• DECEMBER 2008


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    • Abstract: DECEMBER 2008JuanOlivarezBrings New Leadership toKalamazoo Community FoundationBy Kaye BennettINSIDE THIS ISSUERotarians Work for WorldPeaceBringing Poetry Alive

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DECEMBER 2008
Juan
Olivarez
Brings New Leadership to
Kalamazoo Community Foundation
By Kaye Bennett
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Rotarians Work for World
Peace
Bringing Poetry Alive
Living a Magic Dream
Experiencing 40 Years of
Change in Iran
FROM THE PUBLISHER
PEACE ON EARTH. Simple words that seem impossible to achieve. and be quickly forgotten by many. There will be no major entries in
Perhaps much of the problem lies in the definition of peace. People history books about the long war against polio, but for the children of
who work in health care say that the absence of illness doesn’t mean the world who will no longer contract this terrible disease it will have
health — that being healthy is much more than not currently having
been a war worth fighting.
an illness. I think the same dichotomy has been
But not all people with hardships are in third world countries.
applied to peace — many of us define it as the
absence of war, yet there is so much more to Many in our home community are in need of help. And we are fortu-
peace than not currently being at war. And it nate to have so many local organizations reaching out to provide that
follows that just because there is war some- assistance. Through a multitude of human service agencies, religious
where in the world doesn’t mean we can’t work organizations, the Greater Kalamazoo United Way, the Kalamazoo
toward peace in other areas. Community Foundation and many other organizations, we jointly
Those who spend their time protesting try to meet the challenges on the home front. Many local citizens give
a specific war, in the name of peace, do not generously of their time and money to make Kalamazoo better for all.
Rick Briscoe
have a monopoly on the peace effort. Their Very few people spend their time or money helping others for the
work is just a part of a much larger endeavor that includes people personal glory. These people understand the axiom that one always
who spend their time and energy improving the lives of the less gets more out of such efforts than one puts into them. The personal
fortunate around the world. True peace will really come when all sense of accomplishment that comes from helping goes far beyond any
people have such basic necessities as safe drinking water, depend- recognition that one may gain.
able food supplies, reasonable sanitation and adequate housing. As we bring peace to the lives of others, we find peace within
Solving these types of issues is not glamorous work, but it is the ourselves. So give yourself a sense of peace — find the time or money
avenue to true world peace. to help someone, somewhere, somehow.
A good example of this is the more than 20-year-long work I wish you peace and joy during the holidays and throughout
of Rotary International to eradicate polio. Very few people really the year.
know how much time, effort and money Rotarians around the
world have expended to put an end to this crippling disease.
Rick Briscoe
When this fight is over in a few years it will end quietly for most
Publisher
inspiring the moment for brides
at the Radisson
Plaza Hotel & Suites
100 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
269.567.7676
sofiafloral.com
5
HAPPY
To all of our valued clients and friends
From our family to yours,
we wish you peace and joy
throughout the holiday season.
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Wachovia Securities, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate nonbank affiliate of Wachovia Corporation. ©2008 Wachovia Securities, LLC 1108-0195 [24778-v1-0241] G-171
Volume 36 Issue 4 December 2008
CONTENTS
MAGAZINE
Publisher 8
Richard J. Briscoe
As president,
Editor
Penny Briscoe JUAN OLIVAREZ
Assistant to brings a wealth of
the Publisher
Ronald Dundon experience to the
Copy Editor Kalamazoo Community
Cherri Glowe
Foundation.
Poetry Editor
Theresa Coty O’Neil
Photo: Rick Briscoe
Contributing Writers
Lindsay Baker
Kaye Bennett
Robin Hall
Beniam Johnson
Bill Krasean 16 SPECIALS
Larry B. Massie
Theresa Coty O’Neil Over 1.2 million ROTARIANS
Robert M. Weir work together to bring peace to the 5 FROM THE PUBLISHER
world — 600 of them are in
Contributing Poets
Kalamazoo County. 10 TRIVIA PURZOOT
Photo: Courtesy Terry Allen
Gabriel Geron
Kirk Latimer
26 GREEN TIPS
Cartoonist Green With Books
Craig Bishop
Feature Photographer 27 BUSINESS ON
John Gilroy THE HOMEFRONT
38 Declutter for Peace of Mind
Designer GABRIEL GIRON and
Brakeman
KIRK LATIMER have made 28 GUESS WHO
Encore magazine is published performance poetry into a show
nine times yearly, September worth watching. 30 EVENTS OF NOTE
through May. Copyright 2008,
Encore Publishing Group, Inc.
Photo: Rick Briscoe
All rights reserved. Editorial, 32 MASSIE’S MICHIGAN
circulation and advertising Big Heads & Bump Bunkum
correspondence should be
sent to 350 S. Burdick, Suite
316, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. POETRY
Telephone: (269) 383-4433.
42
Fax number: (269) 383-9767. 41 Little Things
E-mail: Publisher@Encoreka- Since childhood, magic has been
lamazoo.com. The staff at ALAN SMOLA’S passion.
Encore welcomes written
comment from readers, and
articles and poems for sub-
mission with no obligation to
print or return them. To learn
Photo: Tim Foley
more about us or to com-
ment, you may visit www.
encorekalamazoo.com. Encore
subscription rates: one year
$27.00, two years $53.00,
three years $78.00. Current 46
single issue and newsstand
$4.00, $10.00 by mail. Back
For 40 years ERIKA FRIEDL
issues $6.00, $12.00 by mail. and REINHOLD LOEFFLER
Advertising rates on request. have studied the rural
Closing date for space is 28 culture of Iran.
days prior to publication date.
Final date for print-ready copy
is 21 days prior to publication
date.
7
Photo: Rick Briscoe
UAN OLIVAREZ’S road to home in Benavidez, Texas, in a tarp-cov- a tenement building, where they would
the Kalamazoo Community ered truck, looking, as Olivarez remem- live for the next few years. During those
Foundation, where he became bers it, like they came straight out of years, Juan’s mother, whom he describes
President/Chief Executive Of- “Grapes of Wrath.” In Texas, the family as “a saint,” struggled with the language
ficer on July 14, 2008, has taken some business was picking cotton, but, seek- and missing all her friends and extended
interesting and valuable turns — includ- ing a more prosperous life, father and family back in Texas. She also dealt with
ing a few that led him to cherry orchards uncle had scoped out the job situation the fact that her youngest son, Roel, had
and tomato fields. This charming and up North, and had learned that Inland Down syndrome. Every day the family
humble Ph.D., who comes to Kalamazoo Steel, in East Chicago, Ind., was looking lived in that building, Anita carried Roel
following a 10-year stint as President of for laborers. up and down those flights of stairs many
Grand Rapids Community College, is the Young Juan’s first impression of East times. The building’s washing machines
product of a family of migrant work- Chicago was one of tenement houses, were in the basement, four flights down.
ers. He has lived the story many of us cars lining both sides of the streets, lots That tenement served the Olivarez
grew up reading about: That talent and of people, and lots of languages being family as home until they achieved still
intelligence and — most of all — educa- spoken. For the family from a small one more American dream: They bought
tion and hard work can combine to lead Texas town where all the populace was a tiny house, with a big yard, in Gary,
a young person to aspire to and achieve Hispanic and most were relatives, it was Ind. Young Juan’s father still worked at
anything he can dream. quite a culture shock. “Daunting” is Oli- Inland Steel, with the family supple-
It’s 1958. Seven-year-old Juan, his varez’s word for it now. He still remem- menting the income during summers
parents Alfinio and Anita, older brother bers his younger self asking, “What IS and lay-off times by hitting the road to
Al and 4-year-old Roel, along with their this?” when the truck stopped. pick fruit and vegetables on Midwest
grandmother, an uncle and aunt and The Olivarez family moved into an farms. The two driving forces in Juan’s
11 of their 12 children, leave the family apartment in the slant-ceilinged attic of birth family for many years were the
8
Mary and Juan Olivarez enjoy a summer day
on one of Michigan’s beautiful beaches.
When a young boy, Juan worked as a
team with his family while picking apples
and other crops.
New at the Helm By Kay Bennett
Juan Oliverez is “charming, warm and gracious, a
gentleman and a good listener.”
—Former Foundation CEO Jack Hopkins
desire to educate the children and the Roel, watching over him and keeping the and the importance of responsibility. His
need to earn enough money to keep from bees away. “Roel was a wonderful child,” father would set goals each day for how
losing that house. To that end, Anita also says Olivarez, explaining an interesting much they should pick. To meet the goal,
washed and ironed clothes for people, observation about his brother. Although all family members had to do their part.
and Alfinio put his mechanical skills to Roel did not speak and had limited Then, when tractors picked up the crates
use. understanding, and because he heard of crop, the family was given tickets
Olivarez’s happy memories of both Spanish and English being spoken that they later exchanged for money.
migrant laboring might surprise some around him, what level of understand- The children got a portion to use to buy
readers. “We specialized in cherries and ing he did achieve encompassed both candy or attend carnivals. They learned
tomatoes,” Olivarez says. The family languages. Seeing this in his brother a lifelong lesson in the relationship
would pack up and head to the Hart- convinced Juan that anyone is, therefore, between work and buying power. “I so
Shelby area of Michigan, when cherries capable of being bilingual, to whatever appreciate having had that experience,”
were ripe, and then to Illinois for the extent they can communicate. says Olivarez.
tomato harvest. They lived in migrant That his migrant experiences were
camps, which sometimes had water and
sometimes did not. Most had outhouses.
Family members always worked as a
team, including mother Anita and dis-
J uan says it wasn’t always easy to
get up at sunrise to start picking,
especially in early September when
it was still cold and dark in the morn-
positive ones is further demonstrated by
Olivarez’s choice of hobbies today: He
enjoys vegetable gardening and growing
flowers. “I like getting my hands dirty,”
abled Roel. “We always stayed together,” ings. But to this day he appreciates the he says, attributing this directly to his
Olivarez says. “We worked as a family on lessons he learned from the experience: days in the fields. Even as a child, he was
one tree or one row at a time.” Not only did it bring the family close, fascinated by the tomatoes he was pick-
They would find a shady spot for but he learned about the value of money ing, and as an adult, he enjoys nature
9
Olivarez
photography, and says that, had he not
become an educator, he would have
enjoyed a career in art.
Having moved to Gary, Juan and
brother Al thrived. Al was a straight-A
student and a track star at Calumet High
School, recruited and offered scholar-
ships by many colleges and finally
settling on Aquinas College in Grand
Rapids, Mich., attracted by its coach, Red
Doornbos. Juan, one year younger, was
the school leader and social star. Class
president, editor of the yearbook, mascot
at the games (he dressed as a warrior),
he also launched his early interest in Juan Olivarez’s parents, Alfinio and Anita, worked hard to ensure their children became good
charitable causes, such as the March of citizens. Alfinio sent a photograph of himself to his bride while serving in the United States military
during World War II.
Dimes.
What he did not do, however, was
to entertain any idea of going to college. colleges. chance they took with me,” says Olivarez
He assumed he would follow his father The counselor was distraught. Of today.
and uncle to the steel factory, as most course Juan needed to go to college. They Once the boys were at Aquinas,
sons in the area were doing. As it was would find a way. their parents helped out every way
a given that there would be no money Already familiar with Aquinas they could. Anita mailed them boxes of
to pay for college, Juan’s parents dared where his brother was a student, Juan home-baked food and continued, as she
hope that he might move off the factory applied and was accepted. Financing had always done, to make their clothes,
floor, possibly finding an office job in the was cobbled together with a collection even their underwear. College years
company. So strong was the assumption of grants, loans and campus jobs (he were marked by an increased closeness
that he would not go to college that Juan started out mopping floors in the college between brothers Al and Juan, who ran
never took college preparatory classes in cafeteria). Summers, he joined his dad in together on the cross-country team.
high school, this despite his good grades the steel mill. The years were also marked, starting in
and obvious leadership abilities. “The Having dealt with the question of Juan’s sophomore year, by a girl named
mindset was that you would work where college finances, Juan also needed to Mary, who had the unpronounceable last
your dad worked,” Olivarez recalls. make up for the college prep classes name of Tychyj. “It didn’t have any vow-
Finally, during his senior year, he had missed in high school: Aquinas els,” the now Mary Olivarez says of her
the school counselor asked Juan where allowed him to take the extra classes maiden name, explaining that it’s sort of
he was going to college. “I’m not,” he he needed during his freshman year. pronounced like “ticky.”
replied. He hadn’t even applied to any “I think the world of Aquinas for the
M
ary Tychyj was a freshman
in the fall of 1968. Juan
had spotted her outside the
campus cafeteria, where he was, by now,
managing the dinner shift. Going to a
A Look at Kalamazoo movie on a double date led to friendship
and then to romance, and gave Olivarez
What is the name of the horse that put a chance to learn that Mary also came
Kalamazoo on the map for achieving a first- from a family with a story to tell.
Mary Tychyj’s parents lived in
place finish at the local track in 1859? neighboring villages in the Ukraine
during World War II. Hitler was shor-
ing up his manpower by forcing youth
Answer on page 53. to report, and then conscripting them to
work camps. The young man who would
10
Dignified. Private. Fair.
become Mary’s father resisted, went into
hiding, and joined the underground
militia that was fighting against the
Nazis. “It was a time of political chaos,”
DELEHANTY & FALL, PLC Divorce and
recounts Mary.
One cold, rainy night, assuming
Attorneys and Family Mediation
the weather was so bad that even Nazis Mediators
555 West Crosstown Parkway, Suite 302, Kalamazoo
would be inside, young Nicholas tried
to sneak back home to see his mother.
A paid informant — probably someone
he considered to be a friend — told the
troops, who intercepted him and took
him off to a labor camp in Germany.
Nicholas never saw his mother again.
Life in the camp was “... not easy,”
understates Mary. Workers were forced
We Built That.
to dig underground paths near the
French border, so that SS troops could
move around without danger from artil-
lery fire. When war eventually ended,
Nicholas met fellow Ukrainian Stephanie
at a displaced persons’ camp, and they
soon married.
Across the world, a wealthy Ameri-
can couple was seeking domestic help,
so they sponsored the young Ukrai-
nian newlyweds, bringing them to the
Chicago suburb of Inverness. Stephanie
worked inside their home while Nicholas
did outside work, both at the family’s
home and at a nearby country club.
While the couple worked in affluent In- Fetzer Institute — Kalamazoo, MI
verness, they eventually lived and raised
their family in the middle-class village of
Palatine.
Growing up in Palatine, Mary knew
what it was like to be a minority. Though
her Ukrainian family did not differ in
skin color from their neighbors, their
culture, language and customs were General Contractors | Construction Managers
worlds apart. As the Ukrainian popula-
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In 1994, we at Miller-Davis developed an environmental
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11
Mary Olivarez’s parents, Nicholas and
Stephanie Tychyj, both WWII internment camp
Olivarez survivors, dressed in traditional Ukrainian attire
for their wedding, which took place at a displaced
persons’ camp in Germany in 1946.
college. Like Juan, Mary came to college white students that there was no way
bilingual, her own first language being they would ever elect a Hispanic student
Ukrainian, complete with its Cyrillic (their words were less printable) to the
alphabet. office. But Juan Olivarez was one of those
Juan’s own experiences with dis- young people who could mingle with
crimination were less subtle than Mary’s. both groups, getting to know the middle-
From early childhood Juan learned about class kids in the clubs and activities he
the basic cruelty that can happen in a joined and the minority ones on the long
multicultural society. He remembers daily bus rides; he learned the value of
signs in windows of businesses and res- constituency building at that early age,
taurants saying, “No Mexicans allowed.” and was elected class president not only
From the mission school in Texas, that year, but also the next.
O
where he would be punished physically n May 22, 1971, two weeks
for speaking Spanish, to public schools after Juan graduated from Aqui-
in the Midwest, where he was one of nas College with a teaching
the “bussed-in kids,” driven to middle- certificate, the two were married. The
class neighborhoods to go to school, wedding was a visual blending of their
he learned what it was like to be at the two cultures, held at St. Stephens Church After becoming Mrs. Olivarez, Mary
mercy of the majority. He learned to face in East Grand Rapids and officiated over worked for a number of local businesses,
the challenges that posed and to win. by both Byzantine Catholic and Roman including Jersey Junction, an ice cream
In his large, tough, high school, Catholic clergy. The reception, fittingly shop that emerged again in their future
closed periodically because of student enough, was held in the same Aquinas lives. A few years later while balancing
riots, Juan decided to run for junior class hall that houses the cafeteria where the school with motherhood, Mary earned a
president despite the warnings from couple had met. degree in education from Grand Valley
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12
Juan (left) and older brother Al Olivarez, soon to
become the family’s first-generation of college
graduates, proudly wore their Aquinas College jack-
ets during a spring 1969 visit home to Gary, Ind.
went through ninth grade, and Anita,
through third), Olivarez recounts, both
were pleased and happy that he had gone
to college, even though they had no way
to help out financially.
“We never missed a day of school
unless we had a fever,” says Olivarez,
who lauds his parents’ respect for educa-
tion. Alfinio and Anita managed to come
to Grand Rapids twice in two years,
where they proudly watched each of
their older sons achieve that unthinkable
goal: graduation from college.
Alfinio worked in the steel mill for 25
years and then his parents, who are both
still living, returned to Texas to the family
and culture they loved and still missed,
State University, adding a master’s degree job as a first-grade teacher, one of the and to escape Midwest winters. Younger
later from Michigan State University and first bilingual teachers in the Grand brother Roel now resides in a group home
a Special Education Teaching Certifica- Rapids Public Schools district. near them. When she was 79, his mother
tion from Grand Valley State University. Their middle son a teacher! This agreed that living with peers might be
The newlyweds liked Grand Rapids, was a choice that surely made Alfinio best for her youngest son, in addition to
so after Juan’s graduation, they decided and Anita proud. Though neither of assuring his care when Alfinio and she
to stay, with Juan accepting a teaching them had been to high school (Alfinio are gone. Juan and brother Al, who now
13
In 1971 Juan Olivarez taught first grade at Hall
Olivarez Elementary School in Grand Rapids.
works for the Michigan Department of Elias and wife Mindy are the
Treasury in Lansing, go to Texas a half- parents of 2 1/2-year-old Isaiah Juan
dozen times a year to see them and the and have recently purchased the Jersey
large, extended family. Junction ice cream store where, coin-
Names are very important to the cidentally, his mother worked in the
Olivarez family, and it’s no wonder. Juan 1970s. Sam is an undergraduate at
Olivarez hasn’t always been known by Columbia College in Chicago, majoring
that name. Until he entered high school, in Audio Arts and Acoustics.
Juan was called by his middle name,
A
Rojelio (ro-hee-lee-oh). Anglo teachers lthough Juan spent two years
and students struggled with that name, working for Detroit Public
sometimes making fun of the boy in the Schools, most of his career has
process. Early on, after moving North, been with Grand Rapids Public Schools
managers of the apartment house — as a teacher, school psychologist,
where the family lived began referring supervisor, director of special educa-
to young Rojelio as “Butch,” since they tion, and executive director of research
didn’t feel they could pronounce his and development. He became dean of
name; they never called him anything Institutional Research at Grand Rapids legislation and, of course, fundraising,
else. A fifth-grade teacher repeatedly Community College (GRCC) in 1991, made him the ideal choice for the posi-
called him “Jelly Roll,” which the man and in 1999 he became its president. tion. The Kalamazoo Community Foun-
considered to be a take-off on the name. Along the way, Olivarez earned a mas- dation board, headed by its chairperson
Upon entering high school and ter’s in educational psychology from Jeff DeNooyer, agreed strongly.
hoping to stave off further cruelty, Oli- Wayne State University and a doctor- The board decided on Olivarez,
varez asked his mother to put his first ate in Family and Child Ecology from says DeNooyer, because of his skill set,
name, “Juan,” on the records. This, un- Michigan State University. his background in education (a strong
fortunately, was soon Anglicized during In addition to shepherding GRCC focus of the Kalamazoo Community
roll call to “John” by teachers — so Juan through burgeoning enrollment (stu- Foundation), and his experience with
remained “John Olivarez,” except in his dent enrollment grew by 18 percent, to economic development issues. The per-
family, until graduate school. It wasn’t more than 28,000, during his tenure as sonal side was also a perfect fit. In his 2
until he became a psychologist and was president), he led its first major fund ½ decades at the Community Founda-
acutely aware of the legal and cultural drive, raising $11 million. He was also tion, Jack Hopkins had set a high bar for
ramifications of names that he told president of the GRCC Foundation mixing solid results and winning ways.
friends and colleagues that he preferred Board and served on the Grand Rapids DeNooyer and the rest of the board saw
to be called Juan. Community Foundation board. He has in Olivarez the ability to work with
“John is not a Hispanic name,” he also compiled a lengthy list of awards people, the warmth and energy, the hu-
says today, “and I feel very Hispanic.” and serves on many local and national mility and humor that would be needed
He admits to having “a thing” about boards and committees. to fill the role.
names. “It’s important for us to learn Olivarez, now 58, has chosen to So the ball bounced back to the Oli-
names and not to be afraid to use them.” step into the role left by Jack Hopkins’ varezes who decided Juan would take
Many people still convert “Juan” to retirement because, he says, “I was the job but keep their home in Grand
“John,” but now Olivarez says he always attracted to the work that community Rapids. They have bought a condo in
corre


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