Mary K. Hoodhood was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Obama. Mr. Obama said “physical limitations have never hindered … Hoodhood’s determination to strengthen her community.” Hoodhood founded the Kids Food Basket in Grand Rapids. The group helps to feed kids in need. So what three things would Hoodhood do to help improve the state? She says it all starts with volunteering your time and improving your outlook.
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Mary K. Hoodhood, founder of Kids’ Food Basket in Grand Rapids and recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, proposes a local approach to turning the state of Michigan around. First, Hoodhood encourages the citizens of Michigan to donate a portion of their time to volunteer service in their communities. She says, “If we volunteer our time and donate money to different agencies that are human service agencies, then people are taken care of, but it’s not money coming up out of the public coffers or taxes.”
Ms. Hoodhood’s second piece of advice involves the importance of maintaining a positive outlook on life. As someone who has lived with quadriplegia for years, Hoodhood understands the struggle to cope with chronic pain and disabilities. Yet, she stresses the importance for each individual to recognize what it is that he or she can offer to the community. She explains, “You can always do something, and I’m a really good example of rising above your challenges.” She adds, “If you have a positive attitude, it’s infectious.”
For her third suggestion, Hoodhood encourages Michigan citizens to support their local businesses. As an example of a way to locate local businesses, Ms. Hoodhood points to Local First, an organization in Grand Rapids that provides a catalogue of local businesses and business owners. For those looking to shop locally without the assistance of an organization like Local First, Hoodhood says, “The perfect example is the farmer’s market.”
As to her thoughts on being awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Obama, Hoodhood says, “I always look at myself and say, ‘You know, anybody else in my situation would have done the same thing.’ I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that there were hungry kids in Grand Rapids and that I could do something about it.”