Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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.

“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.

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
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.

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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