Fletcher: Doing what they can to help Alpena — fanfare or not

As you know the chicken is involved at breakfast time with its eggs while the pig is committed to its bacon. So it is regarding civic achievement.

As an example, Mike Kendziorski is committed to the covered bridge project at Island Park. He has promised that within five years he will have the project completed and won’t use a dime of city money. I believe him because he has built his own lovely covered bridge and I’ll bet that we will all be awed and pleased with the result.

Mike doesn’t want any recognition and will probably be a little embarrassed that I’m bragging up his work in public. He’s a guy who is perfectly sincere when he says: “This town has been good to me and I just want to give back.” Mike is one of the folks in the sty being committed and not just in the coop being involved. My hat is off to him.

I was asked in church Sunday if there were many other folks – working anonymously – as pigs in the community. I answered in the affirmative because I know several of them. Sometimes they work behind the scenes because they just forgot to tell anyone what they were doing. Others just don’t want people to know they are doing good works because it might spoil their reputation.

I’m a joint chair of fundraising for the new Electrical Technology Center at Alpena Community College. George Lafleche is the honorary chairman while Ann Burton and I are the chairs. I know of at least $205,000 in donations to that project that haven’t been announced as to who the donor was. Two gifts were anonymously given. One of the two is a “challenge grant” meaning that others have to give as much as the gift before the money will be released.

There are many folks in this porcine group who support the community – their community – to the max without any desire to be thanked publicly because they just feel that they are doing the “right thing.”

Sometimes giving is a quid pro quo. If you support my project, then I’ll support yours. Our company supported a cancer center in the hometown of one of our long-time suppliers for $10,000 and received a gift for ACC for 10 times that amount. What goes around, comes around. With Burton and I chairing ACC’s electrical technology center project and by seeking donations, we understand some donors might ask us to reciprocate someday.

Some folks complain they always are asked for donations and that it gets old. Others understand that since we don’t have many Bill Gates types living here, the responsibility falls to leaders like them.

Bob Granum, who started Panel Processing, was a great community supporter. Back when the Besser Technical Center was being constructed Jim Park and I were the chairs of that project charged with raising millions of dollars. We employed a scientific modus operendi to solicit donations. Since I was located downtown and he was relatively north of town, I would pick him up going north and he would drive if we were going south.

One day we were going to see Granum out in the industrial park so I picked up Jim at Besser. On the way out we discussed the size of the amount we would suggest Granum to consider.

Now remember, at that time we were at an age relative to Granum’s that he probably regarded us as a little wet behind the ears. We showed up at Panel and directly inside the door was a receptionist. Granum’s office was about five feet further on with the door open. The receptionist inquired about our business and stepped over to Granum, who was reading the Wall Street Journal, to see if he could fit us in.

We walked to the door and Granum asked what we wanted, although he already knew the purpose of our visit. We told him the outlandish amount of our request and he said “OK.” No negotiation, no fuss, no muss. And the Granum Theatre is in existence today as a result of that brief answer.

We were a little stunned as we had expected there would be some chit- chat. After the “OK” Granum inquired of the two young punks in his doorway: “Is there anything else, I’m busy” and went back to reading the Journal.

There are lots of Bobs in the community for greater or lesser amounts of donations. They don’t seek fanfare or notoriety. They aren’t just involved like the chickens, these guys are the real supporters of the community and are committed as pigs.

So yes, today we still do have many unsung heroes in the shadows. They are always there working for the advancement of the area.

It’s a very roomy sty if you would like to be a pig.