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Students support nonprofits and philanthropy

April 19, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University students announced the winners of three awards presented Thursday, April 13, at the Nonprofit Awards Dinner.

The American Humanics Student Association awarded $3,000 grants to the Generous Hands as the best emerging nonprofit, Gryphon Place as the best established nonprofit, and Greenleaf Companies as the best philanthropic business in greater Kalamazoo.

The two nonprofits were also presented a certificate for 50 student volunteer hours, while Greenleaf will donate its $3,000 award to the nonprofit of its choice. In all, eight finalists were vying for the AHSA awards: two in the business category, four in the established nonprofit category and two in the emerging nonprofit category.

Students raised the money to put on the dinner though grants and sponsorships from Catholic Men's Fellowship, The Event Company, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Metro Toyota, Perspectives Consulting Group, Pfizer, Premiere Printing, University Bookstore, WMU Campus Activity Board, WMU Office of Community Outreach, Wildwood Designs and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Generous Hands' mission statement comes from Proverbs 22:9, "Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to those in need." The organization, established in 2004 in Vicksburg, provides students at risk of hunger in grades K-12 with sufficient sources of nutrition for the weekend through the distribution of up to 122 Friday Packs each week.

Gryphon Place, which has operated a crisis hotline for many years, demonstrated excellence by taking over Dispute Resolution Services, an agency on the verge of extinction. Gryphon Place has been a leader in making sure that all of Michigan has access to a simple-to-remember number to call for human service information. Anyone in Kalamazoo can call 211 and get a referral to the closest food pantry, homeless shelter, hospice or other service.

The Greenleaf Companies include Greenleaf Trust and Greenleaf Hospitality, which includes the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites and Holiday Inn West in Kalamazoo. The business has created a culture of philanthropy that is reflected through service by executives, managers and staff members at all levels of the organization.

The student-run event was designed to honor and promote nonprofit excellence and strengthen professional relationships between nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Students who worked on the event, along with an awards committee of community members, chose the finalists through scoring, onsite interviews and data gathering. The students are taking classes and working toward nonprofit certification through WMU's School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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