Committee members sought for Northern Lights Awards

BIG RAPIDS — The Northern Lights Awards are extending a little further north, with the new eligibility for Osceola County community members.

As of Dec. 31, 2014, the Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation integrated with the Spectrum Health Foundation, becoming Spectrum Health Foundation — Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals.

Now that the foundations have integrated, a new challenge for the Spectrum Health Foundation is expanding the Northern Lights Award process to include nominations from both Mecosta and Osceola counties.

The foundation has been working to reorganize how its members and the structure of the new foundation work together with both Reed City and Big Rapids.

“It was a good investment on our part for many reasons,” said Thomas Hogenson, Spectrum Health Foundation executive director. “We have been able to strengthen our numbers and focus on a region-wide area instead of only locally.

“We predict great things now that the foundations have merged. Everyone has been working together and have prepared and anticipated for the merger before it was official.”

Since 2001, the hospital foundation in Big Rapids has been recognizing community achievement by selecting and surprising seven award winners.

Awards come in all shapes and sizes. This one comes in the form of a surprise visit from local Spectrum Health Foundation committee members.

“It is a way for us to show people that we can recognize community members that make our community great,” said Hogenson. “We want to surprise them with the award and honor their work by telling their story.”

The Northern Lights Award is broken up into seven separate community achievement awards, focusing on seven different categories. The categories include arts and entertainment, business, civics, education, environment, health and human services and sports.

Committee members are specifically chosen from throughout the community to find the best candidates for each Northern Lights Award.

Currently, committee members are being recruited to select the award winners are being recruited. The names of these members will be announced in the coming weeks. Once the committee is formed, all members will work together by category to find and accept nominations from the community and past award recipients.

“We really want to find people who have done something or are doing something unique, bold and meaningful in the community that makes an impact,” Hogenson said.

Throughout the next four months, seven community members will receive an award. Hogenson looks forward to seeing winners’ reactions to the surprise.

“We want to surprise them as best as we can,” Hogenson said. “The committee members will be there to award the recipient the plaque and snap some pictures of their reactions.”

The project will wrap up with a ceremony to honor all award winners on June 4 at Artworks in Big Rapids.

Let the awards begin.