May 24, 2010

What's with all these red Radio Flyers in Grand Rapids?

People around the Eastown area this past Saturday were probably wondering what all these Radio Flyers were doing galavanting around Cherry St. and in front of the ICCP building between the Rich App Gallery and The Green Well restaurant. Here's the scoop: The Heart of West Michigan's United Way's street team, MI Superfriendz, received the most generous gift of a dozen red Radio Flyers from the makers of this iconic American wagon. Thanks to Rich App and his never ending quest to help organizations he truly believes in. No strings attached.

After reading My Hotel Life's blog entry about the Rich App gallery, Rich passed on the link to his brother who happened to notice the Radio Flyer on the blog. He then passed it on to a friend who worked at Radio Flyer in Chicago. Rich suggested that I write a proposal describing how the MI Superfriendz were to use these wagons as a symbol of our mission to collect new and gently used books for the Schools of Hope program - a literacy program which helps students from 1st through 3rd grades in the Grand Rapids public schools. The Schools of Hope program tutors kids with reading and also provide ESL classes for families. 

Within days of sending the proposal to Radio Flyer, Rich called me and said that Radio Flyer was in and a dozen Radio Flyers were on its way to Grand Rapids. Just like that. No strings attached.

So we rounded the MI Superfriendz, at least those who were in town, to Rich's gallery for an assembly party and potluck luncheon on Saturday. Our kids were invited to join us too, and let me tell you, the kids were as enthusiastic about the work as our handy Superfriendz. I couldn't think of a better way (and better company) to spend a perfect Saturday afternoon in West Michigan.

Special thanks go to Rich App for making IT happen! And yes, he is not even officially part of the MI Superfriendz. And to our friends at Radio Flyer, especially Ashley Howell, we salute you for your generosity and for believing in our mission.

Be on the lookout for the official launch of our Radio Flyer Campaign for Schools of Hope in June. Do you have suggestions for possible locations and businesses who could host our Radio Flyers? Everyone is encouraged to drop off some new and gently used books to help those children and families in our community who are in need of our assistance.

Here's how you could help:

1. Schools of Hope needs more tutors who could volunteer 30 minutes a week during the school year. The program has about 1,200 tutors but could easily use 800 more.

2. Everyone is encouraged to drop off some new and gently used books to help those children and families in our community who are in need of our assistance.

3. Encourage your company, especially small businesses, to initiate a United Way workplace campaign.

4. Donate. 

Go to Heart of West Michigan United Way's website for more information about volunteering and starting a workplace campaign.

The street team: Jimmy Le, Michael De Meyer, Ryan Slusarzyk, Margaux Aquino,
George Aquino, Pete Brand, Super Dre, Laura Caprara, Don MacKenzie. Not pictured:
Laura Velasquez, Julie Regan, Rob Bliss, Paul Jendrasiak, Josh Depenbrok & Todd Ernst.

Home for Children - A perfect backdrop for the wagons

MI Superfriendz' "Abbey Road"
Yes, the wagons came unassembled.
Michael, Jimmy and Don assembling a wagon as Jimmy's nephew, Kendrick, looks on.

The jLe Wagon

Laura and Oscar

Super Dre "mixing" her salad

Don and Ryan share a smile during the assembly process

Big Oscar got into the action

Margaux and Kendrick

Michael takes in the warm conversation

Super Dre cracks up at our suggestion to place her DJ equipment on a Radio Flyer wagon

Jimmy, Ryan and Pete

Anthony studies Taylor's craftsmanship

Brody shows off his "Live United" cap


Jimmy Le said...

what a great day! I'm so happy i got to share it w/ my nephew Kendrick!

my hotel Life said...

Thanks for the jLe ribs!!!