Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.

by Jess Wolfe

Students at Grandville High school collected over 200 hats, gloves, and blankets to be handed out in Detroit and Grand Rapids by High Hopes Hammock Co. CEO Connor Moynihan and myself. As a High Hopes Hammock Co. sales rep, I traveled downtown to Degage Ministries. It was an eye-opening experience and my perspective is forever changed.

Degage is a safe place for individuals living without a place to call home. They allow homeless people the opportunity to buy a low-cost meal, no more than two dollars. If an individual can’t afford a meal, they have the option to work a small task at Degage such as sweeping or wiping down tables. This gives them a sense of dignity when purchasing the food because they know they’ve worked for it. This program is a great way to keep individuals off the streets. Degage serves 400-500 people every day.

In addition to the winter gear, I also handed out bracelets donated by Cornerstone Church of Grand Rapids. The bracelets which read ‘Live Grateful’ serve as a constant reminder of the importance of living our lives with an attitude of gratefulness. 

During the time I was handing out winter gear and bracelets, I had the chance to catch some of it on video. Check out what these individuals would like to say to the world…

When Robert saw a new jacket on the pile of winter gear, he was so excited. After putting the new one on he placed his old jacket on the table saying,

“I don’t need this, somebody else can use it. I can only wear one coat.”

Another man by the name of John was walking out when he turned to me and said,

“It’s better to give than it is to receive. It says that in the Bible!”

These interactions were so humbling and changed my perspective on how I perceive homeless individuals.

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One woman didn’t want to be on video but allowed me to capture a picture during our conversation about life and what she is going through.

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Regina explained to me that she reads the Bible every day and wants other people to know about the Lord but when she tries to tell people, they never want to listen to the good news she has to offer.

When I asked Regina what she’s most thankful for in life, her answer was simple.

“I’m thankful that I’m livin’.”

Later I asked her what she wanted to tell the world and she responded with a confident answer.

“Praise the Lord.”

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It doesn’t get much more humbling than this.

When a homeless person values faith and hope so highly, it changes your perspective immensely. It was in this moment I realized I needed to break down the barrier of stigma between myself and those who are less fortunate.

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“A lot of what life is about is just a balance of how I find the proper perspective on what’s going on, to step back and see a different picture.”

says Cornerstone Pastor Marcus Schmidt in an interview surrounding homelessness and living grateful.

“I think a general stigma with a lot of it is that, they’re lazy, that they have no desire to work hard, to pull themselves up and make something happen and in many cases that’s not true.”

Continual judgment forms stigmas. As a society, we need to break down these barriers built on our judgment and realize that homeless individuals are humans just like the rest of us. They aren’t helpless they just need a little help getting out of their circumstances. It’s not always their fault that they are down in their luck.

“I think in most of our society, we put this divide between those who have and those who have not. Most of us are just thinking we will stay away from those who don’t have what we have because they’re not worthy of our love or not worthy of our attention. I think it’s sad because these people want love, they want attention, they want somebody to care, they want to know that they’re not alone.”

This is a huge issue all throughout society. They’re just trying to make the best of their circumstance and live life to the fullest. Aren’t we all? 

“The housing crisis in this area is a challenge as well because there’s not enough affordable housing. This creates a cliff effect that a family finds themselves homeless because they can’t afford to live where they’re living and they can’t find a job that is going to pay them enough to afford what their needs are. The supplemental help from the government helps them along but if they make too much money they lose the government aid so now they’ve taken five steps backwards and it’s a huge cycle that’s deeper than what we ever realize it could be.”

This is the cycle which often pushes homeless individuals down a path of depression and anxiety which is why it’s so hard to break this cycle of homelessness. 

“I have become friends with a lot of people who were homeless and I wanted to fix all of them and you can’t, you can’t just do that because if I want it more than they want it, then it’s not gonna work.”

The best option is to help someone along the way, not to push them or to pull them, but to walk side by side supporting the homeless individual. This is what Degage and several other organizations around Grand Rapids are working to do. The homeless individuals have very little yet in the midst of their circumstances they are thankful for so much.

“Every time I’ve sat down to pray with them, the things that they pray for were like “God I just thank you for the air that I get to breathe today. I thank you for the fact that I had a meal.” And those are some of the things that I hardly ever pray for. The little things that I take for granted are very important to them.”

With a mindset of thankfulness, positivity moves to the forefront of your life, overpowering and outweighing adversity. Often times the things we take for granted in life are the most important things in which we should be most thankful for.

“God is working in every moment of every day in small ways that we just take for granted because of how blessed we are. This is something I’ve learned from my friends who are in poverty, that they don’t take things for granted that I do, so it’s helped me to change that perspective.”

Life is what you make of it. It’s not about the circumstance in which you’re living in. It’s about the way in which you’re living in the circumstance you’re given. Perspective can be altered. Sometimes you just have to see what it’s like to live in some else’s shoes.

Live Grateful.

Humans of GHS

taylor 008.JPGby Miguel Guzman

Mr. Lubbers

Q: What is one of your favorite memories with your parents?

A: “Vacations. My dad was a teacher and he took us out west and out east, and long camping vacations in the summertime, so like for a month. That was awesome.”

Q: What was your favorite place/city you visited?

A: “They took us to the Bahamas when my brothers and I were in highschool, and we drove to Florida, but then flew over to the Bahamas in one of those little boat planes that lands in the harbor.”

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Israel Morales

Q: What is one the craziest moments in your life?”

A: “One of the craziest moments is when I moved to Mexico. I completely left everything behind and started a brand new life in a brand new country. That was pretty crazy. Not a lot of people get to do that and then it’s more crazy when you get to come back to your old and start again. So it’s a fresh start, and I can’t complain. Both of them are really awesome.”

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Mr. Blevins

Q: What do you think the future is going to be like?

A: “I think that we’re going to be forced to go back to nature, a little more than we use to.”

Q: What is one of your favorite memories with your father?

“Fishing, stream fishing. We did it every year, once a month during the summer, until about five year ago when he couldn’t do it anymore.”

Q: What do you think life should be about?”

“Life should be about the connections you have with others and with yourself.”

Mrs.Buckles

Q: What is your favorite memory with your mother?

A: “It was this road trip that we took going to Idaho, ironically to go visit my aunt, and it was just fun. We ended up stopping in Chicago along the way, and it was just kind of nice being with her and my sister too, and it was just the three of us being able to connect and talk and go along and have fun.”

The Path to an Eagle Scout

by Pat Clark

The Boy Scouts of America is a group “you usually join in elementary school that does certain projects and by completing those projects you can earn badges and earn your way up the ranks” explained senior Nick Weigle .

Nick Weigle has done just that by earning the highest rank, Eagle Scout.  

Becoming an eagle scout takes numerous years and a lot of time.

“It sure does take a lot of time, but you get used to it,” Weigle said. “It becomes part of your life.”

Weigle said you need 21 merit badges and also. need to complete a “final project” which takes a long time.

Being in Boy Scouts in high school can be embarrassing for some as it can be “childish” or “lame,” but Wiegle said that most of his friends didn’t know he was still in Boy Scouts until a MLive article was published honoring him as the rank.

“My friends didn’t really know I was a Boy Scout and I liked keeping it that way,” Weigle said as he started to smile. “When the article on MLive came out I was surprised in that my friends didn’t make fun of me or hardly talk about it…I even got a few congratulations.”

Wiegle expressed gratitude for his Boy Scout experience.

“It definitely has helped shape me as a kid growing up because it was a way for me to give back to the community in a way I enjoyed doing.”

Nicks dad, Matt, also commented on the subject saying “I’ve seen Nick grow in his leadership abilities and his critical thinking skills as he has gone along his path to Eagle.”

Overall, Nick is glad he kept with Boy Scouts and called it “a cool experience.”

Giving during the Holidays

by Alyssa Potyraj

Have you ever donated to charity ? Now have you ever donated to a charity not during the holiday season? Why is it that we are more willing to donate during the Holidays when the need is prevalent throughout the entire year? This trend has become so powerful it has created a global movement of giving back referred to as “Giving Tuesday” following Thanksgiving. This movement is meant to join everyone together in order to do good and help people focus on others while they are in the giving spirit.

As the holiday season begins to ramp up, the opportunities for donating seem to increase exponentially. From Thanksgiving food drives to Toys for Tots and Salvation Army donations. According to the San Diego Foundation “38 percent of those who donate to charity said that they are more likely to do so during the holiday season.”

Jen Timmer who works at a local shelter downtown said that her shelter is impacted by this trend.

“We generally get the bulk of our donations between Thanksgiving and January 1st,” Timmer said. “We also have a couple of major fundraisers that bring in a large portion of our monetary donations. The fundraisers are held in March and November.”

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Many people donate during the holidays because it is convenient and encouraged throughout the “season of giving.” Sophomore Cici Lowe said that she donated to the school wide food drive because her teacher encouraged their class and she also has seen the good in donating to the less fortunate. Cici has also helped at local soup kitchens with her church mostly around Christmas time.

Although donating is highly encouraged around the holidays, it is important to donate year round. Timmer states that it is important to do so because “the shelter often run low on important items which we then have to purchase it which negatively affects our budget. The needs do not go away outside the season of giving yet the donations seem to slowly fade away leaving shelves of shelters bare and empty throughout the remainder of the year.”

Many people donate because it makes them feel good inside but they don’t always realize the impacts of the donations. Timmer explains a time when she felt that the shelter greatly impacted people in need through the kindness of others.

“A huge donation which took a few years to produce is our side yard. It is a safe play yard that gets a ton of use by our families. This donation came from Junior League who came to us as volunteers and really became passionate about our cause. They took on the side yard as Signature Project and designed an awesome play space for our kids. The kids are able to play with their moms, other children and with staff. They feel safe in the environment and enjoy it very much!” Timmer said.

Many people who have received donations in the past feel as they need to give back or donate later in life to help others in the same way they have been helped. A local kettle bell ringer in Grandville shared her story of why she gives back during the holiday season.

“When I was unemployed, Salvation Army helped my children to have a Christmas by providing them with gifts, so now I give back to help others,” she said.

Donating is beneficial all year round so it is important to continue giving outside of the holiday season. It not only helps the less fortunate but it also makes you feel good doing something for the greater good.

Go Green!

by Alyssa Koon

Most students at Grandville High School recycle. In fact, about 87.4% say they recycle. Rhayna Lillie, president of the Green Team says, “at my house, we often recycle more than we throw away.”

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The GHS Green Team has had a big impact on making the school more environmentally safe. They helped to spread the word that we should be taking care of our recyclables and we should be cleaning up after ourselves. The Green Team hasn’t always been called the Green Team though.

“We had a conservation club for a couple years until I realized students did not know what it was because, funny story actually…” Mr Randall said. “One day a student showed up and said, ‘I’m here for the conversation club’ and I said, ‘what do you mean?’ and they said, ‘I like to talk, let’s have conversation’ and I said, ‘No, no. This is the conservation club’ and they said, ‘what’s that?’”

Mr. Randall knew after that encounter with the student that the Conservation Club needed a new name and maybe then it would be more popular and get more attention. He made a good decision by changing the name. More students became interested in the club and he saw an increase in attendance at the meetings.

Rhayna joined the team on a whim her junior year. She did not begin attending meetings until late in the second semester because there were a few seniors who were in charge and they were not the best at including others. She decided to run for president her senior year.

“My decision to try to become president was to hopefully change the group so that others didn’t feel the way I did and also to try to push harder to really get things done rather than just meeting early in the mornings every other week,” Rhayna said.

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Rhayna has been passionate about keeping the environment safe for a long time. She enjoys watching documentaries and researching environmental issues.

“Recycling is important to me because of how much trash gets put into our environment each day,” Rhayna said. “This is a particular problem in our oceans as there are multiple ‘garbage patches,’ one of which they estimate to be about the size of Texas, that are filled with microplastics or shredded pieces of plastic that are perfect for animals to swallow and can cause them harm. Our trash shouldn’t be in their environment and many people don’t know about or understand this issue.”

Other people just recycle because it seems like the right thing to do. One student said, “I don’t really care but if it means a better future for my future kids, then sure I’ll do it”.

Recycling has not always been around. It started popping up about 20 years ago and has become more popular year after year.

“It wasn’t a thing when I was a little boy. It wasn’t available,” Randall said. In his early adulthood, “communities started to offer that as an option and you know I just felt like it was the right thing to do. We kinda did it a little bit and recycled some and, you know as a homeowner, it costs a little bit of money, $10 a month or something, no big deal”.

However, $10 a month is what keeps some families from recycling. Recycling comes with a cost. It is not free. Caleb Jelsma-Cale’s family does not recycle due to the fees that come with it. However, Kent County offers free recycling dump- stations where you can go to drop off your recycling. The three locations are Recycling & Education Center, North Kent Transfer Station, and Kentwood Public Works Facility.

Randall said he started recycling because it felt right, but continued for other reasons.

“You know we start to see more and more of the effects of environmental issues, climate change and those types of things and as I got older and in my thirties, I started to feel like it was much more important to reduce our footprint and be a better example for our neighbor and my students and our adult friends and that’s just one thing we can do to demonstrate that we feel it’s important to take care of our footprint. So it’s not just about recycling because recycling isn’t the answer. Recycling helps a little bit if I am being honest, it helps a little, it doesn’t help a lot in terms of the environment because we still generate way too much waste, we use way too much plastic, but this is my demonstrating to the people around us that we care about our environment, it’s more symbolic.” -Mr. Randall

Rhayna shares, “One thing that I do outside of recycling to help the environment is that I’m a vegetarian. People may not realize this but the way that we handle our livestock is extremely bad for the environment. Cows in particular release more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation system combined and a lot of that is methane which has an exponentially greater effect. The best way to eat concerning the environment and really your health is a full vegan plant-based diet but that is very difficult with our animal product saturated society. For me though, being vegetarian is a very easy choice with everything that I have learned”.

The Green Team’s stated goal is to raise awareness amongst high schoolers about environmental issues and to help the high school reduce its footprint. The team hopes to raise enough money to be able to purchase renewable energy for GHS. Their goal is to have several solar panels on the roof of our building that will reduce the cost of heating/cooling in our building. Using the excess money these panels will save, the hope is to buy other products that are safer for the environment like motion sensor lights and hand dryers.

If you are interested in participating or learning more about the Green Team, their meetings are every other Wednesday morning at 7am. You can also contact Mr. Randall or Rhayna for more information.

 

Black Friday Soon to be Forgotten?

by Lizzy Pena

Black Friday. Otherwise known as the craziest shopping day of the entire year. It’s the day right after Thanksgiving that everyone wakes up at the crack of dawn for. What makes waking up an hour after you go to bed so worth it? The deals.

Stores all around the U.S give out insane deals to try to get people to come into their stores.

“I’ve gone in the past because I wanted to experience the craziness,” freshman Jane Durham said. “Everyone always made it seem like the lines would be out the building and the people would be unusually insane. Yeah they were right.”  

Recently there has been news of Black Friday slowing down and eventually dying out.

When asked how she felt about this, freshman Chloe Beatty said it wouldn’t affect her much.IMG_1943

“I do most of my shopping online anyways, and so do my parents,” Beatty said. “But a lot of other people will probably miss it.”

Senior Taelor Peaks works at the Kohls in the Rivertown mall and said “I couldn’t imagine not having a mile long line out the door on Black Friday.”

Most stores would probably notice the difference, too. Black Friday is the kick off of the holiday season, so the loss of the holiday shopping would be very noticeable. 30% of annual earnings are made between Black Friday and Christmas.

Store employees can tell you crazy stories about Black Friday shoppers.

Jaela Divers, a junior at GHS and an employee at Justice, recalled a time she was working Black Friday, and two teenage girls ripped a shirt in half trying to grab it from one another.

“They looked like nice girls,” Divers said. “I never would have expected they could tear a pretty thick sweater right down the middle.”

There are numerous stories of how crazy people get on :lack Friday.

Junior Becca Larson explained a time when her grandma “Had to literally use me as a human shield since I was only twelve, she thought people would be a little less violent towards me!”

Black Friday will always be remembered whether it stays or goes. It’s kind of an unspoken holiday, but will it be replaced by Cyber Monday? This year’s lines will give us a look into the future.