Mike will speak to Rock Valley College community

Today is Fall conference development day at Rock Valley College. Development day is designed to train and encourage both faculty and employees of Rock Valley College.

This afternoon Mike Schlablaske, executive director of TransformRockford, will hold a session to get feedback from the Rock Valley College community. Educators play a significant role in transforming the Rockford region.

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Inclusion: Peace Coalition: Poles illustrate commmunity’s desire to see peace in the world

“May peace prevail on Earth.”

— Peace Poles in Rockford and the Peace Month Coalition

Is there a message more needed in our world today? This simple universal aspiration knows no bounds and is a message as important today as it has been to mankind throughout history.

These simple words are inscribed on more than 200,000 peace poles in more than 200 countries around the world. Have you noticed that Rockford is becoming a city with a multitude of peace poles? We know that there are more than 60 poles sponsored by various civic organizations, educational institutions, and businesses in public spaces around our community.

Families and individuals have embraced the movement with peace poles in their gardens and lawns. Stores such as Crimson Ridge, Village Green and Porch have included versions of peace poles in their inventories. Overall, Rockford’s population of peace poles will almost double again this year.

This is just one tangible illustration of the efforts of Rockford’s Peace Month Coalition and is representative of our community’s desire for peace, both locally and internationally.

Rockford’s Peace Month Coalition is a consortium of more than 40 Rockford-area groups who meet six times per year to plan and support each other’s activities for Peace Month in September of each year.

This year, almost 30 peace events attracting 10,000 of our fellow citizens include an Ethnic Festival sponsored by Midtown District Association; inspirational films about acts of courage and cultures of peace sponsored by Rockford Public Library and the YWCA; IDOP activities at Discovery Center; a nature event at Severson Dells; a labyrinth of shoes benefitting local children sponsored by Annie’s Locker; music events by Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Mendelsohn Club and Winnebago County Diversity Council; a peace conversation between Professor Rajmohan Gandhi and President Robert Head at Rockford University; the annual Antiviolence Peace Awards Luncheon with Dr. Gandhi sponsored by the Winnebago County Health Department; and the 12th Annual International Day of Peace at the Peace Plaza.

A full calendar of events and a map depicting peace pole locations in public places is listed on the Peace Coalition website at connect2peace.org. The Peace Coalition is now on social media thanks to the efforts of friends at Rock Valley College who created our website and our presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter led by Sharon Cooper.

Do these activities embracing peace really make a difference? Together with social scientists, those at peaceoneday.org have proven that activities such as these reduce violence and save lives both locally and globally. Moreover, shared initiatives that focus on our similarities rather than our differences strengthen our community.

Thanks to our friends at the Rockford Register Star, this is the first of 11 guest columns that will detail Peace Coalition events throughout September. Visit the connect2peace website, “like” connect2peace on Twitter and Facebook and share the calendar of events on your own websites or Facebook pages.

Join this movement for peace; read the guest columns; attend the events; and help spread the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

If you have an interest in volunteering for any of the events or joining Rockford’s Peace Coalition email connect2peacerockford@gmail.com or visit connect2peace.org.

Jim and Pam Keeling are community volunteers and 2011 Excalibur honorees. They are co-chairs of the International Day of Peace celebration at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza.

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Unity: Rockford’s Labor Day festivities include parade, pageant

Online Staff Report

Rockford’s 62nd annual Labor Day Parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1.

This year’s parade theme, as chosen by volunteer members of the Rockford Labor Day Committee, is “Standing United to Secure Our Future.”

The annual Labor Day Parade will step off at 10 a.m., Monday, Sept. 1. Traffic will be impacted as follows:

• The parade will form at Seventh Street and Railroad, proceed north on Seventh Street to East State Street, west on State Street to Wyman Street, south on Wyman Street, ending at Cedar Street at Davis Park entrance. Street closures will begin one hour before the parade and smaller streets that intersect the route will also be closed during that time period.

• Police traffic control on arterials such as Second, Third, Sixth and Seventh streets will allow traffic to cross periodically, but traffic is urged to find alternate routes.

Labor Day festivities start with the Labor Day Queen Pageant Saturday, Aug. 30. The pageant begins at 6 p.m. at the UAW Hall, 112 N. Second St., in Rockford. Each local is encouraged to select one candidate for each of the pageant’s categories: Princess, ages 6-10; Young Miss, ages 11-15; Miss, ages 16-20; and Ms./Mrs., ages 21 and older. Participants are union members or relatives of union members.

Pageant tickets, which cover the cost of dinner and admission, are $20 each for adults, and free for children ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

This year’s parade starts at Seventh Street and Sixth Avenue, runs north to East State Street, and heads west to conclude at Davis Park on Wyman Street. The reviewing stand and bleachers are on Wyman Street near Davis Park.

Bob Bruski, a retiree of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23, is this year’s parade grand marshal. Several high school bands and many local unions and organizations will be represented at this year’s event.

Call Trisha Welte at (815) 968-5400 or Rockford United Labor at (815) 968-1411, or e-mail trisha@unitedwayrrv.org for more information.

source: Rock River Times

Caring: Ice Bucket Challenge inspires Rockford-area nonprofits

ROCKFORD — The immensely popular Ice Bucket Challenge benefitting the ALS Association hasn’t just been crowding your Facebook feed.

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It’s also turning the world of marketing and fundraising on its head.

Skeptics may have thought the challenge — in which a person opts to donate money or pour a bucket of ice water on his or her head — was more for show than an altruistic way to donate money to fight the neurodegenerative disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But those skeptics have been proven wrong, the association says, to the tune of $94.3 million as of Wednesday. That compares with $2.6 million raised during the same time period, July 29 to Aug. 27, last year. Much of that money has come from 2.1 million new donors.

The huge wave of new donors has some local nonprofits and groups excited about the future of fundraising and truly stunned by the power of social media.

A quick survey of area nonprofit organizations this week showed that they’re not necessarily worried that donations to ALS will somehow divert money from their efforts. They’re just hopeful the spirit of giving will stay strong.

“What the Ice Bucket Challenge has shown is that people naturally have a large capacity to give,” said Roman Salamon, director of communications and marketing for the United Way of Rock River Valley.

“The challenge, efforts like Transform Rockford, those movements turn on the internal philanthropic switch in people and get people in the spirit of giving.”

United Way will kick off its fundraising efforts for the year on Sept. 12. The agency is harnessing social media, using the hashtag #pointofu to get residents to share stories of real people making local neighborhoods better places to live.

Salamon and others acknowledged being a little jealous at not being first to think of a concept as grand as the Ice Bucket Challenge.

“You can’t deny the impact that it’s had on that organization,” Salamon said. “It’s just grown tremendously. Hats off to their marketing team.”

Lisa Novak, executive director of Northern Illinois Hospice and Grief Center, said she’s been impressed that the Ice Bucket Challenge has attracted participants of all ages.

“If you can teach children that people can benefit by their giving, you can’t get any better than that,” Novak said.

But the viral nature of the challenge also reflects the changing demographics of fundraising, a trend many nonprofits are trying to address.

“You look at people in the philanthropic community, and many of them don’t fit the social media profile,” Novak said. “So many people who have the money and the drive to donate are often in their 50s and older. We don’t have the demographic data on these (challenge) donors, but if the videos are an illustration, it’s many ages.”

There’s also the real challenge of sustaining eager new donors.

“Does every organization want that kind of magic? Absolutely,” said Erna Colborn, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter. “We would love to find more people who are that passionate about doing something and having fun while doing that.

“The challenge is for long-term fundraising. We have many committed donors who have been with us for years and years, and we continue to work with them. I think (the ALS Association) has a huge challenge in front of them now in how to convert those donors into regular donors for the organization and keep them.”

Novak and others said they haven’t heard of any donations being diverted from local charities because of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Donations haven’t changed so far this summer at the American Cancer Society in Rockford, and participation in this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Oct. 18 is on the rise, said Emily Lapinski, senior manager of community events.

“We encourage everybody to choose an organization and make donations,” Lapinski said. “What’s fun and key about the (Ice Bucket Challenge) is that anybody can do it.”

The American Cancer Society does a social media campaign encouraging people to change their Facebook and Twitter profile photos purple. Chevrolet contributes up to $1 million total for all the “purpled” photos through the Purple Roads website.

Colborn said the Alzheimer’s Association has received some donations from people mentioning the Ice Bucket Challenge. She’s seen some videos online of people naming the organization, and some checks have come in with references to the challenge.

Some people say they are donating half their money to ALS and half to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Colborn said the organization soon will work with a major national consulting firm to look at how to improve the chapter’s social media efforts because “it’s such a huge part of how we get the word out and how we engage with people.”

“It’s so important how we communicate these days,” Colborn said. “It’s all about relationships, building relationships with your donors so they completely understand what your organization is. The challenge the ALS Association has is how do they build relationships now with that many people all at once and sustain it. I wish them every success in that.”

Melissa Westphal: 815-987-1341; mwestphal@rrstar.com; @mlwestphal

If you goWhat: Walk to Defeat ALSWhen: 9 a.m. Sept. 20Where: Rockford Aviators Stadium, 4503 Interstate Blvd., Loves ParkDetails: The event is hosted by The ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter. More than 400 people participated last year, and the event raised about $55,000. The public is invited to participate in groups or as individuals, to help sponsor a team or show support for ALS patients, their family and friends.Contact: alsachicago.org

Rockford Host to Japanese Summer Festival

ROCKFORD, IL–The Anderson Japanese Gardens celebrated the third annual Japanese Summer Festival.

The two-day event is a celebration of traditional cultural arts.

Visitors have the opportunity to explore exhibits and check out performances,

Guests can even part-take in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

“People seem really happy to be here,” said Tim Gruner, the garden curator, “so many positive things going on.”

The Japanese gardens offer a twelve acre landscape with plenty to see.

The scenery includes winding paths and calm streams–there’s even a waterfall!

Founding family member, David Anderson, says families come to Rockford specifically for this event.

“It’s pretty special to feel, you know, right here in Rockford, that we have one of the highest quality Japanese gardens, not only in North America, but outside of Japan,” said Anderson.

source: http://www.mystateline.com/fulltext-news/d/story/rockford-host-to-japanese-summer-festival/17747/UiEbu9Oxd0S8RGN7kQ9mow

Letter: A future built on education

We hear so much about the importance of education, but we hear little about preparing children for education.

If we are going to transform Rockford, we need to get a message to parents — education starts at birth! Parents, please sing to your baby and read to them soon after birth. Interact with them every day, count steps, name flowers and birds, etc.

When your child starts school, talk to their teachers, provide healthy meals, get your children plenty of rest and provide a safe, stable environment. What if every home had an hour of quiet every evening without TV or electronic devices.

Those of us who have already raised our families can read to neighbor children or volunteer at a school. Spending one hour a week as a reading tutor can encourage a teacher and make a difference to one or two children. Each of us can do something to transform Rockford.

— Cheryl Bengston, Rockford

Source: http://www.rrstar.com/article/20140823/OPINION/140829884/10356/OPINION?template=printart