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Tag Archive | "Pay it forward"

Cedar View student pays it forward

By Judy Reed

Jaiden Thompson and ASD teacher Emily Strunk. Courtesy photo.

A Cedar View Elementary student with a big heart gave a teacher there a Christmas present that she will never forget. 

Teacher Emily Strunk teaches in the regional Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classroom at Cedar View. Jaiden Thompson, 11, is a fifth-grader in Miss Tanner’s class who volunteers in the ASD classroom, and decided she wanted to do something special for Strunk and the class. So with the help of her parents, Chris and Melissa Thompson, of Solon Township, Jaiden started a fundraiser to help Strunk buy supplies for the classroom.

 “I work in the classroom, and see how hard she works, and I’ve made lots of friends, so thought this gave me an opportunity to give back,” explained Jaiden.

Jaiden spoke with her parents about how she wanted to do something, and ultimately she decided on a fundraiser, which they posted on Facebook. “The goal was $100, and we reached that in the first hour,” explained Jaiden’s mom, Melissa. “So we kept it going about a month.” They eventually raised $725, which they spent on gift cards for Strunk. But the teacher was unaware it was happening.

“This year I took a leap, a big one,” Strunk said about teaching in the ASD room. “It has been emotional. I have laughed, cried, and learned a lot.” She said that on the day she found out about the gift (December 19), it was no different. She was dealing with a tough issue and her principal came and got her and said, “We need you.”

“Usually, this is never good,” said Strunk. “I walked into Miss Tanner’s room, and everyone was quiet. I was so confused. Then a fifth grade student (Jaiden) read me a letter. Her letter said that this year she wanted to do something special for such a special class of friends so she raised $725 for my classroom! I was blown away. Not only did she raise a ton of money but knowing that my kids have a whole classroom and community of people that care about them is the best feeling ever,” she remarked.

Strunk called it one of the most memorable moments of her teaching career. 

“She had no idea,” recalled Jaiden. “She cried a little bit. She was very surprised.”

It makes Jaiden feel good, too, to know she’s done something to help others. “The day I gave it to her I felt really happy inside. I would definitely do it again,” she said.

Jaiden’s parents are proud of her, but also aren’t surprised. “Chris and I are both very proud of her,” explained Melissa, “but giving isn’t something new to her. Two to three times a year we go through our closets and donate to Women at Risk. In Girl Scouts, she always wants to be a good Girl Scout. She’s always doing something for others.”

“It is our sincerest hope that Jaiden’s hard work will inspire others to do the same for others,” added Jaiden’s dad, Chris.

For Strunk, Jaiden’s generosity just proves something she already knows. “If you ever doubt humanity you should come spend a few minutes in our school,” she remarked. “Our students will show you empathy, acceptance, compassion, friendship and so much more; we will restore your faith.”

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Earl C. “Squirrel” Smith age 72 of Comstock Park, passed away Monday, January 15, 2018 at his home surrounded by his family. Earl was born December 24, 1945 in Grant, Michigan the son of Walter and Sarah (Eaton) Smith. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and loved riding his motorcycle. He and JoAnn enjoyed spending the winters in Florida, where he loved to deep sea fish. He worked 32 years at the Sparta Foundry. Earl was a role model and father figure to many people other than his children. He brought light, love and laughter to everyone he met and will be greatly missed. Earl is survived by his wife JoAnn (Henry); children, Richard Smith, Penny Grindle, Bryan Batchelder, Tammy (Dan) Longtine; 12 grandchildren; papa to 8 great-grandchildren; brothers, Edgar (Leora) Smith, Everette (Alice) Smith; sisters and brothers-in-law, John Chaplin, Shirley (Larry) Crusan, Sandy Oros, Roger (Diane) Henry; many nieces and nephews; best friend of 45 years, Ed (Rosalind) McIntyre. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Eloise and Arnold Fields, Elizabeth and Richard Oaks, Erma and Orie Veltkamp, and Eleanor Chaplin; grandson, Joshua Grindle. The family will greet friends Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Saturday 11:00 a.m. Viewing will begin Saturday 10:00 a.m. His godson Brandon Fenske officiating. In memory of Earl, please pay it forward to someone in need.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Pay it forward this season

Solon-Center-Wesleyan-webRev. Chadrick Brown

Solon Center Wesleyan Church

15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs 

(just north of 19 Mile)



A little while ago, I started watching a movie that I hadn’t seen in a long time. It came out back in 2000 and even back then it was a good movie that had the potential to really move people. What’s the movie? Pay It Forward. Have you seen it? Have you watched it again recently?

Even though the movie is not a Christmas movie, let alone a new release, it has some great things for us to remember this Christmas season. This movie is simply about the random acts of kindness started by a young boy who had a simple dream to make the world a kinder place. He wanted to start a new world order where random acts of kindness would be passed from one person to another until the whole world became one big happy family. What a great idea.

Isn’t this what Christmas is all about? Acts of kindness. Acts of love. Acts of gentleness. Acts that encourage other people. Can I tell you something? The very first Christmas was no random act of kindness. It was a deliberate act of love. God sent His son to this world to show you how much He loves you. Now that is something incredible to realize. But we can do more than just realize it; we can experience it, feel it and share it.

So, I want to encourage you. Go do some random acts of kindness. Be a part of making our community feel like a family. Help someone, say a kind word, smile more.  Look into people’s eyes when they are talking and be kind. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I also want to encourage you in this way: the next time you do your random act of kindness, do it with God in mind. Because when we do something on behalf of God, we begin to imitate Him in a profound and wonderful way. We start to become what God desires each of us to become, people that look out and help other people. People that care for each other. People that encourage each other.

The teacher in the movie Pay It Forward gave this young boy a chance to do something great. God has given us the same chance to do some great things as well. This Christmas season, let’s be deliberate about our kindness and remember that it all started with God sending us His Son.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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C-obit-tetzlaffWilliam Frederick Tetzlaff, age 75 passed away, Saturday, August 20, 2016, from lung cancer, in his home at the lake surrounded by loved ones. Bill was one of seven children born to William and Marion Tetzlaff on March 14, 1941 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As the eldest son he was expected to work in the family grocery store where he learned his butchering skills and developed a strong work ethic – it’s where he also developed hands of steel and the superman strength that took Belding’s football team to the Championships and ultimately the Hall of Fame. After graduating from Creston High School, he entered the US Navy and worked on a supply ship during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He came home to West Michigan and began his civilian life as a butcher at D & W and finally found his calling as a fireman for the city of East Grand Rapids retiring as a public safety officer. This was not his only job; on days off he was a Jack of all Trades including butcher, window washer, tree cutter, house painter, chicken slayer, and the list continues. The man could fix anything with duct tape & wire – he was the original MacGyver. Along with working hard, he played hard; hunting for sport and to provide “mystery meat” for his family as well as fishing, camping, playing cards, and whatever adventure resulted from having five kids. What we all most appreciated about our dad is he accepted us for who we are and we could count on his unconditional love, loyalty & support. He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Deborah; grandson, Kyle; his parents and brother-in-law, Geary Rummler. He is survived by his five children, whom he shared with his former wife, Sandy (Wiersum) Lyon (now deceased); Dawn Wolfe (Mark), Amber Toews (Kirk), Amy Wiersema (Ray), Billy Tetzlaff (Colette) and Jennifer Dunleavy (Jim). His grandchildren who he loved to throw high into the sky – missing only occasionally; Ashley (Joel), Brittany (David), Owen (Rosey), Justin (Angelina), Morgan (Tim), Nick, Paige, Mikey, Beth(John), Kymber (Aaron). He also leaves behind 12 great-grandchildren; Anthony, Ava, Molly, Hendrix, Reese, Sadie, Elianna, Tyler, Adalynn, Zaden, Melaina, Ryker, and another due in October. His Magnificent 6 siblings, Margaret, Richard (Jane), Charles (Karen), Sue (Chris), Christine (Dave), Connie (Gary), stepsisters, Bonnie, Shari (Tim), and stepmother, Sally. Bill loved his place on the lake and the friends he had there were like family. Their support during his illness is appreciated beyond words. A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 26, 5:00 p.m. at the Wabasis Lake Park Shelterhouse, 11220 Springhill Dr, Greenville. Cremation has taken place. The family will be available for visitation two hours prior to the service, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., with dinner to follow. In lieu of flowers, and in the spirit of his unending generosity to others, please perform a random act of kindness or pay it forward in his memory.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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Little people can do BIG things

Connor Schaffer (right) and his brother Spencer are excited about the celebration at Howard Christensen Nature Center.

Student’s donation provides inspiration to Nature Center

On June 28, Connor Schaffer presented a check to the Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. Board of Advisors for $150. Although this donation may not be the biggest received by the new non-profit that is now managing the Howard Christensen Nature Center, its significance is huge. Connor is 10 years old!
His mother, Jennifer Schaffer, is proud of her son. “It is important for kids to know that they can make a difference; it doesn’t have to always be the grown-ups,” she said. The Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. Board members agreed whole-heartedly and celebrated Connor’s inspirational efforts with a framed certificate of appreciation and a special cake. Connor was also recognized by Fox17 News as their “Pay It Forward” Person of the Week on June 24.

Connor’s involvement with the nature center started when all of the third grade classes at Chandler Woods Charter Academy visited Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) for a field trip in the fall. Connor was very disappointed when he heard that the nature center was closing this past winter due to a funding shortage and he wanted to take action.

Connor made donation boxes and signs and talked to his entire school about the nature center’s plight. The students did extra chores around the house to earn money to donate. Their teacher, Mrs. Lopez, even put out a challenge to match dollar for dollar what the kids turned in for the day! When Connor and his class heard the news that Lily’s Frog Pad was going to re-open and manage HCNC, they were happy to know that the nature center will be around for other kids to come and enjoy.

Day camp programs are scheduled this summer and field trips will resume in the fall. More information about Howard Christensen Nature Center programs can be found at www.lilysfrogpad.com.

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Paying it forward

McKenzie Noga and the supplies she raised for Bellowood dog rescue in the “pay it forward” challenge.

Local dog rescue benefits from 10-year-old’s love of animals

By Judy Reed

It’s amazing what someone can do with $2 in seed money. Just ask Lisa Falcinelli, a fourth-grade teacher at Cedar View.
In conjunction with Martin Luther King Day, Falcinelli gave the 28 children in her class $2 in seed money and challenged them to find something they were passionate about and make a difference, the way King did.
Falcinelli said the children thought both globally and locally. One child collected gently used teddy bears and sent them to children in Haiti, and used the $2 for postage. Another collected supplies for people in the military going overseas. Another shoveled driveways to raise money for a friend in need.

McKenzie Noga and Kim Schreuder of Bellowood Dog Rescue.

“It was amazing to see the things they did,” remarked Falcinelli, “especially McKenzie. The magnitude of what she was able to do with $2 was incredible.”
That student is McKenzie Noga, 10, daughter of Tim and Angie Noga of Cedar Springs. Being an animal lover, she knew she wanted to do something with animals. “We started asking around, and put it out there on Facebook,” explained Tim. “And someone suggested Bellowood. It turns out they are right down the road from us.”
Bellowood, owned by Kim Schreuder, is an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of abandoned, abused, and unwanted dogs from all over the country, with a focus on dogs in our own community. They provide medical care, training, evaluations, and rehabilitation to our canine friends who have suffered and been left homeless.
Knowing this would be a good organization to help, McKenzie began getting donations of food and other pet supplies from people and businesses around the area. And on Sunday, February 6, she and her parents and her teacher delivered $75 worth of supplies to Bellowood.
“It was amazing,” said Schreuder, who was touched by McKenzie’s thoughtfulness, and her initiative. “I’m so tickled by this experience!”
McKenzie was excited, too. “I got to help worm some of the puppies,” she explained. She also hopes to go back to help out.
At the end of the visit, McKenzie gave Schreuder an envelope with the original $2 in it and asked her to pay it forward.
“Bellowood plans to pay it forward in the same way by collecting things for—what better? A cat rescue!” remarked Schreuder. She said they chose Reuben’s Room in Grand Rapids as the one that is most in need.
McKenzie had a word of advice for those who might want to try paying it forward. “Try it once. You can make a difference in the world,” she said.

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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