RARE Everyday Hero Stories
Marketing Manager, O’Keefe2015 - Daniel Wesner
Owner of Wesner Tuxedo2015 - Kevin Sutton
Partner and Attorney, Lusk & Albertson2015 - Ronald Goodnoe
Owner of Rapids Tool and Engineering2015 - Alma Guajardo-Crossley
Corporate Director of Diversity & Inclusion, General Motors2015 - Dina Rabaa
Volunteer2015 - Judy Zimpfer
Retired Teacher, Alba Public School
Marketing Manager, O’Keefe
About this Everyday Hero
Danny Thomas once said that “success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s about what you do for others.” Amanda Rymiszewski lives by this philosophy.
As the Marketing Manager at O’Keefe, a financial consulting firm, Amanda is known in the office for her charitable efforts. Outside of her normal job duties, Amanda has made it her responsibility to empower her co-workers to participate in various service projects throughout the year. She coordinates several holiday giving programs for the staff and collects newspaper at the office throughout the year for the humane society.
Since college Amanda has lent a significant amount of her time and energy to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a program that provides housing and medical care for families with severely ill or injured children. In an effort to get her office involved, Amanda began collecting pop can tabs in the staff kitchen so that the recycling proceeds could help offset some the charity’s expenses. She says that if we can help, why wouldn’t we?
However, Ms. Rymiszewski’s compassionate heart is not limited to the office. With a desire to give back to the community, Amanda began volunteering as a mentor with Winning Futures in 2011. She also gives free financial coaching to members of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority at the University of Michigan and assists with the children’s choir at her church.
Whether she’s making blankets for Project Linus, fundraising for the children at St. Jude’s Hospital or serving meals at the Detroit Rescue Mission, Amanda can always be found helping someone in need. It is her compassionate heart and her commitment to empowering others to serve that makes Amanda Rymiszewski a RARE Everyday Hero.
Owner of Wesner Tuxedo
About this Everyday Hero
Iris Murdoch once said that “our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port.” Her assertion that our actions have numerous results we may or may not witness aligns well with Daniel Wesner’s philosophy on life.
As a teen, Daniel worked for Hamilton Chevrolet as a car porter. While there, he developed a brief relationship with Sam Cupp, who urged him to strive for more saying, “I can see great things in you, son.” Shortly after graduating from high school, Daniel started Wesner Tuxedo, where he became known for his compassionate heart and excellent customer service. While building one of the most successful small tuxedo shops in Sterling Heights, Daniel trained an amazing, hard-working staff that he now leads as the visionary leader. Dan has started, through his business, several programs that provide free tuxedo rentals to students in need. Every year, Wesner Tuxedos gives anywhere from 25-40 free tuxedo rentals to high school seniors who cannot afford prom attire. Dan emphatically states that no student should miss out on prom because they can’t pay for the tux. In addition to this program, Dan has partnered with several proms in his community that cater to students with special needs. Every year, roughly 75 students come to his shop to be fitted and leave with a free tuxedo rental.
Outside of his business, Dan also serves as the commissioner of the Sterling Heights Football Club, servicing youth from all over Macomb County. Many students have been impacted by Dan through his tuxedo programs, athletic clubs, and, even, community Christmas decorations. Dan says that when you do something for someone, you have to know that down the road this kid, parent, or person will remember it and pay it forward to someone else. It is this desire to make the world a better place through genuine acts of kindness that makes Daniel Albert Wesner, III a RARE and Everyday Hero.
Partner and Attorney, Lusk & Albertson
About this Everyday Hero
It is said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Kevin Sutton has dedicated his life and professional career to proving that philosophy is true.
As a partner at the law firm of Lusk and Albertson, Kevin provides legal counseling to school districts throughout Michigan, helping them tackle daily challenges, from the classroom to the courtroom. Kevin also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Oakland University, teaching aspiring school administrators about the important legal issues in education.
However, Kevin’s contributions expand well beyond his attorney responsibilities. Cognizant that he had the benefit of supportive parents and family members who helped him achieve his goals, Kevin is committed to providing resources to those who didn’t have the same advantages.
Kevin is an avid supporter of youth mentoring programs, having mentored with Winning Futures since 2011. In addition to mentoring at Warren Mott High School, Kevin served on the Winning Futures Board of Directors from 2012-2014, raising money to support the organization’s programming.
As President of MSU’s College of Social Science Alumni Association, Kevin worked to provide financial resources and academic enrichment opportunities to all students. He was instrumental in expanding the Association’s involvement with the FAME program, which supports foster youth attending the University.
A proud husband and father of two, Kevin is highly involved in community programs. From coaching little league baseball to serving as the editor of the school newsletter, Kevin is always first in line to support the young people in his community.
Whether providing legal counsel to schools, mentoring young people, or working to enhance academic programs, Kevin has distinguished himself as a relentless advocate for those in need of support. His passion for education and commitment to others makes Kevin Sutton a RARE Everyday Hero.
Owner of Rapids Tool and Engineering
Written by: Ethan Thuma, 2015 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts, and fine qualities. Ronald Goodnoe fits that definition better than anyone I know. Mr. Goodnoe is an entrepreneur, a retired fireman and a full-time philanthropist. His acts of giving have helped many people in his community and throughout the United States. Ron’s ingenuities thinking has led to the creation of life saving technologies, and because of his selfless character he receives no credit.
Ron started his engineering career right after high-school at a tool and die shop in Lansing. Unimpressed with the business practice, Ron left after working just give months. Determined to do things better, Ron started his own business in January of 1966. His business; Rapids Tool and Engineering, started in a small two-car garage. Since that time Ron has grown his business substantially. This coming January will mark his 49th year. This is especially impressive considering Michigan’s economy. Most of Ron’s competitors have been unable to last this long in the tool and die industry. Since the company’s humble beginnings, Ron has never laid off an employee. Radpis Tool and Engineering is sought out by customers throughout Michigan and many other states. Ron’s success is a testament to his leadership, unmatched ability to problem solve and his high ethical standards.
Ron is also known for putting others before himself and his business agenda. Although he must meet stringent deadlines, Mr. Goodnoe often places local farmers’ needs above his customers. Having the means to repair heavy equipment, Ron opens his shop to help local farmers as needed. His employees will drop everything to assist a farmer who has a mechanical problem. This practice may disrupt Ron’s schedule, but it also saves farmers important time and money. Ron’s respect for the local farmer has helped Eaton Rapids many times. Ron’s ethics also affect his employees. During his 49 years of operation, Ron has never had a 2nd shift. Mr. Goodnoe places family over everything else and has said that parents need to be home with their kids in the evenings. Ignoring the production advantages of a 2nd shifts, Ron sticks to his values.
If running a successful business isn’t enough, Ron was also a volunteer firefighter and fire department chief. Starting in 1987, Ron began working as volunteer firefighter. He found much fulfilment in helping others and found being a firefighter a great fit. Firefighting quickly became a passion for Ron. During his 18 years at the fire department, Ron did some extraordinary things not only for his local community, but for firefighters around the country. To start, Mr. Goodnoe donated land for the Eaton Rapids Township Fire Department. Within that department he also donated funds for many rescue related items, and even paid for a new fire truck. Ron’s biggest contribution to the firefighting community is his inventions. During his training, Ron watched a video in which two firefighters died. This moved Ron and he wanted to make sure something like that never happened again. Ron’s response was to create an invention. Using his mechanical skills, Ron created a fire hose with air tubes in it. These tubes have outlets at the end of the hose that can be connected to a firefighters oxygen supply. Ron sold the patent for his inventions for $1 to the fire department. It is currently being utilized around the country and many are unaware of the man behind the idea.
There are not enough words to describe the contributions of Mr. Goodnoe. Ron is the perfect example of someone who is selfless. I do not have the space to talk about my experiences with Mr. Goodnoe or how I met him, but be assured he is an amazing person.
Corporate Director of Diversity & Inclusion, General Motors
About this Everyday Hero
The most effective leaders are able to influence others because they are passionate about empowering the people around them to succeed. Alma Guajardo-Crossley is one such leader.
Alma says that money was not plentiful in her family of nine when she was growing up, “but the experiences were so rich.” She came from a humble background, but was successful because of education and support from the right people. Alma firmly believes that anyone can achieve their goals, no matter who they are or where they come from.
As the Director of Corporate Diversity at General Motors, Alma now spends her days tracking the internal and external diversity goals of the company while also ensuring that General Motors invests in the community. Beyond her daily duties, Alma is a dedicated champion for organizations working to improve our society. Known for her reliable and timely counsel, Alma sits on several boards, including, but not limited to, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the Hispanic Women’s Corporation.
Working with so many organizations might seem exhausting to most, but Alma finds the time to prioritize mentoring in the midst of a very busy schedule. Ms. Crossley began her career at a time when there were not many women present in corporate America to support her. Because of this, Alma is a very intentional mentor of young women, specifically women of color, as they develop in their careers. She hopes that her mentorship will help them feel more confident about who they are and what they are doing. While supporting up and coming professionals, Alma also deliberately establishes and promotes educational programs and workshops for youth.
Because of her dedication to serving the community and her intentional investment in the development of other people, Alma Guajardo-Crossley is a RARE Everyday Hero.
Written by: Written by: Nadine Rabaa, 2015 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
BOOM!” I could feel the vibrations of the bombs growing closer. I hid my face in my mother’s neck as another bomb echoed through our apartment, the force of the wind blowing off my headphones. Smoke burned through my lungs. I closed my eyes tighter. I held on to my only teddy bear, its soft fur now covered in the dust of destruction. “BOOM!” Another bomb ascended. My heart dropped and the bear flew out of my arms. No one moved, as if our actions might draw the bombs to us. We tried to disappear. I raised the volume on my cassette player, the scent of smoke my constant reminder that I was in a war. “BOOM!” The bombs inched closer to us, the end was near. “BOOM!”
This was a story my sister recounted to me as soon as I was old enough to understand the atrocities of war. My sister Dina Rabaa spent years in Lebanon, where war was a constant in the lives of its people. Her face grew pale and distant as she recounted the story, as if anticipating a bomb to land any moment. She spoke of the injustice in the world that caused children to lose their innocence and parents to lose their faith in mankind. But my sister kept God close to her heart and knew she had to a mission to help people and restore their faith. Upon returning to the U.S. at the age of nine, my sister spoke no English and was cautious of everyone. The war caused her to build a barrier around her heart, one that only helping others could break. She grew up aiding my mother with her autistic son and education became her escape. After years of being ridiculed at school for her English accent, she was suddenly acing every test. Before long, she was accepted into the University of Michigan. She joined Amnesty International and became the head of public relations. She organized events to raise money for women in Pakistan who had been burned with acid by their husbands. She raised awareness for girls in Yemen who were forced into marriage before their 8th birthday. She spoke at events regarding illegal torture techniques that were occurring in Guantanamo Bay. Soon she took her helping spirit to her hometown, where she volunteered at soup kitchens and visited elderly homes. Her mission was to make sure no one felt as helpless as she felt when she lived in a war torn country. She was the voice for those whose voices were silenced by fear. However, this was just the start for my sister. My sister was accepted into Law School where she decided to make it her mission to work Pro Bono and advocate on behalf of women who were victims of domestic violence. She worked at the Circuit Court where she helped victims obtain a restraining order from abusive spouses. She also partnered up with Lifespan Center for Legal Services, where she would help physically and emotionally abused women obtain the justice they deserved and become financially stable. Eventually, she began work at an Immigration Clinic, where she fought for immigrants to stay in the U.S. with their families. As is her nature, my sister did not stop there. She worked with a Judge who was opening a new Elder Justice Center. This center helped elderly people who were the victim of scams to obtain legal assistance and regain independence. I know this is just the beginning for my ambitious sister. I see the gleam in her eyes when she begins to talk about giving her time to uplift up others spirits. Through her story of faith and perseverance, I hope to encourage others to rise above the battles they have faced in life. My sister is a hero; she rose above injustices and emerged a missionary of good will. I now know I can use my knowledge to make a difference and my voice will not be silenced.
Retired Teacher, Alba Public School
Written by: Written by: Sydney Hogerheide, 2015 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
Petite and sprinkled with light brown freckles, charismatic Judy Zimpfer reached out to me and saved my life. She’s my teacher and youth advisor, but to me she’s like a doctor. My heart was bleeding; she filled the holes with love and put together the pieces. Out of everybody on this Earth, Judy has had the greatest impact on my life. She has delicately molded me into the person I am today. She brought me to Christ and taught me so many things over the years. She has shown me support whether I’m being locked in her sympathetic hug or listening to her scream my name during my basketball games! I don’t know what I would do without her upbeat direction. If I ever become half the lady she is, I will be so blessed.
Judy represents our whole community; she glues together many pieces of our town and keeps us all connected by being the social foundation we all rely on. She is holding all the strings together for our town and if she ever left, our town would slowly crumple and tear apart. Judy was a teacher at my school, Alba, for thirty-four years and I have had the privilege to be one of her students. She is the advisor of the Grand Traverse District Council on Youth Ministries of which I am a member. She runs the latch key program at our local Methodist Church to help all the little ones who attend and preaches at church on Sundays. She is also the organizer and mentor teacher of the Teacher Academy program offered by TBAISD, runs a program to take teenagers to the Medow Brook of Bellaire elderly care facility, volunteers at church summer camps that she has done for twelve years running, and was a teen camp counselor for twenty-four years. This list is only what I am involved in with Judy; it isn’t even the beginning of everything she has done for our little community. I am around her all the time and do not know what I would do without her advice. Judy found me when I was bruised and broken; she lifted me up and helped me create the outgoing personality I have today.
Judy is the most unselfish person I know. She is willing to do anything to help teenagers as well as our town. Unfortunately, our school had to make budget cuts a couple years ago and she volunteered to give up her job in order to save money and keep our school running. Her acts of heroism for this town prove her unselfishness and pride in what she does. Our school is still going strong today because of the passionate act of heroism she willingly made and all of the teachers and students in our school can’t thank her enough. Not coming back to school in the fall was one of the hardest withdrawals she has ever had to deal with, but she was honored to do it if it meant saving our school. Judy made a significant difference on the upcoming generations through her teaching job. She has shaped the people of the future; all the kids that came through her classroom in thirty-four years will never forget her enthusiastic bright smile.
Not only has Judy excelled in her job and volunteer work, but also as a youth advisor. She’s been steadfast and trustworthy to our youth ministries, our whole council gets super excited whenever we know she is joining our sleepovers! We always wonder how she has become so strong in her faith; and one of the main reasons is the loss of her daughter, Anna, in 1980 at only fifteen months old. That catastrophic loss forced Judy to hold onto her faith with everything she had! I hope one day I am granted with the ability to be as strong, benevolent, and gentle as she is. It is my ultimate dream to become like her in any possible way.
This is my senior year in high school, which means it’s my last year seeing her in the stands at my basketball games, as my teacher, youth advisor, and camp counselor. As I move onto this bright future ahead of me, I want her to know that I will miss her more than anything and that she’s my hero forever.