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MTGA Recognizes COVID-19 Response Champions At Annual Awards
"The coronavirus has challenged every person and community in Michigan, while strengthening the importance of trails and outdoor recreation to our citizens," said Andrea LaFontaine, MTGA Executive Director. "MTGA is so thankful to work with individuals and partners who have helped us to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic, while continuing to provide opportunities for responsible outdoor recreation. That's why we want to recognize the COVID-19 Response Champions dedicated to improving lives in our state and their communities."
Along with the staff and MTGA board of directors, LaFontaine recognized four COVID-19 Response Champions during their annual meeting and awards ceremony yesterday. The awardees included Brad Garmon, Jonathan Jarosz, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Short's Brewing Company.
Brad Garmon, Director of the Michigan Outdoor Industry Office within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been a resource for countless organizations and people as parks, trails, boat launches and all other outdoor recreation providers had to learn how to implement new safety regulations as quickly as possible to "reopen the outdoors". Garmon received the COVID-19 Response Champion Award in recognition of his diligence and dedication to the safe reopening of the outdoor industry in Michigan.
Jonathan Jarosz, Executive Director of Heart of the Lakes, collaborated with the Michigan Outdoor Industry Office and the national Recreate Responsibly campaign as well as his own network of land conservancies across the state to quickly develop a model for responsible outdoor recreation that emphasized inclusivity and safety for all. Jarosz received the COVID-19 Response Champion Award in recognition of his collaborative efforts with national partners to implement the Recreate Responsibly movement in Michigan, as well as his steadfast contribution to the incorporation of diversity, equity and inclusion practice and policies.
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and its President and CEO Mark Wallace rose to the challenge of meeting the new needs of the Detroit community by being a consistent partner in a meal distribution program with the YMCA and offering a "Rise Together" program to provide emotional and grief support for those affected by COVID-19. The Conservancy embraced peaceful protests, ensuring the riverfront is a place where all Detroiters can gather to celebrate love and mourn loss. Wallace told attendees he is proud to make the riverfront an inclusive venue that bends to the community's needs, serving as a safe space of expression for protesters. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy received the COVID-19 Response Champion Award in recognition of their service as a resource provider, embracing and promoting social justice efforts, and offering a constant, safe and healthy place or respite for residents and visitors during the pandemic.
Short's Brewing Company and its owner Joe Short proved their community focus continues in hard times, donating a portion of sales of their Local's Light American Lager to three charities, including The National Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, Feeding America and For Love of Water. While helping their community, they found new ways to serve their customer base, ingeniously providing home beer and cider deliveries via seaplane. Short's Brewing Company received the COVID-19 Response Champion Award in recognition of their community relief and social justice efforts, as well as their significant investment in the Nakwema Trailway - ensuring people have safe, recreational opportunities today and tomorrow.
The Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance is the statewide voice for nonmotorized trail users, helping people build, connect and promote trails for a healthier and more prosperous Michigan. For more information, visit michigantrails.org or find us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Andrea LaFontaine, Executive Director