I made my way to the Country Club of Lansing following a steady stream of red tail-lights. The evening was cold and damp, it was one of those nights when it would have been so easy to just go home and cuddle up on the couch. I guess I could have convinced myself that I purchased a ticket so it really wouldn’t matter if I went or not. I suppose that is partly true. However, as I joined more than 300 members of our community — all of them there to support Ele’s Place, and the families that they serve — I soon found that I was the one who benefited that evening. There are many events that we all attend, but none like the Ele’s Place Fall Reception. The first speaker of the evening was Adam Starr and his three adorable children. The Starr family is still attending Ele’s Place and going through the healing process. They wanted to share their story, because prior to the loss of his wife Mary, Starr had never heard of Ele’s place. He is making it his personal mission to let everyone know about Ele’s Place and how it is helping his young family. As a former Ele’s Place board member I know the mission, programming and who we serve. Hearing the Starr family’s story and how grateful they are to come to Ele’s Place every week puts it all into perspective. Many individuals and businesses in the Lansing area support Ele’s Place, some by volunteering, others with financial gifts. One such business in our community, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, does both. Michael A. Wells, president and CEO of Jackson National Life, is a leader who “walks the talk.” As the second speaker of the evening, Wells shared with us how his employees not only volunteer at Ele’s 5k race, held on the Jackson National Life campus, they also provide financial support. All of the dollars raised by Jackson National employees for Ele’s Place is matched two-to-one by the company. As Wells explained, it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes people say their glass is half-full or half-empty … I want you to know that as I left the Country Club of Lansing that cold and damp evening, my glass was full to running over. I couldn’t stop thinking about how fortunate we are to have businesses in our community with social values. How lucky we are to have Ele’s Place serving more than 200 children and their families every week. If you haven’t had the chance to learn about Ele’s Place and how they serve grieving children, I’d like you to call Ele’s Place and arrange to attend “A Tour of the Heart;” it’s not a fund raiser, takes only an hour of your time and it will change your life.
Deborah Ginsburg is a community volunteer and is employed with Sparrow Health System.