Category: Community

Bike Safety: Why Road Signs Apply to You Too, Cyclists

Driving Change is now entering its third summer of improving road relationships between motorists and bicyclists in Grand Rapids and aiming to keep everyone safe on our roads.

Road Relationship Counselor Dr. Susan Wheeler has taken some of the most popular questions about our ordinances and safety tips and provided practical advice to help you remember how you can do your part to keep everyone safe on our roads.

In this episode, Dr. Wheeler shares one motorist’s question, demonstrating how important it is for bicyclists to also follow the same rules of the road as motorists, including stopping at all stop signs and red lights. Not only is it the law, but it also helps motorists know what to expect from quick-moving bicycles so they can keep their distance.

Together, we can work to improve our road relationships and drive change in Grand Rapids.

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After the Holiday’s These People Will Still Need Your Help

It’s a conversation with Roy that sticks in Lisa Church’s mind, that compels her to keep helping senior citizens even now that he is gone.

Church was visiting Roy, delivering a Senior Grocery Box from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to his home, when the 40-year Coast Guard veteran living with diabetes explained how it was too expensive for him to buy hand sanitizer needed to clean his skin before checking his blood sugar levels.

“I went to deliver the grocery box and we were sitting there talking and he was saying how astounded he was when he went to the pharmacy for a bottle of hand sanitizer and found that it cost almost $5,” said Church, owner of Alternative Elderly Care, a home health care service that works with the Food Bank to distribute the grocery boxes. “He couldn’t believe it.

“I probably have $5 in change sitting in my purse. Five dollars doesn’t mean a lot to me, but it means everything to these seniors.”

Roy has passed away, but his plight lives on in the challenging financial situations faced by many older people throughout Michigan. Between housing rent, utility bills and medications, it’s difficult for many seniors to find money for one of the most basic human needs: food.

The 50-pound Senior Grocery Box contains non-perishable staples of a healthy diet including canned goods, rice, cereal and seasonal fresh produce along with household hygiene items.

That’s where the Senior Grocery Box comes in. For less than $5 per week — a total of $200 per year — you can provide a 50-pound box of food each month to an elderly neighbor in need in your community. For less than $5 per week, you can make a lasting, positive impact on someone who lives right in your community.

“Every little bit helps,” Church said. “Most of the individuals in our program have an income level of under $1,000 a month, and that’s expected to be able to pay their bills (including rent).

“We’ve delivered to homes that don’t have heat, don’t have appliances. These individuals don’t have access to a vehicle, they don’t have the option to go to soup kitchens or food pantries, and they definitely can’t afford the grocery delivery services that are popping up. A lot of them don’t have families to step up and help, either. For some of them, the box is all they have.”

The Food Bank’s Senior Grocery Box program involves hundreds of local agencies such as Alternative Elderly Care that deliver the food to seniors each month. The 50-pound boxes contain many non-perishable staples of a healthy diet including cereals, canned goods, beans, rice, soup, dehydrated milk, pancake mix, snacks, cookies and seasonal fresh produce as well as household hygiene items such as toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

The Food Bank each year serves more than 331,000 people across a 22-county area from Flint north to the Mackinac Bridge through a variety of programs. In 2017, those programs distributed 28 million pounds of food, including 11 million pounds of fresh produce.

The need for Food Bank services is great throughout Michigan, where 1.4 million people live in poverty including 9 percent of residents age 65 and up, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty rate is even higher in the areas served by the Food Bank: Bay County, 15 percent; Saginaw County, 17 percent; Genesee County, 18 percent; Flint, 39 percent.

The need tends to increase in the winter, when utility costs typically rise. Natural gas bills are expected to increase by 5 percent this heating season due to higher prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s about $30 more, on average, than last winter.

For $200 per year — less than $5 per week — a grocery box from the Food Bank can ease financial stress for seniors and give them the food they need without requiring them to choose between medicine, heat or lights. Please donate now.

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The Rapid Helps Family Teach Environmental Stewardship

Irene and Ken Kraegel believe actions speak louder than words.

“That’s especially true when it comes to parenting: Children do what we do — not what we say,” said Irene Kraegel, a counselor at Calvin College. “So part of our parenting strategy with our son is modeling for him the qualities that we think are important.”

That’s where The Rapid comes in.

As a way to do their part in reducing carbon emissions and helping the environment, the Kraegels choose to own only one vehicle and instead ride The Rapid whenever possible.

Irene takes the bus several times a week from their home in Grand Rapids to her job at Calvin College. Along with the environmental benefits, public transportation is a great way to feel connected to the community.

“Being in a car is a solitary experience. But when I’m on the bus, it broadens my horizons a little bit and enriches my life by being around other people,” she said.

On The Rapid, she’s discovered a community of like-minded people who value many of the same things she does. And that’s translated into some new friendships.

When she’s not chatting with other riders, Irene likes to read a book or listen to music. And just relax. Walking to and from her bus stop is also a welcome break in her busy day.

In their spare time, the Kraegels love taking their son downtown on the bus to visit the library or a museum. It’s one of the many ways they teach him about being good environmental stewards.

Even when it’s not easy.

“It’s harder to live right than to talk about living right. And living as simply as possible is not something we do perfectly,” Irene said.

“But we notice that our son has started coming up with his own ideas for environmental stewardship. That’s really fun to watch,” she said.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.