09-10-2020 Letters and Commentary


LABORS FOR MANY… But for spells of gusty winds and a handful of cloudbursts of rain, the 4-day Labor Day Holiday was picture perfect. The lakes and beaches were busy, as were the restaurants and bars. In my office view of M-140 there was a steady flow of south bound traffic, with a good mix of tourist, commerce and winter sunseekers. New to the vista was the cars parked along Main Street, near the recently opened “Local 3 Grill & Tap”. It is so nice to have a classic style of a restaurant akin to the former Elite and to Board of Trade. Like the Elite because “Local 3” is located in the former Elite building. Like the Board of Trade menu because the “Local 3” is owned and operated by a second-generation Wallace’s … Adam and Joshua are sons of Bob Wallace who owned the BoT before owners Al and Coleen Bodfish. The third owner of Local 3 is Josh’s fiancée Melanie Adams. As were many restaurant employees working on the Labor Day holiday, to make things comfortable and safe were many more working behind the scenes, night and day. Those folks, the public safety officers, firemen, first responders, doctors and nurses, ambulance attendants, put in long shifts ready to save and serve us all. The Labor Day, set aside to honor the workers with a holiday at the end of the summer season, I suspect leaves many who would rather have the day off than going to work. But they do the job, and we should give them a “thumbs up” for jobs done well.


United Way of SW MI launched “Celebration 2.0” to honor 2019 community contributions

Originally scheduled to have been held on March 19, 2020 at Lake Michigan College, United Way of Southwest Michigan’s annual Celebration took a different form. United Way crafted a unique experience to acknowledge the generosity of donors and the impact made in the community in 2019. On August 27, United Way staff delivered stunning “Celebration 2.0” boxes to award winners. The Hollywood-esque boxes, designed in a glamorous Roaring ‘20s style, contained success stories that would have been premiered at Celebration, awards celebrating the winners, and other goodies. Award winners were encouraged to photograph or video themselves unpacking the box and upload them to social media, tagging UWSM and using the hashtag #uwsmcelebration so everyone in the community can see. “When you look at the example of this year’s award winners—the outstanding corporate partners and the stellar individuals—about how to step up and lead, commit with passion and determination, and overcome obstacles to advance the common good, nothing could stop us from finding ways to acknowledge them for it,” said Anna Murphy, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “2019 was a banner year—we saw how strong and caring our community is—and that is getting us through the difficult year we’re currently in.” As the largest non-governmental funder of health and human services in our local community, United Way of Southwest Michigan stewards millions of dollars and tens of thousands of volunteer hours every year. In 2019: 10,000 children got their education off to a great start; 500 people prepared themselves for in-demand jobs; 6,000 people built up their emotional health and resilience; 430,000 meals were provided to some of our most vulnerable neighbors; 600 people learned about big issues like trauma and structural racism. In one year, United Way of Southwest Michigan impacted the lives of more than 82,000 people. Importantly, the many organizations and individuals who helped make 2019 a success were recognized with the following awards: Best Campaign Growth – Area Agency on Aging, Region IV; Cassopolis Public Schools; Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services; Old National Bank; Cass District Library; City of Buchanan; Niles Precision Company, Inc.; Lovejoy; County of Berrien

Best Year-Round Partnership – 1st Source Bank; Lake Michigan College; LOGAN Autism Learning Center; Berrien County Cancer Service, Inc.; Tyler Automotive; Berrien RESA; Martin’s Super Markets – Stevensville; St. Joseph Public Schools; Spectrum Health Lakeland Best Community Leadership – Honor Credit Union; Andrews University; Berrien Springs Public Schools; K&M Machine-Fabricating, Inc.; Mid-West Family; Van Buren ISD; Entergy-Palisades Power Plant; United Federal Credit Union; Horizon Bank

Corporate Champion of the Year – Large Business – Western Diversified Plastics and Gast Manufacturing, Inc. Corporate Champion of the Year – Medium Business – Vomela Transportation Graphics Corporate Champion of the Year – Small Business – Competitive Edge Employee Campaign Chair of the Year – Large Business – Cathy Summers, Indiana Michigan Power, an AEP Company Employee Campaign Chair of the Year – Medium Business – Evelyn Castrejon, Kinexus Group Employee Campaign Chair of the Year – Small Business – David Brooks, Wolverine Pipe Line Co. Inspired Giving – United Parcel Service Campaign Cabinet Choice – Coloma Township Police Department; Ravitron; Meijer David J. Weichhand Award – Kinexus Group Whirlpool Community Commitment Award – Indiana Michigan Power and its D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant

Excellence in Innovation – Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County Excellence in Collaboration – Tri-County Head Start Excellence in Impact – Domestic Violence Coalition Impact Cabinet Choice – Southwest Michigan Planning Commission LIVE UNITED Award – Shelitha McKee and Sue Danielson

Refocus Are we becoming nervous about the future, wondering if there’s rhyme or reason to current events? We should know that we are not the first generation to experience these concerns. First-century believers in the town of Thessalonica, in northern Greece, had similar worries. They had been told that Jesus Christ’s return had already happened and that they had missed it. They were very worried about that possibility. One of Paul’s reasons for writing the letters to them known as “first and second Thessalonians” in the Bible was to settle their worries and to help them get refocused. We need that today as well. First, he reminded them that there would first be a great “falling away” in Christianity. This would show up with lack of faith and rejection of the Gospel. Probably there would also be a following of false Christs. And there would be a “revealing” of the one who would be called the “anti-Christ”. The “spirit of antichrist” had seeds even in the early days. But what could they do about it? How should they respond? In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul reminded them of the ultimate goal – being finally united with Jesus Christ in heaven. Meanwhile they were to persevere in the truth, and focus on good works and good words. (That’s at the end of that chapter.) We can do that too. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something good for someone who can never repay you.” Maybe one of those good things involves forgiveness, something that only you can give in some circumstance. Maybe it’s special patience with another family member. Maybe it’s seeing a need and helping out. Maybe it’s praying for someone without their knowing it. Refocusing on good helps overcome worry, and helps us look forward to the real goal. Still looking for the simple gospel? Try 800-NEED HIM.

Defending our elections

Last week, I joined my colleagues Rep. Ann Bollin and Senator Kevin Daley in testifying before the House Elections and Ethics Committee on my legislation to help defend the integrity of our elections. My bill will make it a felony for an individual to knowingly submit an absentee voter application using another person’s name or personal identification information. Under the proposed package, it will also be a felony to complete applications with the intent to receive multiple ballots. During our committee hearing, it was brought up that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has recently prosecuted voter fraud incidents from the August Primary under current Michigan law. I applaud the Attorney General’s actions in the wake of Secretary Benson’s unprecedented mailing of applications to millions of addresses. My legislation and the actions taken by our Attorney General sends a clear message that no matter what party an individual may be affiliated with, voter fraud will not be tolerated in the State of Michigan. An individual’s vote is one of the most sacred things a person has in a vibrant democracy. As someone who has lived and worked in the field, I know how hard all of our local clerks work to run smooth and fair elections. As the voice of Southwest Michigan residents in our state capitol, I will always work to back our clerks and defend our elections. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

The real heroes among us

From the very beginning, our healthcare workers have been real heroes in our fight against COVID-19. Day in and day out, these folks have put their lives on the line to serve others and save lives. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude for all they have done and continue to do to protect our health and wellbeing. However, healthcare professionals have long experienced high levels of stress and burnout, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem. While helping their patients fight for their lives, many healthcare workers are coping with their own trauma of losing patients and colleagues. That’s why I recently joined a bipartisan group to introduce the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a New York City physician who tragically took her life due to the stresses and pressures of combating this vicious virus. Specifically, this bill will help promote mental and behavioral health among front-line workers, and support suicide prevention and awareness measures. Our healthcare workers in southwest Michigan and across the nation are truly doing everything they can to care for us all. Our promise to them is that we will always have their backs.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Insurance fraud a serious crime that costs us all

Insurance exists to provide some financial security and peace of mind in times of emergency. Unfortunately, there are people who try to take advantage of insurance and of emergencies and crises to defraud companies of money they are not owed. These opportunists prey on aspects of a system designed to help, and it ends up costing us all. They make false claims, such as stating something that was lost or stolen was worth more than it actually is; fake accidents or stage robberies to get paid for injuries or loss that never occurred; or submit false applications in order to pay a lower monthly premium. No matter how a person commits insurance fraud, it is illegal — and those found guilty face serious consequences. The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) indicates insurance fraud results in the loss of $80 billion a year. Insurance fraud is one of the most common crimes, and governments and private industry actively fight fraud and work to protect unsuspecting people from falling for scams. A couple of ways DIFS helps people is by offering free consumer alerts to keep us up to date on the latest scams and fraud schemes. They also offer a way to anonymously report insurance fraud. For more information on this issue, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS, call the consumer hotline at 877-999-6442 or send an email to DIFS-Info@michigan