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Past Heroes – 2011

RARE Everyday Hero Stories


2011 - Anthony Colucci
Team Physician/Medical Director
2011 - Jaime Bellos
2011 - Janet Beattie
Nurse Practitioner
2011 - Jeff Grysen
Paramedic & Deputy Sheriff
2011 - Jim Braid
2011 - Kelley Peel
2011 - Larry Ritsema
President & CEO
2011 - Marsha Hoppe
2011 - Marvin Lucas
2011 - Patricia Sahakian
2011 - Philip Kerbawy
Everyday Hero
Anthony Colucci
Detroit Red Wings & Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Team Physician & Asst. Medical Director

Written by: Nicola Colucci, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

Many children see their parents as hero figures and admire them for different reasons, but my dad is a real everyday hero. His name is Anthony Colucci. He is the Team Physician for the Detroit Red Wings, an Emergency Room Physician, and the Assistant Medical Director at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. Although he has saved many lives in the emergency room, it is his other qualities that make him a real-life hero. His dedicated work ethic, moral fiber, and generosity go beyond normal expectations and make him an exceptional person – I am proud to call my dad.

My father’s work ethic is second to none. He is such a hard-working and dedicated employee. In his 20 years as an ER physician he has rarely missed work even when he was sick. This reluctance to miss work reflects his level of responsibility and his dedication to the other staff who would be overwhelmed in his absence. He often works 8- to 12- hour intense shifts in the emergency room followed by working the Detroit Red Wings’ games at Joe Louis Arena. He is always "on call" for the ER staff, Detroit Red Wing staff, family, friends and strangers. On a weekly basis, he will get a call for help and will rush out to assist in any way he can.

The moral fiber of a person is demonstrated by his actions and words. My father has frequently discussed and displayed the importance of this quality to my brother and me. One of the sayings my dad always stressed with us was to remember ‘CSI’; Character, Spirituality, and Integrity in all situations. A person’s character shows others what you value in life. Taking pride in your work and in yourself should be at the top of the list. Our spirituality and Christian beliefs should always be a part of our everyday decisions. Finally, integrity is the code of conduct by which you live your life, and it guides the choices that you make. These values should remain steadfast even when there is peer pressure. Taking a stand for what is right and being a man of one’s word is consistently demonstrated by my father.

My dad has made a real difference not only in my life, but in the lives of many others in the community. For instance, in 2005, my father’s quick response helped save the life of Detroit Red Wings hockey player Jiri Fisher. This inspired Jiri and my dad to help others by starting a charity called Healthy Hope Foundation. The foundation holds a celebrity hockey game and other fundraisers to raise money to buy defribulators for communities that need them. The donated defribulators have already started saving lives in the Saginaw and Frankenmuth areas. In addition to the Healthy Heart Foundation, my dad is actively involved in several other charity organizations, including the Oakwood Healthcare Foundation, Faith Medical Clinic, and the Ambassador Club.

Although he has worked for many charitable organizations, it is the everyday situations that have arisen over the years that make him an extraordinary person. He goes out of his way to help people many of whom are often strangers. One example includes, the time he was driving home from work, and a car went off the road into a river. As others just stood by watching, he dove into the water to help the driver. Another time a man suffered a heart attack on the golf course, and my dad went up to assist him until the EMS arrived. He is always the first to take action without hesitation. Every couple of months, he also volunteers to take someone with special needs to a Red Wings Game. He introduces them to the players, gets autographs and helps them have a truly memorable evening. Incidents like these occur quite frequently. Whenever helping someone in need, my dad reacts with courage and in a selfless manner, and never expects compensation in return.

It is with great pride that I nominate my father Anthony Colucci for the Everyday Hero in Our Community. He possesses all the qualities of a real hero: excellent moral fiber, an exceptional work ethic, and limitless generosity. He has taught me and many others in the community what it means to be a hero and to make the world a better place. In my future I hope to be a good physician like my dad, but more importantly the kind of person that makes the world a better place.

Everyday Hero
Jaime Bellos
Teacher, Centerline High School

Written by: Fahtma Ramlawi, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

A typical classroom: pictures of the instructor’s family arranged along the wall; commendable work done by students, proudly displayed; a desk stacked with papers; and neat rows of desks filled with teenage students. This classroom does not seem so special, but listen a little closer and one hears an animated and booming voice giving a riveting lecture on World War Two, a movie depicting the life of Abraham Lincoln, or chilling music playing about the Cold War; or look into the classroom and one sees a man with a beaming smile, always laughing, enjoying life, and loving what he does. Mr. Jaime Bellos is a commendable history instructor at Center Line High School. He is my teacher, my mentor, my life coach, and I am proud to call him my personal hero.

Mr. Bellos is a charismatic, easy to relate to, man; he is tuned into his students’ needs and never fails to amaze me. Whether he is working late until he is the last one to leave the school, helping a student with academic or personal issues, coaching tennis, or running one of his multitude of committees, Mr. Bellos accomplishes what needs to be done and always leaves a positive impact in doing so.

There is a huge difference between talking about making a difference and actually taking the initiative to do so. Mr. Bellos does just that. He heads the Challenge Day Committee at Center Line High. This committee completely transformed our high school. It opened doors of acceptance and promoted progressive changes within our district and the world at large.

From his committee, Mr. Bellos helped jumpstart smaller committees that made a huge impression. Through them, eyeglasses were collected to be distributed throughout the world to the less fortunate and military care packages for our hardworking troops in combat were assembled and shipped off. Mr. Bellos even started his own “Cupcake Committee” in which he rewarded people’s accomplishments with a surprise cupcake and message. He was also a huge asset to Center Line’s first annual International Day. This was an event where each classroom in the high school was transformed into a country. People from the community had the opportunity to come in and sample foods from around the world and learn about the different cultures of our staff and students. This event brought more awareness and acceptance toward the different ethnicities present in our school. Mr. Bellos even took time out of his schedule to organize and participate in an event called “The Greening of Detroit.” Through this, staff and students planted a garden for a senior home—a rewarding experience for us all.Currently, he is working on establishing a greater connection between the middle school and the high school to create a better sense of community in our district. These are just a few of the many accomplishments that Mr. Bellos has attained;he never stops working and is always thinking of positive ways to improve upon things. It is always a surprise to see what he will come up with next.

Mr. Bellos is one of the most selfless, honest, and honorable people I have ever met. He does things without expecting anything in return and keeps his word no matter what the circumstance. He has altered my life in more ways than I can describe. From him, I have learned to seize every opportunity possible and to always keep a positive attitude about things. I aim to influence people in the ways he does andI look up to him with the utmost respect and admiration.

Decades from now, the room will have changed, the pictures will be gone, and different students will be seated in the rows of desks.The instructor will have retired andwill be working on something brilliant, but his flame of wisdom will continue to burn and spread its embers of knowledge over Center Line High School’s staff and students—leaving them positively altered forever.

Everyday Hero
Janet Beattie
Nurse Practitioner, Brian’s House

Written by: Justine LaPlant, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

What makes an everyday hero? Is it the man who donates money to prove his wealth, or is it the man who does everything in their power to bring a little bit of sunshine to someone else’s life? The correct answer is obviously the second choice. Millions of people go through life not knowing how much their small gestures of selflessness impact the lives of others. An everyday hero that I have had the pleasure of meeting is a true heroine. Janet Beattie is a nurse practitioner at Brian’s House in Bay City, MI. In addition to this great undertaking, Janet also volunteers her time each summer to be the head costume designer and producer for the Share-the-Fun(ds) theater program.

Two months ago, Janet allowed me to come to Brian’s House and job shadow her at work. It was then that I realized how truly heroic she is. Every single day, Janet goes to work and hears that one of her patients didn’t make it through the night. Surprisingly, these words are a relief for her to hear. Because Brian’s House is a hospice program, Janet knows that the deceased is no longer in pain and discomfort. Giving care to terminal patients is one of the hardest careers there is. You can’t get attached to the patient, but you have to do all you can to keep them from being in pain. This is a task that most people would shy away from, but not Janet. She embraces it, providing patients with comfort, love and understanding until their last moments. As I watched Janet make her rounds, I saw each patient’s face light up when she walked in the door. She provides them with support, comfort and loves patients may maintain their dignity during their final days with their loved ones. I truly admire the way Janet handles her job and its hardships.

But Janet’s generosity doesn’t end there. On top of her demanding job, Janet finds time to be the head costume designer and producer for the Share-the-Fun(ds) theater program. This program is for any student from Bay City and surrounding schools. All of the profit made at the performances is split up between each cast member’s schools and donated directly to that school’s drama department. This money can be then used towards costumes, construction materials, and any other various costs that the school may have in their drama program. Since this theater group was founded by Janet, her brother Mike Bacigalupo, and Jeanne Gilbert seven years ago, more than $30,000 has been raised for area drama programs. Every summer, she helps children of all ages realized their theater dreams while they give back to their school. By creating costumes that instill a sense of confidence, Janet helps the kids truly shine on stage. As the head costumer, Janet also organizes the ticket sales and advertisement for the play. This is a huge job for one person, but Janet manages it with elegance and grace. Without Janet’s assistance, hundreds of kids would never have discovered a love of theater.

Between her abundant compassion for those in their final days and her unstoppable drive to help children succeed, Janet shows all the characteristics of an everyday hero. She keeps the terminally ill out of pain so they can enjoy their remaining time with their family and she shows kids that anything is possible if you are determined in theater. I look up to Janet Beattie every day; she is an extraordinary example of how to be a selfless, compassionate person, and in my opinion, deserves to be recognized for her immense amount of commitment to others.

Everyday Hero
Jeff Grysen
Paramedic and Deputy Sheriff, Ottawa County Sheriff Dept., Paramedic and Deputy Sheriff

Written by: Andrew Grysen, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

A hero to me is someone who shows courage in a desperate situation. A hero is defined as a man or woman distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. Being a everyday hero is different than being a hero; everyday heroes put their time and lives on hold to help other people every single day.

Someone I look up to and regard as an everyday hero is my brother, Jeff Grysen. My brother is currently employed by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department as a paramedic and deputy sheriff on the Holland/Park Township E-Unit. Before he became a police officer, he worked as a paramedic at North Ottawa Community Hospital. He ran emergency calls for accidents, medical emergencies and other medical needs as well as assisting in the hospital’s emergency room. He has helped many people in their time of need. He still runs medical calls (accidents and medical emergencies) for the E-Unit, but he also serves as a police officer protecting the lives of others. Every day he is serving the community by protecting law-abiding citizens from criminals and maintaining public order. A police officer encourages others to do the right thing and help others in need.

On one of Jeff’s calls working for North Ottawa Community Hospital, he helped to save the life of a dog rescued from a house fire. The dog was foaming at the mouth and vomiting black substance caused by smoke inhalation. He and his partner placed the dog in the ambulance and with direction from a veterinarian administered oxygen to the dog using a special breathing mask designed for animals. They continued treatment on their way to the Animal Emergency Hospital in Grand Rapids. Jeff showed his commitment to help and save a life even though it was just an animal, but certainly loved by someone.

Jeff’s job at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department requires leadership and communication skills and a strong desire to serve others. Every day my brother and other police officers risk their lives to protect ours from dangerous people and help us in our time of need. Police officers respond to all types of calls, and are always ready to help with whatever they can. My brother also volunteered to work extra shifts for alcohol and tobacco compliance checks for sales to underage minors and special drunk driving enforcement campaigns. His commitment to these projects has encouraged me to not become involved with this type of behavior.

One of the first calls my brother has as a deputy was a stabbing that occurred at the new Vriesland Co-op gas station and convenience store. He was the first officer on the scene, attended to the wounds of the female who had been stabbed, and took charge of the situation at the gas station. ,y brother voluntarily put himself in danger not knowing if the male attacker was still in the gas station. I am very proud of my brother for his heroic actions and helping someone in their time of need. Without my brother raking immediate action, the lady could have died from her wounds.

In addition to working as a paramedic and deputy sheriff, my brother also volunteers for the Blendon Township fire department. He has organized blood drives for the community and helped at pancake breakfasts to raise funds to purchase new equipment for the fire department.

Everyday Hero
Jim Braid
Minister, United Methodist Church, Minister

Written by: Paige Morgan, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

An everyday hero is someone who continuously puts others first, has helped the community, and is committed to what they believe in. I am honored that I know a person like this and to be close to someone who is an extremely kindhearted and generous person.

My everyday hero is my grandpa, Jim Braid. He is a United Methodist minister. He has been helping people for over 50 years in the ministry. When he was young, his family went to a Methodist church, as a result, he grew to love and have an extreme interest in the ministry. He was taught the values of being a Christian and that each person is important and has been put on earth for a reason. His duty as a minister is to help and be there for each person when they need help or guidance.

In his teen years, he realized that he wanted to help people and make a difference in the world: that is exactly what he has done in 50 years. Mr. Braid calls on the sick and elderly, heads up fundraisers for the homeless or projects to raise money for food, shelter, education and medical relief, has counseled hundreds of students, couples, singles and the elderly who may be lonely or has lost someone close to them. He has also been a part of the boy scouts and girl scouts that give awards for church service.

My grandpa has served lunch to the homeless in the church and has been involved in programs called: Rebuilding Together, Crop Walk, and UNICEF. Rebuilding Together is a program where a group of volunteers go to different homes and help them restore their house to living conditions. The Crop Walk is a fundraiser to feed the hungry and homeless. Finally, UNICEF stands for United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, in which money is raised and given to children as relief.

In addition to his community involvement and commitment to his work and beliefs, are the values he obtains as a person that makes him a hero. Such values are loyalty, trustworthiness, dedication, leadership [, and compassion. He is loyal and dedicated to the church and the public. People can trust him with anything. He strongly believes in confidentiality. He also shows leadership when he helps guide people and has compassion for the less fortunate. His daughter said he came home for dinner, then left to aid others. This act definitely qualifies Jim Braid as a hero. It displays that he would overcome obstacles within other people’s lives first before thinking about his personal consequences. He sounds like a super hero to me.

As a result of all his work, he teaches people everyday how to help others in hard times. The people he helps will soon help others in need. His future impact will be a chain of helping people who are thankful he helped them. The ministry is my grandpa’s purpose in life. He feels that was picked to make a difference and help people in need. He loves his job and would not change it. Helping people is my grandpa’s personal legend that he has achieved. Similarly, Santiago from the Alchemist, his personal legend was to travel to Egypt to find his treasure and experience all he needs to learn.

In the end, he succeeds, just as my grandpa; he found out who he wanted to be and experienced all he needed to learn to fulfill his goal. My grandpa is an extraordinary person who I will always look up to. He inspires me to be a better person. I am inspired to be compassionate and caring and have a strong desire to help others. He is an amazing person who is the ideal everyday hero. Anyone who knows him is lucky to have him in his or her life.

Everyday Hero
Kelley Peel
Counselor, Reeths-Puffer Intermediate School

About this Everyday Hero

Driven… passionate… determined. These are three words commonly used to describe a RARE Everyday Hero. It is no wonder why they are also three words many use to describe Kelley Peel. She is a counselor at Reeths-Puffer Intermediate School in Muskegon Michigan. Kelley, however, is much more than just a counselor. She is on a mission to help kids in her community who need love, support and encouragement.

Beyond her duties as a counselor, Kelley is currently involved in several activities, such as Girls on the Run, a group committed to helping young ladies stay fit through running. The girls take part every year in a 5k run. Endurance Adventure is another one of her commitments; this program builds leadership and team building through competition in a variety of activities.

Kelley is also a major advocate for cancer research and providing support for kids with loved ones who are dying of cancer. She helped create “Kid’s Cancer Stories,” a book with stories written by five kids whose Mom’s have cancer. Lastly, Kelley supports the Purple Game, a big event held every year where schools and communities come together at sporting events to share stories, lean on each other for support, celebrate hope, and raise funds for the Van Andel Institute to help fight cancer.

Kelley has empowered hundreds of kids and adults through her many activities that raise cancer awareness. It is her selfless drive, passion and determination that makes her A Rare Every Day Hero.

Everyday Hero
Larry Ritsema
President and CEO, Challenge Machinery

Written by: Marissa Hilliard, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

My mother gets up every week day and goes to work at the same place she has gone for the past twenty-four years. She loves her job, but more importantly, she loves the people she works with. Her boss, Larry Ritsema, the President and CEO of the Challenge Machinery Company in Norton Shores, Michigan also gets up every week day and on many weekend days and goes to work at the same place he has gone for the past thirty-five years. Their company has been manufacturing graphic arts equipment since 1870. Through fires, financial panics, the Great Depression, World Wars, shifting market place demands and fierce competition, their company has met every challenge it has faced because of great leadership and dedicated employees.

Mr. Ritsema is my everyday hero. He runs the company very well with his strong Christian values lived out through his servant leadership style. All of the 45 employees at the company respect him and would do anything for him. They recognize that if it were not for his character, his values, his exceptional leadership skills, and his hard work, the company would not be in business today. In late 2008, Mr. Ritsema realized that Challenge had to make some major adjustments quickly as the economy slipped into recession. In order to maintain a financially viable company, he felt they would need to make some major employee cuts, something he did not want to do as he felt that would violate not only his values, but some of the core values of Challenge. With the support of his upper management team, and with the agreement of the Union workers, he persuaded all 45 employees to take a 5% pay cut reduction, rather than lay-off several co-workers. Everyone agreed it was better to all sacrifice a little, so some co-workers would not lose their jobs. Unfortunately, as the recession deepened and business did not improve, it became clear to Mr. Ritsema that they had to do more and once again faced the same dilemma; reduce cost through lay-offs or in other ways. Recognizing how important it was to Mr. Ritsema not to have to lay anyone off, the employees agreed to another 5% reduction in pay, top management agreed to a 12-15% cut, and Mr. Ritsema took a 25% reduction. This unselfish act amazes me and I am in awe of the sacrifices that Mr. Ritsema and his employees have made in order to save some of their colleagues and their families from struggling in this tough economy.

Mr. Ritsema also portrays the same unselfish, servant leadership style outside of work. He is a mentor to many people and in several different roles. He is active in his church, where he serves as treasurer and is on the Board. Also, at church, for 21 years, he and his wife, Brenda, served as youth leaders in the youth program, having a positive influence of the lives of over 1,000 teenagers. Mr. Ritsema currently serves as a mentor in Kids Hope, which is a program that pairs an adult with a disadvantaged elementary school child to serve as a positive role model in their lives, while assisting them with their school studies. He also volunteers one to two hours per week as a financial counselor and budget planner for families in financial difficulties under the auspices of the Salvation Army and People’s Center in Grand Haven, Michigan. However, I think Mr. Ritsema would tell you his most significant role is to pour his life into being a father and grandfather to his four daughters, four son-in-laws, and eleven grandchildren.

Mr. Ritsema is such an inspiration to me and I am so thankful for all he has done for not only my family, but for all of the lives he has touched. Imagine what an incredible world this would be if everyone were blessed with his spirit of giving.

Everyday Hero
Marsha Hoppe
Owner/Beautician, Marsha’s Salon

Written by: Samantha Forintos, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

A mentor, a confidant, an inspiration, and a hero. Dedicating her life to youth, the community, and the church, Marsha Hoppe demonstrates true selflessness on a daily basis.

As a hairdresser, Marsha does an amazing job socializing with her customers, and cutter and styling hair. She not only enjoys it, but provides quality service at a generously low cost in a comfortable environment, cutting from her own home.

Although her job as a hair dresser provides many in the community the opportunity to look and feel great, Marsha really shines as a mentor and Youth Group leader. She acts as an inspiration; telling teens of her life, her personal stories, and the lessons she’s learned over the years. She is an amazing listener, opening her ears, her heart, and her arms to the youth who facebook, call, or meet with her. Youth feel comfortable “spilling” to Marsha, and feel confident their secrets won’t be spread. Although her listening is amazing in itself, Marsha takes it one step further. If there’s a problem, she fixes it by talking to the teens at youth group or the school, sharing her own experiences and advice, or giving a hug.

Marsha takes time to talk to and bond with every youth that asks. She impacts individual students as well as the community on much larger scale. Marsha offers to help local organizations, and develops activities to spread awareness and raise money for whoever or whatever needs her help. She gets the teens involved by offering fun volunteer opportunities. Working on Habitat for Humanity homes, organizing the local food pantry, serving at the soup kitchen, or sleeping in boxes to raise money and awareness for the homeless, Marsha never fails to make helping others fun and rewarding.

As if this isn’t enough, Marsha’s compassion and desire to spread the Lord’s love reach beyond the community. She has traveled with the National Relief Network to help clean up and rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and also to Tennessee and Iowa after flooding and tornadoes. She put her life on hold to help change the lives of strangers who live miles away. If this isn’t pure selflessness, nothing is. Even if she isn’t heading an activity, Marsha is always willing to help out any way she can. She will buy from fundraisers, pledge money, or make some of her famous chocolate chip cookies for local bake sales. Her love for those in her community, especially youth, is evident in youth group, on service projects, and her warm greetings when she runs into familiar faces. However, her love for her family is powerful, as it radiates from her smile and glows in the pink of her cheeks. She lights up when she speaks of her children or grandchildren, telling stories and pulling out pictures. Her love for her family, the youth, and all God’s people is endless.

Marsha Hoppe is a hair dresser and a youth group leader. She is a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, and a wife. She is a friend, a confidant, and a child of the Lord. She is a caring, compassionate, and loving person. She is quick to give and truly selfless. Marsha Hoppe is truly a hero. Her “job” may be cutting hair, but her “work” is for the Lord. She works hard to listen, to give, to help, and to positively change the lives of others. However, if asked, Marsha would honestly say this isn’t work. She would say it’s what she loves to do. And this is what really makes her a hero. Anyone can volunteer, donate, or listen. Marsha is an amazing woman because she has a large heart, and does things strictly out of love and compassion. Never in my life have I met a woman who so deserves to be called a “hero”.

Everyday Hero
Marvin Lucas
Pastor, The Way of Holliness C.O.G.I.C., Pastor

Written by: Shannan Lucas, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

Compassionate, forbearing, modest, and generous are among the many words that can accurately describe my Pastor. Marvin Lucas isn’t a nationally known celebrity or a name commonly heard in the media; he’s an ordinary man who does astonishing things that make a noteworthy impact in the lives of others.

For fourteen years he’s been the pastor of The Way of Holiness C.O.G.I.C located in the city of Detroit, and for seventeen years he’s been my friend, uncle, person I can depend on, and a stupendous example of what a rare everyday hero should be.

Within that time he has helped numerous people pay bills, find homes, given food to the hungry, clothes to the poor, and anything else he could have possibly done to help someone else. Oftentimes he goes above and beyond to see that the needs of others are being met. Giving unconditionally to others has never been a problem for him because he’s confident in knowing that in due time he will reap what he has sown.

I deeply admire him because of the many challenges he’s faced such as losing his eye sight over ten years ago, downsizing his vehicle, giving up his home and sacrificing many more things that affected his family as well.

All of those things presented complex challenges; but with support from God, his loving wife, Angela, of twenty-six years, adorable sons, Marvin II and Marcellus, family and friends, he’s able to continue to do what he loves, give to others.

On a consistent basis he seeks out ways to help improve the lives of people, families in his surrounding community and abroad. He’s been assisted in initiating mentoring services for men, women, and teens, shelters for those in need, a food pantry for the community, and other programs designed to reach out to help people of all social statuses if needed.

He un-selflessly gives of himself to people by staying on the phone all hours of the day, traveling near and far just to be there showing people how much he cares. He’s traveled out of state for funerals, birthdays, graduations, weddings, child birth, and other glorious occasions that make the heart glad when you look around and see that he thought enough of you to be there.

Through it all he still manages to spend time with his family reassuring them that he’ll always be there. A man, who seems to balance the weight of the world on his shoulders, keep God and his family at the forefront of his life is worthy of my deepest respect and admiration.

He’s a prime example of what a person should pattern themselves after. Yes sometimes doing this may cause the tears to fall, your heart to be shattered in a million pieces, and you may even be persuaded to give up but the satisfaction of seeing someone else happy due to something you were able to do and paving the way for his children motivates him to ‘’keep on keeping on.’’

His life has inspired me to pursue a career in law and politics so that I can fight for the many people the government has overlooked. It’s also because of him that I’ve been inspired to institute a mentoring service that will cater to battered women, victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and teen mothers who need help in any way. In reading this essay I hope it was simple to see the rare everyday hero I’ve seen the last seventeen years.

Everyday Hero
Patricia Sahakian
Secretary, Washtenaw Technical Middle College

Written by: Mariah Mallet, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

A steady hum of voices can be heard throughout the area. Teachers move quickly from hallway to hallway. Some teenagers are giggling about the latest movie release while others are pondering their studies. The printer and shredder are running full force in the copy room. Phones are ringing off the hook and every few minutes, someone new walks into the space, joining the chaos. In the middle of this mayhem is one woman. Simultaneously, she runs errands for the Dean, greets every visitor in the office, manages important documents for the faculty and even takes phone calls from around the world. This woman is Mrs. Patricia “Pat” Sahakian, and she is the Administrative Assistant of my high school, Washtenaw Technical Middle College (WTMC).

WTMC is a unique program where secondary students are able to take college courses while still in high school. Much of the reason why our program is so successful is due to the tireless dedication of Mrs. Sahakian. She has been a highly valuable individual in the program since 1998 and continues to be, year after year.

Every day, Mrs. Sahakian is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. She is devoted to her job and knows that the teachers and students of WTMC depend on her. Even when she is ill, she comes to work, ready to fulfill her duties. What is more, she is routinely willing to go beyond what is required of her. Very often, she will work straight through lunch in order to complete all her tasks. What I find amazing is that she never complains about these types of situations. Instead, she grins, saying, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” This selfless attitude is always present when she assists WTMC students. For instance, when students are dealing with scheduling issues or trying to acquire books for their classes, she immediately stops what she is doing and resolves the problem. She will never abandon a student nor will she wait for someone else to come to their aid. She commits herself to the very end.

Furthermore, Mrs. Sahakian is very personable and inviting. She always greets me and any other visitor with a kind hello and a broad smile. She asks me how my classes are going and if there is anything she can do for me. Mrs. Sahakian is one of the few people at school I feel comfortable talking to about my personal struggles. She helps me through difficulties in my classes or other school related issues. One of the reasons I am comfortable confiding in her is because I know that she is always discreet. Not only this, but she is extremely positive and encourages me to look at the brighter side of a situation. There have been many times when I’ve walked into the office discouraged and wearing a frown. Yet, after a quick visit with Mrs. Sahakian, I walk out with a smile.

Therefore, I wasn’’t surprised when I learned that her willingness to give of herself was not limited just to our school environment. She is truly admirable due to her ability to inspire others with not only her commitment to her work, but to her community. Her volunteerism includes twelve years of service on the Manchester school advisory board, a former parent volunteer for WTMC, and Girl Scout leader. She was even once named “the best volunteer” in her hometown of Manchester. Seeing Mrs. Sahakian’s diligence and hard work made me want to be just like her. Her personal example led me to begin volunteering my time as well. I began by working in our school office, doing odd jobs for her and the other staff. This work gave me a real sense of fulfillment. I felt like I was making a difference in my school—my community. However, I must admit, the best part of volunteering has been being able to serve and learn from my hero. Without a doubt, Mrs. Sahakian is a hero in our school, in our community, and most of all in my heart.

Everyday Hero
Philip Kerbawy
Manager for the Football, Girls and Boys Basketball, Softball and Baseball Teams, Blissfield High School

Written by: Eric Schmidt, 2011 RARE Scholarship winner

About this Everyday Hero

My everyday hero, Philip Kerbawy does not collect a monetary check for his work. His reward comes in the difference he makes for others, the pride he feels in a job well done and most importantly, in the relationships he built. Phil Kerbawy has a donated over thirty years of his time serving as a manager for the Football, Girls and Boys Basketball, Softball and Baseball teams at Blissfield High School. Phil has made an impact on me and taught me many life lessons. It was with great respect and admiration that I look at Phil Kerbawy as my Everyday Hero.

Phil grew up in Blissfield, Michigan. When he was young he was diagnosed with a developmental learning disability. He attended a special education program that fit his needs, and eventually got a diploma in food preparation. However, Phil did not get a job in that field. About thirty years ago, Phil was asked by one of our coaches if he would like to be a manager for the football team. Phil took him up on the offer and enjoyed the job so much he became the manager for numerous boys and girls sports teams.

Phil’s job description as our manager at Blissfield High School involves him filling and distributing water bottles and encouraging and cheering us on during the games. Phil shoots warm ups with us during the basketball season, and if asked him, he could tell you exactly how many he has made over the years. He even gives us valuable advice such as when my coach asked him during a time out, “Phil, what do you think we need to do?” and Phil said, “We gotta play hard.” But the most important thing Phil does at Blissfield High School is touch or lives, in a way that no other person could. We learn from Phil what we could never learn in the classroom.

Fortunately, as a varsity athlete who plays football, basketball, and baseball I get the honor of interacting with Phil a lot. I appreciate everything I have learned from him. Phil has taught me that it’s the little things in life that matter, like saying hello to someone, and taking the time to talk to them… giving a person a high five or thanking them for doing a great job. One day Phil asked me where I was going to college. I explained that I was going to attend Adrian College. Phil said to me, “They told me I was not college material.” I explained to Phil that even though he didn’t go to college, that he had the best job ever and that he was such an important part of our success as athletes.

Phil and I have made memories that will last a lifetime. These include competing at Ford Field for the state title in 2008, finishing second in the State in baseball in 2009, the rides to and from events, when I would pick Phil up as he was walking or drop him off at home at the end of the night, the way we all chant, “Phil, Phil, Phil” when the bus driver pulls up and drops him off at his home after baseball games. Because of Phil Kerbawy I look at life differently. I know that it’s not the amount of money that you make, or the job that you hold; it’s the lives that you touch. Phil Kerbawy touches lives each and every day.

As a person who has been blessed in so many ways, I appreciate how hard Phil works to be a successful team manager, even though it is not always easy for him. I love how Phil is always happy to be sitting on the bench, waiting for his chance to contribute in any way. As a senior, I will miss being in the student council, playing sports, being a junior Rotarian and so much more. But, I will always miss my everyday interactions with Phil the most. I appreciate how he has touched my life and will always look at him as my Everyday Hero.