Everyone needs to do their share when it comes to philanthropy
In response to the question you posed at the end of your inspiring editorial in the July 14 Grand Rapids Business Journal honoring Peter Wege (“Who will stand as the next philanthropic pillars?”), may I suggest that each and every citizen who lives here must assume responsibility to stand together with others in our community to continue what leaders like Peter, Fred Meijer, Peter Cook, Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos and many others — women and minorities included — have initiated to make this such a great place to live, work and raise our families.
We live in a different world today than we did some three decades ago when Grand Rapids and West Michigan began its transformation from a city and region in decline to a city and region of great importance. We've been blessed with great resources and natural beauty, but it's the people and their commitment to community and their individual strengths and abilities working together to perpetuate what was started here by the first philanthropists.
We have come a long way in accepting the reality that our differences make us stronger rather than weaker and that everyone belongs. We must all “come to the table” to help solve the problems we are faced with today at all levels of our society — local, state, national and global — but it all begins here at home. Diversity is our strength in West Michigan and my hope and prayer is that we will use our diversity to create a more sustainable, just and peaceful community for all who live here and proudly and gratefully call this home.
It's not just one person or a few people with financial means. It's good and right that we should honor them for their generosity and leadership. But we honor their legacy best when all of us step up to the plate to do what we can to make a difference. We can all do and give something of ourselves to make our community and all our lives better. If it is to be, it's up to all of us, me included!