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Community pulls together for brothers battling cancer

Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community has shown their support over the last nine months for the family of Brison and Preston Ricker, two teen brothers fighting cancer, but the massive number of cans donated at their annual can drive at Meijer this week took everyone by surprise.

This month’s drive started at 5 p.m. Monday, and by 11 p.m. Monday evening, they had to stop counting. Volunteers returned on Tuesday evening, hoping to finish it off. But the cans kept coming, and at last count, over 86,000 cans were donated, and they still have a trailer that is 2/3 full of cans that they are holding until next month.

“We knew that this month’s can drive would be a larger turnout but honestly we were pleasantly shocked at the amount of cans that kept coming throughout the first night and continued again the second night,” said Melissa Egan, of Team Rickerstrong. “It was such a great thing to witness. So many people continue to support Brison in his fight by faithfully donating each month, but when Preston also was diagnosed…the support doubled and that is why we believe it was so much more successful.”

Egan said that they cannot express appreciation enough for the continued support from not only our community, but surrounding communities. “The love, prayers and support for this family is truly amazing. And who would have thought that a can drive that originally started as a way to possibly raise a quick $500 here or there would turn into a monthly fundraiser that has now brought over $30,000! Each month we have loyal volunteers that help feed machines or empty returnables into carts…ranging from adults to kids, all wanting to support the Ricker family.”

Team Rickerstrong started the once a month can drives in July, when the family took Brison to Texas to be seen and treated at the Burzynski Clinic. Dr. Burzynski offered an alternative treatment for Brison’s inoperable brain tumor (DIPG), which conventional treatment could not eradicate. He had been given only months to live. But this alternative costs $17,000 a month, paid up front. And it is not covered under insurance. The good news is that it is working, and Brison is feeling better than he has in months, according to his mom, Kim Ricker. He is eating again, and getting stronger, but not yet walking on his own. He even went to Swirl last weekend, which she said made him really happy.

Preston, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December, and had it surgically removed in January, is recovering, and will soon start radioactive iodine therapy.

Kim was also thankful for the success of this week’s can drive. “It was incredible to see the out pouring of love and support with all the cans that were donated! Although a majority of them came from this amazing community, we had people from surrounding communities and even as far as Caledonia donating their cans. We feel so blessed and are truly grateful to everyone who donated, and all the people who worked so hard getting over 86,000 cans put in the machines. Of course a huge thanks to Meijer, we could do not do this without their support,” she added.

The Rickers are faced with needing a minimum of $17,000 every month for Brison’s treatment. “This has to be paid up front; it is not like normal hospital bills that can accumulate and be paid back over years,” explained Kim. “If we don’t pay, Brison doesn’t get his treatment. Although the can drive was a huge success and raised more than we could have imagined, that amount covers two weeks of treatment, so the need to keep raising funds is great.”

If you would like to donate, you can visit their gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong, or participate in a fundraiser with Team Rickerstrong at https://www.facebook.com/teambrison/. You can also or send a check to them at 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Trufant woman killed in crash

A woman died Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, when the car she lost control of the car she was driving and hit a tree on Meddler, in Spencer Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

A woman died Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, when she lost control of the car she was driving and hit a tree on Meddler, in Spencer Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

A 53-year-old Trufant woman died Thursday morning when she crashed into a tree in Spencer Township.

According to Sgt. Corey Luce, with the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m. He said that according to a witness who was following, Luanne Crankshaw was headed northbound on Meddler near 20 Mile Road, on a patch of road covered with windblown snow, when she lost control of the 2005 Mazda Tribute she was driving and went off the east side of the road and hit a tree. The impact was on the driver’s side. Neither excessive speed nor alcohol appear to be factors.

No other passengers were in the vehicle.

The crash is still under investigation.

Spencer Township Fire and Rescue, Rockford Ambulance, and the Kent County Road Commission assisted at the scene.

Sgt. Luce said that is the second fatality this year. They had one in January, and one in February. By this time last year, there had already been five fatalities in Kent County. He said they had 24 between July and December, and also assisted other police agencies on two others, for a total of 31 fatalities in 2016.

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First grade library card drive

 Cedar Springs Library Director Donna Clark, Mrs. Graff (Cedar Springs first grade teacher), Heidi Fifield (CS Children’s Paraprofessional), Sara Magnuson (Youth librarian at Nelson Township/Sand Lake branch of KDL), and Mary Shallman (Youth Paraprofessional at Spencer Township branch of KDL) pose with children in Mrs. Graff’s classroom.

Cedar Springs Library Director Donna Clark, Mrs. Graff (Cedar Springs first grade teacher), Heidi Fifield (CS Children’s Paraprofessional), Sara Magnuson (Youth librarian at Nelson Township/Sand Lake branch of KDL), and Mary Shallman (Youth Paraprofessional at Spencer Township branch of KDL) pose with children in Mrs. Graff’s classroom.

For 20 years the Cedar Springs Public Library has celebrated “March is Reading month” by holding a library card drive for all first graders in the area. It started with a push from Mike Metzger in 1997, and has grown into a joint project with two local Kent District Library branches (Nelson Township/Sand Lake and Spencer Township) as well, since children in those library areas also attend school in Cedar Springs.

With “March is Reading Month” right around the corner, Library staff from the Cedar Springs Library, Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch, and Spencer Township KDL Branch decided to officially visit all first grade classes, Monday, February 6, for the 21st year in a row! One-by-one, Sara Magnuson (KDL Nelson Twp), Mary Shallman (KDL Spencer), and Heidi Fifield (Cedar Springs Library) made their way to the 10 different classrooms at Cedar Trails, then out to Creative Technologies Academy for one more. As Children’s Specialists, Sara, Mary and Heidi shared a world available to first graders with a simple library card…a world of books, movies, music, toys, electronics, eMaterials, and more.

“First graders love learning to read and they love reading incentives,” said Clark. “All first graders are invited to come to see Lego Batman for FREE, compliments of the three libraries. A personal or family library card also adds value to the evening for first graders—FREE Popcorn! But, what about moms and dads, family and friends? Yes, for only $3 first graders may invite anyone they wish to join them! There is plenty of room at the Kent Theatre!”

This invitation goes out to all first graders in the Cedar Springs area, whether they go to a public, private, charter or home school.

All first graders may go to one of the three participating libraries and pick up a FREE movie pass before the showing on Monday, March 5 or the showing on Tuesday, March 6. The movie starts at 6 p.m. both nights. Oh, and by the way, there are books about Legos, too!

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Ringleader of gas-pump skimming scheme convicted


Jury convicts last of seven defendants in scheme that stretched from Texas to Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan 

Antonio DeJesus Perez-Martinez, 44, of Austin, Texas, was convicted on January 30, of conspiracy to commit wire-fraud, credit account fraud, and aggravated identity theft after a four-day jury trial. Perez-Martinez, the last of eight defendants charged in the case and the overall leader of a conspiracy that at times involved over a dozen participants, remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing on May 15  before Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, who presided over the trial.

The evidence at trial established that Perez-Martinez, a Cuban citizen and lawful permanent resident of the United States (“green-card” holder), recruited numerous other recently-arrived Cuban citizens, all of whom had entered the United States in 2014 under a special “parole” program that admits Cuban citizens who present themselves to immigration authorities at the border, into a fraud scheme that initially involved obtaining compromised credit-account data from illicit websites, encoding that data onto cards, and using the “cloned” cards to bulk-buy gift cards and stored-value cards.

During the Summer of 2015, Perez-Martinez switched from acquiring account data online to using “skimming” devices that his accomplices secretly installed inside gas-pumps, and also extended his group’s operation into West Michigan. Skimming devices capture the account data of any card used to purchase gas without interfering with the purchase, leaving the account holder unaware that the data has been compromised until it has been re-encoded onto cloned cards and used to make unauthorized purchases. Because skimming devices acquire account data firsthand, the numbers are more recent and more reliable than those acquired secondhand from online hackers, and the illegal profits are greater.

Perez-Martinez’ conviction brings the total number of convictions from the case to seven: Raul Gonzalez Falcon (29), Yunier Carballo-Pupo (34), Manuel Perez-Cabrera (38), and Michel Velazquez-Gregori (30), none of whom had prior criminal records and all of whom agreed to plead guilty and to cooperate with the investigation. All received sentences of 21 months in prison. Pedro Sanchez-Pupo (32) received a sentence of 37 months. A seventh defendant, Juan Estrada-Galvez, was allowed to plead guilty to a state misdemeanor in Kent County when the investigation determined that his involvement in the scheme was minimal.

Perez-Martinez faces maximum penalties of 30 years in federal prison for the conspiracy and ten years for the credit account fraud, as well as a mandatory two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft charge that must be served after the sentences on the first two counts are complete.

“Identity-theft is a continually expanding and especially pernicious form of property crime,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge, “and the pump-skimmer scheme is an aggravated form of identity theft because it targets every citizen of West Michigan doing one of the most basic and necessary things we all have to do: putting gas in our tanks. Any person who comes to West Michigan on a skimmer crew had better understand that the odds of getting caught are good, and that if they are caught, they will be prosecuted in Federal court.”

“As demonstrated by Monday’s guilty verdict, the defendant orchestrated a fraudulent scheme in order to steal proprietary financial information from their victims through the use of credit card skimmers at local gas stations,” added David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “Criminals who engage in these types of plots exploit and manipulate the very technology that we depend on to conduct secure financial transactions in the retail marketplace. Furthermore, such high-tech criminal activity causes significant losses for both merchants and banking institutions. The FBI and its local, state and federal law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting consumers, businesses, and financial institutions from the fraud schemes of criminal enterprises like the one this defendant led.”

The case was investigated primarily by the FBI’s Lansing office, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Grand Rapids Metro Fraud and Identity-Theft Team, the Grand Ledge Police Department, and the McAllen Police Department, McAllen, Texas. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank.

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More winter fun


Everyone has a favorite way to welcome the New Year, and here you can see Emily Patterson, 12, of Howard City, enjoying a winter ride in the snow! Emily is the daughter of Stacie and Jason Minard of Howard City, and Bret Patterson, of Newaygo.

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Community survey on law enforcement


N-MCOLESHere is your chance to tell the state how your local law enforcement agency is doing, and what you’d like to see happen to make your community safer.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) has released a community survey to help gauge public trust as it works to complete a study for Gov. Rick Snyder.

On Oct. 4, 2016, Gov. Snyder issued Executive Directive 2016-2, telling MCOLES to “undertake a study and produce by May 1, 2017, a public report addressing the topic of fostering public trust in law enforcement.”

MCOLES is a state commission that sets standards for the law enforcement profession in Michigan, including recruiting, training, and professional licensing (www.michigan.gov/mcoles).

“Community engagement and community policing activities can advance the legitimacy of law enforcement across the state. Only through community partnerships can law enforcement reduce crime and disorder at the local level,” said Commission Chair Sheriff Jerry Clayton, “The report will offer practical steps that can be taken to strengthen police community relations and enhance the legitimacy of law enforcement in Michigan.”

When completed, the report will offer a set of recommendations to strengthen public trust and confidence in law enforcement in communities across Michigan. The goal is to determine how residents and law enforcement can work together to make local communities safe and secure. The governor also directed MCOLES to “consider the status of community relationships and what factors can impact the public’s trust.” In order for the recommendations to be meaningful MCOLES is seeking input from residents across the state.

A short survey is now available online for residents to comment on how to advance police-community relations in their area. All communities are not the same and local residents have unique issues and concerns that need to be addressed. Responses will be organized and evaluated by Commission workgroups and the comments will form the basis for the final recommendations of the report.

To take the survey online, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ExeDir2016-2. The link will remain open until March 20, 2017.

Some items on the survey contain check-boxes while others seek open-ended comments. MCOLES wants residents to share their thoughts on how police community relations in their area can improve. But if relations are working well, MCOLES also wants to hear about success stories.

MCOLES also has established a special e-mail box so citizens can freely share general ideas. All comments will be considered but MCOLES wants respondents to focus on police community relations in their area. To submit general comments, or submit documents for consideration residents should send an email to MCOLES ExecDir2016-2@michigan.gov.

Those responding to the survey or e-mail box will not be identified personally. MCOLES asks for a zip code to ensure all areas of Michigan are surveyed and there are three questions that ask for gender, race, and age. The survey does not ask for names or other personal information.

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Robin sightings


Randy Spicer, of Solon Township, sent us the photo showing a tree full of robins. “On January 31st we spotted 15 robins in our apple trees. It was really neat to see them for two reasons,” he wrote. “That day was my grandpa Leon Covell’s 80th birthday! He always told me that when you see a robin spring is near.”

We certainly don’t know for sure, but according to Ranger Steve Mueller, it’s also possible they could be robins that wintered here. He said they saw 133 robins during the Christmas bird count. “Many stay around but mostly in swamp areas during the winter. They seek berries during the winter and show up in people’s yards feeding on crab apples and things like that,” he explained.

So whether they are newly arrived or whether they wintered here, 15 robins in trees is a sight to see!

For more on birds, visit our Outdoors section on page 8.

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Bolthouse property donated to CBDT

This photo shows the original brick home built by Bill Bolthouse Sr. in 1953, which adjoined the property he farmed that many call “the muck fields,” “onion fields,” or “carrot fields” on 17 Mile Rd, east of the city.

This photo shows the original brick home built by Bill Bolthouse Sr. in 1953, which adjoined the property he farmed that many call “the muck fields,” “onion fields,” or “carrot fields” on 17 Mile Rd, east of the city.

Bill Bolthouse Jr. and his wife, Nora.

Bill Bolthouse Jr. and his wife, Nora.

By Sue Wolfe

One of the advantages of small towns is the personal and trusting friendships that develop and are often carried through with future generations. Such is the case with the Bolthouse and Stout families.

Bill Bolthouse Sr. and Carl D. Stout were local business owners who also shared time together as friends in Cedar Springs starting in the late 1940s. Their sons, Bill Bolthouse Jr. and Leon Stout continued a relationship as fellow businessmen and friends. In 1953, Bill Bolthouse Sr. built the brick home located on 17 Mile Rd, about one mile east of town, adjoining property often referred to locally as the “muck farms” or “carrot fields.”  For many years the Bolthouse family raised carrots, celery, onions, and other crops in the fields running along both sides of 17 Mile Road east of the homestead. Bolthouse Farms was founded in 1915 in Grant, Michigan and sold the business to Madison Dearborn in 2005. Bill Bolthouse Jr. is a 3rd generation of farmers in his family and graduated from Cedar Springs High School (CSHS) in 1958 as part of the last graduating class from Hilltop School.

“My father was operating three farms in 1953. Cedar Springs was in the middle of the Grant and Sheridan locations, making it a desirable location for our home,” explained Bill Bolthouse Jr.

The Bolthouse family sold their home to the Russ and Angie Kniff Family but retained ownership of the farming land then deeded over to Bolthouse Farms and later Bolthouse Properties LLC. A few years ago, Bolthouse Properties LLC, now based out of Bakersfield California, put the 17 Mile Road farming property into a Wetlands Reserve Program overseen by the US Department of Agriculture, who holds a perpetual conservation easement deed.

“After graduating from CSHS, I left for college. Our family had a good life in Cedar Springs,” said Bolthouse Jr. “Upon college graduation, my wife Nora and I built a home on the Grant farm. When this opportunity to support Cedar Springs arose, I was happy to give back. I am also grateful Leon Stout assisted me in putting the property into a Land Conservation Reserve Program. This program not only preserves a natural green and animal habitat space for the community but also protects the trout beds where many locals enjoy fishing, including Leon Stout.”

About a year ago, Bill Bolthouse Jr. and Kevin Pike, owner of Bliss, Witters, and Pike Funeral Home and a nephew of the Bolthouses, were discussing the need for a Community Building in Cedar Springs. The discussion carried forward with long-time friend and local realtor Leon Stout, co-founder of Stout Group.

Leon stout with daughter Debra Stout and son Jon stout.

Leon stout with daughter Debra Stout and son Jon stout.

In early 2016, Bill Bolthouse Jr., Leon Stout, and Kurt Mabie, President of the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) began sharing ideas and options. In November 2016, the 195-acre property was appraised at $315,000 by John A. Meyer Appraisals Co. Then, in December 2016, Bill Bolthouse Jr. and Bolthouse Properties signed legal documents donating the property to the Community Building Development Team. Local businessman and attorney Thomas Cronkright Jr. donated his professional services thru Sun Title for the closing. The property will remain titled to the CBDT for three years, with a lease created for the purposes of fishing, hunting, and recreation to include an option to buy being overseen by Stout. The leasing party wishes to remain unnamed, but will be paying $10,000 per year. The funds earned from both the lease (after taxes and insurance) and eventual sale will be used to continue building the “Heart of Cedar Springs” on property owned by the City of Cedar Springs, which is located on the northwest corner of Main and Maple Streets, and surrounds the Community Library currently under construction. A community building, amphitheater, boardwalk along the creek, Veteran’s Clock tower, and more are included in the master site plan, but is dependent on donations from community members in order to be completed.

Leon Stout, along with his children and business partners, Debra Stout and Jon Stout, provided their professional real estate expertise and community-focused services at a greatly reduced fee for the transfer of property and leasing arrangement. Leon Stout hesitantly shared some of his interesting history within our community to include sailboat and piloting adventures. He has dabbled in beef farming and quarter horse racing. His hobbies include hunting, fishing and traveling around the world. Stout, now in his mid-80s, continues to stay active with his various business endeavors and is always looking for ways to serve a community that has provided him with generations of meaningful friendships that still carry on today.

“The Bolthouse property was a wonderful gift. The CBDTeam would like to thank Bill Bolthouse Jr, Leon Stout, and Kevin Pike for investing their time and resources for the greater Cedar Springs Community,” said Mabie. “These significant leaders will join the ranks of others that have chosen to leave a legacy and help to make the Cedar Springs Community even better,“ he added.

“All community members are encouraged to get involved by attending the one-hour monthly team meetings, monthly board meetings, and/or various other committee meetings. The CBDTeam needs each member of the community to share their ideas and help to find ways to complete the various opportunities. Each person has a special talent that can help bring this all together,” said Mabie.

The CBDT now meets at Creative Technology Academy (CTA) located at 350 Pine St on the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. while the board meets on the second Tuesday at CS Tool Engineering at 7 a.m. The various committee meetings are scheduled as needed. These open meetings allow residents to exchange suggestions and information.

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Mild winters are harsh on Michigan roads 


Unseasonably warm temperatures provide a nice break from Michigan’s long winter. But they also offer another break that’s not so nice. With each sustained warm-up, the roads that have been frozen begin to thaw from the surface downward, and the melting snow and ice saturate the ground. The roadbed, softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement, is more susceptible to damage during every significant thaw. A sustained thaw typically happens only once a year in the spring but not this year. Continuous temperatures above and below freezing have created several freeze-thaw cycles, which also create potholes.

“It’s normal to get a few days throughout the winter that are warmer than usual, but this year has been unusually sporadic,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “Extreme temperature fluctuations create many issues for road maintenance.”

Potholes are most prevalent during freeze/thaw cycles, when water penetrates the pavement surface and refreezes, pushing the pavement up. Vehicles then push the pavement back down, breaking it and starting a pothole.

“The quicker we know about where potholes are forming, the sooner we can get them patched,” added Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Engineer of Operations Mark Geib. “Patching them won’t last, but will help get us through until warmer temperatures are sustained.”

If you spot a pothole on an I-, US- or M-route, you can report it to the MDOT Pothole Hotline at 888-296-4546, by going online to MDOT’s “Report a Pothole” website at https://goo.gl/x6Rgo9 or by calling your local MDOT Transportation Service Center (TSC) or region office.

N-PotholesMDOT is not responsible for County or city/village roads. If you see a pothole on a county road that you’d like to have fixed, complete the online “Report an Issue” form at http://www.kentcountyroads.net/report-an-issue or call KCRC at 616-242-6950.

For potholes on local city/village roads, call the office of the city or village where you reside. In the City of Cedar Springs call the DPW at 696-1330. In the Village of Sand Lake, call 636-8854.

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Kick-Start the New Year with volunteering – for your own good

Hospice of Michigan volunteer Pierrette Templeton and her pug, Biwi, bring comfort and enjoyment to patients and families during a very difficult time. Templeton, who makes visits through the nonprofit’s pet therapy program, credits volunteering with “anchoring” her emotionally and spiritually.

Hospice of Michigan volunteer Pierrette Templeton and her pug, Biwi, bring comfort and enjoyment to patients and families during a very difficult time. Templeton, who makes visits through the nonprofit’s pet therapy program, credits volunteering with “anchoring” her emotionally and spiritually.

Most everyone begins the New Year with a resolution involving a healthier lifestyle. Many also pledge to give back to their communities. If you have welcomed in 2017 with one or both of these on your list, consider volunteering. From national foundations with Michigan chapters to grassroots community organizations, opportunities abound to make a difference in the lives of others. And Hospice of Michigan is one option.

Medical professionals report emotional, social and physical benefits for those who donate their time to worthy causes.  According to study findings shared by Health Fitness Revolution, the personal perks of volunteering include:

Building self-esteem and creating a sense of purpose

Volunteering can force you out of your comfort zone, which can help you grow as a person. It can also provide peace of mind by helping you meaningfully engage in a cause you can identify with and believe in.

“Volunteering at Hospice of Michigan provides me with an emotional connection to people that I wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Pierrette Templeton. “I was young when I lost my parents and grandparents, and have lacked the connection and emotional bonding that those relationships provide. My patients anchor me emotionally and spiritually with their stories, advice, worldviews and even just their presence. The fulfillment I receive from serving this community is so much more than the time and effort I give.”

Alison Wagner, Hospice of Michigan director of volunteer services and complementary therapies, shares how another volunteer cherishes moments with everyone she meets. With the passing of the volunteer’s father and the death of her precious granddaughter, she decided to volunteer in order to heal. She finds her involvement “extremely rewarding and a blessing in her own life.” With the special bonds and dear friendships she’s developed with her patients, she reports just sitting with someone is very gratifying for her.

Alleviating loneliness, reducing stress and instilling a sense of happiness

The social connections you make through volunteering can combat depression. And helping others can reduce general feelings of anxiousness and alienation. Volunteering also creates a sense of contentedness and positivity with studies supporting the notion that people who volunteer more often report being “very happy.”

“As a volunteer, you are the answer to someone’s prayer,” says Kathy Lodge, a Hospice of Michigan floral delivery volunteer. “When I deliver flowers to a hospice patient, it makes both of us happy. The look on their face when you hand a hospice patient a bouquet of flowers makes the whole room bright.”

While these emotional and social benefits are tremendous, most eye-opening is the impact volunteering can have on your physical well-being, including:

Cardiovascular health

Medical professionals identified a tentative link between volunteerism and a decreased risk of hypertension among adults 50 years or older. While the study did not identify a definitive link, it suggests the higher levels of physical activity and better mental health that come with volunteering are the reason.

Interestingly pet therapy, like that provided by Hospice of Michigan, is also credited with providing cardiovascular health benefits to seriously-ill patients. It’s additionally shown to lower blood pressure and lessen overall physical pain, as well as alleviate a host of emotional and social issues.

Wagner notes that volunteers who accompany therapy dogs on patient visits report their interactions with patients and families are, in the words of one, “rewarding beyond words” and that the recognition they receive for their volunteer efforts “pale in comparison to the personal encounters they’ve had with patients living out their last days.”

Lower mortality rates

Along with improving cardiovascular health, research has also linked volunteering with a longer life through the greater social support those who volunteer enjoy. Research further suggests volunteering for others enhances mortality five years down the road.

Whether it’s partnering with Hospice of Michigan or any of the hundreds of organizations across Michigan dedicated to enhancing life in the Great Lakes State, volunteering is certainly a path to health and happiness in the New Year.

For information about volunteer opportunities and upcoming training sessions, or to learn more about hospice and palliative care, call 888-247-5701 or visit www.hom.org.



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