Tag Archives: community

Personal Energy Transportation!

This week, we went for a business tour to the West Michigan branch of an organization named Mobility Worldwide that makes wheelchair-like carts for disabled adults and children in areas around the world.

The first thing we saw when we came in to the building was the newer and older versions of the PET carts which were sitting next to the door as we entered the building. The original cart wasn’t as durable as the new design and it was smaller and less comfortable, which isn’t good for someone sitting in it all the time. The newer design had high-tech foam on the seat {instead of wood} which is usually used for medical purposes and the back of the seat is a new stretchy kind of fabric. A cover was added for safety around the gear chain and he handles are now easier to pedal. {we know so because we tried one… WOW that is so fun to pedal around (Eventhough I don’t look very happy in the picture!}! Anyways, so many improvements!!!

We also saw the workshop where the carts are handmade, and saw some people in action! All of the volunteers who work there are retired, {what a good way to spend your retirement!} And there’s no measuring involved when putting together a PET cart, thanks to the great planning and fixturing that has been designed to help them. It comes down to a whole lot of cutting, painting, packing and fun!

Just to let all of you charity givers out there know, you can in fact donate to the company, the cost of each cart is $300. That actual cost, since the people building it volunteer, and so many of the parts and processes (powder coating, for example) are donated.  Each member of our family put money together so we could make a donation to this amazing project. And guess what? If you sponsor an entire cart, they will custom make a plaque on the back of the cart with YOUR name or someone who you would like to honor or commemorate! Isn’t that cool!!

We loved seeing the work they do there! A special thank you to Dr. Dale Dykema who did such an excellent job explaining the process to us and to Mr. Gary Wallace who helped figure out the tech issues with the video & projector :0)! Thank you for having us!!


This is the original PET.
This PET has new modifications to make it safer, more durable and much more comfortable!


One of the super happy PET recipients!!





We the People…

Two days ago, I was teaching the girls about crowd sourcing and exponential numbers of populations, money & projects. To better explain it through an example they could relate to, I took the girls on a tour of Kickstarter. Based on a crowd funding model, it was a perfect example of asking like-minded people to support often a ton of work to get an idea off the ground and connect with those who want to be part of it. The challenge is usually, how to get your message or idea out among all the other ones trying to do the same.

We happened across this project that we think is INCREDIBLE. Please do check it out today.  They have 5 days left before it ends… before the inauguration. We backed this project and feel, for the first time in a while, that by doing so we have a voice to help support diversity. The fact that it is through beautifully created art, makes it all the more meaningful to us. We backed it end of the day Wednesday. We were number 637. There are now almost 5,000 people supporting this project. This was the lesson in exponential numbers. The more people that know about it, the farther and faster it spreads.

In our household, we aren’t particularuly political. We believe this is a COMPLETELY non-partisan issue. It is an issue of what this country means when it says, “We the People…” Here at Water Street, we believe that means ALL the people.


Happy New Year!

In early December, Olive and I were asked if we would be interested in coming up with a design ideas and a proposal for the home of our friends to decorate their space for a big New Year’s Eve Party! Of course we said YES!

We immediately went online to get inspiration. We decided on using silver, gold and lots of candles, birch wood and bit of tasseling here and there. We then created the proposal. Here’s a look at it:


They agreed to hire us and we began SHOPPING – every decorator’s favorite part! We started at Target. It was hard to know how much stuff we would need, so we found a fairly empty shelf and started mocking it up in the store. We were armed with a calculator and a lot of patience. It was hard to get everything we needed and stay in budget. We had so many IDEAS!!!

After returning from our travels for the holidays, we cut the birch platforms, packed up the decorations and headed to their home to begin the decorating. We were happy that we had the perfect amount to create a festive space for them to party in! One of my favorite parts was the fortunes we made. They were hilarious and really pretty. We heard they were a hit. :0)

Check out some of our handy work. It was great fun and awesome to see what we could accomplish! Happy New Year to one and all!!




The Great Thanksgiving Banquet!

Every year a great Thanksgiving banquet is put together for people in the Holland, Michigan area by the Holland Rescue Mission. Over the years it keeps growing and this was the first year we were able to volunteer and we were quite SURPRISED to learn what a massive undertaking it is! The Banquet is open to those who can’t afford a dinner of their own, or those who are alone and haven’t any place to go for a Thanksgiving meal.

We arrived at the HOPE College Field House stunned to see enough seating for 1,500 people. ONE THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED! Tables as far as the eye could see in each direction! It was so well orchestrated by Anna Southwell and the HRM staff, within just a few short hours, everything was set up, laid out and decorated for the guests that would arrive later that evening. Community members donated desserts and there was a line of volunteers slicing, boxing, and stacking them for others (like us) to place at each seat. There were crafts on each table, crayons for kids, snacks and centerpieces. Volunteers from the Holland Fire Department came to help, it was the most firemen we had ever been around in one place!!

Set up was full of life and levity – fast and efficient – each of us happy to be contributing to the greater good of the community. It was really fun to be part of and made us all the more grateful for what we have. Some quick stats (hoping I get these right!!) to feed that many people – 140 turkeys, 500 pounds of potatoes, a cooking staff working a week in advance to prepare. The meal is ‘free’ for the visitors, but better than a meal, it makes a larger community of people into family for one day – differences aside for the sake of gratitude.

Local churches created care boxes for each household filled with cleaning supplies and household products. over 500 boxes created and decorated by kids. Truly amazing. Countless cheers for the staff, people and organizations that came together for such an auspicious event!






Toys for Tots…

This is the season when you can start seeing the Toys for Tots white and red boxes at places around communities. In our home, each year, we pool our money, and come up with a total amount we can spend to donate toys to less fortunate kiddos. With pen, paper and calculators in hand, we head out to find the best and most toys we can for the money we have. The goal is not only to stay on budget, find items that seem like good quality and interesting, but also to imagine it being out of the fancy packaging and see what are you left with… some of the packaging is so enticing, that in the store it seems impressive, but once it is taken out, it feels like most of the excitement was the packaging. A good lesson in marketing!

This is what we were able to purchase for $108… it was fun to find things on clearance and we were excited that we were only $1.22 cents over budget when we got through the checkout! We went directly to the drop off site and happily unloaded the toys. What an incredible organization and it is amazing to see how many volunteers and donations it takes to make so many people’s holiday a little bit brighter!


We thought this was a cool inside look at a Toys for Tots warehouse and how many toys end up in just this one location!

Kids Food Basket…

Once a month we head to Kids Food Basket in Holland, Michigan. They are an organization committed to giving sack suppers to food unstable children in West Michigan areas through their schools. It is a balanced meal the kids take home with them, once a day during the week.

As a family, we volunteer either packing the sack suppers or making the parts that will become the supper. This Friday, we went our monthly volunteering to do both. There was a last minute rush to pack just under 200 bags for a school that had a 1/2 day. We scrambled to get them all ready for the driver in time, but we did it!! Today’s (cute!) bags had healthy food, like cheese, meat, apples, trail mix and carrots!

Once those bags were packed (WHEW!) and picked up, we headed to the kitchen to make sandwhiches. We had to make 280 peanut butter sandwiches, slice and bag them in preparation for the suppers that would be packed later that afternoon. We had polished off the workload in under 2 hours (fairly impressive don’t you think?). Anywho, we encourage you to volunteer in your own community because it’s really fun and it is awesome to be able to help other people when we can!



Kids Food Basket, Paper Bags and Friends!

Kids’ Food Basket is a nonprofit organization attacking childhood hunger to help young people learn and live well. They began over ten years ago by serving 125 kids each school day through our Sack Supper program and now serve nearly 7,000 kids each weekday in West Michigan. Sack Suppers are evening meals that provide a well-rounded nutritious meal —nutrition that’s critical to the development of kids’ brains and bodies.

Our family supports this amazing group of people through donations but also through volunteering to pack the sack suppers. Every so often they have a special event. An auction, Runs, and a few weeks ago they asked for people in the community to help decorate lunch bags. Their goal? 70,000. You read that right – SEVENTY THOUSAND decorated bags. Last year, our family of 5 decorated 100. This year we decided to have a “decorate a bag party” at our house and invited friends to join us. After many hours of intense coloring, we had created 227 bags! It was a fun-filled afternoon and we offer up our thanks to the super creative, funny, and positive spirited people we are lucky enough to call our friends!!!

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This is a link to the Kids Food Basket website. If you happen to be reading this post and you are in the West Michigan area, they work mostly on volunteer support and gratefully, have jobs for kids as young as five. What a great way to spend a few hours supporting kids in our communities!