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Past Heroes – 2012

RARE Everyday Hero Stories


2012 - Al Marino
Restaurant Owner
2012 - Andrew Wood
2012 - Ashley Lorano
Human Resources Generalist
2012 - Emily Simmons
Horse Trainer
2012 - Jill McFadden
Store Owner
2012 - Julie Ferguson
Financial Advisor
2012 - Michael Boguth
Dealer Operator
Everyday Hero
Al Marino
Owner, Sams Sorrento Pizza

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About this Everyday Hero

A business visionary with a sense of humor and a great desire to help others… thus sets the stage for the larger than life, Alfonso Marino.

Mr. Marino is the owner of Sam’s Sorrento Pizza. He has successfully taken the family business from one store to multiple locations across Macomb and Oakland counties. He even launched the popular S.S. Pizza Boat which delivers delicious food to boats on Lake St. Clair.

To show his appreciation for his business success, Al has spent years giving back to the community. Last year he raised $15,000 for the Veterans Support Center in Roseville.

Through golf tournaments, in conjunction with the Metro Networking Professionals, Al has raised money for the McCarty Cancer Foundation which was formed by Detroit Red Wing, Darren McCarty, after his father was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer.

Mr. Marino also came to the aid of a local family who needed to take their toddler to China for months of procedures and therapy. Al threw a massive fundraising event and raised over $30,000. He didn’t even know the family but had simply heard about their story and wanted to help.

This and many other selfless acts of a local businessman who cares deeply about his community, is why Alfonso Marino is a RARE Everyday Hero!

Everyday Hero
Andrew Wood
Teacher, Churchill High School

Written by: Jessica Mudge, 2012 RARE Scholarship Winner

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About this Everyday Hero

There are plenty of good teachers in the world; indeed, there are plenty of exceptional teachers. There are countless dedicated men and women who seek to instill knowledge and values in their students and countless others who seek to serve their communities through service and fundraising efforts. It is not so common, however, for the equally heroic efforts of community service and quality education to overlap in a single person. Mr. Andrew Wood, an English teacher in Livonia Michigan, is such a person, making an enormous difference in the school in which he works, as well as in the local community.

Juniors at Churchill High School usually enter Mr. Wood’s class for the first time with fearful anticipation, having been warned that Accelerated English 11 is extraordinarily difficult. They cringe a little when the ordinary middle aged man enters the room and passes out the first of many impromptus with no regard for their fear. It is on the second day of class however, when the essays are returned and students are wide eyed in shock over their less than satisfactory grades, that Mr. Wood elucidates his motivations, showing himself to be a man passionate about his subject and dedicated to giving students a quality education. Indeed, he explains matter-of-factly to each incoming class, his purpose as an English teacher is to impart upon his students the importance of literature, as well as to train them in reading and writing. His goal is not just to help them earn good grades and get into college, but to give them knowledge and insight to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them. Certainly their grades will go up, he promises his worried new students, but grades will never be the focus of the course. He then proceeds to launch a curriculum filled with a multitude of literary works, comprehensive lectures, and the ever present essays and impromptus that have students groaning but gradually pushing themselves to develop as writers. The work is difficult but fair, and Mr. Wood makes a point of offering help and time to any student who needs it. Moreover, Mr. Wood offers numerous extra credit opportunities, usually requiring students to take knowledge gleaned in the class and apply it to other areas of their lives, using the welcome grade booster as a way to further challenge students and expand their understanding of the literature they read in class.

Mr. Wood’s dedication is not limited to the classroom however. Indeed, his community efforts are known through the school in which he works. Most notable is his participation in the school’s annual canned food drive, a charity event supporting Goodfellows, a food bank that feeds hungry local families. Encouraging his students to participate with a single-minded focus, Mr. Wood offers numerous incentives ranging from extra credit to fun activities, such as pizza parties and allowing the class with the most cans to style his beard for a week or dress him up in the clothes of their choice. These incentives have an enormous effect, generating hundreds of cans each year from each class and feeding countless hungry families. He doesn’t stop with the canned food drive however. Any charitable fundraiser that he can help with he does. Whether sponsoring prizes for the penny wars during First Step Week to helping domestic violence victims or by dressing up like a bride for a day to benefit children in Africa, Mr. Wood is continually in the midst of community efforts.

Clearly, Andrew Wood is someone who exceeds the expectations for a teacher, even a quality one. Demonstrating dedication and passion, tempered by a liberal amount of patience, he excels in his career, giving students a challenging curriculum designed specifically to benefit them well into the future. Moreover, he strives to serve the community, raising money in a variety of creative ways to help the hungry, oppressed, and impoverished. Known throughout Churchill High School for his charitable efforts as well as his astounding teaching ability, Mr. Wood is truly an everyday hero, a man who lives an ordinary life in a way that makes it something more than simply ordinary.

Everyday Hero
Ashley Lorano
Human Resources Generalist, SRG Global

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About this Everyday Hero

Personal tragedy and a deep faith in the Lord helped to guide Ashley Lorano on a mission to do charitable work in the community; and ultimately branch out into the world.

Ashley’s best friend, Daniella Saveski lost her battle with Cancer in 2009. Ashley knew she had two choices; to withdraw into her sadness, or help others the way Daniella always had. Fortunately, she chose the latter. Ashley organized what would become an annual event in Daniella’s memory: ‘Party with a Purpose.’ The first event successfully raised over $5,000 for Cancer research.

Daniella loved to travel the world and help children. So, when Ashley discovered Angel House Rescue Orphanage, an initiative to build orphanages in India, she knew the focus of her next ‘Party with a Purpose.’ Ashley found out that an entire orphanage could be constructed for $11,500. She was blessed to earn that amount and knew this would be an enduring way to carry on Daniella’s legacy.

Throughout the year, Ashley devotes her time to many charitable organizations. She mentors with Winning Futures and has raised funds for the ‘Live to Give’ Foundation, all while working full time at SRG Global.

While not looking for accolades, Ashley has been honored before tonight. She was named by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Detroit Chapter, as the group’s 2011 Distinguished Volunteer.

Ashley’s parents taught her the importance of giving back and urged her to always be aware of the world and its needs. Through her deep faith and devotion to community, Ashley Lorano does just that and is a RARE Everyday Hero!

Everyday Hero
Emily Simmons
Horse Trainer, Willow Tree Stables

Written by: Kayla Barker, 2012 RARE Scholarship Winner

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About this Everyday Hero

My RARE Everyday Hero is a person whom I have known only a little over a year but in that year she has been the biggest role model in my life. Emily Simmons a horse trainer currently employed at Willow Tree Stables in Romulus Michigan. She is my trainer, my mentor, my friend, my hero. Emily is an extraordinarily motivated and dedicated individual with a heart of gold. Also she is a true asset to the horse community and all the individual lives that she has touched.

Emily has had to overcome some personal issues of anxiety and ADHD because of this it has made her a more compassionate caring individual. This compassion is extremely important in the horse community as you are dealing with animals and people with powerful strength, love, and bond. Emily has worked with many different individuals with autism and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In the most recent years she has worked with two children with forms of autism, one being a seven year old boy and the other being a fifteen year old girl. Emily has worked with these children by doing horse therapy. She was able to match them up with horses that helped them gain confidence and self esteem. Emily is currently working with Katie a fifteen year old girl. In less than a year’s time Katie has gone from not leaving her home and barely talking to anyone, to coming out to the stables at least three times a week or more, talking to other individuals, even becoming friends with some of the teenagers and going to the movies with them. Emily has also taken time out of her day to help teach Katie daily life skills and responsibilities. This transformation is amazing thanks to Emily and her dedication to Katie. Besides working with individuals Emily also contributes her time to groups of different people. She volunteers her time every year to elementary schools in Belleville Michigan on career day. She attends career day with one or two horses allowing the children to play and love on the horses while explaining the importance of caring for these animals as a career. Also every summer at Willow Tree Stables she invites the boys from Blancho Kelso Bruce Academy, this is a school for troubled youth boys. This usually is a week-long clinic for the boys teaching them responsibility of working to care for the horses with the ultimate goal of riding.

Emily has not only devoted her time to individuals but has assisted with setting up different groups within the community. She played a main roll of founding the first Equestrian Team at Illinois Wesleyan University. Her request for a grant to start the first equestrian team was approved and the equestrian team was started. About three years ago she also helped in founding a horse rescue in Lansing Michigan called Michigan Equine Coalition. She has also volunteers her time at many different horse rescues in many different areas where she has lived from Illinois to New York to Michigan.

Emily is a true hero in my eyes. She possesses the personality, the dedication, the drive and the intelligence of a well-rounded individual. She is a selfless, giving and caring individual. Emily has taught me endless life experiences over the past year with more to be learned over the next year before I go off to college. I feel extremely fortunate that I have a person like Emily in my life. She will always be my hero.

Everyday Hero
Jill McFadden
Owner, Quilted Memories

Written by: Richard Southward, 2012 RARE Scholarship Winner

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About this Everyday Hero

What do a soldier, a fireman and Superman all have in common? In most minds these people would be considered heroes. A hero is defined as somebody who is recognized for their brave deeds, noble qualities and selfless behavior. My hero may not be physically strong or an illustrious warrior, but she has a massive amount of compassion for others. My Everyday Hero is my aunt, Jill McFadden, owner of Quilted Memories.

My aunt has been a hero in some way throughout her life. Previous to owning her own quilt shop, Jill McFadden was a human resources manager at Burger Iron Company and Grand Haven Stamp Products. Through this position Ms. McFadden was able to learn communication skills and how to treat others. My aunt was also able to teach the golden rule to other employees through this position. While working as human resources manager Jill McFadden also had another passion, quilting. She decided to start making quilts for others part-time. In 2002 she decided to turn her passion into a career and opened Quilted Memories in Montague, Michigan. In the beginning Jill McFadden’s store primarily sold fabric and machine quilted for others. Ms. McFadden has added two workrooms, repairs sewing machines and teaches classes. Because of my aunt’s strong work ethic and determination she was able to hold a job and start a new business.

Throughout her professional life Jill McFadden has given back to the community in any way possible. Through her position at Burger Iron Company and Grand Haven Stamp Products Ms. McFadden organized events with Gleaners Food Pantry of Grand Rapids and United Way. Her volunteerism continued as she opened her quilt shop. Jill McFadden supported local schools through donations including: items for silent auctions for local school organizations, and donating to sports teams. My aunt also regularly hosts events at her shop and donates items to charitable functions. Some of which include: donating a quilt to raffle for Tempting Tables, a grassroots organization helping women with breast cancer, matching funds for a quilt raffle for the American Heart Association, and holding a can drive during the holidays. Through belief in these organizations Ms. McFadden effectively helps those in need.

One of the first people to act in the wake of a natural disaster would have to be Jill McFadden. As human resources manager she organized an event to collect goods for a fellow worker in need. The massive disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina caused Ms. McFadden to act once again. Along with 40 other people, Jill McFadden pieced and machine quilted over 100 quilts for victims of this horrific storm. This project was completed in one weekend and the quilts were sent out shortly after. I have personally experienced my aunt’s selflessness. In February 2008 we lost our family home to a house fire. One of the first people to help in our time of need was my aunt. My aunt made a quilt for each person in our family the very next day. One week after tornadoes affected the southern states in 2011 Jill McFadden began a project called, A Quilting Blitz. Again with the help of numerous community members Ms. McFadden created over 96 quilts and 85 pillowcases. In a time of need, comfort is very important, and my aunt gives comfort to others through her generosity and quilts.

Whether it is owner, employee, community leader, or program organizer Jill McFadden is an Everyday Hero. By starting her own business my aunt has learned that through hard work and determination comes amazing benefits. No matter the position, anybody can become an Everyday Hero.

Everyday Hero
Julie Ferguson
Financial Advisor, Financial Services of Northern Michigan

Written by: Jillian Ferguson, 2012 RARE Scholarship Winner

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About this Everyday Hero

After reading the prompt asking me to think of an individual who goes “above and beyond,” has a “commitment to what they believe in,” possesses “selflessness in putting others first,” and “makes a difference in the world around them [for both now and in the future],” I instantly thought of one person. I worried that this person would be too cliché to be taken seriously but after further reflection I admitted that no one deserves this title more than the person I respect and admire most: My mom.

My mother’s name is Julie Ferguson and she is the only employee of Financial Services of Northern Michigan. Because she runs the business by herself, she is constantly busy. Despite that, she is fully and completely committed to doing the best she can for any client she has the honor of serving. She spends as much time with the clients who possess little assets as she does with major multi-million dollar accounts. It is not unusual for my mom to work 10-12 hour days because she has such a difficult time saying no to anyone who needs an extra few minutes. My mom also holds the job titles of “Retirement Specialist” and she takes this title as seriously as her others. When the prompt said “makes a difference in the world around them [for both now and in the future]” it reminded me of the many times my mom went to the local high school and college to teach young adults about financial responsibility. My mom shows the same amount of “selfless commitment” to all of her clients: young or old, wealthy or less fortunate, knowledgeable or completely clueless. This makes her a hero to so many residents of Alpena which is why they voted her “Number One Financial Advisor of Sunrise Side.”

In addition to her job, my mom is extremely active in the community. She is secretary of the Exchange Club of Alpena, just stepped down from president of the Senior Citizens’ Center, and a previous treasurer of Zonta. Not only does she show up for many of the events that these programs put on, but she also finds herself volunteering at other locations. She teaches classes at the college on a volunteer basis, spends many of her evenings teaching Dave Ramsey classes at the local churches and businesses, is involved in a local program called Junior Achievement, and fills any vacancy that other volunteers leave. This woman inspired my own passion for volunteering.

Even through all of this: her time consuming job, the college classes she’s taking to improve herself and her ability to help others, and her dedication to volunteering, she still manages to be the best mom and wife a person could ask for. She comes to all of my events, proof reads all of my papers, encourages my every expedition, listens to my every problem, offers advice on my all clueless endeavors, and always, above all, loves me with every ounce of her being.

Any one of these things could stand alone and allow her to be considered a hero to so many individuals – especially myself – but when you put all of these characteristics into one person, there is no comparison. She once described her motivation for the life she leads as an “insatiable” and “unquenchable” desire to help anyone and everyone. My mom is one amazing woman and I only hope that someday I can be a fraction of the selfless, committed person that she is.

Everyday Hero
Michael Boguth
Dealer Operator, Hamilton Chevrolet

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About this Everyday Hero

The ability to balance a passion for business with an equal passion for family and community is what one first learns about Michael Boguth.

Mike is the Dealer Operator of Hamilton Chevrolet in Warren, Michigan. He is an eight-time General Motors “Mark of Excellence Genuine Leader” award winner and one of the first dealers in the nation to develop a web-based “real-time” inventory system for use on the showroom floor.

Mike believes in a hands-on approach at the dealership and is involved with human resources, advertising, insurance, finance and most importantly, customer relations. He definitely understands the importance of every person he meets.

This belief in people carries over to his personal life as well. Besides Mike’s decades-long participation in the community, schools and business networking groups, he has worked tirelessly to support the fight against breast cancer.

His wife of 32 years, Jean, is now a six-year breast cancer survivor. They both have made this cause a life-long commitment of giving back. They support Susan G. Komen Foundation, St. John Hospital Liggett Breast Cancer Center and the youth cancer organization, “Wigs 4 Kids.” Their children have also organized their own fundraising efforts, making this truly a family affair.

Michael Boguth’s compassion for the community and his incredibly successful fundraising efforts make him a RARE Everyday Hero.