Graduate Studies Interim Dean Roger Coles receives honor for community service


More than 20 supporters advocated for the community service efforts of Roger Coles, interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies, and they were heard.

On Feb. 12, 430 people — the largest crowd present in the history of the event — watched Coles as he received the 2011 Fred and Lena Meijer Spirit of Caring Award at the Many Hearts One Mission Charity Ball in the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

“I was in complete shock," Coles said.

The award is given out each year to individuals who show selfless and remarkable dedication to improving the lives of people in the community.

Coles has supported Special Olympics Michigan since 1972.

Shirley Hayes, executive director for the Spectrum Health United Memorial Foundation, had nothing but praises for Coles.

“The annual nomination for this award is open for the people in the Spectrum Health service area, meaning thousands of people could be considered,” Hayes said. “Dr. Roger Coles’ record of dedicated service and sincere spirit of caring for others made him the perfect selection for this year’s recipient of the award."

During the award ceremony, Coles said he “spoke through tears” and it was a phenomenal honor to receive the award.

Coles said his shock at receiving the award came from the generosity of former award recipients.

“Each person that has won it has given millions to the community,” Coles said. “I am not able to give financially, but what I have been able to give is my time."

Among those present at the award ceremony were Fred and Lena Meijer and Dr. Roy Norton, consulate general of Canada. Norton gave a toast in honor of the Canadian-born Coles.

The Danish Festival Band, which has been in existence for 30 years and of which Coles has been a member of for 25, played the Central Michigan University fight song, the National Anthem and the Canadian Anthem.

Coles’ main goal during the event was to help raise money for the Greenville Hospital. He said they raised $130,000, which is a record.

Coles’ future plans include raising more money for the hospital.

“I am going to start a campaign for our Greenville Hospital,” Coles said. “We are trying to increase the size of our emergency room"

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