DIFFERENCE MAKERS: In giving back to community, Steve Wright wears many hats
ALPENA — Steve Wright was inspired by his dad to start helping his community. He started from a young age by being a boy scout and he’s been helping ever since.
Wright came to Alpena in the early 70s and most of his work involves Northern Michigan counties and communities. He was also very active in Marquette where he went to college.
Right now, he is involved with clubs and organizations such as the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts of America, and United Way.
He’s been a part of the Rotary Club of Alpena for 27 years. Since he’s been involved so long, he said he wears many different hats when it comes to volunteering with the club and being a member. His most recent hat is the assistant district governor for the Rotary district of Alpena, Oscoda, and Tawas.
He acts as a liaison between those clubs and the district governor, he said.
“That’s a community service club and just being involved as long as I have I wear a lot of different hats,” Wright said. “I run the second biggest fundraiser that the club has. In fact the gals downstairs at the desk (at The Alpena News) are selling tickets for me for the Alpena Rotary club fundraiser.
I’m the youth exchange officer for the Rotary Club of Alpena. We have two visiting exchange students in Alpena right now that we are hosting a young lady from France and a young man from Sweden. And so I’m their club contact person who makes sure paperwork is done and everything goes well for them for the year.”
Wright has been a part of the Boy Scouts of America since he was a young scout himself. He’s gone up through the ranks to become an Eagle Scout and he is still a registered adult leader in the district. He looks over nine counties in Northern Michigan.
As a registered adult leader, he is a part of the district Eagle Scout board of review. He gets to review young people to see if they are ready to take on the title of Eagle Scout.
“You get to see some of the best of the best when you get a young man or a young lady who has come up through the ranks and completed requirements and get all the way to that level of achievement and that’s where I come in and I convene community members and partners that we come in and we sit down and we do a board of review for that scout,” Wright said. “That’s rewarding.”
Wright said he has had some people come up to him and tell him of the things that he taught them that still help them today.
“People I have kind of lost track of or even forgotten come back around and say, ‘Hey by the way do you remember 30 years ago you told me how to do something’ and they’ll say, Hey, I still do that or I still use those skills,'” Wright said.
Wright serves on the board of directors for United Way. He said he was on the board previously for six years before he took some time off. He was then asked to come back and helps now with the organization’s grant projects.
“I actually work on a grant project and United Way is the fiduciary agent for that grant project,” Wright said. “So I spend some time at least one day a week at the United Way office.”
Wright said some of the projects United Way has helped sponsor include healthy food initiatives, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, local pop up food pantries, and a Christmas wish program for kids in their three-county area: Alpena, Alcona, and Montmorency counties.
Wright was inspired by his dad to get involved in his community. His dad was a scouting instructor as well as a college instructor where he also hosted various clubs and organizations. People still come up to him today and tell him about what his father did, Wright said.
“Because I still talk to people this day that say hey, I remember your dad was involved in something and it might be something 40 years ago that they still remember and that’s inspiring,” Wright said.
Wright’s children are involved in volunteering as well.
“My son is 31 now and he is involved in things in the Grand Rapids area. He’s in the healthcare industry down there he works in blood services and just through that he does a lot of time and volunteering through his job for disaster services and stuff,” Wright said. “And my daughter has a passion for animals. She’s the manager at a humane society in Traverse City and she does a tremendous amount of volunteer work in helping the organization that she actually works for. So they do the same thing and I’m proud of them.”
Wright said if there’s something everyone has, it’s time to help out and volunteer. He is always encouraging others to get involved.
“Some people have the ability to open a checkbook, write a check and make donations, financial donations big, small whatever, other people have the ability to donate material for projects things like that, but not everybody has those kind of resources financial or material type things, what everybody has is time,” Wright said.
Everybody has time. Whether it’s an hour a week for something you’re interested in or a program or a couple of hours a month or time for an individual project you want to help out on everybody has time and if everybody at least gave a little bit of time for something there wouldn’t be anybody really in need of anything.”