On January 26, WXMI-TV/FOX 17 (Grand Rapids) and Consumers Energy presented the third annual Pay It Forward Awards Gala. This invitation-only lunch event was held at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Its purpose was to honor the 2016 recipients of the Consumers Energy Pay It Forward Person of the Month Award and announce the recipient of the Consumers Energy Pay It Forward Person of the Year Award. In addition, seven new Pay It Forward Person of the Year categories were introduced and awarded at the event.
WXMI-TV began its Pay It Forward initiative in November 2010. The goal was to highlight West Michigan citizens who give of their time, talent and treasure while expecting nothing in return. The initiative received so much positive feedback that the station decided to make it an ongoing campaign. Since then they’ve aired at least one story per week, highlighting people and organizations in West Michigan who pay it forward and make West Michigan a better place.
Award recipients were nominated by the public, the honorees recognized at the event included:
Consumers Energy Pay It Forward Person of the Year: Lisa Cober from Grand Haven
Pay It Forward Firefighter of the Year presented by FOX 17: Chief Alan Styles
Pay It Forward Police Officer of the Year presented by AmeriGas: Tino Reyes Jr.
Pay It Forward Charity of the Year presented by Kentwood Community Church: The Diaper Depot of Ascension Lutheran Church
Pay It Forward Healthcare Professional of the Year presented by Samaritas Senior Living: Julie Gortsema
Pay It Forward Teacher of the Year presented by Courtesy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram: Renne Wyman
Pay It Forward Veteran of the Year presented by Tom Stehouwer Auto Sales: Paul Potter
Pay It Forward Business of the Year presented by Howard Law Group: Gracie’s Bookstore
“Pay It Forward is a very rewarding segment for us to produce,” Said FOX 17 News Director Brooks Blanton. “It’s important to highlight the many great people here in our community. West Michigan is fortunate to have so many giving people and we’re happy to use the voice we have to share these incredible stories and give selfless people the attention they truly deserve.”
The event was emceed by FOX 17’s Christian Frank and Janice Allen and included remarks from Dr. Donald M. Maine, Chancellor Emeritus, Davenport University and Brooks Blanton, News Director FOX 17.