Excuse me, are you Listening? 8-9
Monday, May 25, 2009

Dear Readers,

My most memorable experiences on the campaign trail are starting to pile up.  I will probably have many memorable experiences but I have been taken in and loved by some in the complexes that we have in Lansing for the senior citizens and the disabled. 

After a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Committee to Elect Rina Risper at Riverfront Apartments, a complex for senior citizens and the disabled a gentleman came over to talk to me.

He said, “Hello, my name is Philip A. Brown and I was wondering if you could help me get a wheelchair.”

My initial thought was, “I should refer him to Tri-County on Aging but he is not a senior citizen.”

What I said instead was, “Why do you need a wheelchair?”

Mr. Brown told me that he had trauma induced epilepsy and his motorized wheel chair was not working.  He also told me that he was on a fixed income too. 

On a wing and a prayer, I said, “Let me see what I can do.”

A request for a wheelchair was daunting enough.  Thinking about how to go about getting it was something that I would have to sleep on.

When I woke up the next morning, I decided to contact Dr. George Rowan.  Dr. Rowan was featured in our “Most Interesting and Influential” 2007 edition.  I sent him the request and Dr. Rowan sent an e-mail to his list serve.

Two days later, I received an e-mail from Anita Lake who told me that she had a wheelchair.  It was time for her to let go of her beloved brother's items.  Otis Middlebrook was not a sickly person but one day he had a stomachache.  His stomachache turned out to be pancreatic cancer.  He died within the year of his diagnosis.  It was hard on the family and his sister Anita took it very hard.

She said, “When I received the e-mail.  I knew it was time.”

I met with Anita on a rainy Saturday morning.  She had her son, Arnon, go retrieve the items and put them in my truck.  The wheelchair was top of the line and she also gave me some really nice suits, shirts and some shoes.  She wanted me to take them and give them to someone who could use them.  I smiled and told her that I would be able to find someone.

I sat down with her and talked to her and held her beautiful baby granddaughter, Alayah.  It was a rewarding day for Anita.  She looked relieved.  We talked about church and her daughter who is a poet.  It was the day before Mother's Day, we were both preparing for that.

I said goodbye and that I would see her again soon.  The next weekend her granddaughter was being baptized and I hoped that I could be there but our family had other plans. 

I hugged her and told her good-bye.  My eyes were misty not because of her loss but because of her gain.  She had a beautiful baby in her life.

Mother's Day

My day was like any other working day.  I woke up and called Mr. Brown to see when I could drop the wheelchair off.  I first had to go to the Lansing Center and set up for the Go Green Conference, so I took all of my children with me. 

Amir , 6, was running in and out the curtains driving me up the wall.  Just a little bit.  Anissa, 8, was the only one who was helpful. They both helped the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 333 put together their huge display that showed water flushing into a clear container.  Of course they were in awe when the water saving toilet spewed less water than the traditional toilet.

When it was time to go both Anissa and Amir wanted to be plumbers.  My 17 year old, Gianni, just looked bored and had the “can we get out of here before I die” look on his face.

So we finished setting up for the conference and left and we were on our way to the Riverfront Apartments.   As I arrived to the building, Mr. Brown and his wife were both waiting outside.

As this moment, a wash of fear came over me as I thought, “Wheelchairs are purchased according to peoples sizes.”

We did not check any of that.  I was in a whirl as I parked.  I thought, “Wow, this is the Cadillac of wheelchairs.”

By the time the wheelchair was open and I turned my back to close the door, Mr. Brown was seated comfortably in the wheelchair.  It was as if it were made for him.  His wife, Diane, indicated that she had epilepsy too and this would make both of their lives easier.

I looked at the sky and silently thanked Mr. Middlebrook and Anita for being so giving.  Yes, God is great.  I also promised I would thank Dr. Rowan from the bottom of my heart. So often we forget about the people who introduce us, they are the “Connectors” in our lives.

Have you thanked your “Connector” today?   They are the ones who selflessly give of themselves in small ways.  Sometimes so small that we forget to say thank you.  Sometimes so small, that we forget to appreciate the little things that become great things.  Checking on an elderly person, bringing them fresh cut pineapple, providing a young person with a glittery pen and notecards, a “you look great today”…  anything…. a smile costs you nothing.


Rina Risper

Log on to www.tncp.net , sign up on my  Facebook page “Rina Risper for City Council” or check out


Would you like to e-mail us?  Have a press release or story idea?  Questions about obituaries?  Send us your questions and comments to:




Click here for regular advertising rates!!!

 Check out TNCP's Birthday Advertising!!!!

Custom-embroidered logo shirts and apparel by Queensboro

Support our advertisers. Follow the link to their site:

Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau