Every once in a while I hear of a positive story idea, or better yet, of a person who makes a positive impact. Let me tell you, I love it when I do. I especially like to hear the good ol’ positive spin because these days there’s a lot of angry folks out there, folks who are just itching to start a fight or war of words. They are not afraid to shovel their truth to anyone and everyone around, even if those around don’t want to hear it.
I like positive stories, and since we’re close to the Major League Baseball World Series playoffs (and the Tigers are nowhere near a playoff game), I will put my feelings on getting a positive story idea in baseball terms. Sometimes I get column ideas pitched to me that I go for, swing and strike out. Other times I will let the pitch go by because it’s outside my strike zone. But, sometimes – oh boy sometimes — an idea is pitched and I know I’m gonna’ lay some wood on it. I will swing for the bleachers. So, get a load of this . . .
Last week Clarkston area resident Diane Ducat sent me an email with a subject line of Meet the YGT Lady! The email simply read, “Hello Mr. Rush, I’ve long appreciated your paper, from reading, contributing, and visiting your ‘real newspaper’ offices over the last 35 years so am excited to share this photo opportunity taken last evening and you have my permission to use it!”
The picture – which you can see in this column – was of a stately woman standing next to a sign in downtown Clarkston. The sign, as you can see, reads: You Got This. I wasn’t quite sure what the email was about, so I emailed Diane back, “Who or what is the You Got This Lady, Diane? What is the back story?”
Diane responded, “Her name is Birgie and she lives in walkable Downtown Clarkston!
She’s been putting up well-wish signs for the last two years to encourage the community, I’ve passed by them often and appreciated them.”
Ah! The light bulb went off inside my noggin. I got Birgie’s phone number and dialed her up. A woman with a German accent answered, Birgie, and I just started asking questions as a good reporter should. When we finished our conversation, I smiled.
She’s 63 years young but it seems Birgie’s life in the past couple of years hasn’t gone too well. She went through a divorce from her husband. Her only son died. She had to sell her car and now relies on friends to chauffer her around. She moved from living in a nice house on a lake to living in an apartment. She was frustrated and down-hearted. So, how could I smile after hearing that, you ask?
Dangit, folks! Let me finish.
With the proceeds from her auto sale, she paid off all her debts. And, she started moving forward. Since she needed some encouragement herself, she decided the best way to feel better was to make others feel better. “People need hope,” she said. “They need encouragement. So, I thought about it and ordered the signs. On one side it says, ‘Don’t Give Up.’ On the other side, ‘You Got This.’ One thing I have learned is to help lift people up and to enjoy one another. Do the little things. When you’re walking down the street, smile, and say hello to people. I’ve learned to take deep breaths and to smile again and I’m thankful.”
She said some have asked her if she will buy another car soon. She answers, “Why? When I need a ride, people come over. I really enjoy their company and I’m very thankful.”
Birgie has put up three of those signs around the Clarkston area and if you see one, give a silent thank you and send a mental hug to her. She’d do the same for you.
Thank you, Birgie. Even though I’m on a tight deadline, I’m smiling.
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The other week I wrote about a tele-town hall meeting I listened to about the proposed Oakland County Transit Millage folks will vote on come November 8. Last week, Addison Township resident Rob Guzanek sent me an email sharing his thoughts about the tele-town hall meeting and a letter he sent out to County Executive Coulter after he listened to the meeting, too.
“ . . . Many of the items you propose in this transportation vote, northern communities such as Addison Township already provide. Such as: A call center to schedule rides; Door to door transportation services; Lift assist vehicles – fully serviceable transportation services for our senior citizens and the disabled; and Expanded, bi-county routes between Oakland and Macomb Counties.
“Our North Oakland Transportation System (NOTA) meets and adapts quickly to our customer’s needs. Joining your SMART – Countywide program will do nothing to enhance our transportation program. We have three restaurants and two convenience stores in Addison Twp. Nobody from Royal Oak or even nearby Rochester will get on a bus to travel to the northeast corner of the county to shop or eat here. We have two paved roads (Rochester and Lakeville roads). There will be no bus stops in the rural country or on any of our dirt roads (Most of which are of non conforming widths).
“Here is an idea – Why can’t we have our roads plowed after a snowstorm and not have to wait three or four days? Or better yet, help improve electrical infrastructure so I do not lose power nine times (so far this year)!
“NOTA serves our community very well. Having a disabled child that uses NOTA for transportation on a daily basis, I know what the system can provide. We have a large range of coverage and there are other transportation services available if anyone must travel out of our area. In addition, our taxable rate per household is only 0.2343 Mills and not the 0.95 rate your proposal is requesting. So, it is a substantial TAX INCREASE for our residents – without any substantial addition to services received.
“Stop using rural residents as your bank account for projects we choose not to participate in. We should be able to opt out because we are ahead of the pack for serving our community. You will not even visit our Township to hold a meeting on this subject – but you sure want our money.”
So, what do you really think, Rob?
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