Waves Of Aid


    Sometimes, it may seem that business-to-business publications ignore the world at large to focus on specific news for specific readers.

    But no one can ignore the devastation that last week Sunday’s tsunamis wrought on Southeast Asia

    With death tolls projected to top 100,000 and the horror of amateur videos seeping out of that region of the world, the news is all too real to everyone in West Michigan

    So while the Business Journal this week does not have a specific story on the worldwide tragedy, it should be pointed out that there are plenty of opportunities for regional businesses and individuals to help.

    West Michigan’s permanent ambassador to the suffering of the world, International Aid of Spring Lake, last week announced that it can use all the cash contributions people and churches can send it.

    The agency has shipped $3 million in medical and relief supplies to Indonesia and also was freighting the first of four portable medical clinics to the region. MylesFish, president and CEO of the agency, said each clinic can provide basic medical service to up to 50,000 people.

    Fish said medical assistance is needed not only for people injured by multiple tidal waves in the southwest Pacific and Indian oceans, but also to help with probable epidemics that potentially threaten to kill as many people as the waves did.

    He explained that the World Health Organization believes cholera, TB and dysentery epidemics are likely to endanger tens of thousands of people. Fish said a large national retailer has donated 20,000 backpacks that International Aid now will use to assemble disaster relief kits.

    He said the kits — containing basic hygiene and health supplies such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste — will help combat the spread of disease. The agency also is responding to a request from the region for 20,000 blankets.

    To procure and ship these items, Fish said, International Aid is raising $300,000. “Just $30 will provide life-saving relief to a family in crisis,” he said.

    International Aid is a health-focused Christian relief and development organization that in the past decade has responded to disasters ranging from Hurricane Mitch in Honduras to the 9-11 terror attack in New York City

    Many local churches, businesses and individuals are backers of the relief agency’s meaningful and ongoing efforts.

    Those interested in helping can call the organization’s donation hotline at (800) 251-2502, visit www.internationalaid.org or send donations to International Aid, 17011 W. Hickory, Spring Lake, MI, 49456

    • OK, it’s diversity time.

    Anyone who thinks that the American public lacks diversity lacks brains. And the same goes for Grand Rapids

    Look, there were Indians here to begin with and a family headed by Louis Campau showed up to trade with them and anyone else. And a century before the Campaus even set up their trading post in Grand Rapids — a French term, by the way — the first of several waves of Scots-Irish were flooding west from the English-settled Atlantic shores.

    Later German, Italian, Scandinavian and Greek folk filtered into the area en route to Chicago along with the Dutch. And all those diverse names — Luyendyk, Ulrich, Pennelli, Seyferth, Russo, Lundgren and Vander Jagt — just, well, became as familiar in American ears and to American eyes as Russell, Logan, Smith and Flannagan. Likewise, too, in the wake of World War II and in advance of the USSR we met refugees from Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Latvia.

    But now at the start of 2005, looking through the Public Record — especially among Partnerships and Assumed Names Filed — brings to light newly American names on new businesses. Among them are new Yankee names like Zapata, Vuong, Seperovic, Naraghi and Kaspustin.

    We welcome you and the business and entrepreneurial spirit you bring to West Michigan

    • With these new entrepreneurs comes a new set of opportunities, too. Some of West Michigan’s “old guard” might represent just the type of transition these new entrepreneurs need when setting up shop here.

    SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) Grand Rapids Chapter No. 642 is seeking volunteer counselers to help small businesses succeed and grow.

    Spokesperson Jayne Schwartz said volunteers can share their business knowledge in a variety of ways, from leading business seminars to one-on-one counseling sessions to group presentations. Heck, even online e-mail counseling programs are available for those retired execs who still don’t have a lot of time on their hands.

    “Enjoy the satisfaction of contributing to the success of others by providing leadership to your community,” Schwartz said.

    For more information, contact the SCORE office at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce,

    111 Pearl St. NW

    , or call (616) 771-0305.

    The Zapatas and Vuongs of the world will thank you.

    Have a wonderful, safe and prosperous New Year!    

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