2024 Human Rights Commission Business/Organization Humanitarian Efforts Awardees

May 23, 2024

Human Rights Commission to Honor Business/Organization Humanitarian Efforts Awardees

The City of Traverse City Human Rights Commission received nominations for its Business/Organization Humanitarian Efforts Award, which was established to honor and give public recognition to a business or
organization that has demonstrated an ongoing and sustained commitment to helping others in the Traverse City Region. Two organizations were selected for the 2024 award, Grand Traverse Industries and J&S
Hamburg South Airport: Project Feed the Kids.

“Traverse City is fortunate to have so many organizations working to better improve the many lives in our community. This year’s honorees truly exemplify the spirit of this Human Rights Commission award and
we are honored to highlight their important contributions to the fabric of this community,” stated Kristine Bosley, Human Resources Director.

Grand Traverse Industries, is celebrating its 50 years of service to this community. They provide services in Mancelona and Traverse City, all the counties from Northern Michigan and to the U.P. in some of the
programs. They serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the deaf community. They ensure these individuals have a voice or an advocate and is an employer. This gives opportunities for
these individuals, who many times the community may think cannot do things and they say “Yes They Can”. There are about 200 people on their payroll in various programs. These can be an independent
placement in the community for a job or in one of the programs, or facilities where they work to make sure that regardless of the challenge, productivity, or disability they are facing, they can earn a paycheck if that
is one of their desires. Take a creative approach and work hard to assure that reality and dignity to earn a paycheck. People take for granted that we can go out and get a job and make a paycheck and do the things
we love to do, but these individuals have that same desire and wish and dream to participate in this community. There are many accessibility challenges and assure them that they will work hard to get those
opportunities. When it comes to servicing individuals who are deaf, they provide quality interrupting services, for example, when they are trying to get a job, to learn and train, receiving a diagnosis at a medical
office, to receive good and happy news all the things in life and communication is clear. Ensure that individuals have the opportunity to participate in the community. They provide the support, transportation,
staffing to help them with opportunities. They create and run programs that prevent isolation. Community is very important, being around peers and friends and people that we relate to and connect with is an
important piece to human life. They work to make sure that the opportunities to communicate and not be isolated at home.

J&S Hamburg (South Airport), Project Feed the Kids; this is a non-profit established in 2020, food items are placed in bags and taken to numbers coolers in the surrounding areas. They goal was to show up for
those in need. J&S owners and their volunteers packed meals, in their first week, they packed 81 meals. Within an hour, the meals were gone. The very next week, they packed 500 meals and those were gone
within 2 and a half hours. Currently for Project Feed the Kids, they pack 3,000 meals every single week. The mission is to help fight food insecurities in our communities. Currently, coolers are located in Kingsley,
Kalkaska, and Buckley, one located across from Moomers, and one in front of the restaurant. The main focus is children. Coolers are 100% non-judgmental, they are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. People
simply pull up and take whatever they need. The coolers stay open 24 hours to help the dignity of the parents. Programs have many qualifications to receive benefits. With Project Feed the Kids, there are no
qualifications. If someone is hungry they take a meal. Coolers are located close to schools so that if kids want they can take meals home from school. These kids know where these coolers are. Our meals are 100%
donation-based. Currently, it costs about $2.50 to produce each meal. There are no employees, 100% volunteer-based. There are currently 50 volunteers who pack meals every week on Thursday at 9 am. Food
is fundamental to everyone, especially children who are growing up. Food is brain fuel, children who are hungry are children who cannot learn, may make errors in school, or have behavioral problems. It’s hard
enough to ask for help, providing access any time of the day or night, any day of the week, saves people from embarrassing situations. Food costs are at an all-time high, families are struggling. Providing
assistance when they need help, maybe it's one day, maybe it's more. Operations are rapidly expanding, and would love to put a cooler in every town, filling them all is difficult, and with the coolers, there is an
obligation that there is food available to these families. Every weekend, there are about 2,000 lbs of food donated from Costco. Through the eyes of the people, the truth of the work is evident and genuine. Hunger
hurts and it's physically, mentally, and emotionally painful. Although the main focus is feeding the children, the coolers are open to the homeless, veterans, and the elderly. It’s amazing, the program has fed nearly
350,000 people in less than 4 years. There is also an Adopt the Family Program for Christmas. Last year over 1,000 families were adopted for Christmas, helped over 4,000 kids, and provided not only presents,
but also clothing, toiletries, dinners, gift cards, and toys. This program has brought our community together.

The Human Rights Commission would like to make an honorable mention of the other organizations/businesses who were nominated this year and were finalists for consideration, and extend gratitude for their positive impacts on the Traverse City community: Addiction Treatment Services, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse Health Clinic (2023 Recipient), Veterans Affairs, Grand Traverse Migrant Ministry Project, Higher Grounds, Immigration Law & Justice Michigan, Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, and We Fight. 

Please join the Human Rights Commission in celebrating the honorees on June 3, 2024, in the 2nd Floor Training Room located in the Governmental Center 400 Boardman Ave at 5:30 pm. Following, awards
will be presented at the City Commission meeting at 7:00 pm.

Learn more about the Human Rights Commission.