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IW Inspiring Women

Inspiring Women at home and around the world

Orchids in full bloom
Enigmatic orchids

Note: This is the first installment in a feature series about Inspiring Women. It is dedicated to all women who are trying to make a difference and better other people’s lives, as well as their own.  In putting together this feature series, I was inspired by several moments in life that in particular stand out.

No.1  A dedication of a Relax, mind, body & soul book by Barbara Heller from my son Jake: “I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” Kuba

No. 2  While on a story prior to Mother’s Day, I dropped in at Ace Bernard Hardware to talk about the prizes with owner Charlie Bernard. We talked also about the Lowell Area Chamber and its director Liz Baker.

“You know what I like about Liz, she keeps re-inventing herself,” Bernard said.

No. 3 Again on a story prior to the International Women’s Day I talked to Sow Hope president Mary Dailey Brown.

“If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty.”

No. 4  At a parents teacher conference at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell in mid 1990s: “Mrs. Pala, we do not give up,” teacher Karen Latva said.

Vestaburg woman leads in trail development

Carolyn Kane chaiperson
Carolyn Kane received an award in Washington DC for trail development in 2011.

Name: Carolyn Kane

Position: chairperson of Friends of Fred Meijer River Valley Trails

Residence: Vestaburg, Michigan

Family: husband Dale, daughters Carol, Kim, Connie, and 14 great grandchildren

Hobbies & Interests: snowmobiling, family

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Vestaburg, MI- Working frantically on a $300,000 grant application from the Natural Resources Trust Fund with an April 1st deadline, Carolyn Kane can get a little stressed out.

Kane’s official title is the chairperson of the Friends of the Fred Meijer River Valley Trails. But her multiple tasks reach far beyond the title, along with the awards for spearheading the development of mid- Michigan trails since 1993.

“I was fortunate enough to retire young,” Kane said. “We planned well and had luck with our investments.”

Kane retired from GTE/Verizon at the age of 52 with an entire space of opportunities ahead of her. As a passionate snowmobiler, Kane was upset when she found out that the Heartland Trail didn’t go anywhere except from Elmdale to three miles outside of Greenville.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to have safe trails,” she said.

At, first, she was elected as secretary of the Friends of Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, and later Kane got involved with the Montcalm Economic Development Alliance.

“I’ve always been interested in recreational corridors and economic development,” she said.

Other than snowmobiling, Kane with husband Dale were avid motorcyclists riding through all but five states.

“Summer after summer we traveled in small groups and we had a wonderful time,” she said.

They also had a fifth wheel and a boat on Burt Lake at Indiana River.

All these were driving forces behind Carolyn’s extensive involvement with West Michigan Greenways Coalition.

“I am a person with a lot of interests,” she said. “I enjoy different things. I’ve never focused on just one thing.”

So, Kane made a natural switch from snowmobiles to trails.

Growing up on a farm near Owosso as the oldest of seven children, Kane learned to be an administrator responsible for her actions.

“I turned into a workaholic,” she said.

Since, Kane learned to take on responsibility early on in life, she also learned to plan for the future.

“When I say I am going to do it,” she said. “I do it. It still boggles my mind that I invite all these managers along the corridor and they show up.”

 As a project coordinator, Kane has no qualms about calling people up whether for a meeting or for money.

One of her biggest achievements in spite of its delay was a trail project around St. John’s.

“We stayed the course, but there also has been a lot of interest in trails,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges was naming the trail from Lowell to Greenville because of the many municipalities involved.

“It took us three years. We had to come up with a compromise,” Kane said. “Greenville finally relented the Flat River in the name and it became the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Trail.”

Today, Kane has four-drawer file cabinet full of trail stuff. It was donated by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. In spite of numerous setbacks, she is motivated by the passion to get the trail done.

“People are so appreciative of what has transpired,” she said.

Over the years, the inflation has taken its toll on trail projects as well.

In 1994, the 42-mile Heartland trail corridor was purchased for $245,000, as opposed to the 37.5-mile corridor from Ionia to Greenville for $2.3 million.

The 82-mile long trail from Greenville to Owosso with a price tag of $12 million is all but complete except for 26 miles.

However, there are still gaps between different communities that would complete the 7th longest trail in the USA. The 125-mile long Fred Meijer Mid-Michigan Trail Network will ultimately connect Greenville to Owosso going through Michigan heartland and farmlands.

These unfinished gaps have become Kane’s biggest fear. When asked what she is afraid of Kane responded:

“Failing to complete this project!  Just imagine 52 miles from Owosso to Saranac and from Greenville to Alma at 42 miles, a gaping hole from Greenville to Belding which is 2.2 miles, and Belding to Lowell  another BIG gaping hole 14 miles.  My image and/or reputation would be destroyed!  Certainly, I would not be inspiring!”

 Now, that response is typical for hard-driving Kane. Often, she comes into the meetings hauling in binders of trail documents in mid- winter, when others fail to show up. At other time she runs into a deer on her way to an evening meeting 90 miles from home.

Kane also faces chronic complainers with unsubstantiated whining:

“Oh, the trail will bring in crime and trash,” many complained.

“What about the deer on the trails,” others worried.

And then came the biggie: the Federal Lawsuit over the easements of the adjacent owners of the rail trail.

“Michigan has never dealt with something like this,” she said. “Going through the process was fearful. Other states lost the corridor.”

After a long battle, the trail group was able to preserve the corridor and the adjacent land owners were compensated for taking of the property, but they had to have deeds. A handful remains to be resolved.

“It’s amazing what you can do when you say I can,” Kane said. “My husband always says, if there is something you can’t get done, give it to Carolyn.”

Carolyn is amazed at the recognition she received for more than two decades of trail work.

2009 Mid America Trails award for trail work

2011 DNR Partners in conservation award for advancing Rail to Trail work

“I’ve made up my mind, if it’s going to happen,” she said. “It’s going to be up to me. I’ll stay with it until I get it done.”

But, other factors such as health come into play as time goes by.

“I am not going to put my health at risk to get it done, even though I am anxious to complete everything.”

Kane puts in anywhere from 25 to 30 hours a week, and that is without pay.

“How about goals and role models?” I asked.

“As you get older, the long term goals are not as important as they used to be,” Kane said.

“My immediate goal is to get the funding in place and go back to the Belding project,” she said.

Barbara Nelson Jameson with National Parks Service has always been a role model for Kane.

“When I grow up I want to be like Barbara,” Kane said to herself at the first meeting of the Heartland Trail. “She was eloquent in anything she did.”

The other one was Roger Sabine with Kent County Parks.

“He is really someone I can trust,” she said.

Kane is especially proud of being chosen as the National Rail Trail Champion by Rails Trails Conservancy in Washington DC in 2011.

Carolyn Kane, the woman behind the superwoman

 Emma: What makes you feel good about yourself?

Carolyn: Making time for grandchildren and great grandchildren, just doing things with them. They all have snowmobiles. Pulling them around and getting some chocolate.

Emma: What do you do for yourself?

Carolyn: My family has always been number one. I enjoy spending time with them, picking them up from McDonald’s.

Emma: How do juggle work and family?

Carolyn: Balance. There are things that you have to give and take. You have to make decisions. The clean house doesn’t seem as important as 50 years ago.

Emma: Do you prioritize?

Carolyn: I manage to set priorities, but they change, when grand babies come. Life changes you get a different perspective and you have fun with it.

Emma: What keeps you going?

Carolyn: I am very happily married. At this stage in life it makes a difference. I am blessed with a wonderful family.

Emma: What is your inspiration?

Carolyn: The Lord wanted me to do this, he has directed me and helps me stay the course. I don’t get to give up. I keep coming back to the target.”

Emma: Tips and advice for other women.

Carolyn: The key is balance and keeping things in perspective.

Copyright © 2015 Emma Blogs LLC, All Rights Reserved.

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Lowell on water is down to earth

Free Association

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt:“Free Association.”

Down to earth people are the fabric of Lowell

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, – I make my home in Lowell, a small town in the Midwest. It lies at the crossroads of two major waterways, the Flat River in the northeast and the Grand River in the southern part.

What I’ve always liked about this hometown is the people who live here. They are down to earth folks who earn their living the hard way. Many of them work two part-time low paying jobs with no benefits.

The median family income is around $40,000.

Downtown Lowell.
Lowell rowing team on the Flat River.

But, what is most fascinating about Lowell are the people who care about each other. They get together to rejoice and celebrate their successes as in the annual Lowell Area Chamber membership gathering that awards the Person of the Year.

They mourn together when a great citizen passes such as recently Ray Zandstra, and many others who have made a difference in the community.

And in order not to forget community giants like Ivan Blough, the people of Lowell establish foundations and scholarships. The one that honors this truly down to earth man is called the Ivan K. Blough Vocational Scholarship.

 

KDL library
The KDL Engelhardt Library in Lowell sits right on the Riverwalk.Being fortunate enough, the town has received bequests from local philanthropists such as Mr. E., that is Harold Englehardt.

In May of 1996, Englehardt’s will set into motion a legacy that  benefited the Lowell area community forever. Known as a low-key, humble man who lived his life simply and without fanfare, Englehardt was a self-made millionaire who chose to give back to the community he loved.

Englehardt gave a $12.7 million bequest to the community which in turn created the Lowell Area Community Fund (LACF) See more at: http://www.grfoundation.org/lowell#sthash.4QQlenYl.dpuf

Another area philanthropist was late Peter Wege who donated money for farm preservation and nature education in the Wittenbach Wege Agriscience Center.

100 Posts
Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience nature center

The community also fights together; in the fall it is the annual Pink Arrow Pride game that spreads awareness and raises money to fight cancer.

The community honors its veterans, late and alive, in the annual Memorial Day parade.

Lowell Main Street
Main Street before Pink Arrow game.

It stepped up in an uprecendented effort to fight hunger and poverty when local churches created the Flat River Outreach Ministries (FROM) in 1998.

The community collects food for the FROM pantry throughout the year in different food fights like the north side against the south side of the town. Residents bring cans of food to the annual Riverwalk parade in July.

“Can you imagine, all these people bringing cans to the parade,” said former pastor Roger LaWarre of the First Congregational Church of Lowell.

The community loves the arts and it has named the gallery inside Lowell Arts after another philanthropist King Doyle.

It preserves history as local businessman Greg Canfield saved three buildings on the bridge from demolition and turned them into the Main Street Inn,

People of the past, present and the future make up the fabric of this resilient community that is bound together by love and caring.

Copyright (c) 2015 Emma Blogs, All rights reserved

 

Fireside chat

Fireside Chat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

I would like to have over WordPress poet from Rumania Valeriu Dg Barbu to discuss his eloquent poetry. I would ask him where he gets his ideas and what inspires him

image
Rumania poet Valeriu Dg Barbu

“Valeriu do you miss your old country?” I ask.

I miss mine sometimes when I see posts from the group “I love Czech Republic. ”

Was I a coward to have left a lot of the things that I value behind?

Am I living an illusion or a dillusion? Would I go back if someone asked me to?

What would have happened if I had stayed?

Will I ever be able to overcome this dilemma?

How about you Valeriu?

Follow me on EW Emma’s Writings on http:// emmapalova.com

Follow Valeriu on http://valeriudgbarbu.wordpress..com