Tell us about yourselves:
Robin and I both grew up in families of five, with very large extended families. Family is a very significant part of our lives, and spending time with them is a big priority of ours. We are so fortunate to have the majority of our family all within an hour of us.
How did COVID-19 and the spring quarantine period affect your family:
We certainly had to adjust like everybody else. It gave us a new-found respect for teachers, and what they do for our children each day. We were fortunate to continue working full time from home. The biggest transition was keeping the boys on task with their school work and having an 18-month-old running around. It was a new adventure but we took advantage of the extra time with our kids.
How did you meet?
We are both avid runners and met through mutual friends in a local running group. With a dozen marathons between us, countless half-marathons, River Bank Runs, 10Ks and 5Ks, we have spent a lot of time on the roads of Grand Rapids together.
What are your hobbies?
We continue to run. I have spent more time on my mountain bike, which is a little easier on my old back. We love anything we can do outdoors, preferably in the water, and the kids new favorite – pickleball.
Matt, why do you support GVSU?
I am very grateful for the number of people who supported me along my journey. As a high school senior, I received an anonymous scholarship from somebody at my church towards the cost of my first two years at Grand Valley. This was one of countless small things that has shaped my belief that if I’m ever in a position, and fortunate enough to be able to offer a hand up, it’s my responsibility. I’m very lucky that Robin feels the same way as we continue to make decisions together how we can best support our community.
Why did you want to serve as an Alumni Champion chair?
I have been very involved in many different ways during the last 24 years since I first showed up in Allendale.
As a student, I had on-campus jobs including officiating basketball, football and volleyball games for the legendary Leroy Hackley. I was active in the Society for Human Resources Manager and served as president for two years. After graduation, a small group of us helped create the Young Alumni Council, which continues to do great things today.
I enjoy being an Alumni Champion chair, communicating with so many other alumni about the opportunities available to them at the university. I consider it a privilege to connect with alumni, who can then share their time, talents and treasures with our grateful community, including current students.
Robin, why is GVSU meaningful to you?
I have been incredibly impressed with the passion and energy Grand Valley puts into its alumni and community. My first experience was attending the Enrichment Dinner with my little sister about seven years ago. I had never witnessed anything like that before. The whole room was so energized, the videos were heartfelt and impactful; you could tell it was such a strong and loyal community. I can see why someone, like Matt, would be excited and passionate about giving back to such a great university. Everyone at Grand Valley has welcomed me with open arms and made me feel welcome. Sometimes I forget that I am not actually an alumna.
Even during this economic crisis, you chose to generously give to the Student Support Fund, which directly supports students during the pandemic. What prompted that specific gift?
We were both fortunate that our jobs and income were not negatively impacted. It’s our belief that during challenging times we help others. I have faith that each person we were able to help will someday be in a position to offer help to others.
What would you say to encourage others to give?
I encourage all alumni to first figure out what is important to them. Give what you’re comfortable with, even if it’s your time, energy or knowledge. You will receive far more than you will ever give.