GREENVILLE — The 2013 Many Hearts One Mission Charity Ball was a night spent at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids honoring a man who has made a huge impact on the community and raising money for a cause that affects 4,500 adults and 40 children in Montcalm County.
The Fred and Lena Meijer Spirit of Caring Award was presented to the Rev. Jerry Jones during the annual charity ball.
In September, it was announced Jones is the eighth recipient of the award. According to Spectrum Health United Memorial Foundation Chairman Dr. Rocky Hansen, the Spirit of Caring Award is “presented to an individual who has demonstrated a remarkable and dedicated commitment to improving the quality of life for the people in our community now and for future generations.”
The 2012 recipient William Ham took the stage to highlight Jones’ achievements, impacts and what makes him the 2013 recipient.
“This is a man who doesn’t know the word ‘no’,” Ham said, noting Jones is a benefit to the community.
Ham listed several organizations of which Jones is a member, including the Spectrum Health United Quality and Safety Committee, Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Coalition of Montcalm County, the Biomedical Ethics Committee, United Lifestyles, North Kent Guidance Service Advisory Committee, and Greenville Public Schools Health Advisory.
Thomas Stephenson, a seventh grader who met Jones for the first time three years ago, talked of the impact Jones made on his life — and it all started with a prayer.
Stephenson said when he first began attending the First Congregational Church in Greenville, Jones was more than willing to help pray for his family’s dog that was having trouble walking.
“The most honest, heartfelt prayer followed,” Stephenson said of Jones who cared so much about a family he just met.
Jones found out Stephenson liked hunting and invited Stephenson to go with him.
“That was the beginning of our personal relationship,” Stephenson said. “I feel like I can tell him anything and he will listen …”
Stephenson shared with the audience he has a heart condition that Jones has helped him get through.
“He is an excellent role model in my life,” Stephenson said of Jones. “It’s an honor to come here tonight.”
As Jones took the stage, he thanked his friends and family that were close to him.
Through his life, Jones said a friend, Robert Carlson, would always say, “It’s always all about the community,” which is a phrase that stuck with Jones.
When Jones was younger, he grew up in a town that didn’t have a hospital, but wanted to build one. A community member volunteered to donate half the funds if the other half of what was needed could be raised.
Other community members came together and did what they needed to help get the funds raised for the hospital.
“Carlson had it right, it is all about the community,” Jones said.
During the ball, Jones thanked the community for the honor of the award.
“I am mighty grateful to be a part of this community,” Jones said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart — I’m honored.”
The money raised at the event, Hansen said, helps provide “life, health and hope.”
Proceeds from the charity ball will be used to support Spectrum Health United Lifestyles Diabetes Education Program.
The program provides education for adults and children and helps with assistance for obtaining supplies.
“You are helping each person live a normal life,” said Tina Freese-Decker, president of Spectrum Health United and Kelsey hospitals, about the ways the donations from the event will be used.
Donations were raised through a silent auction, personal donations and, new this year, through a paddle raise.
The total amount raised from the 2013 Many Hearts One Mission Charity Ball will announced later this week.
“(We) are thankful and appreciative,” Hansen said. “We have a team of talented individuals to make a difference.”