Cranes and Philanthropy!
November 13th, 2006I am sure that everyone who has traveled through downtown Grand Rapids in the last few months is acutely aware of all the overhead cranes hovering over the city! They are literally jamming the skyline! Many people who come to our office from other parts of the state and the country comment right off the bat - wow something is really cooking in Grand Rapids! You bet! We are building a new children's hospital, art museum, renovating facades and buildings and improving our freeways. I have to say though that I look forward to the day when we can enter and exit downtown at Ottawa St off of I-196!
The prosperity that is evident doesn't tell the whole story though. Not to dampen the mood but the Foundation and many others in our community are actively involved in the many stories of human toil and the fragile nature of the lives of some in our area. We should never turn our backs on the underlying story in our community. Persistent poverty, chronic unemployment, gang violence, infant mortality and many other concerns need continual attention to help eliminate or at least make some impact in reducing.
When the very successful Van Andel Arena was being developed 15 years ago and the financing was being put together, I would often say - the vision for this arena should also include a statement about a vibrant GR that insures that our families and children who are fortunate to attend a function there, need to have access to services so that they can live happy and fulfilling lives! The comments I would hear back would be - if we don't address this now, your families and children won't have a brighter future.
I would shake my head and tell them that this isn't the point. The point is - let's never let up when we know that helping our families and our children is clearing the path to self-sufficiency.
A vibrant and healthy community is within our grasp - the cranes are a great indicator of looking to a great future. Let's assure all people in our community that they will not be forgotten and that their lives can be enriched and improved through the generosity of individuals, business, government and all who live here!