RARE Everyday Hero Stories
Teacher2014 - Lena Masri
Attorney2014 - Lori 'Maranda' Cook
TV Host2014 - Michael Simon
Construction2014 - Rick Eder
NAIFA2014 - Elanah Hunger
Volunteer2014 - Fred Ferris
Legacy Achievement Project2014 - James King
Retired2014 - John Dignan
Principal2014 - Marquis Herring
Teacher, Bay Arenac ISD Career Centers
Written by: Christine Wolverton, 2014 RARE Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
I believe that an everyday hero must be committed to themselves, their career and those around them. The person I chose as an everyday hero is an astonishing person who makes a positive difference in the lives of many people. Her name is Amy Dore and she is a teacher at the Bay Arenac ISD Career Center.I consider her to be a hero because of her commitment to students’ education, passion for teaching, volunteer work, and career choice.
Mrs. Dore’s heroism goes back many years to when she worked as a neonatal nurse. She tells me how rewarding her job was because she was able to bring newborns back to health. She touched many parents’ lives as a nurse. After years of being a nurse, she was offered a teaching job in Nursing Assistant and eventually Health Technology/ Medical Science at the Career Center. She switched from a career of inspiring parents to inspiring students.
When I hear the name Mrs. Dore, I think of a giving person who would do anything in the world to see someone succeed. She is the most committed person I know. Whether you need help on a few vocabulary words or you are at a crossroads in your life, she is there for you. She has helped me and other students countless times on medical terminology. If it were not for her, I would not have the opportunities that I have available to me today. I received a mentorship at McLaren Bay Region in the labor and delivery department because of her. Another time, one of her past students told me that Mrs. Dore stayed after school with her until six o’clock one night just so she could witness a medical procedure on her mentorship. It was after witnessing this procedure that the student decided that she wanted to pursue this career. To me, that says a lot. It shows that Mrs. Dore is more than just a teacher. She is a friend, a mentor, and truly a hero. She demonstrates true passion and commitment to her students. On top of all of this, she somehow manages to make class time fun. Every day, she comes to class with enthusiasm. If you are having a bad day, you can count on her to make your day a little brighter.
Not only is Mrs. Dore a hero in the classroom, she is also a hero in the community. She is involved in HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America), food drives,and our school’s annual health and science fair. I do not think that anyone likes to help people as much as Mrs. Dore does. Every time that there is a local food drive you can be sure to find Mrs. Dore participating whether it be putting together Thanksgiving dinner baskets, packing boxes on food trucks or just collecting donations. If I had to guess, I would say that food drives are one of her favorite volunteer activities because so many people benefit from them. Her all-time favorite volunteering experience is HOSA. She is so passionate about it because it deals with her career as a teacher and a past nurse. Mrs. Dore gives up so much of her time in order to see students place in regionals at Saginaw Valley and move on to the state competition in Traverse City and possibly even the national competition in Florida. She helps students practice speeches, tests, reading, and community events. This time of year can definitely test character because of how stressful it becomes but Mrs. Dore manages to create successful competitors while continuing to come to class with a great attitude.
To me, Mrs. Dore is a true hero. She demonstrates it through her passion for student success, volunteer work and commitment to her career. She has inspired many others and me to follow our dreams no matter how impossible they seem to reach. The greatest thing that I have learned from her is to give everything 110% and it will pay off.My biggest hero is Mrs. Dore, who is yours?
Attorney, Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Written by: Malik Ismail, 2014 RARE Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
The difference between the average person and a R.A.R.E Hero is simple; they allow their actions to define who they are, not their words. A hero must possess and act upon the qualities of being courageous, dedicated, passionate, and selfless. An everyday hero who not only possesses these characteristics, but inspires others to do so as well, is attorney Lena Masri.
Through Masri’s education in International Human Rights from institutions such as the University of Michigan, Indianapolis School of Law, and Oxford University have all been major contributors to her tremendous efforts in aiding the Arab and Muslim American community. Her activism and position as a staff attorney for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has made Masri a community role model to me and many other girls; she has also had a profound impact on numerous families in the community as well. As a prominent female Syrian-American lawyer she has given many underprivileged, minority families the opportunity to find refuge by taking on cases through a Pro Bono Program. Masri’s advocacy of human rights and assistance to families gained her recognition through the Norman Lefstein Award of Excellence as a Gold Level Participant in the Pro Bono Program. She has dedicated her life’s work to being analtruistic hero who is literally the “voice of the voiceless” by representing individuals who cannot do so themselves.
Furthermore, Masri’s influences and aid towards disadvantaged communities is not only reflected through her cases. Due to Masri’s impact and dedication to her profession and community she was given the opportunity to present a report to the United Nations Committee on the topic regarding the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This illustrates that every task Ms. Masri fulfills not only benefits the people within her reach she is also affecting the lives of many whom she has never met. The type of courageous, altruistic behavior Masri displays in her work demonstrates her devotion in creating a better environment for her community, and more importantly for future generations to come. During this presentation Masri represented the multifaceted women, an empowered activist, a passionate lawyer, and an influential minority. A true role model in every situation must represent themselves personally and in Masri’s situation, she was able to represent multiple communities with perseverance, bravery, and elegance.
In essence, a R.A.R.E hero is an individual who has the ability to inspire change in a group or even a single person simply by their behavior. Lena Masri not only inspired me to fulfill my goals through her work ethic, bravery, and compassionate behavior towards others, she also motivated me to make a change in my own community. I view Masri as a role model for myself and many other girls and women in a society where many of the fields requiring high levels of education are dominated by men. Masri is an example to women, minorities, and people of all races that when a person is determined, open-minded, and a risk taker any task is possible. Masri transformed herself from an unknown individual to someone who has been given multiple awards for their community service, written articles for the Huffington Post and other major media outlets, and has even presented reports to the United Nation. If there were a living super hero this individual would be Lena Masri, she not only transformed people’s lives, she inspired the act of change through altruistic behavior.
TV Host, Where You Live
Written by: Jenna Decker, 2014 RARE Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
Everyday heroes are not simply extraordinary people, but rather positive catalysts for change in the midst of everyday challenges. These people inspire others to reach their full potential and in humility elevate and affirm the accomplishments of others. Fully exemplifying these characteristics, my hero is my personal family friend Lori Cook.
Using the broadcast name Miranda, Lori Cook hosts the television show “Where You Live”, which features various places and people in Michigan communities for a half hour each weekday. In this program, Lori actively seeks out individuals in various communities who are doing their small part to better their neighborhoods and environment. She has featured hundreds of non-profit organizations and everyday people who are doing extraordinary activities. Not limited solely to adults, she has highlighted the efforts of children and the physically challenged or disabled. Through showing these people, she advocates for their causes and encourages viewers to give back to the community through volunteerism, participation in community events, and contribution to those less fortunate.
As the Children and Family Services Manager at WOOD TV8, WOTV 4, and WXSP TV, one important aspect of her show is assisting parents in child-rearing techniques. Lori finds positive opportunities for parents to engage their children in everyday activities that promote integrity, responsibility, and community loyalty. During her show, she has highlighted the beneficial and wholesome activities that occur in schools, companies, and throughout the region, in which families can participate. As well, every week on the radio she informs listeners of current family fun events. Throughout the year, she gives away free tickets for kid-friendly activities and has raffle drawings for vacations for the whole family. In addition, Lori co-wrote Miranda’s Guide to Family Fun in West Michigan, which gives parents new ideas to keep the family involved together. Furthermore, every summer she coordinates and hosts park parties throughout West Michigan. Here, she partners with notable companies and businesses to provide a day filled with fun. All activities at the parties are free to the public. There are activities all ages including a wide range of complimentary materials and events, bounce houses and inflatables, a free meal and dessert, and promotion of other affordable family friendly events. Throughout all of this, Lori gives opportunities to all families in the community to create positive memories together, regardless of their circumstances. She fights against the consumeristic culture and isolationism across generations to show the importance of family and pulling together to impact their environment and the world.
Not confined solely to her occupation, Lori serves the community in a multitude of ways as a volunteer. For several years, she has mentored intercity children. At Sabaoth House, she speaks with children individually and assists not only with money, but with her precious time. In addition, she is on the Wedgewood Christian Services Board of Directors, which works with abused and hurting teens. Furthermore, she is on the John Ball Zoological Society Board of Directors, the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding Board of Directors, and the Careforce International Advisory Board. She also is the spokesperson for Campfire Boys and Club Incredible Kid Day. Moreover, she often speaks in several venues to encourage groups of all ages. For instance, every year on Mother’s Day, she has spoken at my church to encourage mothers and daughters to build relationships.
Not seeing this simply as an occupation, for Lori her job is a vocation. She seeks to honor God in the midst of a culture opposing the mention of His name. In an instrumental way, she brings joy and hope to the community around her. For her accomplishments and ongoing endeavors, she has been awarded the Gracie Allen Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Women in Radio and Television West Michigan Chapter, 2011 YWCA Tribute! Award, Hope College Distinguished Alumni Awards, and an Emmy nomination. Throughout my numerous encounters with her as a family friend, she never talks about her achievements. She does engage with genuine passion about her work and about the lives of those around her. Lori Cook is an everyday hero for the time and effort she gives to the lives of her family and through her occupation and volunteerism to her community as well. She is an everyday hero to me and to many others.
Written by: Holly Simon, 2014 RARE Scholarship winner
About this Everyday Hero
The qualities of a paladin are easy to find in my Grandpa, Michael John Simon. He grew up on a farm outside of Portland, Michigan. On that farm is where he learned his strong work ethic. He got up before the sun rose every morning to do his chores. He often missed the bus because he was still milking when the rest of the kids were on their way to school. He would then have to hitch-hike to town and more often than not he would be picked up by a lady who worked downtown at the local bank. She would drop him off at the main stop light in town and he would run four blocks up to the school he attended so he wouldn’t be marked tardy.
He served in the National Guard and then married his high school sweetheart. He left farm work and went into construction, another arduous job, but still worked a small farm on the side. He had four children and was a commendable provider for his family. He finally landed a job at General Motors and that is where he worked until he retired a few years ago. He also put three of his four children through four years of college. The oldest son, my father, went to Michigan State University and my aunts went to Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan, then onto medical school. My third aunt went through a trade school. All of this schooling was paid for by the fruits of his unyielding work.
This, however, has nothing to do with why my Grandpa is a hero. He was a great provider, a wonderful husband and father. He has done all these things which makes him an honorable man, but not a hero. His heroism comes in a quiet, soft, gallant way.
My Grandpa is a farmer at heart. Every year he grows a huge garden, enough to provide for not only his children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends but for strangers as well. My Grandpa will load up his truck and drive downtown to the low income housing apartments and gives a huge selection of vegetables to anyone in penury. He has two friends that live in the apartments and one has had his feet amputated, the other one is disabled. He checks on them weekly and helps them make ends meet until their social security checks arrive. There are countless neighbors that my Grandpa frequently checks in on along our country roads. He also cared for two elderly neighbors that both had health concerns and no family in the area. He would get out his beloved tractor to plow out their driveway and take them to their doctor appointments. He goes up and down the road to plow out everyone after big snow storms. He will never take payment, ever. He is discrete, thoughtful, and introspective with his generosity.
My Grandpa and Grandma were married for 45 years but Grandma passed away a year ago from breast cancer. He took care of her for eleven years of her fight against cancer and now she is at peace.My Grandpa constantly asks himself what he could have done differently to help her. He was her angel on earth and took exceptional care of her. He was her hero, her knight in shining armor. In retirement and all his life my Grandpa has taken to feeding the hungry, looking after the poor, and has grown his charitable heart, bigger. An everyday hero isn’t someone who saves the world; it’s someone the world needs in order to be saved, someone like my Grandpa.
Written by: Jordan Jones, 2009 RARE Scholarship winner
About this Everyday Hero
Have you ever asked yourself why you need to do something? Has the answer ever been – just because? What does that mean? I know a man who goes by this philosophy in all he does. Rick Eder gives himself to his community, to his work and to his friends and family. He doesn’t do things for pride or recognition. He does it, just because.
Rick cares about his community. He is part of NAIFA, a regional and state association that supports public policies related to his insurance business. He was president for a year and is serving his third year on the board for agent education. He served 6 years, 2 as president, on United Way and is a major donor to Elle’s Place, a local area organization for grieving children. Elle’s Place is close to his heart having lost his father at age five. It will be his 5th year of running a spring golf outing fundraiser for this charity. When the local fair comes around he can be found in the Lion’s dunk tank, sponsoring a fair queen candidate, pulling a float and tossing bubbles out to kids during the parade. He’s at the livestock auction, helping out or buying an animal from the local 4H kids. He does this all and more- just because.
Along with helping out the larger community, Rick is dedicated to his self-owned Farm Bureau Insurance business- Rick Eder Agency. He runs his agency based on honesty, friendliness and customer service. I work in his office after school part time and have heard him talk to his clients. The first thing he wants to know when someone has had an accident is whether they are alright. It isn’t just business to him. Rick shows this when he hosts a customer appreciation day. He ties on an apron and invites everyone to enjoy hotdogs, drinks and prizes. He provides a positive work environment for his office staff as well. I see him joking around with them while still keeping his professionalism. He occasionally surprises them by bringing in treats or taking them to lunch. During the holidays, he gives them each a turkey and a special bonus. If he goes on a trip, he will make a point to bring each of them back a small gift. He lets them go early when a child needs to be picked up from the bus and includes them in his future business plan. He does this all and more- just because.
Rick can be seen supporting his church family by ushering, reading scripture, teaching Sunday school and helping at fundraisers. He will be the one to say the prayer at Thanksgiving, grill the turkey and make his well loved pecan pies. This man is there for friends when needed. He makes the time to call them on their birthdays, and offers his truck and his help to a friend who’s moving. He calls his mother just to see how she’s doing. He does this all and more- just because.
This man honors his wife and kids. He’s a husband who remembers to call when he will be late. He’s a dad who attends all his kids’ band and sporting events to cheer them on. He’s the one to take off work to attend a field trip to Greenfield Village, or visit a college campus. He’s the one who hand delivers flowers to school on his daughter’s 17th birthday. He’s the one who stops at the grocery after a full day of work to come home and make a special meal. He does all this and more- just because.
Just because is how this man lives his life. Rick Eder gives back to his community just because that’s what a good citizen should do. He does what is right for his employees and clients, just because that’s what a good person should do. He gives himself to those close to him, just because it is what a good friend, husband, and father should do. This wonderful man is an Everyday Hero to those around him- just because.
About this Everyday Hero
Elanah Hunger is not content with following the same path as everyone else. She constantly blazes new trails in her volunteer and philanthropic work.
After studying the fine arts, Elanah came home and joined the family business, Willowgreen Building Group, eventually becoming the Chief Operating Officer.
One would think that such a demanding position would leave little time or energy for volunteer work, but that isn’t the case for Elanah, who is passionate about building the capacity of non profits. She is on many boards, including the Young Friends of the Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan, which she co-chairs, the Founders Junior Council of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Women’s Philanthropy Board of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. She also chairs fundraisers for the Michigan Opera Theatre and works with the Coalition on Temporary Shelter to solicit donations for at risk children.
One of Elanah’s biggest passions is the JOY Project, which she founded at Jewish Family Services in honor of her mother, Joy. Elanah often gave Joy a tribute gift for Mothers Day in the form of a flower donation to a women’s shelter. Predictably, that wasn’t enough for Elanah. She launched her own program which solicits Mother’s Day tribute donations to provide crisis support, emergency assistance, counseling and domestic violence intervention for over 1300 women and children a year. Elanah’s initiative to honor and thank her mother is making the community a better place for families in need.
Elanah found a way to combine two of her passions, art and medical research to support the work of the Taubman Medical Research Institute. Elanah was inspired to launch a project connecting artists with research scientists at the Institute in order to create works of art that might give the public a clearer sense of the researchers’ complex work. The art is then auctioned off to support the groundbreaking advances taking place at Taubman, including ALS treatment, which is particularly important to Elanah. Her leadership in finding new ways to serve her community makes Elanah Hunger a RARE Everyday Hero.
Legacy Achievement Project
About this Everyday Hero
To be an Everyday Hero one has to be a proven leader, selfless and committed to enhancing the lives of others. Tri-County area business members recognized these qualities in Ferris and nominated him for the award.
Our peers are our most effective role models. Fred Ferris understands this as well as anyone, which is why he started the Legacy Achievement Project. The project recognizes local students making positive lifestyle choices. This is how Fred chooses to honor those who supported him when he was young, by honoring the young leaders of today. Fred believes that helping schools highlight these young men and women and affirm their success is essential to lifting up the whole community.
Each student chosen by their peers and school staff for this honor is displayed on a poster noting their achievements and goals. As a professional photographer and the owner of Action Photography, Fred Ferris is uniquely qualified to capture these student role models in their best light. He highlights their strengths and achievements, including academics, athletics, participation in school organizations and their community service. These posters build their self esteem and gives their peers a positive, relatable role model.
Fred uses his business to lift up the community in other ways. He volunteers his services for new businesses and mentors beginning photographers, offering them the same kind of support he gives the students in Legacy Achievement Project. To honor and thank those who gave to him, he gives to others. Fred’s commitment to shaping young leaders makes him RARE Everyday Hero.
Retired, Ford Motor Company
About this Everyday Hero
James King knows that life is about the choices we make. He has dedicated himself to helping young people understand that they have options and that they should always think, rather than react when faced with adversity.
James King retired from Ford Motor Company after a 27 year career. He started in production but later moved to a salaried position after obtaining his Bachelors degree. James never realized how many choices he had until 1968, when he met with an African American director of General Counsel at Ford. Meeting this man who had achieved unimaginable success in the face of bigotry opened James’s eyes to options he had never considered before. He benefited greatly from the mentorship and has spent his life, paying it forward to help others realize their potential.
James uses many platforms to help young people avoid violence and prepare for the opportunities that life presents. As a mentor for Winning Futures, James meets with students every week to help them set and achieve their goals. His efforts have been rewarded as he was recognized as Mentor of the Year by Winning Futures in 2011. He is active in the Pontiac chapter of Students Against Violence Everywhere his focus is to Engage youth and provide them with the skills needed to avoid violent behaviors and Empower them to encourage their peers and community to do the same. James also works extensively with middle school students through the Pontiac Optimists Club and with the youth of the Welcome Baptist Church in Pontiac where he engages young men in the Men and Boys Enrichment program.
Instead of fishing, James has chosen to spend his retirement encouraging the youth of his community, instilling in them a sense of self confidence, diligence and self-respect. Dedicating his life to empowering young men and women to make positive and productive choices makes James King a RARE Everyday Hero.
Principal, Warren Mott High School
About this Everyday Hero
When John Dignan says it’s a great day to be a Marauder, he means it. As principal of Warren Mott High School, home of the Marauders, he brings the attitude, passion and enthusiasm to make that saying more than just a catch phrase.
John grew up watching his parents 24/7 commitment to their careers as educators, and it obviously rubbed off on him. He is a principal who goes the extra mile for his students. He encourages his students to dream big. And ensures that his school has the necessary resources and staff to help make those dreams a reality. If a student has never considered college, John is there to encourage her to think about it. If a student feels he can’t afford college, John uses his connections to get him a job the minute he gets on campus. If John knows someone at the college a student plans on attending, he connects them together providing a mentor for the student.
John gets his inspiration from his students, many of whom have to overcome enormous obstacles. Their perseverance motivates him, giving him the energy to find the resources his students need to overcome those challenges. It’s an elegant cycle that serves the principal and his students well. He also receives invaluable support from his wife, Rosanna, whose encouragement gives him the energy he needs to excel.
John has received several accolades he was recognized in Cambridge Who’s Who in Education, a finalist for the MASC/MAHS Leadership Award and most recently joined his father as an inductee into the Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame.
About this Everyday Hero
The late poet and author, Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Marquis Herring embodies that quote. Marquis is a journalism instructor, basketball coach and mentor at YouthVille Detroit and Plymouth Educational Center Preparatory High school.
Marquis works with young men in his community every day, who are in need of love, support and discipline. Through his hard work and dedication, he has helped more than 60 young men graduate from high school on-time and go to college. His Mentoring Through Media program, now in its fourth year, enlightens, educates and encourages young men to pursue higher education. Marquis has spent countless hours driving mentees to colleges and universities around the Great Lakes region exposing them to life outside of their everyday environment. Mentoring Through Media’s motto is “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
It is Marquis’s hope that his young men are inspired and empowered to go after their goals. The close bonds that are formed between Marquis and his mentees have made them see him as more than a mentor; he is a father. For many, he is like the father that they never had. His tough love, strong values and morals have made an imprint on the lives of so many. This is what makes Marquis Herring A Rare Everyday Hero.