RARE Everyday Hero Stories
Police Officer in the City of Wyandotte2016 - Michelle Eccleton
Hairstylist at Continental Cuts2016 - Kathryn Gross
Teacher at Loyola High School2016 - Laura Hughes
Vice President of Communications & Community at Strategic Staffing Solutions2016 - Gerald Provencal
Retired Executive Director at Macomb Oakland Regional Center 2016 - Matthew Roling
Director of Business Development at Rock Ventures LLC 2016 - Chuck Stokes
Director of Editorial and Public Affairs at WXYZ-TV7 and WMYD-TV202016 - Tena Timmer
Police Officer in the City of Wyandotte
Written by: Danielle Winger, 2016 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
“What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely.” – Christopher Reeve
A small percentage of Law enforcement has stepped out of their boundaries or has crossed the line with how they treat certain races or ethnicities. Many people have the physical power to be an officer but how many have the wisdom and maturity to use the power they have wisely? As a police officer you are supposed to protect American citizens, enforce laws, answers calls for help, and treat everyone equally. Some officers may take advantage of their job or power they have been given but the majority are extraordinary who do their duties and don’t take advantage of their power. Joseph Edward Carr is one of those extraordinary police officers and I consider him an everyday hero.
Joe Carr is currently a police officer in Wyandotte Michigan he has been there for 15 years. He graduated from the Detroit police academy and worked in their department for 3 years prior to where he is now. He has woken up every day for the past 18 years to protect us from the dangers of the world. Joe is also a part of the Wyandotte Honor Guard and he has traveled to Washington D.C to honor fallen officers. He donates his time to support The Good Fellows, Toys for Tots and the Books & Bags program for school kids to start the school year off right. He is involved with the Shop with Cops program where they donate to needy families and take the kids shopping. He also participates in the benefit hockey game at the Yack Arena Police officers Vs the Detroit Red Wings.
Joe has been recognized in the newspaper and on the news a few times for his bravery and heroism. On May 15, 2015 Local 4 Reporter Kimberly Gill wrote an article about an event that Joe was involved in. “It started in Wyandotte about 5:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday. Witnesses said an elderly woman was driving erratically on Biddle Avenue. She jumped a curb, hit a sign and then drove into a restaurant’s parking lot. Someone asked the woman if she needed help, but she refused and drove off toward Riverview. The woman’s van ended up in a creek that runs off the Detroit River right by the Grosse Ile Bridge. Thanks to 911 calls from bystanders, police were on the scene within minutes to rescue her from the water. Wyandotte police Officer Joe Carr was one of the emergency responders. “When I was on top of the vehicle, the water line was nearly to the top of the roof inside. She had floated over to the passenger side. I broke the window, opened the door and got her out,” said Carr. “I’m just glad everything turned out right for everybody. She’s healthy and she’s going to be fine.””
A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Joe is a brave man who will risk his life to protect others he loves his job and will do everything in this power to make our world a safer place. He never loses sight of the real meaning of this job. He participates in the community and honors his fallen officers, whatever field I choose to be in I want to help my community and make an impact on people just like him. I’m proud to call this heroic, brave extraordinary police officer my uncle, he is the real definition of an ever day hero.
Hairstylist at Continental Cuts
Written by: Jacqueline Helstowski, 2016 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
Caring, family-oriented, kind, hard-working, a smile that is contagious, generous, a listening ear…and so much more. Mrs. Eccleton (Michelle/Shelly) works as a hair stylist at Continental Cuts Salon in Taylor, Michigan where she just started her 26th year! I have actually known her all of my life and first met her through Faith United Methodist Church.
There are many ways that people can be a hero in the community. But most importantly, I think the ultimate hero is someone who is kind to all and a positive role model for others – an everyday hero – and that is Mrs. Eccleton. She always has an upbeat attitude and is welcoming to others. Also, she is a good listener and makes everyone feel comfortable, even in the most challenging situation. Sometimes it feels like being kind is almost going out of style or the “uncool” way to be to nowadays. But I think portraying kindness and compassion to those whose paths you cross is so important, and Mrs. Eccleton consistently displays these qualities in her job. Her clients have become like family over the years, with multiple generations becoming part of her growing family. In fact, my dad went there when he was in college and now I am a loyal customer too. Mrs. Eccleton always makes me and everyone who comes into the salon feel welcome and appreciated.
Mrs. Eccleton also goes beyond her job to make a positive difference. Mrs. Eccleton has been a Sunday School teacher for many years. She was a founding member of the former “Aunt Betty” group at Faith United Methodist Church, an inter-generational group with a basic mission of “spreading pebbles of peace and kindness” and working to expand ideas and action to make a positive difference through church, family, and community. Turn off the Violence Family Fun Fair (sponsored by Trenton Rotary), Relay for Life, Circle of Peace, making sandwiches at Cass Community Services, and education about local environmental issues, violence in the media, and fair trade coffee are just some of the community activities she helped support and promote over the years through Aunt Betty and in other ways.
In addition, a special example comes to mind of Mrs. Eccleton putting her work skills and talents to special use to help others. Faith Church is part of Christnet, a partnership of over 50 churches whose mission is to provide overnight emergency housing assistance and other services on a rotating basis to homeless men, women, and children in the region. About eight years ago, when it was Faith Church’s week to host, she set up the men’s bathroom at church like a salon during Christnet – and has been doing it every year since. The homeless guests are encouraged to sign up for shampoos, cuts and even shaves for the men – just as they would at an actual salon. She then provides these services to them free of charge.
The homeless guests tell her how they want to look and she does it. It is unbelievable what a change it makes! They are so happy and proud of how they look. She treats them with dignity, respect, and makes them feel special. Mrs. Eccleton is a model for others on how simple gestures can make a real difference. She even inspired other stylists from the salon to come along and help out too. My grandma, who was volunteering one evening last year, saw Mrs. Eccleton welcome a severely mentally challenged adult, who was one the son of one of her regular customers (an elderly mother) who used to bring him with her into Continental Cuts. His face lit up and he called out to her when he saw her at Christnet, and was sooo happy to see her. My grandma said it made her want to cry because it was so sweet.
Most anyone can work really hard at their job and volunteer for activities in the community, but going the extra mile to personally make a difference in the everyday lives of others is what makes a true hero! I am very proud to know Mrs. Eccleton as an everyday hero.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Teacher at Loyola High School
Written by: Zavian Harriday, 2016 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
A hero in my eyes is Ms. Gross.
Ms. Gross is always looking to go out of her way to do good for other people.
Ms. Gross isn’t the richest person in the world, but will give her last to see another person happy. She always has something planned for us to do that will bring joy to another person. The heart that she has is unbelievable, and she tries to spread love everywhere.
One of our assignments in our service learning class was to come up with a project to better the community. We came up with different ideas but one that stood out was the trash can project. We decided that we’ve had enough with the trash that we seen around the outside of our school. We’ve been trying to get the funds and permission to put trash cans on the outside of the school to give people the opportunity to throwing things away in the trash instead of on the ground, making a cleaner and more presentable appearance of our school.
Ms. Gross also supported another project we had for the soldiers that have died fighting for us. We used small tiles in which we decorated and put names of the soldiers on and glued them to the wall in pyramid form. We did this to give thanks to all the soldiers for the generosity and heart in fighting for people they would never meet and just to give respect.
She also supported our project to make blankets for homeless people and people that live with heartbreaking diseases. We have another project that consist of us bringing in toys and coloring books and games. We’re doing this to give to the children who spend countless days in the hospital, we know how bored they can get and we want them to be able to take their minds off of things.
Ms. Gross does far more things outside of school to show her compassion. She walked to raise money for leukemia. She baked cookies for the homeless. She does these things out of the kindness of her heart and she just wants to see people happy. If Ms. Gross became rich today, I could see her giving a lot of her money to charity because she’d rather feel rich in her heart instead of her pockets. That is why I see Ms. Gross as a hero.
Vice President of Communications & Community at Strategic Staffing Solutions
About this Everyday Hero
Laura Hughes was nominated by Jennette Smith, Editor of Crain’s Detroit Business. Jennette got to know Hughes when she was under consideration for Crain’s 40 under 40. Laura is Vice President of Communications and Community at Strategic Staffing and dedicates a third of her time to Detroit issues. She is on the Executive Committee of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, the Nominating Committee of the Michigan Humane Society, is Board Chair of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), and on the Detroit Institute of Arts Founders Junior Council. She has over 10 years of experience in philanthropic management and institutional marketing.
Retired Executive Director at Macomb Oakland Regional Center
Written by: Natalia Jenuwine, 2016 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
Alfred Bartolino had a developmental disability. He had lived in a state institution from age 7 to age 40. Suddenly, after a life of isolation from the community, he moved into his own house, got a job, and got married. What made this enormous change possible? The answer is the Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC), a non-profit organization which revolutionized care for intellectually disabled adults. Gerald Provencal is the founder and Executive Director of MORC, which provides physical and psychological therapy, job training, and housing, among many other services, for the intellectually disabled. Provencal is a hero because his initiative and dedication have had a permanent and worldwide impact on the treatment of the intellectually disabled, replacing a harmful and entrenched system with one that provides care and hope.
Until recently, families of challenged adults had only two options: “To institutionalize or not to institutionalize,” as Provencal puts it. They could either keep their family member at home, where he or she received no education and had to be cared for constantly; or they could send their loved one to a massive, prison-like government institution, whose residents were cut off from family and the outside world, but might receive some job “training.” Despite its obvious shortcomings, this depressing dichotomy remained unchallenged as the standard for care through almost all of the 20th century. Provencal was introduced to this system working as an attendant in an institution like those described above. At his job, he witnessed the lack of options available to the intellectually disabled and the poor treatment they received, and could no longer remain at his job without taking action. In response to this problem, he started MORC and set out to transform the way our society treats the intellectually disabled.
Before his vision could become a reality, Provencal faced many obstacles. For instance, those who lived near institutions had an economic interest in preserving them. Disregarding the residents of those institutions, and considering only the employment opportunities associated with them, entire cities fought to preserve the old system, creating a roadblock for those concerned with helping the disabled. Despite this opposition, Provencal persevered in replacing harmful institutions with a more positive model of helping the disabled live in homes in the community. When searching out suitable suburban homes, MORC was sometimes bombarded with complaints from irate neighbors who objected to living next to “retards.” Many assumed they were dangerous and feared they would harm property values. Even so, Provencal managed to persuade these pessimists to be open-minded and see past their prejudice. Even when faced with challenges such as these, he accomplished his goal of establishing MORC and transforming the way disabled adults are treated.
With these challenges behind him, Provencal has succeeded in revolutionizing the system. MORC has helped close every institution for the intellectually challenged in Michigan and many around the world. MORC, which has recently surpassed its 40th anniversary, now serves and advocates for over 5,000 disabled people in 12 counties in Southeast Michigan. Through his work with MORC, Provencal has left an enduring impact on the treatment of the intellectually disabled both locally and globally.
Overall, Provencal’s willingness to make an extraordinary difference in his ordinary world, even when confronted with challenges, is what makes him truly heroic. He identified a massive injustice that many before him had silently accepted or dismissed, and devoted his life to solving it. He reveals that a hero does not necessarily have to save lives, face villains, or endure mortal peril: rather, a hero sees something wrong and makes it right at all costs. And Provencal has definitely done that.
Director of Business Development at Rock Ventures LLC
About this Everyday Hero
Rock Ventures LLC Business Development Director Matthew Roling plays a key role in many of the urban revitalization initiatives being spearheaded by Rock Ventures while also serving as the board chair of the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program. Additionally, Matt serves on the Economic Development board of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Matt says one of the most rewarding things he has done was being a key contributor to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s effort to raise the awareness and funds necessary to test and adjudicate a backlog of over 11,000 untested sexual assault kits from 2013- 2015.
Director of Editorial and Public Affairs at WXYZ-TV7 and WMYD-TV20
About this Everyday Hero
WXYZ-TV 7 & WMYD-TV 20 Director; Editorial & Public Affairs was nominated by our own Kris Marshall for his unwavering commitment to providing a platform for organizations and individuals who do good within the community. Stokes is a “Lifetime Achievement Award” Winner and is a board member for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation, Reading Works Detroit, and Midnight Golf Mentorship Program. He is also a part of the teaching faculty at AOJ’s Minority Writers Seminar.
Written by: Kyle Timmer, 2016 Scholarship Winner
About this Everyday Hero
Ever since I was old enough to understand what was going on, I’ve loved going to my grandparents’ house for Christmas every year. The highlight of the gathering is always the presents. There’s always some sort of puzzle, riddle, or scavenger hunt to find the gifts, since my grandparents aren’t content to just hand them out. My cousins and I wander through the house, collecting puzzle pieces, solving clues, and having fun all the while. When the presents have been found, we all gather in the living room and open them. As the wrapping paper flies off in strips of confetti though, we discover that the gifts we have received aren’t your typical Christmas presents. That’s because on Christmas, and every day, my grandma, Tena Timmer, does her best to make life better and more enjoyable for everyone, even those who aren’t likely to thank her, and that is why I see her as an Everyday Hero.
Before she retired, my grandma worked for forty-four years as a nurse. Originally, she helped patients recovering from surgeries or strokes. However, her last twenty-five years of nursing were as a psychiatric nurse. She helped people with mental illnesses by feeding them, by making sure they would be covered by insurance, and by simply talking with them. My grandma’s compassion and commitment to helping people can be easily seen in her career.
My grandma’s desire to help people wasn’t merely present in her work. In addition to their own children, my grandparents cared for foster children for around fifteen years. Some of these kids were troublemakers while others needed to be separated from their families. That didn’t stop my grandparents, though. One of those kids, now my “Uncle” Bob, still keeps in touch with our family, and I see him from time to time. Even after they stopped taking in foster children, my grandparents continued to keep their home open to those in need. They have housed two boys from Sudan for over a year, have provided short term foster care, and have opened up their house to those in need other times as well. Through her involvement with foster care, my grandma’s desire to put others first is clearly evident.
Though my grandma has retired from nursing, she still does quite a lot of work. Every week she returns to the hospital as a volunteer. For her church, my grandma helps with Little Lambs, a Sunday School program for two and three years olds, and she is a leader for GEMS, a program for young girls. She and my grandpa both volunteer monthly for Feeding America, and they correct Bible lessons for prisoners through a program called Crossroad Bible Institute. Finally, my grandma is a mentor for two women in need of guidance. She helps them with shopping and budgeting, and she tries to help them solve some of their difficult situations. My grandma goes out of her way to help people and improve their lives, giving up much of her time for people who probably won’t ever show their appreciation. That takes a kind of commitment and integrity that you don’t see in many people.
My grandma’s commitment to helping people throughout her life is why I see her as an Everyday Hero. Throughout her life, she has sacrificed time, money, and comfort to help others. Every Christmas, when my cousins and I open our presents, the first gifts we receive are reminders: a stuffed cow, a lightbulb, or maybe some water. These represent the animals and resources that my grandparents donate to people in poorer countries every Christmas. They give my cousins and me these representations to remind us how lucky we are and how much we can do to help others. This is what Christmas is like with my grandparents, and I hope it will continue to be like this for years to come. My grandma’s focus on putting others first shows me that anyone and everyone can be a hero.