Street Talk

Street Talk: An answer to prayers

Dress addresses.

March 3, 2017
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Aquinas College is right on track funding its new chapel.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel, scheduled to open in fall 2017, has surpassed its fundraising goal of $4 million, the Aquinas College Foundation said last month.

“This fundraising goal is a testament to the commitment of our donors and volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen and to whom I’d like to express my profound gratitude,” said Aquinas President Juan Olivarez. “For so many in our Aquinas community, our chapel has been a focal point of faith, worship and quiet reflection, and they made this project a priority.”

The chapel campaign co-chairs are Mark and Elizabeth Murray, Joan Secchia and Bishop David Walkowiak of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.

The chapel campaign committee co-chairs are Larry and Marion Burns, Tom and Jan Czerney and Marcie and Brian Hillary.

The chapel campaign is part of a $58-million comprehensive campaign that includes an expanded science center, programs and scholarships, technology improvements and campus beautification.

“The presence and location of this new chapel — in the center of campus — is emblematic of the Dominican call to come together in community, prayer and worship,” said Sister Maureen Geary, prioress of the Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids.

Designed in the Dominican tradition by architects who specialize in sacred spaces, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom will seat 300, and its doors will be open daily for students, faculty, staff and the community.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in fall of 2017, and fundraising will continue through the end of the year.

The name, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, references a 15th-century Italian fresco by Dominican friar Fra Angelico, “The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Thomas Aquinas.”

Skills set

Despite the well-reported shortage of trade workers in West Michigan, the skilled workers West Michigan does have are regularly recognized for their talents.

Last year, Dan Vos Construction Company Superintendent Scott Walters won the 2016 Craft Professional of the Year award, and Kent Companies Superintendent Michael VanBemden also was honored as a finalist for the Associated Builders and Contractors award.

It seemed unusual to have two nominees from one region in a group of four finalists from across the nation, but apparently, West Michigan wants to make it a regular occurrence.

This year, 2016 ABC Western Michigan Craft Professional of the Year Terry Buschert, a foreman at Architectural Metals, and Dan Vos Superintendent Dan VanRee are among the four finalists.

The Business Journal ran an article last year following Walters and VanBemden earning nationwide recognition and bringing light to the West Michigan construction industry, and now, we’re seeing the light continue to shine.

Local ABC executives Norm Brady and Jen Schottke must love the attention this recognition can bring when recruiting more students to the trades.

Step up

Grand Rapids-based Terryberry wants to remind employees shoes are made for walking.

The 99-year-old employee recognition firm is spearheading the West Michigan Walking Challenge, a business-to-business wellness competition. Companies are encouraged to design custom walking programs to get employees out and about. So far, more than a dozen companies have registered, representing more than 1,000 workers.

Registration runs through March 15, with the competition running April 17-May 28. Organizations with the best participation rate and highest number of average steps per employee will be honored at an awards ceremony June 2.

"Whether it's a lap around the parking lot or a several-mile hike during lunch, every step counts," Terryberry Managing Partner Mike Byam said. "Even though it is a competition, a healthier community is a victory for everyone."

The competition is part of Terryberry's multi-pronged approach to increase employee health and wellness by taking on issues of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. The firm cites a study from Brigham Young University that discovered employee absenteeism is reduced by 27 percent when workers regularly exercise.

"A healthy workforce leads to decreased costs, increased productivity and improved morale," Byam said. "Our hope is that the West Michigan Walking Challenge attracts more companies to join the trend."

Send in the clowns

There’s some funny business going on at Gymco.

“For 37 years, Gymco has been a leading innovator in gymnastics, fitness and health. Our new Circus Arts classes provide a creative opportunity for anyone to gain fitness while having fun,” Gymco President Doreen Bolhuis said. “The Circus Arts will introduce participants to a magical place of fun and adventure. It will give students the opportunity to express themselves in a new way and explore the art of clowning as a performer, gymnast or just for fun.

The “Cirque du Soleil” type Aerial Arts class will teach students age 8 to adult to use long silk fabrics to wrap and suspend their bodies, giving participants more strength, flexibility and spatial awareness.

Clown classes are taught by Gideon Sanders, a graduate of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College and former professional clown. Clown students will discover their own clown persona, design their clown face, develop clown skits and participate in an end-of-session performance. Bolhuis said clown classes will be introduced during the upcoming Gilda’s Club LaughFest to promote laughter as a relief from grief and stress. A one-hour sample clown class will be offered at Gymco on March 18. Introductory class participants will apply clown make-up and learn more about the art of clowning.

Bolhuis said she hopes the Circus Arts program will help build fitness and strength through innovative and creative movement while boosting emotional health and happiness through clowning and laughter.

Story time

Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore and Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids are partnering for a fourth year to collect dresses. The “Every Dress Has a Story” donation drive takes place through March 19 in several Michigan counties.

Girl Scout Troops are collecting new or gently used formal and informal dresses from their own closets or their personal networks for the donation drive. These donations will create new memories for someone else, and the revenue helps Goodwill continue its mission of providing job training and placement services for those in need, said Jill Wallace, chief marketing officer at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids.

Girl Scouts who participate in Every Dress Has a Story will receive a special badge to honor their commitment to the campaign.

“Through this partnership, the collection of dresses helps the girls with leadership skills, such as problem solving, understanding philanthropy and the importance of doing for others,” said Wallace, who added Girl Scouts will be hosting cookie sales at several Goodwill stores.

“Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore is proud to partner with Goodwill for the Every Dress Has a Story project,” said Mary Charles, Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore’s interim CEO. “This project gives Girl Scouts the opportunity to develop confidence through asking for donations. It also inspires girls to give back to their communities in a way that is meaningful to them.”

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