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Lathers, Live Local Realty, Honored at ICAN Awards
Lathers, Live Local Realty honored at ICAN awards
Posted By Dick.Hoekstra / @sentinel-standard.com / 616-522-6043, Posted Apr 25, 2018 at 10:08 AM
IONIA — Live Local Realty and Robert Lathers were the recipients on Tuesday, April 24, of annual awards presented by the Ionia County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The two who nominated them made the award presentations during a luncheon at the Ionia Intermediate School District building. They were Kristin Yalacki of the Ionia County Juvenile Court and Youth Services Bureau and Judge Robert Sykes, respectively.
Yalacki said Live Local Realty agents and lifelong Ionia County residents Laurie Palmer, Maria Blackmer and John Dinehart have taken the percentage of their profits from property sales that used to go to their franchise and now donate that to non-profits.
The three have been doing this since 2013 when they left franchises to form Live Local Realty in Ionia. Some of the non-profits who have received proceeds include RAVE, Ionia Community Awareness, IM Safe Child Advocacy Center, IM Kids 3rd Meal, the Bob Miller Fund, the Ionia County Animal Shelter and schools in the county.
“Live Local was contacted by ICAN in 2015, and they generously donated over 100 backpacks for the ICAN Have Fun annual picnic which benefits at-risk youth in our community,” Yalacki said. “I am overwhelmed by how much Live Local has done for Ionia County and continues to do. They truly are angels among us.”
Sykes, himself an ICAN award winner in 2015, expressed similar sentiments about Lathers.
“He took CMH from a (former) school (building) in Orleans to a state-of-the-art facility in Ionia, offices in Belding and Portland, and most recently the autism center in Belding,” Sykes said. “Under Bob’s leadership, our community mental health agency is recognized as one of the premier agencies in the state of Michigan.
“We do owe Bob Lathers a great deal for his leadership over these some 17 years that he was at the helm. He’d be the first to tell you hundreds of others helped him, but the bottom line is it was his leadership and vision that accomplished so much.”
Accomplishments Sykes mentioned included helping to start jail diversion and home-based intervention programs, and being a strong advocate of foster care programs.
“He believed things can be accomplished, and he has always stressed collaboration,” Sykes said. “It was not just between The Right Door and the courts, but also Department of Health and Human Services, schools, private agencies, RAVE, the health department and the jail.”
Sykes heard Lathers recount his difficult upbringing as a child during a United Way kick-off speech in 2003 or 2004.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Sykes said. “Bob did not let his childhood define him. Rather, he used his experiences as a child as a motivator to change the world in which he existed.”
Lathers, who retired earlier this year, illustrated the point in his acceptance speech by talking about a friend who hung up his backpack upon entering his workplace and home every day. One day, a co-worker asked him about it.
“You never look in it, you never take anything out of it, and you never put anything in it,” Lathers recounted.
The co-worker said it was full of his childhood, the things his guidance counselor and ex-wife said, and good things as well.
“But I need to be aware that when I come in those doors that I need to set them aside so I can do my job (at work and home),” Lathers said. “That’s how we should do our work.
“All of the things that happened to me affect who I am, they helped make who I am, but they don’t define what my job should be.”