Second 2022 Service Scholarship Winner Announced

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we’ve launched the Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship in hopes of recognizing High School Seniors with dreams of pursuing a career in service.

Careers Include:

  • Military
  • Teachers & Educators
  • Government & Politics
  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • First Responders
  • Doctors & Nurses

We received dozens of applicants and examined each one closely. We learned about their goals and aspirations, the community service they completed and impacts they made in West Michigan and how they plan to give back to those that need it most.

We assembled a Scholarship Committee to select our 2022 winners. Two West Michigan graduates will receive $1,000 to further their education.

HannahAfter much consideration, Michigan Mortgage is pleased to announce Hannah DeVrou, a 2022 Allendale High School Graduate, as a winner of this year’s Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship.

She said the following in her application.

“To me, service is giving to another without them needing to request it. Helping someone in any way you can think of. Service could be as simple as cutting a neighbor’s grass or being there for a friend through a hard season. Service is the most genuine way to show someone that you love them. Service is giving your time to someone else instead of using it on yourself. Service is the most fulfilling way to assist another.”

“I hope to impact our local community in the future by committing wholeheartedly to my career path. By choosing nursing as a major and future career, I am choosing to serve our local community every day I walk into my workplace. Nurses and other Healthcare workers are willing to risk their lives daily by putting themselves in harm’s way to be of service to their community, and I strive for that in my own life. I also plan to volunteer within my community as I do now, making a positive impact on every person I interact with. I plan to serve with the youth of my local church for years to come, mentoring and being a positive influence on young minds.”

Hannah plans to attend the Davenport University and major in Nursing.

“My career goal is to be a Registered Nurse working in a post-operative, pediatric care center,” she said. “I’ve got my hopes set on Helen Devos!”

“This scholarship will impact my studies by helping me save for and afford the schooling to achieve this goal! I am so excited to have been gifted this scholarship and am delighted to use the funding to give back to my community.”

Congratulations, Hannah! You are so deserving of this recognition.

Rob and Jill Garrison

Married to Mortgages: Jill Garrison’s Perspective

Rob Garrison has been in the mortgage business for 25 years. His wife, Jill, has been by his side for every transaction, milestone, achievement, and celebration.

She truly is his biggest cheerleader.

Rob and Jill Garrison“Working together is one of the best parts of my life,” Jill said. “Rob has such a zest for life, for learning and improving and inspiring others to believe in themselves and their dreams. His growth mindset coupled with his ability to be so present is a gift to me, as it is to our family and our Michigan Mortgage team and our Realtor partners.”

“I love how much he himself gets inspired and excited about working with his amazing team. We both kind of think of ourselves as the Mom and Dad to these amazing humans that we get to work with and have fun with each day.”

At Michigan Mortgage, the work is never done. Rob works nights and weekends to help his clients achieve the American Dream. His cell phone is never far from his hip – he is happy to educate and serve at all times of the day.

We believe his communication and commitment to our mission has helped him guide more than 5,000 clients home.

Rob gets excited about every single client that he and his team have the privilege to serve,” Jill said. “Underlying each mortgage, he has a deep belief that having a home is a foundation that family and security is built on. I think his knowledge and integrity along with his willingness to go to bat and dig deep for each of his clients sets him apart and is the reason he has built such a wonderful, loyal following.”

Rob and Dave have built something really special here at Michigan Mortgage. Jill is the first to recognize the accomplishment and celebrate the achievement. She is so proud of her husband!

“I am proud of Rob for many things looking back on the 25 years he and Dave have been building Michigan Mortgage,” Jill said. “Rob has such a strong desire to make Michigan Mortgage a workplace that provides an incredibly supportive and empowering environment. Maybe more importantly, he is driven to make Michigan Mortgage a place that spills over into our employee’s lives…in a way that enhances their lives at home, with their families, and in the community.”

“I am probably most proud of the team that they have built over the years,” she said. “We seriously have the most amazing humans that come to work with such exuberance, commitment, and enthusiasm for what they do. They all work so hard, are committed to excellence, positivity and serving our clients so that they have an exceptional experience. So, the culture that they have built and continues to grow and cultivate is extraordinary and extra special.”

Rob Garrison

Who is Rob Garrison?

Rob Garrison is a husband, father, brother, son, and a Mortgage Loan Officer.

Rob GarrisonHe’s also a leader, learner and business partner. This year, he’s celebrating his 25th year in the Mortgage Industry with his partner and co-branch manager, Dave Lehner. Together, they’ve formed an unstoppable team.

In honor of their 25th year in business, we sat down with Dave to talk more about the “outgoing guy” he met back in high school.

Join us as we get to know Rob Garrison from Dave Lehner’s perspective.

Michigan Mortgage: What was your first impression of Rob?

Dave: I thought Rob was a sharp, outgoing guy. I remember hanging out with him when we were with mutual friends and we got along great even though I was from the rival school. I soon learned that Rob was very motivated and he had so many great traits.

Rob is very detailed and organized. He’s a forward thinker and I could tell right away he was a self-starter and had potential to be a great leader and owner.

MM: You’ve been in business with Rob for 25 years. How has he changed? What has stayed the same?

Dave: In the beginning, we both worked out of our homes. We were trying to build a clientele and bring in business. Rob was always there for me and we’d brainstorm to figure out ways to make the mortgage process better, faster and easier.

We learned the business without much training so we leaned on each other for support. Rob has been the best business partner I could have! He has not changed in his/our vision, his commitment and his desire to keep growing the company the right way.

MM: What makes Rob a great Loan Officer?

Dave: Rob is an honest person with a big heart! He is there for his clients to help guide them, educate them and make sure they are doing the best thing for their unique situation. When he looks at mortgage loan options with clients, he always acts as a friend looking out for them.

MM: What makes Rob a great Leader?

Dave: Rob is a reader! He loves to read and he reads a lot of business books and brings the ideas he learns to the company. We have implemented many of those ideas to make us better personally and professionally. Rob has a clear vision and is very good at expressing that vision to the staff. He leads people by empowering them in their roles at the company.

MM: I’m sure 25 years in business together has created a few good memories. Can you share your favorite?

Dave: I have so many stories and they all make me smile. When we first started having Christmas parties, we hosted them in the basement at my house. One year we played “Let’s Make a Deal” and both of our wives bought goldfish as one of the prizes behind the doors. We had a little too much to drink that night and ended up tipping over the fish. Rob and I tried to give a speech and it turned out so bad! It was a fun night and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I am so thankful that I met Rob when I was 16 years old! And I’m so thankful he is my business partner; I consider him a true friend and will for the rest of my life.

I would not be where I am today without you, Rob. I love you!

Dave Lehner

Who is Dave Lehner?

Dave Lehner is a husband, father, son, Papa and a Mortgage Loan Officer.

Dave LehnerHe’s also a leader, encourager and business partner. This year, he’s celebrating his 25th year in the Mortgage Industry with his partner and co-branch manager, Rob Garrison. Together, they’ve formed an unstoppable team.

In honor of their 25th year in business, we sat down with Rob to talk more about the “hard-working guy” he met back in high school.

Join us as we get to know Dave Lehner from Rob Garrison’s perspective.

Michigan Mortgage: What was your first impression of Dave?

Rob: I knew Dave a bit from high school. We went to rival schools and played sports against one another. I knew Dave to be fun and outgoing and engaging with people. What I did not know was that he was such a hard worker.

Dave initially worked the Grand Rapids market. He would drive to Grand Rapids every day and knock on Realtors’ doors until they gave him a deal. Before long, they LOVED him and they were knocking on his door! In short order, Dave was working with some of the top agents in the business! A few years into our partnership, Dave began working more in Muskegon. Dave seems to know everyone in Muskegon and it was natural to work where he lives and plays.

MM: You’ve been in business with Dave for 25 years. How has he changed? What has stayed the same?

Rob: In the beginning, we worked mostly independently. We hired many loan officers and tried to teach them the business and had very little support staff. As our branch grew, we decided that we should build more of a cohesive branch where we played the role of managers and developed teams of support rather than multiple loan officers. This was the best move we ever made. We were able to build Core Values, Culture and a brand that we had not been able to achieve previously.

MM: What makes Dave a great Loan Officer?

Rob:  Dave loves people. He loves helping folks buy their first home, save money in a refi or access equity. He thrives when he can meet face to face and develop long lasting relationships. Clients love working with him because they trust him.

MM: What makes Dave a great Leader?

Rob: Dave has the ability to take the perspective of the employee and anticipate how they will feel about policy changes. He fights to keep the culture fun and personal even as we grow. When things get too “corporate” Dave keeps it real.

MM: I’m sure 25 years in business together has created a few good memories. Can you share your favorite?

Rob: When the mortgage market collapsed in 2008, we transitioned from a Mortgage Broker to a Mortgage Banker. In pursuit of that we flew to Dallas to discuss working for a large company headquartered there. When we arrived, we were immediately picked up by their recruiter and headed to the bar. From there we went to another bar and then another. In Dallas you go big or go home.

Dave was there for the FULL experience. The next morning, we had six or seven meetings with different department heads. I was asking every question I could think of and by the second or third meeting, Dave glared over at me as if to say, “I am dying here, if you ask another question, I will kill you.” He then ended the meeting abruptly and ran to the nearest trash can. He blamed the sushi but it was definitely the drinks.

Celebrating 25 Years in the Mortgage Business

2021 is a big year for all of us at Michigan Mortgage, but even more so for our fearless leaders, Dave Lehner and Rob Garrison.

For Dave and Rob, 2021 celebrates their 25th year working together in the mortgage business. That’s a huge feat! And it’s one that we are so incredibly proud of.

To celebrate this honor, we sat down with Dave and Rob to talk all things mortgage. We talked about what has (and has not) changed and why our commitment to our customers is still the most important thing. Enjoy!

Michigan Mortgage: You’ve been a Mortgage Loan Officer for 25 years. How has the business changed?

Rob: The biggest change I’ve noticed is the accessibility of financing for more people at more consistent and transparent fees. When we started 25 years ago, it was the Wild West. Lenders were charging outrageous fees and rates for people that had less than perfect credit or low down payments. Government regulation and accessibility to more programs has allowed more people to realize the American dream with more consistent, transparent and more reasonable terms.

Dave: The business is much faster paced, but we also have more technology, systems, and programs to help our clients and staff. With our new Pro Snap App people can apply on their cell or computer and we can work through the process almost entirely paperless. Fifteen years ago, this would never have been possible, let alone 25 years ago. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the education and communication that we give our clients so they understand their options and what programs are available to them.

MM: By the sounds of it, the industry has changed for the better. More people are able to achieve the American Dream using a much more efficient process. Technology is key here. Tell me about the technology you used in 1994 and how it compares to the technology available to you in 2021.

Rob: The biggest change in the last 25 years has been with technology. Back in the day, everything was hand written and wet signed. We collected all documentation, made photo copies, snail mailed everything to an underwriter and received an approval back by fax. Today, most everything can be handled with an app or computer. While there has been some personal touch lost, the convenience for clients is undeniable.

Dave: Technology is a huge factor in today’s business. We have systems in place which give us notices on rate updates so we can lock rates before they go up. We have Pro Snap so clients can just click to sign their loan documents from their cell phones or laptop instead of printing or coming into the office to sign.  We have office computer systems to help the staff process the loan faster and to be more efficient. The only technology I had when I started in my basement was a pager, cell phone, computer, printer and a fax machine. I would have to print all the loan documents, meet the client at the Realtor’s office to have them sign, then go to Staples to make a copy and overnight them to the underwriter and wait 3 to 5 days to get a faxed approval.

MM: Wow. It sounds like so much has changed! Let’s close with this. What’s the most important or most memorable thing you’ve learned over the past 25 years?

Rob: The mortgage business is about serving people with trustworthy reliable advice and execution. Consumers want a fair deal, great communication and an easy process. They want to be able to trust the lender they are working; trust that the lender has their best interest in mind and trust that the lender is capable and competent in what they are doing. Systems and processes are extremely important to deliver the service levels that clients expect but it is still about relationships with people.

Dave: This is a high pressure, fast paced business. I have dealt with a lot of people over the years between Realtors, buyers, sellers, appraisers, title companies, inspectors and many other individuals that are related to the real estate industry. There are so many different personalities, deadlines, and pressures to make the contract close date and it takes all of us working together to help the clients achieve their goals of home ownership. One thing I know for sure is that I’m the same kind and humble person who loves working with my clients and staff every day.

We plan to celebrate our 25th Anniversary all year long, so stay tuned for more content (and even a few flashback photos) to commemorate Dave and Rob’s journey in the business. Cheers!

It’s Story Time

Our friends at 92.1 WGHN are hosting Story Time. Have you been tuning in?

We teamed up with the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors to sponsor the daily segment with Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Tune in at 8:40 a.m. Monday – Friday to hear some of our favorite stories.

Press play below and enjoy a few sweet stories with your family.

More stories are available here. 

Happy Healthy with Hadlee: Connecting with Nature

Earlier this month, we hosted a Zoom Class focused on health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were joined by Health and Lifestyle Change Coach Hadlee Garrison – she had a ton of helpful information to share.

Here are some of Hadlee’s suggestions that we found to be most helpful during this difficult time.

Michigan Mortgage: Welcome back! We appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us!

Can you explain why our mental and physical health are so connected? Why are they so intertwined?

Hadlee: Often we think of a distinction between our physical health and our emotions, mental clarity, moods, and thoughts. But in actuality, our physical and mental health are inextricably connected.

The way we feel physically impacts our moods and emotions in both tangible and subtle ways. Physical injuries and disease can result in mental health issues. A less obvious but common example of this is overeating and experiencing lethargy, grumpiness, and/or mental fog.

And the way we think and feel mentally and emotionally can also manifest physically. This can be seen when a person experiences the placebo effect and is healed of a physical malady without actually getting the treatment they think they’re getting. It can also show up as physical disease down the road after years of repressed emotion or trauma.

While modern health sciences have historically focused only on physical health, we are finally seeing more attention given to the significant effects mental health plays not only in day-to-day quality of life but also in the physical health of all individuals.

It only makes sense that whatever is happening in one part of the body could create a cascade of effects to another part of the body. The brain is part of the body, so it can affect the rest of the body in both negative and positive ways, and vice versa. For a long time, we believed that the mind and the body didn’t really affect each other, but now modern research shows just how much we’ve overlooked the mind-body connection and how much each affects the other.

MM: This is so fascinating! One thing we talked about a lot on our call is the importance of getting out and enjoying nature. Can you explain that a little bit?

H: Time spent in nature is linked to a whole host of physical and mental benefits. It can:

  • Lower stress
  • Increase mental acuity and attention
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Increase levels of cancer-fighting “natural killer cells” in the body
  • Activate neural pathways associated with calm
  • Decrease levels of depression and anxiety
  • Enhance immune function

It really is so important to be intentional about getting outside right now, especially since we might be less likely to get outside during Shelter in Place because we aren’t going as many places.

Bonus: Pair your time in nature with movement for added health benefits!

MM: Tell us more about movement! Why is it so important for mental and physical health?

H: Movement is so important for both our physical and mental health. It’s not just about creating a physically fit body. Moving your body is incredibly important for:

  • Decreasing risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Strengthening bones and muscles and decreasing injury as you age
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing resilience to stress
  • Improving moods throughout the day
  • Reducing risk for depression and anxiety.
  • Improving the structure and function of the brain, making you more mentally clear and focused and allowing you to learn information and make decisions with more clarity and ease.

MM: Thank you for your guidance! If people would like more information, or to connect with your directly, how can they do that?

H: Sign up for a 30-minute Health Goals Session, where we’ll talk about your health and life goals, challenges, and priorities, as well as next steps for achieving your wellness goals.

If you want to work with me further, you can indicate that on your Health Goals Session application. Here is the description for my Happy Healthy Habits program, where they can take a look at what I do with my clients and what I might be able to do for them if we find we’re a good fit for each other.

And if you want more tips, inspiration, advice, and other fun stuff, you can follow and/or direct message me on Instagram or Facebook @happyhealthyhadlee, or sign up for my newsletter. I respond to all questions and inquiries with as much support as I can, and welcome communication, especially during these challenging times. My passion is helping and empowering people to take control of their own wellbeing and life, so reach out and I’ll do whatever I can to help!

Happy Healthy with Hadlee: Coping During Coronavirus

Earlier this month, we hosted a Zoom Class focused on health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were joined by Health and Lifestyle Change Coach Hadlee Garrison – she had a ton of helpful information to share.

Here are some of Hadlee’s suggestions that we found to be most helpful during this difficult time.

Michigan Mortgage: Thanks for joining us (again)! For those that missed our Zoom Class, can you tell us about the importance of health and wellness during this difficult time?

H: It’s so important right now to implement healthy routines each day in order to feel purposeful and have the structure to feel less stressed and more grounded. Otherwise our days seem to blur together and it can feel like we’re just trying to keep our heads above water. And that doesn’t even include all the other ways healthy routines can positively impact our physical and mental health during this time!

So many emotions are likely to arise right now. There are things we can do in the moment to cope with difficult emotions, and there are things we can do preemptively to build resilience so we can cope with future emotions in a healthy and fulfilling way.

MM: During our class, you mentioned the “RAIN” technique. Can you explain that a little bit?

H: In the moment, we can practice acknowledging and working through our emotions through a concept called RAIN, which stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-Identification.

  • Recognize: Turn toward your emotions with acceptance. Identify the emotion arising and acknowledge the physical sensation that accompanies it.
  • Allow: Allow the experience to be there just as it is. Accept that the emotion is there without denying it. Recognize that emotions are impermanent, and that even if it feels overwhelming in the moment, it will soon pass.
  • Investigate: Get compassionately curious with your emotions. You can ask yourself: ‘What triggered this emotion? Why do I feel this way right now?’
  • Non-identification: Practice non-identification, remembering that you’re not your thoughts, feelings, or emotions. You might be having a thought, feeling, or emotion, but you are not it. You are the observer of whatever is going on in your brain. Allow that to provide some relief.

MM: Thank you! I really think people can benefit from using that technique.

You are a wealth of knowledge, and I know we could go on for hours about this, but before we go, can you share a few health habits people can establish right now?

H: For being more mentally and physically resilient to stressors and viruses right now, we can practice tangible health habits. I suggest only choosing a few so as to not overwhelm yourself during this potentially stressful time, and sticking to those things consistently.

  • Pay attention to how your body feels: If you’re not aware of how your body feels, it’s hard to give it what it needs. Take time to feel your physical sensations: hunger, satiation, thirst, temperature, emotions, etc.
  • Sleep: Get enough high-quality sleep. You can’t make optimal decisions when you’re sleep deprived, and your brain will always work better when you’re well-rested. This is the most beneficial thing you can do for anxiety AND immunity!
  • Move: Being intentional about moving your body is now more important than ever, as we might be doing a lot less of it by default. Intermittent movement throughout your day helps improve both physical and mental health, as addressed below.
  • Nourish your body: Stick to foods that nourish your physical and mental health: namely vegetables, fruit, and other whole, unprocessed foods. Decrease consumption of processed and refined foods, alcohol, caffeine, etc., and drink enough water! Food can be a challenge during Shelter in Place. While it’s helpful to have nutrition knowledge and guidelines around how our bodies use food optimally, listen to your own body. Tap into hunger/ satiation cues to feed yourself well, and notice how different foods make you feel to empower future decision-making.
  • Breathe: Breathing seems like a given, but did you know that you can use your breath to actually alleviate anxiety? Try extending your exhale longer than your inhale for an immediate decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Ground down with nature: Connecting with nature is medicine against anxiety and fear. Try walking in the woods or exploring your backyard. If you can’t leave your house, look outside your window or grow a potted plant.
  • Schedule screen time: Put away the devices for designated periods of time each day, including consuming the news. You can still set aside time to get informed each day, but being constantly inundated with information about coronavirus isn’t helpful for your mental, physical, or emotional health.
  • Connect: Just because we’re physically distant doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant too! It’s important to be intentional about our social interactions right now. Video chatting, phone calls, and good old-fashioned letter writing can be incredibly refreshing and invigorating.
  • Help: The fastest path to feeling a sense of purpose? Helping another person!
  • Leave some space: Give yourself enough space in your day/schedule. Even in quarantine, we need down time to do something simply for the sake of enjoyment.
  • Be kind to yourself: Cut yourself a little bit of slack: this is collectively a stressful and uncertain time, so allow yourself to not get everything done, to fall apart, to use kind words when talking to yourself.

MM: We can’t thank you enough! Stay well, Hadlee!

Stay tuned – we will share more from Hadlee in the coming weeks.

Story Time with Grand Haven Area Public Schools


Our friends at 92.1 WGHN are hosting Story Time and we are so excited to be involved!

We teamed up with the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors to sponsor the daily segment with Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Tune in at 8:40 a.m. Monday – Friday to hear some of our favorite stories.

Story Time’s first episode aired this morning. Press play below and enjoy a sweet story with your family.

Health and Wellness

Life Outside of Loans: It’s All About Escapism

My kids and I are obsessed with the new Animal Crossing game.

All my waking hours outside of work have been dedicated to fishing, selling turnips and hunting tarantula. I’m not proud to admit the amount of time we’ve collectively spent building up our new island home.

It has struck me how quickly I became reliant on the game for entertainment, a sense of accomplishment, and even something to bond with my kids over. I’ve wondered why it’s felt so important in my life, and clearly, it’s all about escapism.

Health and WellnessWe look for answers outside of ourselves and our homes, external ways to feel better. Some are healthy outlets (gym memberships, meditation classes), and others aren’t always healthy (Animal Crossing, retail therapy, going to the bar).

Now we’re suddenly stuck at home for weeks on end with restrictions and pressures that most adults have never had to face. We’re adapting to working outside of the office, or not working at all. Many of us have school-aged children that suddenly require us to oversee school work, or maybe elderly family members that are now isolated and without our help.

So, what happens when we combine the added stress while our sources of outside relief disappear?

Where do we find peace in the face of uncertainty?

For a culture that is so ingrained in believing our emotions are controlled by the situations and circumstances around us, this pandemic is perhaps the reset button we need.

Because peace and relief don’t come from the places we go, the things we buy, or what’s being reported on the evening news.

It comes from within.

But it’s so often drowned out with the external sources that many of us are now left in silence, struggling to reconnect with that inner voice, the source of emotional power within each of us that is out of shape and needs to be exercised.

While it’s tempting to just say that these are unprecedented times, and that a little escapism is ok, think about how you want your life to look at the end of this pandemic.

Do you want to have a beautiful home built in an imaginary video game world, or do you want to declutter your actual home?

Do you want to literally stay huddled in your home for weeks, or instead maybe get outside and walk, ride bikes, and try your hand at gardening?

Do you want to come out of the other side of this as the same person and society that went into it, or do you want to double down and come out more resilient and stronger?

Neither answer is right. I’m definitely not saying that I’m giving up Animal Crossing. But there is a choice to be made, and I encourage you to make that choice consciously.