Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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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