysis, brand strategy, brand identity and management, design, campaign development and production, video production, strategic marketing, web marketing and digital development, and media services.

"The goal is to help brands that do good, do more of it," says DOMOREGOOD President Steve Maegdlin. "We know that brands aren’t just shaped by how they look or sound. They're shaped, mostly, by how they act.”

Purpose-driven brands go beyond short-term charitable projects. They make a positive difference through their business practices, in their employee and supplier relationships, in their communities, and for their customers and constituents, Maegdlin says. "Our job is to help those brands take their driving purpose beyond business strategy and fully integrate it in their branding and marketing strategies."


Get involved:

- Check out DOMOREGOOD's website.
- Visit Hanon McKendry's Facebook page.
- Get out there and do some good.

Source: Amy A. LeFebre, Director of Corporate Communications, DOMOREGOOD
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of DOMOREGOOD

Metro Health Hospital Foundation announces recent grants

The Metro Health Hospital Foundation has approved more than $90,000 in grants to support programs and services provided by Metro Health. Nine grants ranging from $1,645 to $22,000 will support a wide variety of initiatives, through new equipment, educational opportunities, and technology.

The grants include:

- A $22,000 grant to purchase a CX-50 ultrasound unit for the interventional radiology lab that will allow physicians to view multiple images and vital signs on one monitor.

- A grant to the Compassionate Care Fund in the amount of $14,000 to provide support including durable medical equipment, costs for necessary treatments, transportation and hotel stays, and other items to patients and their families with limited financial resources.

- More than $13,000 to purchase and upgrade testing devices for the Endoscopy Department that are used in testing for gastroesophageal reflux disease and predetermining surgical need.

- A $12,095 grant to purchase a bladder scanner for the Emergency Department to accurately diagnose common urological conditions.

- $8,000 to fund screening and diagnostic services for breast cancer and cervical cancer prevention for women who are under-insured or noninsured and at risk for developing breast and cervical cancer.

- $5,000 to purchase a nasolaryngoscope that will allow physicians to evaluate patients with ear, nose, and throat concerns in the primary care office at the Metro Health Community Clinic on Breton Road.

The Metro Health Hospital Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of West Michigan through its support of Metro Health, an award-winning leader in community healthcare.

The Foundation's support of Metro Health allows individuals, employees, organizations, and businesses to contribute funds that help families cope with catastrophic illnesses, provide life-saving education and screenings, and improve overall patient care.

Get involved:

- Donate.
- Explore other ways to give.

Source: Mary Ann Sabo, Sabo Public Relations
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Metro Health Hospital Foundation

Grand Rapids Community Foundation awards $871,850 in scholarships to Kent County students

'Tis the season of generosity. Grand Rapids Community Foundation, 185 Oakes St. SW, recently awarded and distributed $871,850 through 552 different scholarship funds. The scholarships range from $300 to $10,000 with over 500 awards of $1,000 or more. GRCF processed over 1,777 scholarship program applications for the 2013-14 academic year.

Get ready for some more impressive statistics:

Of the 552 scholarship recipients, 63 percent are female and 37 percent are male. This year, 53 percent of scholarship recipients are first-generation college students. And 16 percent of the scholarships were awarded to current or former graduates of Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Michigan colleges received 76 percent of all the awards, which is $662,550 of the total $871,850 available funds. The top awarded Michigan colleges include: Grand Valley State University with $142,700, Grand Rapids Community College with $71,300, Michigan State University with $63,000, and the University of Michigan with $46,700.

"We appreciate the good work of the community volunteers who make up the 21 scholarship selection committees,” says Ruth Bishop, the organization's Education Program Officer. "The committees are very thoughtful in carrying out the wishes of the donors who have established scholarship funds at the Foundation."

New scholarships awarded this year include the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids Minority Scholarship Fund. This award was established to provide undergraduate scholarships to Kent County students of color attending a nonprofit public or private college/university majoring in Fine Arts including all visual and performing art forms. Also new is the Darooge Family Scholarship Fund, which was established to provide scholarships to full-time undergraduate students majoring in a construction-related field at any accredited two- or four-year college/university/trade school in Michigan.

Get involved:

- Visit GRCF's website.
- Donate to GRCF.
- Consider planned giving.

Source: Roberta F. King, Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing, GRCF
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Grand Rapids Community Foundation's website

The Frey Foundation's first, interactive online annual report highlights several successful projects

One of Michigan's largest family foundations is leading by example with its new, interactive online annual report. The electronic format reflects the Frey Foundation's commitment to conservation by reducing its environmental impact, and it expands the organization's reach into the communities it serves.

The Frey Foundation, 40 Pearl St. NW, Suite 1100, Grand Rapids, Mich., is led by two generations of family trustees dedicated to advancing a legacy of strategic philanthropy by supporting innovative projects in West and Northern Michigan. The recently released Frey Foundation annual report showcases a few of the many programs comprising the $7.4 million grant distribution in 2012.

"The Frey Foundation is a collaborative funder," says Steve Wilson, foundation President. "The organizations highlighted in this annual report represent the collective work of grantees and funders throughout the region and beyond."

Recent grantees highlighted in the online edition include photos and stories from University Prep Academy, Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center, Top of Michigan Trails Council, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

"Frey Foundation trustees and staff have had the great pleasure of working with many innovative programs during the past year," Wilson says. "We are delighted to share some of their stories with you in the foundation's first online, interactive annual report."

Frey Foundation grants are provided to nonprofit organizations primarily in West and Northern Michigan for projects that enhance child development, protect natural resources, promote the arts and civic action, and expand the reach and role of philanthropy in local communities. The foundation was established in 1974 and permanently endowed in 1988 from the estate of the late Edward J. and Frances T. Frey.

Get involved:

- Read the Frey Foundation's interactive Annual Report.
- Learn about some of the programs funded by the Frey Foundation in 2012: University Prep Academy, Grand Rapids, Child Discovery Center, Top of Michigan Trails Council, Inc, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Source: Sally Littlefair Zarafonetis, Media Consultant, SallyZara Public Relations
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of the Frey Foundation


Catherine's Health Center helps low-income people get the healthcare they need

Admittedly, I have a keen interest in clinics that offer low- or no-cost services to people who cannot afford medical care. I am one of the millions of people over the age of 50, but under the age of 65, who cannot afford medical insurance.

So, when I heard about Catherine's Health Center, 1211 Lafayette Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, Mich., naturally I rejoiced. Since 1996, CHC has provided a variety of services, including examinations, immunizations, education, testing, screening, and referrals to qualified residents of the northeast sections of Grand Rapids.

There are specialized programs for women, including the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCCP). Low-income, uninsured women aged 40-64 are eligible for free pap smears and mammograms. The Betty Ford Mobile bus makes stops regularly.

CHC's WISE Women Program (The Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) assesses chronic disease factors by conducting a health history, lifestyle assessment, and clinical screening (lipids, blood sugar, and BMI). An individual plan is then developed to help improve health.

Hard-to-access eye services are also available to those without insurance: routine diabetic eye exams, and screening for glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other chronic diseases that affect eye health.

CHC's Medication Assistance Program allows the clinic to work with pharmaceutical companies to enroll patients for prescription assistance, and to distribute free prescriptions, sample mediation, diabetic glucose monitor and testing strips, and short-term medication dispensing.

So, if you have no medical insurance or prescription coverage, CHC may just be a viable option for you. CHC is open by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Get involved:

- Volunteer.
- Donate.
- Keep up-to-date -- sign up for CHC's newsletter.

Source: Catherine's Health Center website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Catherine's Health Center's website and Facebook page


Girls Choral Academy has a new leader: Lori Tennenhouse

July started out with a bang for the Girls Choral Academy when Lori Tennenhouse, the founder and artistic director of the Grand Rapids Women's Chorus, became the Executive and Artistic Director of Girls Choral Academy on July 1. Tennenhouse brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position and replaces Dr. Monique Salina, founder of the Girls Choral Academy.

"I couldn't be more excited to join such an exceptional organization and look forward to touching and enhancing the lives of girls through music!" says Tennenhouse.

Founded in 1997, the Girls Choral Academy (2920 Fuller Ave. NE, Suite 104, Grand Rapids) enriches the lives of West Michigan girls through a program for those who love to sing and wish to grow musically, personally, in self-esteem, and in leadership skills. The organization also focuses on increasing math and reading comprehension through music education.

Girls Choral Academy performs three major concerts each year involving girls in nine choirs. These girls are from all over West Michigan and from a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They attend public, private, charter, parochial schools, and some are home-schooled, but they are all united by their excitement about singing, about choir, and about being a girl. The organization is firmly committed to diversity in membership and repertoire.

Three of the choirs are located in southwest, urban Grand Rapids near Grandville Avenue. These choirs operate in cooperation with the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), including Southwest Community Campus School, Buchanan Elementary, and Chavez Elementary.


Get involved:

- Learn more about Girls Choral Academy.
- To become a member, click here or call (616) 361-6111.
- Donate to Girls Choral Academy.
- Become a mentor.
- Join the Girls Choral Academy Guild.

Images: Courtesy of Girls Choral Academy website
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