05-17-2018 United Way of Southwest Michigan Board striving for big impact in local community and bey

United Way of Southwest Michigan Board striving for big impact in local community and beyond

The work of the United Way of Southwest Michigan (UWSM) staff and volunteers are being recognized beyond just the local level. Andy Janson, President from Hanson Logistics, is entering his second year as UWSM’s Board Chair. In addition to the work he’s doing in Southwest Michigan, Janson is part of United Way Worldwide’s (UWW) Board and CEO Advisory Group that counsels and serves as ambassadors for local Board and CEO development and engagement in pursuit of higher-performance.

BIG BUN… The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile made an appearance Saturday outside the Coloma Harding’s Friendly Market. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


United Way is a network made up of over 1,800 local chapters in 40 different countries and territories across the world. Janson is serving as a champion for the United Way work at a local, national, and international level, providing his vision and guidance in building a stronger network where all chapters have the ability to thrive. “United Way Worldwide wants to help build the network, so they’ve created this Advisory Group, and UWSM is one of a handful of United Way’s in the United States that was asked to be a part of that,” states Anna Murphy, President of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Andy is a great representative of the work we do locally, and his experience and expertise will certainly make a big impact at this higher level, and I’m excited to partner with Andy and UWW on such amazing work.” New to the UWSM board in 2018 are: Hilda Banyon (retired from Chemical Bank), Zack East (Mid-West Family Broadcasting), Chris Hardy (Plante Moran), Randy Hendrixson (DPM Events & Berrien County Record), Brent Holcomb (Lewis Cass ISD), James Petro (American Electric Power), Emily Szymkiewicz (United Federal Credit Union), and Casey Tubman (Whirlpool Corporation). “It is work outside of work, but it doesn’t feel like it. Especially with what this board is trying to do for the community,” states Janson. “There are very few organizations that exist that impact as many people as United Way does. In Southwest Michigan last year alone, it was over 56,000 individuals. It’s a no-brainer for me to be involved.”

The entire list of the 2018 UWSM board members are as follows: Andy Janson, Board Chair (Hanson Logistics); Ann Cardon, Vice Chair (St. Joseph Public Schools); Chris Hardy, Treasurer (Plante Moran); Dave Doetsch, Secretary (Mid-West Family Broadcasting); Casey Tubman (Whirlpool Corporation); Zack East (Mid-West Family Broadcasting); Megan Yore (Lakeland Health); Jay Fettig (North Pier Brewing Company); Jim Keppler (Whirlpool Corporation); Ontaygo Johnson (Kinexus); Hilda Banyon (Retired, Chemical Bank); Randy Hendrixson (DPM Events & Berrien County Record); Brent Holcomb (Lewis Cass ISD); Nermina Kamencic (Gast Manufacturing Inc.); Thomas Atkinson (Southwestern Michigan College and Lewis Cass ISD); James Petro (American Electric Power); Emily Szymkiewicz (United Federal Credit Union); Kimberly Vincent (1st Source Bank).

In addition, UWSM has released their Annual Report for 2017. The report shares UWSM’s goals and results in the areas of Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. It also highlights total volunteer hours, dollars leveraged through state and federal grants, and total individuals served. From 2017, it was estimated that between the dollars raised, volunteers mobilized, and dollars leveraged, United Way services equaled an estimated $7,526,319.00

Tom Olds from Kalamazoo Growlers, guest speaker at Paw Paw Lake  Rotary meeting

Paw Paw Lake Rotary’s guest speaker recently was Tom Olds, Business Relations Manager for the Kalamazoo Growlers, perhaps a “best kept secret” in the Tri-City Area. The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). Kalamazoo is entering its 5th season in the league. In 2017, Kalamazoo sold out of 15 home games and had an average attendance of 2,200 fans. For ticket information on the Kalamazoo Growlers and to see a schedule visit their website at https://northwoodsleague.com/kalamazoo-growlers.

Local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency announces change

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass is excited to announce a new name and new service delivery area. “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass has been serving children with professionally supported, one on one mentoring for over 50 years,” stated Jenny Miner, executive director. “It is with this enduring commitment to the young people of our community that we embrace this expansion to provide the empowering benefits of mentoring to more children through the inclusion of St. Joseph County, Michigan.” With this expansion comes a new name: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lower West Michigan. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lower West Michigan is the local affiliate of BBBS of America. Working in partnership to ensure the safety of children while striving to meet their individual developmental needs, BBBS recruits, trains and supports community volunteers who work one on one with children facing life adversity. For anyone interested in becoming a mentor, call 269-684-1100, or visit their website at www.bbbsoflwm.com.

Hot dog! Weinermobile makes stop in Coloma

By Kristy Noack The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile rolled into Coloma Saturday, May 12 for a three-hour pit stop outside Harding’s Friendly Market. The Weinermobile was driven by “Hotdoggers” Nick Koors, 23, of St. Louis, Missouri, and Rosie Hutchison, 23, of Kansas City, Missouri. The Weinermobile Big Bun was stationed in front of the supermarket. Its doors were opened, and people were able to pose for photos, tour the inside, and snag a coupon. Kraft, the parent company of Oscar Mayer, uses the vehicle as a creative marketing tool, to introduce and remind the public of the company’s products. According to Koors, “We try to make the hot dog accessible” to people of all ages. Earlier in the week, the Mobile had been stationed in Portage. Following the stop in Coloma, the hot dog and its drivers were headed to Louisville. Six Weinermobiles travel the country at any given time, according to Koors. Drivers are typically recruited out of college and can hold the position for one year. Competition for the position is fierce. Drivers are tested and train with the Madison (WI) Police Department. Once drivers are on the road Hutchison shared that all drivers are given special nicknames. Hers, for instance, is “Rose Beef,” while Koors is “Cheezy Nicks.” When it comes to the Weinermobile making an appearance at grocery stores, in parades, or at other special events, there is a general schedule all drivers follow. Mondays are travel days, when the Mobile moves from one regional area to another. The drivers usually have Tuesday and Wednesday off. Thursday through Sunday, the crew is all smiles as they welcome visitors to their Weinermobile. The first Weinermobile was created in 1936 by Carl Mayer, the nephew of Oscar Mayer. The vehicle itself is built on a Chevy chassis, has an automatic transmission, and runs on gas. “We like to say it runs on ketchup and smiles,” Koors laughed. The Weinermobile is outfitted with a sound system that plays the official Weiner Jingle. However, during Saturday’s visit, the horn required service and was not able to play. Koors explained that the vehicles can reach top speeds of 70 miles per hour, or as he likened it, “We can haul buns.” The interior of the Weinermobile features six captain’s chairs with the Oscar Mayer logo. The ceiling is painted like the sky, blue with white clouds. Hutchison listed contact with Oscar Mayer fans as the best perk of her position. “Being able to be part of their family is one of the ‘weinerful’ parts of the job.” Koors echoed the sentiment. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” In addition to the six Weinermobiles traveling the country, Kraft has commissioned three Planters Peanuts NUTmobiles.

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