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2018 highlights—Reasons I’m proud of Lansing

2018 was a big year in Lansing, and The Lansing Journal recorded hundreds of stories. In these last days of 2018 and the opening days of 2019, we share some highlights chosen by different members of The Lansing Journal writing team. Katie Arvia is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. Below are her reflections on 2018.

by Katie Arvia

Katie Arvia
I have lived in Lansing for my entire life—almost 26 years. To be honest, I never used to be proud of my hometown. Growing up, I thought our little village was boring and lame—there never seemed to be anything for my friends and me to do. I found myself constantly crossing the Illinois/Indiana border to shop, eat, and play. I dreamt of living in downtown Chicago, where there always seemed to be something exciting going on.

That all changed when I began writing for The Lansing Journal. One of my first stories was covering the local food pantry. Before meeting Karen Adams and the rest of the incredible team that consistently runs and provides for the pantry, I never even knew it existed. When I finished my interviews at the pantry on that sunny Tuesday morning, I walked out feeling pride. I was proud of the people who donated to the pantry, whether it be food, time, or money. I was proud of the Journal for covering the story and raising awareness in the community. I was proud of Lansing. Since then, my pride in Lansing has only grown.

As 2018 draws to a close, I want to recognize other residents who are proud of Lansing and who are consistently making Lansing a wonderful community:

Detective Wilson Pierce
Detective Wilson Pierce

Lansing Detective Wilson Pierce: Helping Our Minors Excel

Detective Pierce, a Lansing police officer, founded Helping Our Minors Excel in 2008 with the goal of mentoring Lansing students between the ages of 10 and 18. HOME gives kids the opportunity to have fun while giving back to the community. Every year, they donate approximately 100 boxes of food to the Lansing Food Pantry between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year, 60 children participated in Shop with a Cop with Lansing officers. HOME provides workshops throughout the year for Lansing students and is supported by the school board, teachers, and parents. As Pierce put it, “Our foundation is to help anybody and everybody.” I am a firm believer that the more a community gives to its youth, the more the youth will give back. Detective Pierce’s hard work and clear dedication to Lansing students is admirable.

Students at TF South High School: TF South participates in national walkout

TF South Principal Jake Gourley (far right) expressed pride in the leadership skills his student are developing. (Photo: Katie Arvia)

Over 1,000 TF South students participated in the national walkout on March 14, 2018. Speaking and acting with courage I wish I’d had in high school (or even now), junior Jadyn Newman addressed not only her peers, but also teachers, parents, reporters, and supportive members of the community. The walkout was meant to honor the 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida, and to push for stricter gun laws. There were many mixed reactions to the walkout, especially on social media. However, that did not deter Newman or principal Jacob Gourley, who fully supported his students and their decision to join the walkout. This was my favorite story of 2018. It is truly remarkable to see so many young people standing up for what they believe in and taking control of their future.

Grandma Jeanne, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (Photo provided)

My grandma Jeanne: St. Patrick’s Day traditions

Okay, I might be a little biased with this one, but I absolutely believe that my grandma Jeanne made Lansing a better place. For the last 12 years, she lived down the block from me. Unfortunately, she passed away in July at the age of 93. Words cannot express how grateful I am to The Lansing Journal for allowing me the opportunity to tell her story and, at the same time, grow closer to her. She was so proud of me and my writing career; I will never forget the way her face lit up when she opened the newspaper and read any of my articles, let alone the one about her! This will always be a special story to me.

Eagle Scout Jeremy Martinez: Santa House becomes Eagle Scout project

Jeremy Martinez did the Santa House landscaping as an Eagle Scout project and was at the Santa House on opening night. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

I have covered stories several stories about Lansing’s Santa House. In October, Jeremy Martinez, joined by friends and family, completed landscaping work around the Santa House as part of his leadership project. Working closely with village officials Ken Reynolds and Vivian Payne, Martinez completed his project and earned the title of Eagle Scout, highest rank in Boy Scouts. I think it’s safe to say that Lansing residents, especially those who visit the Santa House, are thankful for Martinez’s efforts to beautify our town.

These are just a few people I was lucky enough to write about this year; I met so many residents and attended several local events. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and telling more stories in 2019.

Thank you, Lansing. You make me proud!

You can be proud that Lansing has its own newspaper, staffed with reporters like Katie who are eager to share the stories no one else is reporting. Subscribe to our daily email to receive Lansing news headlines in your email each morning:



Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").


  1. I have lived in Lansing for over 46 years. I love our village! Thank you Katie for exemplifying the good things that are happening all around us.

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