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Olivia Woodring

First Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship Winner Announced

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we 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 over 50 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 2021 winners. Two West Michigan graduates will receive $1,000 to further their education.

Olivia WoodringAfter much consideration, Michigan Mortgage is pleased to announce Olivia Woodring, a 2021 Ravenna High School Graduate, as a winner of this year’s Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship.

She said the following in her application.

“While in high school, it is difficult to see the value of service past “volunteer hours.” Upon realizing this, I have grown to see service not as a tool, like how it is sometimes portrayed, but as a meaningful goal all on its own. I hope that my greatest priority throughout life is to put others before myself. I am aware of the privilege I have had throughout my life, and to me, ‘service’ means to use the resources I have been given throughout my life to give to others.”

“One of Michigan’s greatest assets is its lakes, and West Michigan is no exception. As someone who has taken advantage of outdoor recreation in West Michigan, I would love to play a role in preserving our freshwater ecosystems, whether it be through my career or through volunteering. I also hope that I can show enough compassion and kindness toward others in my community so that these qualities may be passed on, creating a more caring and inclusive environment for future generations.”

Olivia will be a student in the LSA Honors Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the fall. She plans to major in International Studies and minor in Science, Technology, & Society.

Melanie Block, an educator at Ravenna High School, had nothing but remarkable things to say about Olivia and her work ethic. Olivia is an invaluable asset to the Ravenna community and hopes to impact her small town for many generations to come.

“I am so thankful for the generous scholarship awarded by Michigan Mortgage, and I am excited to use this financial aid to further my education,” she said.

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

Impact Report

Impacting Our Local Community

Rob Garrison said it best.

“2020 was quite the year. Between a global pandemic, rioting in our cities and a contentious Presidential election, we know that everyone was tired and frustrated and perhaps ready for 2020 to be over. The uncertainty that the pandemic has placed on so many families is disheartening. We are saddened by the medical, financial and personal suffering that so many have endured in 2020. In that vein, we at Michigan Mortgage have doubled our efforts to make the most impact in areas that we can control: our clients, our employees and the community.”

As we work our way through 2021, we wanted to take a moment to pause and look back on all of the good that happened last year.

Impact ReportHere are a few of our favorite highlights. If you’d like to learn more about 2020 community involvement, click here and flip through our Impact Report.

#MMGivesBack – Honoring Our Local Educators

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we launched #MMGivesBack – Honoring Our Local Educators to give back to those that give so much to our local community. Three times in 2020, we recognized a West Michigan educator that went above and beyond in the classroom and donated $1,000 to their school.

We surprised the following teachers, delivered a gift basket and thanked them for their dedication to their students.

Rosanne Willard, Oakridge Elementary in Muskegon
Tammie Thompson, Griffin Elementary in Grand Haven
Julie Anderson, Beach Elementary in Fruitport

Each woman (and their school) was deserving of our Outstanding Teacher Award and $1,000 donation!

As part of #MMGivesBack, educators that financed their mortgage – purchase or refinance – with a Michigan Mortgage Loan Officer received $100 worth of school supplies and we donated $50 worth of school supplies to another teacher on their behalf. In total, we donated supplies to 75 classrooms in more than 20 West Michigan school districts.

Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we 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 will award two $1,000 scholarships to West Michigan Seniors in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Dancing with the Local Stars

Our very own Dave Lehner competed in the 2020 Dancing with the Local Stars event in Muskegon. This event was pre-pandemic and one of the last times our community was able to gather for a great cause.

Dave and his team spent hours practicing their routine and gave a flawless performance. We were so happy to be in the audience cheering him on!

Standup for the Cure

This is one of our favorite local events and we were disappointed to miss a fun-filled day at the beach, but our employees stood up and participated at their own homes. Some hiked and explored outdoors while others kayaked, swam and played basketball in their backyards.

Shawn Norden, one of our fabulous Loan Officers, worked hard to raise awareness and get people involved in the 2020 fundraiser. We are always excited to support her and the local food bank and food programs in our area.

“While 2020 was challenging in many ways, it has taught us many lessons that will affect our business for years to come,” Rob said.

Thank you for taking this wild ride with us!

Hometown Highlight: The Front Porch Project

Kelly Rogers Ruffing has a passion for people, for life and for capturing special moments.

Kelly is a photographer, mom and community cheerleader in Spring Lake. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she added “The Front Porch Project” to her resume.

The closure of schools and local business brought families together and indoors. So many special moments were happening at home.

The original idea sparked in Needham, Massachusetts when Care Soulia and Kristen Collins brought the idea to life.

“Even though (the pandemic) is negative, it’s historic and needs to be documented,” Soulia said. “So why not capture the moment as people are living their lives at home? To be safer and socially distant in front of their homes!”

The idea took root and Kelly brought it to West Michigan.

Her enthusiasm and energy bring joy and laughter to every front yard she crosses. She pops by, capturing each family on their front – and sometimes back – porch.

The photo session is short and sweet. What’s the cost of this unique family keepsake?

Kelly simply asks that each family make a donation to their favorite local charity, church or school. The dollar amount is not specified. In turn, the family receives a high-quality digital print to make this time in history. It truly is a win-win!

As of June 1, more than half of the 31 families who have participated in the project have donated to 21 different charitable organizations, churches or schools in the Tri-Cities area.

“That’s something to smile about,” Kelly said.

More information is available on Facebook. If you’re interested in participating, shoot Kelly a message. She would love to stop by and appreciates your willingness to give back to the local community.

Michigan Mortgage Supports Dancing with the Local Stars

The 12th annual Dancing with the Local Stars Muskegon event will feature the largest cast to date, including of our very own.

Loan Officer and Co-Branch Manager Dave Lehner is one of 42 local stars teaming up with 11 professional dancers to raise money for local food pantries and programs.

“It’s a fun way to help our local community,” Dave said. “Our office takes pride in giving back and this is a great cause to support.”

His group includes: Nate Johnson, reentry and outreach director for Fresh Coast Alliance; Jonathan Seyferth, Coopersville city manager; Melanie Swiftney, author and director of marketing and communications for the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation; Patti Winsemius, dance instructor at Cassell Training Center.

His professional dance partner is Carly Switzer, diagnostic medical sonographer at Spectrum Health Butterworth and Blodgett Hospitals, a seven-year participant of the event.

“The practices are fun but hard,” Dave said. “We have to learn a lot of moves and keep the beat at the same time, but we will be ready to perform for the big night!”

Last year, the Muskegon event raised more than $135,000. Dave hopes to help raise even more money this year. Dancing with the Local Stars has raised over $1 million since its creation.

“Our goal is to beat the amount we raised last year,” said Shawn Norden, Michigan Mortgage Loan Officer and Dancing with the Local Stars Co-Chair of the Sponsor Committee. “Right now, we are on record pace! We could not do any of this without the help of our event sponsors.”

Much like Dave, Shawn has recognized a hunger issue in our community and is willing to do anything she can to help.

“We donate the funds collected from this event to food pantries and programs in Muskegon County, Northern Ottawa County and Southern Oceana County,” she said. “These recipients depend on our funds every year.”

Performances will take place the evenings of February 27-29, with an additional matinee on Saturday, February 29. Tickets went on sale on January 2 and sold out within days.

“I am looking forward to laughing, getting laughed at by my friends and family and showing off my dance moves,” Dave said.

If you’d like to donate, stop by our office and look for Dave’s decorated box. Thank you in advance for your support!

Aldea Coffee

Hometown Highlight: Aldea Coffee and Aldea Development

When exceptional coffee and social responsibility intersect, you get Aldea Coffee.

Aldea CoffeeUpon entering an Aldea coffee shop, there is a palpable culture and vibe that exudes community and service. It doesn’t take long to feel like you are with friends as you are greeted with a warm smile, learn the baristas name and receive the special care that they give each one of their patrons.

Aldea was founded to be more than a transactional coffee shop.

Aldea’s sister organization was born out of a mission to empower the farmers of LaUnion, Lempira, Honduras. So, when you pop in for a lavender latte or a coffee pour over, you are positively impacting the lives of men, women, and children in remote areas of Honduras.

You are giving those small farmers in impoverished areas the ability to plant, harvest and bring their coffee to market, where they receive fair value for the coffee beans.

Established in November, 2009, Aldea Development, a registered 501(c)3, was established as Union MicroFinanza with a microfinance focus, which has morphed into a community development organization.

The goal was to create a microfinance organization supporting small-scale farmers. Their staff lives in Honduras and learns from members of the community.

They hear first-hand what limitations, obstacles, and successes the farmers are experiencing and come up with solutions together to greater serve the farmers and community as a whole.

In a time where small scale producers are going out of business, due to the world’s coffee market experiencing a downturn. Aldea has the unique ability to provide stability to farmers. These farmers don’t have to adjust to market rates. Aldea purchases the farmers coffee and pays the farmers consistent prices that are above Fair-Trade prices.

As Aldea’s wholesale and retail business increases, more money goes directly to the farmers pocket book.

With coffee houses in two different West Michigan locations, Aldea has become a gathering place for locals to socialize, work, and just be in a space that is welcoming, calming and super hip and cool!

They are creating community in downtown Grand Haven and Muskegon, very similar to the community they have created in LaUnion, Honduras.

Next time you are deciding which coffee house to patronize, pause and remember, when you choose to purchase your coffee at Aldea, your purchasing power is positively contributing to the quality of lives in impoverished areas of Honduras.

For more information check out www.aldeadevelopment.org and www.aldeacoffee.com.

Hometown Highlights: The Be Event 2019

BE is the most common verb in the English language.

To BE is to exist, live, take place, happen; to belong, to attend; to remain in a certain state or situation undisturbed, untouched.

Image promoting The Be Event 2019What is the BE event? A goal setting conference, featuring eight speakers, each focusing on key areas of life, ranging from relationships, finance, health, career and more.

The event is a time to be intentional about the 2019 year, creating goals, letting go of that which does not serve you and connecting with other men and women that want to BE better, not perfect!

It is a time to be filled, present, loved, accepted, excited, passionate, hopeful. It is a time to connect with our community, share common energy and to recognize and embrace the fact that we are the change that the world needs.

We all want to DO BETTER in areas of our lives, however we strive so deeply for perfection and balance that we get caught in a constant feeling of falling short. We compare ourselves to other people’s outsides, and some of us compare net worth to self worth. This conference is for anyone that has made mistakes, wants to do better, wants to connect, has a dream, wants to live with purpose and make a difference.

Who attends the BE event? Men and women who need encouragement, leaders who lead with love, community impactors, encouragers, growers and learners, evolved, evolving people who desire a commitment to each other, a desire to first BE, then DO, then HAVE and most importantly to GIVE and connect in a world that can be isolating and competitive.

You cannot command change unless you are willing to actually BE the change. Your hands, your words, your willingness to show up with integrity and kindness in all that you say and do matters. Because our world is LOUD, the BE event gives women and men alike, a space where they can see and feel each other’s light.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Jean Houston, a nationally recognized scholar, philosopher and a founder of the Human Potential Movement. She talks to audiences around the world, using her deep knowledge of culture, new science, spirituality, and human development to inspire leaders to better their lives in the everyday. Dr. Houston challenges us through engaging teaching, inspiring revelations, and humorous stories to reconnect, recharge, be liberated and engage in our communities and our daily lives.

“The entelechy of an acorn is to be an oak tree, a caterpillar to be a butterfly, and a popcorn kernel to be fully popped. We are all loaded and encoded with a dynamite purpose, a special
gift and ability that comes naturally to us—so naturally that we may even take it for granted and not recognize it as our innate, great purpose.” – Jean Houston

This year’s event will be at the beautiful and historic Frauenthal Theater in Muskegon on September 14. For additional information about the event, for ticketing and sponsorship information go to www.thebeevent.com.

When registering, use promo code Be2019. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be?” – Marianne Williamson

Image showing an autographed Justin Abdelkader jersey.

#MMGivesBack: Stand Up for the Cure

Each month, our staff selects a local charity to support through our #MMGivesBack program. Our goal is to give back, get involved and make a difference.

In honor of Loan Officer Shawn Norden and her passion for breast cancer awareness, we have selected Stand up for the Cure (SUFTC) Muskegon as this month’s charity.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I learned very quickly the importance of early detection,” Norden said. “It is not a cliché. Finding breast cancer early offers you less invasive treatment options and a much greater probability of survival.”

“My wish is that every woman has the same access that I did for finding breast cancer early – that is why I Stand Up for the Cure,” she said.

The event – the fifth in Muskegon – is slated for Saturday, July 13, at Harbour Towne Beach.

SUFTC’s mission is “to help women find breast cancer early – when it’s more treatable – through education, awareness, screenings and research while building a supportive, compassionate community.” The event aims to introduce non-paddlers to the fun and healthy sport of standup paddle boarding.

According to the organization, “Seventy-five percent of the funds raised at the 2019 event will go to local programs managed through Hackley Community Care, with the remaining twenty-five percent going to Van Andel Institute to fuel Dr. Carrie Graveel’s research into triple-negative breast cancer, which is the most aggressive and deadly form of the disease.”

“We help those right here in our community every day,” Norden added. “This is a huge reason why I support SUFTC. Of course, we want to end breast cancer forever – but until that happens, we need to help those afflicted by this horrid disease.”

Online registration is now open.

As part of this year’s event, Michigan Mortgage will be giving away a Red Wings jersey autographed by Muskegon’s very own Justin Abdelkader.

If you’d like an opportunity to win, stop by our office (6207 Harvey Street, Suite B) between now and July 12. The cost to enter is $10 for one chance and $20 for three.

If you’re planning to attend the July 13 event, stop by the Michigan Mortgage booth for your chance to win. All proceeds will go directly to Stand Up for the Cure.

The winner will be announced at noon on July 13. You need not be present to win.

If you have questions related to the giveaway, please call Shawn Norden at 231-557-9414.

“I am so grateful that our community has embraced this event and all it stands for,” Norden said. “We would not be able to be successful without our very generous sponsors, participants and the community as a whole.”

Muskegon Event Details
Location:
Harbour Towne Beach, Muskegon
Date: Saturday, July 13
Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Activities: Kid’s Paddleboard Race, 5K Expert Race, Relay Races, Fun “Sea of Pink” Paddle, Yoga on the Beach, Free Breast Health Screenings, Live Music, Catered Lunch & Happy House, a Silent Auction and much more!

For more information about this year’s event, click here.

Kids' Food Basket logo

#MMGivesBack: Kids’ Food Basket Muskegon

“Kids’ Food Basket is a grassroots, community solution to childhood hunger. We engage all who care about children reaching their full potential – in school and in life. We began over a decade ago by serving 125 kids each school day through our Sack Supper program and now serve nearly 8,000 kids each weekday in West Michigan.”

Our January Employee of the Month, Danielle Woodring, recognized the work Kid’s Food Basket Muskegon is doing in our local community and asked that we get involved.

“I volunteered with Kids’ Food Basket in the past and fell in love with their mission to ensure children in our community do not go hungry,” she said. “They support numerous local schools and prepare thousands of sack suppers on a weekly basis.”

“Without them, children go hungry and our community suffers.”

According to the Kids’ Food Basket website, “1 in 5 Michigan children are affected by hunger and thousands of West Michigan children are food insecure — they can’t count on having access to good, nourishing food every day.”

That’s why they do what they do: nourish thousands of children to help them reach their full potential.

“Consistent, nutritious meals support cognitive development and help children focus by meeting critical health needs.  With healthy calories we can lessen the risk of conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Healthy calories also help children avoid behavioral issues such as irritability, aggression and anxiety,” according to the Kids’ Food Basket.

“I feel like no child should ever go hungry,” Woodring said. “Finding where their next meal is coming from is not something a child should ever have to worry about.”

“The Kids’ Food Basket has so many different opportunities to volunteer,” she said. “Anyone can get involved and raise awareness about childhood hunger.”

This month, Michigan Mortgage employees were excited to donate supplies and assemble Supper Packs to donate to the organization. Employee’s children got to pitch in by decorating the paper bags that the pack suppers are distributed in. 

If you’d like to get involved, visit their website.

A Night of Pearls Event Brochure

Hometown Highlight: TCM Counseling

TCM Counseling is not unlike so many of the amazing non profit organizations that organically came about when a need arose in the Tri Cities area.

For 40 years, TCM Counseling has been providing accessible and affordable professional therapy services along the lakeshore. TCM’s mission: to offer help and healing for all, by providing accessible and affordable professional counseling services.

“Our unique business model enables us to maximize donations and help everyone who calls or walks through our doors. No one is ever turned away,” said Sarah Lewakowski, executive director.

In 2017, TCM provided over one million dollars of mental health services on a budget of $406,000.TCM is able to turn a $1 donation into $3 worth of counseling. The organization depends on every generous dollar received, with the great majority of that money going directly to client care.

With offices in Grand Haven and Holland, TCM helps with issues affecting adults, children, teens, and families, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, parenting, marriage counseling, addiction, sexual abuse, conflict, coping, communication, ADD/ADHD and more. Partnering with over 50 therapists, all in professional practice, they will find the best counselor for each individual’s needs.

“To me, my counselor has been an angel in disguise. She has faithfully listened and shared her wealth of knowledge with me. Prior to meeting her, I had thoughts of suicide, as it seemed there was no way out due to a very difficult divorce, complications from a car accident and being told that I would never work again as a nurse. She helped me pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together again, all while showing great compassion and understanding,” said one client of her experience with TCM.

On November 8, “A Night of Pearls Down to Earth Fashion Event” fundraiser will offer a magical evening at Porto Bello Restaurants Grand Ballroom to raise funds for needed counseling, and to support awareness of current mental health issues. All proceeds will go to TCM to support their efforts, including the growing School Outreach Program.

For a fun filled evening with upscale fashion show, music, cash bar silent and live auction, as well as a raffle drawing go to tcmcounseling.org for your tickets or to learn more!

Reimagine Challenge Logo

Supporting the #ReimagineChallenge

The Reimagine Project is a community-wide initiative to rebuild the iconic Imagination Station in Grand Havens Mulligan’s Hollow. The goal is to reimagine the current play structure at Mulligan’s Hollow so that it will meet the needs of future generations, with accessibility to all, built with the best, most durable products. The saying “it takes a village”, couldn’t be more true in this beautiful community wide effort.

The project will be designed by over 100 local children, much like the original structure, constructed by 2,500 volunteers, 27 years ago. Over 1,500 volunteers will contribute to the construction and the community will fund the project 100 percent.

There are many ways to contribute to the Imagination Fund. Visit their website to learn how. Opportunities to give include: a picket for the fence, sponsor a component of the new play-space, purchase the Grand Haven-Opoly game, give through the Reimagine Real Estate Challenge or become a lead donor.

At Michigan Mortgage we are excited to have had the opportunity to participate in the Reimagine Real Estate Challenge, when we were challenged by Ryan Miller with Michigan Insurance Group to donate to the local fund. Thanks to Unsalted Living and Capstone Real Estate, who initiated this challenge to our local real estate and affiliated companies. Excited to accept the $500 Challenge, we in turn, challenged Jake Hoogeboom with @Home Realty in Grand Haven, who kept the ball rolling, by challenging Angela Hyde with @Home Realty. And, the challenge continues. We are so excited to see how much money is raised by our local real estate leaders.

Imagine living in a community so willing, enthusiastic and able to give when a need arises. We can’t wait to see the student lead designs moving forward! It takes a village of giving, industrious individuals to make change and we live in one of those communities! Michigan Mortgage loves West Michigan.