Tag Archives: Isabella County

Meeting the community

Hey all, it’s been a while since my last post. Since October I’ve been keeping busy living the dream, doing freelance work and meeting some incredible people along the way. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to!

In October I had the honor of taking engagement photos for an old coworker of my fiance’s, in Port Huron, Michigan.

Erick and I actually met in Port Huron. It was really great not only being home, but getting to work with wonderful people in the place I love. Even though it was raining heavily that day, nothing could dampen Liz and Brennan’s spirits and we got some amazing shots at the Blue Water Bridge, Lighthouse Beach, and The Citadel Stage.

Per usual, Nori just waiting for me to finish editing engagement photos so that we can play.

Spanish teacher encourages language retention through communication

Later that month I was tasked with working on a story about a successful Spanish program at Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Nagazi is a band of brothers bonded by metal

I also got to cover a local metal band who were pursuing their dreams of making it big. They recently unleashed their third album and went on tour in November.

My sweet girl trying to stay up with me when I’m working late.

With a focus on research, Central Michigan University, is putting its stamp on the scientific world

I’ve always loved science, but it’s never been my strong suit. So when I was assigned to meet with and do a story on multiple researchers doing brilliant work at Central Michigan University I was excited, but admittedly also nervous. I was worried that some of the information I received in the interview would too technical and I wouldn’t have a full grasp on the concepts and therefore would have to ask a lot of additional questions to clarify. I was worried about looking like an idiot. Luckily, the researchers I met with spoke in layman’s terms and my fears were unnecessary.

Janet Strickler is driven by community

Janet Strickler, co-chair of the Mount Pleasant Women’s Initiative during its ‘Look Who’s Talking’ luncheon, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, which drew a record crowd of 450 attendees. The Mount Pleasant Women’s Initiative is an endowed fund of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation.

I first met Janet Strickler just before graduation when I had to do a story and a video with narration (link here). The nonprofit center in town was having an open house so that members of the public to get a closer look at the organizations housed at the center. Additionally, it was to formally launch the campaign to purchase the nonprofit center from Victory Church, from which it currently rents. Strickler made a lead contribution in honor of her late husband and she spoke at the open house. I remembered her specifically because she had me teary eyed when she spoke about her husband. She is truly a powerhouse with her involvement and philanthropic efforts and is such an asset to the community.

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Committed to Care

1114 W. High Street in Mount Pleasant, Michigan is a building that has worn many hats over the years. From church to homeless shelter, the building is now home to a nonprofit center where multiple organizations operate under one roof- all with the purpose of helping those in need.

On Thursday, April 5 the center hosted an open house and presentation to announce their campaign launch and reveal the center’s new name: The William Strickler Nonprofit Center.

The center is named after Mount Pleasant community member William “Bill” Strickler, who died in February. His family made a leading donation of $200,000 toward the campaign to honor his memory.

“A few weeks before he died, I asked him how he would like to be remembered if he did pass away,” said Janet Strickler, Bill’s widow, who spoke at the presentation. “His answer came swiftly. He said he would like to be remembered for lifting people up and for his friendships. He spent his life giving a lift to people who were struggling and needed a hand. Bill would be so happy to have his name attached to this center that is lifting people up every day. It is also giving our family the opportunity to take a negative and turn it into something totally positive.”

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A picture of the nonprofit center hangs over the fireplace in the newly named William Strickler Nonprofit Center located at 1114 W. High Street in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

The $1 million campaign aims to purchase the building outright from Victory Church who owns the building and leases it under a lease-to purchase agreement to the United Way of Gratiot and Isabella Counties.

“We want to foster strong collaboration among key social service agencies by developing a shared physical space and cooperative interactions,” said Amanda Schafer, Executive Director of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) during her announcement at the open house. “First we want to address the most pressing needs of a large proportion of citizens in Isabella County living in or near poverty. Second we want to create synergies throughout the community so that we can reduce the poverty levels in Isabella County over time. We want to take it to that next level- how do we move people out of needing the services provided here at the center?  We need to continue our short-term support but also effectively implement programs to reduce poverty levels.”

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 report states that in Isabella County, 23.4% of the 71,282 residents are living in poverty.

According to Schafer, as of Tuesday, April 10, the campaign has raised over $647,000 toward this $1 million goal.

The William Strickler Nonprofit Center is home to the Isabella County Restoration House (ICRH), Community Compassion Network (CCN), Clothing INC, and The Care Store.

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Renee Benner, a guest at the Isabella County Restoration House (ICRH), greets visitors as they arrive for the open house at the William Strickler Nonprofit Center on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

The center offers access to groceries through CCN, clothing through Clothing, INC., home supplies and hygiene products through The Care Store, and day shelter services through the ICRH.

 

Ryan Griffus is the Executive Director for ICRH and has noticed a significant difference in efficiency since the organizations came together under one roof.

“Last year I’d come in at intake, ask everybody what they need for clothing, take down these lists, drive down to the clothing closet across town, fill bags and bags of clothes and deliver them,” said Griffus. “It was labor intensive and cumbersome. That’s one example of how the creation of the center we have is so efficient. You get somebody in who has multiple needs and we can start to chip away within minutes we are addressing very emergent needs. What’s good about that is that it takes that initial worry off of the person who’s coming in, which is the most important, it makes them feel comfortable and cared for immediately, but also frees up our staff to be able to do different things now.”

For information on how to donate visit the MPACF’s website here.