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A celebration of Jay’s Sporting Goods

Governor Snyder mingled with the crowd before the MMCC Foundation presentation to Jay’s Sporting Goods on May 4. Photo by Janet Sowle.

By JANET SOWLE, Editor

What started in a small garage on Seventh Street in Clare has led to the MMCC Foundation raising $1 million in the last eleven years.

Arlene Yost knew that on May 4 that the MMCC Foundation would be presenting a plaque to her and her family to thank them for all of their assistance with A Northern Tradition. What she didn’t know was that Gov. Rick Snyder, a large group of friends from MMCC and the community along with a large gathering of the press would be in attendance as well.

Representative Joel Johnson speaks of the success of Jay’s. Photo by Janet Sowle.

The governor mingled with the crowd before the presentation. I had the opportunity to ask him what advice he would give college graduates.

“Do something you love,” Snyder replied. “Pick something you love and you will do it well.”

MMCC President Carol Churchill opened the presentation and praised Jay’s Sporting Goods for its community involvement and their assistance with A Northern Tradition. At the end of her introduction she introduced Representative Joel Johnson. He spoke about the history and tradition of Jay’s Sporting Goods.

Jay Poet started a gun shop in his garage in 1968.

In 1974 the first official Jay’s Sporting Goods store was opened only two blocks away from his house. The business continued to grow and in 1988 the store moved into its new location, which is now 72,000 square feet and they have added a second location in Gaylord.

Johnson introduced Gov. Snyder who presented a proclamation to Yost and thanked her and her family for their commitment to MMCC and the community.

Governor Snyder presents a proclimation to Arlene Yost. Photo by Janet Sowle.

Snyder mentioned being known as a Wolverine, which drew both cheers and jeers from the crowd. He shared that he attended Kirtland Community College beginning in his junior year of high school and is a huge proponent of community colleges. Snyder, in a press conference later that afternoon, mentioned that community colleges are more focused on getting students job ready and often do a better job that universities. He also commented that they do a better job working with local businesses getting students ready and fulfilling the businesses’ needs.

Acrylic artist Pauline Pierce Harmon, left, watches as Arlene Yost, right, presents Governor Snyder with a framed commemorative print from A Northern Tradition in 2012. Pierce Harmon was this year’s featured artist. Photo by Janet Sowle.

Yost took the stage to thank everyone and spoke about the good works of the Mid Michigan Community College Foundation and particularly the Students of Promise program.

“Everyone should be able to follow their dream,” Yost said in a printed piece handed out at the event. “That’s what life is all about – to enjoy what you’re doing. Life’s too short not to do that.”

After Yost finished speaking she presented  Snyder with the framed commemorative print from this year’s A Northern Tradition fundraiser.

Ron Verch read the text from the Commemorative Plaque that will hang in Jay’s.

Ron Verch, representing the MMCC ambassadors,  then got up and thanked the Poet family for their dedication to Mid Michigan Community College and the Foundation. He also read from the commemorative plaque which will hang in the store when it arrives.

Verch then introduced Dave Kyle, chair of the Mid Michigan Community College Foundation, who thanked not only Jay’s but other sponsors of the event.

David Kyle, MMCC Foundation Chair, gave closing comments at the presentation.

A printed piece handed out at the event summed up the feel of the day with two messages.

Over the years, Jay’s Sporting Goods has been a strong supporter of Mid Michigan and the Community College and the community as a whole.

Their example of community-mindedness and philanthropy certainly serves as an example for others to follow.

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