I had the opportunity to meet and interview Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin at this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Celebration at GRCC. She had a message as an advocate against violence, a regular person thrust into the public eye after a personal tragedy and a mother who has lost a child. I could see the pain in her face as she held her head high and addressed the hundreds of people gathered that evening for MLK Day. You just want to hug her and I did twice. Ms. Fulton spoke from the heart, recounted the day her son Trayvon was killed and the love and support that helped her overcome. She now dedicates her time and efforts to speak out against violence towards children, especially violence toward young black men. I was touched by her words and as a mother can relate to her pain. She left us with a message that we all need to be the change if we want to see a different America. That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also challenged us to do more than four decades ago…
Eva Aguirre Cooper
We wrapped up our Connecting with Community Awards with a special broadcast showcasing all eight finalists and this year’s winner. I am always left with a feeling of awe and inspiration of the great work that happens that I never knew about.
The great thing about the Connecting with Community Awards is that we can show how sometimes one idea or one person can really make a difference. This year’s winner was Camp Shout Out. They are a unique summer camp for kids who stutter. It was great to talk to these kids and learn how even though they have difficulty speaking, they too have a voice.
I was at the Dominican Center for an event by the Partners For a Racism-Free Community. The lunch and learn speaker was Joe Jones and the topic was “Dynamics of Talking about Race.” More than sixty people gathered to listen and contribute to this issue that is often difficult to talk about.
How do you begin to talk about racism? One of the tools discussed was about finding commonalities, shared values that unite rather then divide. Focus on solutions. We all look for opportunities and a sense of community. The discussion was spirited and everyone there seemed to be seeking some kind answer or direction through this tough issue. They spoke about knowing who you are and where we came from to help understand where we need to go. We all have our own story to tell. I walked away with the sense that we need to listen more and try to understand and not be so judgemental. What’s your story?
Follow me on twitter @evaweva.
One of the great things about my job is that I am always hearing about so many great collaborations about people and organizations working together all over West Michigan. There are some very unique and creative efforts working to address real problems and needs in all our communities. Well, now is a great time to share with us those great partnerships that work. It’s time to nominate them for our Connecting with Community Awards.
This is a great opportunity to tell us how YOU are Connecting with Community.
I didn’t realize that nearly one in four households across America are caregivers. In Kent County alone, more than a third (37%) are providing care for loved ones. I have also cared for a relative and know how overwhelming it can feel.
I met a group of people today who are part of the Caregiver Resource Network. They represent 102 different organizations, non-profits and businesses all providing some kind of support or service if you need to care for someone in your life.
As our population gets older and we live longer, it will be inevitable that many of us will be caring for a loved one. So remember, “Don’t walk the caregiver path alone.” There are people that can help you.
Last night, students from 22 different high schools in Kent, Ottawa and Barry County shared their messages on the Dangers of Distracted Driving at Northview HS. It was a contest for the best messages for radio, television, billboards and merchandise. They were all very inspiring and thought provoking. The winners will be seen on billboards along I96, heard on local radio stations and here on WOOD TV8.
It’s amazing to see how seriously they took this task and how important it is to get this message out to help save the lives of not only their fellow teens, but other drivers on the road too.
Texting was the big issue. They all do it and realize that in an instant, it can change so many lives. So follow their lead and…
During these tough economic times, it’s great to find something that is good for us and is FREE. Metro Health Hospital is offering all kinds of FREE health screenings and health classes some at a low cost of which they also offer assistance. This is part of their Live Healthy Community Outreach Programs.
Everything from diabetes, pulmonary, memory, heart disease, tobacco cessation, back and neck pain screenings to parenting, anger management, caring for persons with dementia classes to name a few – it’s worth checking out.
Check out the free screenings and classes. It’s never too late to start looking out for your own health and your families. If you know of other free opportunities that will help us live a more healthy life, please share.
Once again we are asking our viewers “How are You Connecting with Community?” The second annual Connecting with Community Awards are underway asking for your nominations. We are looking for collaborative efforts, partnerships, groups coming together to help solve problems in our community.
It’s easy to do, just fill out the nomination form and tell us what you’re doing. This idea came about from our partners GRCC, Huntington, Metro and Art Van. We are always sharing our efforts and collaborations, let’s hear what others are doing.
We get so bombarded with troubling news everyday, that I think we need to sometimes step back and see that there is also a lot of good things going on right in our neighborhoods. I guess it’s the optimist in me.
So please share your stories with us so we can share them with others. Nominate a group or groups working together and making a difference.
Sixty eight years ago today, we remember the events that took place at Pearl Harbor and the brave men and women who fought for our country. Well, we also need to remember the many Veterans right here in Grand Rapids.
I was at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans today and talked with my friend Harold, who is a WWII Veteran. He was telling me about the stars on their Christmas Tree and how the Vets who live there make specific wishes and people can take a star and bring that Vet their gift anonymously.
There are still lots of stars on the tree. Granted, some of them may be hard to fill. I saw one asking for an 8 track player, another for cigarettes but most wanted either a gift certificate or clothes. It would be great if all the stars were taken from the tree and all the Vets get their Christmas Wish…
ArtPrize has created quite a buzz around town whether you are an art connoisseur or not. The variety and scope of the hundreds of pieces of art have surely caught the imagination and appreciation of the West Michigan audience and beyond.
Now that the first phase of the competition is over, I can talk about one of my favorite pieces. I was especially drawn to the mural on the wall at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Humanity at the Crossroads. Daan Hoekstra’s beautiful image of the two faces draped in shawls, one eyes closed the other looking up, was striking. The woman in the mural looks to be Latina, like me and a sense of wonder I can relate to.
Whatever it is that a piece of art can stir inside of us is truly unique and personal. This is what I enjoyed the most about ArtPrize, not necessarily the competition or hype. To be surrounded by so much incredible creative energy was fantastic.
Whatever the critics may say about this event, I have enjoyed looking out my window at WOOD TV8 at the beautiful metal flowers on the lawn, driving down a side street and discovering a hidden treasure I had not seen before or peaking into an empty store front or building to now find an array of art.
What art have you connected with?