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The Word from the Island!
Friday, October 3
Carr Champions Mentoring Michigan Kids
George Heartwell, Mayor of Grand Rapids;
What a line up of inspiring speakers. Each of these men had a story to tell about the impact of mentoring on their lives, and on the lives of people around them. Before we get into the specifics, let’s think about the potential result of mentoring at-risk youth on municipalities.
If you are a child that comes from an unstable or chaotic home life, is there any doubt that you will struggle in school? What happens when a child goes through one, two, or even six years of struggling? It wouldn’t be far fetched to say that they could become a “guest” in a juvenile delinquent facility. What is the burden on your city or village when kids drop out of school, or get into trouble with the law? Mentoring kids is a crime-prevention strategy. Drawing this scenario out, 90 percent of those incarcerated in our country are male. There is a desperate need for men to become mentors, to demonstrate appropriate,
Mayor Heartwell of Grand Rapids is a mentor to children, an ordained minister, and a mentor to seminary students. He has been enriched by his experience, but also has kept in mind that mentoring and building relationships with young people ultimately will strengthen his community.
Daniel Mulhern believed passionately in the 2,000 by 2000 mentoring program initiated by Jennifer Granholm when she was the attorney general. Her goal was to have 2,000 registered mentors by the year 2000. Her husband decided to carry on this program when she became governor, and “Mentor Michigan” was the result. The new goal is to have 10,000 registered mentors by the year 2010. Mulhern realized he needed a spokesperson to put some spark into the public campaign, someone who identified with young people and who was an inspiring personality. He contacted Lloyd Carr, the retired U of M football coach, who had many years of success at connecting with young people. He drew him in and now Carr is the spokesman for Mentor Michigan.
Carr committed to the Mentor Michigan goal, and wanted our audience to hear this message “Give yourself to a cause bigger than you are.” In his career as a coach, he always told his team members “you can be as talented as anything, but you can’t win until you work as a team.”
Mayor MacDowell of Adrian said that mentoring was the most rewarding experience of his life. The need is great. The service is immeasurable. You may not know right away that you are making a difference, it may not be eloquently spoken, but you will be able to see it in a child’s face.
Pledge cards were distributed at the end of the session, encouraging people to find the time to make a commitment of an hour or two a week. The process is structured, including an interview and mentor matching process based on interest. Mayor MacDowell loved to fish and his mentor match did as well, so he realized “I love to fish and now those one or two hours I didn’t think I had time to give to mentoring a child suddenly don’t seem to be so impossible.”
These four gentlemen put the “men” in mentoring and so can you!
Art and Culture—Economic Growth Engines for Michigan Communities
William Anderson, Director, Department of History, Arts and Libraries, State of Michigan
Our cultural resources have risen above being “soft” amenities and are now seen by many experts as a critical economic development tool, central to our state’s turnaround. We all have something unique to offer in this regard, whether it’s our heritage (think of the Upper Peninsula’s mining heritage!) or a major attraction (Dearborn’s Henry Ford Museum.) And when it comes to culture and heritage, size does NOT matter! William Anderson, founding director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries, gave a great presentation of how Michigan communities can partner to leverage their cultural resources to create jobs, strengthen their tax base, and enhance the attractiveness and overall quality of life within their area (which is so important to attracting and retaining those millennials and baby boomers!).
He came with good news for all, and that is “character of place” is key to tapping the potential of cultural tourism. Michigan’s communities have no shortage of that, nor do we lack the will and skills to find ways to showcase our great state! In fact, we already do…the nation’s top attraction, Colonial Williamsburg, draws similar numbers of visitors as does the Henry Ford Museum and Mackinac State Park! We are already contenders and we have so much more to show off! Maybe the 67 contracts that have been signed to film movies in Michigan will help spread the word (and the $400 MILLION in money spent here won’t hurt!). HAL can help communities and regions take inventories and develop strategic plans for leveraging their cultural assets. They will be working with Niles, Calumet, Marshall, and Boyne City, as well as cooperatively with Lansing/East Lansing. Keep watching, more is sure to come!