Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Teaming up for Northern...
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Teaming up for Northern Michigan Jobs

Eric Pokoyway - August 31st, 2006
Kurston Crawford, a reservation agent at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa has a lot on her mind these days. Married with three sons, she is the primary provider for her family, because, right now, her husband is too sick to work. The Crawford family has some lofty medical bills, and with only a limited hourly-wage they’re impossible to pay.
The problem faced by the Crawford family is widespread throughout the region. The Grand Traverse Bay area has about 13,294 individuals living in poverty, representing eight percent of the population, according to data from the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.
Enter Teamwork Northwest (TWNW), a poverty reduction program dedicated to helping employees retain their jobs, provided through Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, Michigan WORKS, and The Department of Human Services. The organization focuses on the “working poor” families whose primary income is less than $25,000 a year. Crystal Mountain Resort is the largest participating business in the program with 55 employees.

FINDING RESOURCES
“Teamwork Northwest put me in touch with a discounted healthcare provider, which gave us considerable savings every month. We were able to use those funds for other things like glasses and braces,” Crawford said.
TWNW acts as a middleman providing employees with an avenue to programs funded by the state of Michigan and other charitable agencies in the Grand Traverse Area.
Crystal Mountain provides a co-pay employee health insurance plan, but for Crawford and her family of five, it was too expensive.
Also with the help of TWNW, Crawford was able to earn a General Education Diploma (GED). “It was always something that I put off and never took the time to do,” she said. “With some encouragement and help it was a push in the right direction.”
Deb Nale and Nancy VanPeeren are the Teamwork Northwest representatives in Benzie County. Two days a week they visit Crystal Mountain, meeting with each employee who wishes to participate in the program.
“We handle the issues that a human resource department can’t legally handle,” Nale said. They have dealt with everything from healthcare to domestic violence,
she added.

GETTING INVOLVED
Nale and VanPeeren have sought mundane things for their clients such as $10 gas cards. They have also sought auto repair assistance amounting to more than $1,000.
“We aren’t just shoveling money at them (Crystal Mountain employees); we help to find the resources they need to overcome their situations,” Nale said. “Folks are willing to help themselves if they are shown how to access the resources that are provided for them.”
“We don’t give them the answers; we focus on supporting the participants and helping them find their own solutions to their own problems,” VanPeeren said.
Nale spoke of another clent who makes about $15 an hour and lives by himself. Nale said he doesn’t exactly fit the “working poor” profile, but he has a substance abuse problem.
“We are getting Michigan Rehabilitative Services, and coordinating with Catholic Human Services to patch together a substance abuse program so he can manage his own treatment,” Nale said. “For some, we are their support system and, hopefully, we help them achieve happier healthier
life-styles.”
TWNW runs lifestyle improvement workshops that are available to all Crystal Mountain employees. The workshops include everything from money management to computer skills and child care services.

TURNOVER COSTS
Most of the participants that enter into the TWNW program have an immediate crisis that needs to be solved quickly, Nale said.
“Once we take care of that immediate crisis, the participants are able to sit back and see where they are and where they want to go,” Nale said.
Losing employees to lifestyle problems can be costly to local businesses.
“Employers tend to overlook the cost of turnover. They think that it’s just something they have to deal with, which is a common misconception,” said Elaine Wood, deputy director of Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.
“Employees aren’t always comfortable talking to their employers about these types of issues or it just doesn’t occur to them.”
The minimum cost to a business for employee turnover is 30 percent of the employee’s wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Turnover is the transition from hiring and firing of employees.
“Schools and businesses operate under middle-class norms and if you haven’t grown-up with that it’s difficult to fully understand the business environment,” Wood said.
Costs of excessive turnover are passed along to the customer, and prevent a business from growing and creating more jobs, she added.
TWNW tries to alleviate these problems by working with employees and searching for the correct resources to help them. It’s much more beneficial for the employer to create a lasting relationship with its employees, Wood said.
“For someone who is living in poverty it’s difficult for them to plan for the future. We try to teach them that,” Wood said. “It’s not hard finding jobs for people, but it’s difficult keeping the impoverished in those jobs.”


 
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