Renewed Emphasis on Old Values

Photo: The Wege Foundation’s newest program staff, Leslie Young and Emily Aleman-McAlpine, in The Foundation office at 99 Monroe with the Wege Foundation glass logo between them.

The Wege Foundation is moving into 2017 with a new focus on their longstanding philosophy that respects each individual for who that person is. Called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the proposed Policy carries on Peter M. Wege’s legacy of reaching out to all humans affirming and supporting their very diversity.

Two of the six Es Wege wrote about in his book ECONOMICOLOGY summarize his belief. “Ethics” is about “doing the right thing for all the reasons,” as he put it. “Empathy” is about walking in another person’s shoes to see the world through their life experiences.

The Wege Foundation’s two new program staff both embody and embrace the reenergizing of what has always been at the heart of the Foundation’s missions. Leslie Young, who joined the staff in has been an active volunteer for Schools of Hope, a program helping first- and third-graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools who are behind in reading raise their skills to reach grade level.

Leslie has also worked with LINC, a local non-profit with missions of diversity and sustainability that are in lock step with The Wege Foundation’s. LINC works to achieve affordable housing, to rehab homes, and to connect neighborhood residents and businesses in mutually supportive activities.

Emily Aleman-McAlpine teamed up with Leslie in November to join the program staff for The Foundation. Her professional background is a study in diversity and inclusion, starting with her work for Blue Cross addressing the health needs of the Latino community. For three years with the Fennville Public Schools, Emily ran educational programs for the migrant, bilingual, and immigrant students. She also took US teachers to Mexico to participate in a Bi-National Teacher Exchange Program.

Emily summarized how The Foundation’s renewed push for inclusiveness carries on Peter Wege’s faith in equality and fairness. “Peter believed that if Grand Rapids is not good for one person,” Emily said, “then it’s not good for anyone.”

The Wege Foundation’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitment echoes Peter’s words, noting that West Michigan draws its spirit, vitality, and character from the increasingly diverse mix of people who live and work in our community. The Wege Foundation recognizes that the future strength of our organization and this community rests firmly on its commitment to value, respect, and embrace the richness of a diverse citizenry.

This policy statement is a direct descendant of Peter Wege’s two ECONOMICOLOGY E principles: Ethics and Empathy.