Each year we put out our Annual Report. It covers what we've been up to throughout the last year. This includes new and expanded programs, funding expenditures, and statistics such as households assisted through various programs.
Looking back at this past year leaves me with mixed emotions. While trying to remain optimistic, I can see the triumphs of our local communities inviting new industry to the area; enhancing rural downtown buildings and housing options; economic growth continues to rise; and, residents continue to support retail buying. While on the flip side, we have also seen a fractured government that cannot seem to agree; saddened families and communities as a result of shootings in schools, churches, and at special events; residents worried about what could happen next for their health care; and, specifically in our region, low income people still struggle to make ends meet. So how do we find a way to remain positive and move forward?
John Lennon included some enriching thoughts in a song stating, “imagine all the people living for today.” Well, I believe his words remain accurate decades after the song “Imagine” was released. Our customers—people living on limited incomes or those working multiple jobs to pay the way—do have to live for today. They have to find a way to pay their bills, put food on their table, provide clothing for their children or care for extended family while remaining upbeat in a society that is not always supportive.
Furthermore, less people can afford to buy a home so they do not get the opportunity to earn equity for later years. Pay day lending firms require astronomical interest rates so if a person does need to borrow money, they may never get ahead with this liability. Student loan debt has grown to the point that they are in poverty before entering the workforce. Pensions and retirement accounts are most likely out of the question as the focus is on the ability to survive today.
So how can we help our customers and communities through this intense time and create potential for upcoming opportunities? We need to ensure that resources remain available for them locally, and at the State and Federal levels. We need to make sure we invest in supporting our neighbors through tough times so they can return to a stable life style. We need to advocate to the stakeholders, leaders and legislators that our country needs to support its own. Most of all, we need to let others know we care. We need to bring hope to their lives so that the positives outweigh the negatives. We need to remind everyone that small victories can have a big impact. We need to find ways to create bright pathways ahead.
“Imagine all people living life in peace.”
1574 E Washington Road
PO Box 768
Farwell, MI 48622
2300 E Ludington Drive
Clare, MI 48617
337 Lemke Street
Midland, MI 48642