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  • Jim Townsend

Lathers to Receive 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award from GVSU

Robert Lathers, a regular contributor to The Portland Beacon, has been selected to receive Grand Valley State University School of Social Work’s BSW Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2018-2019.

Sally Pelon, PhD, LMSW, Assistant Professor in GVSU’s School of Social Work told the Beacon, “Each year, the GVSU School of Social Work presents a distinguished alumnus award to one BSW graduate and one MSW graduate. School of Social Work faculty members nominate individuals they believe have exemplified the values and ethics of the social work profession and who have contributed meaningfully to the field and to their clients. The SSW faculty then vote for the BSW and MSW alumnus they believe is most deserving of the award.”

Pelon added, “Bob was chosen as the BSW Distinguished Alumnus this year for his significant contributions in the field of mental health with families and children as well as his work as an adjunct professor with the GVSU School of Social Work. In addition, Bob has served on a number of boards including Michigan chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Michigan Association of Mental Health Boards, and the Mid-Michigan PIHP Operations Council. We all believe Bob is well deserving of this award.”

Lathers graduated from Grand Valley in 1975. He earned my MSW in Policy and Administration from Western Michigan University, but said, “I have been long connected to GVSU my whole career.”

Lathers has been invited to be a special guest at the School of Social Work’s annual Hooding and Pinning Ceremony to be recognized for his achievements. That ceremony is being held on Thursday, April 25th, in Grand Rapids.

Lathers served as CEO for The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness (formerly known as Ionia County Community Mental Health) for 17 years, until he retired recently. He has also been an Adjunct Professor at the GVSU Graduate School of Social Work for the past 10 years, teaching Public Policy and Non-Profit Administration courses.

Lathers’ social work career spanned 40+ years and included awards such as Ionia County Citizen of the Year in 2005, Ionia County 2018 Child and Abuse & Neglect Council's Person of the Year, and most recently the 2018 Hal Madden Distinguished Service Award from the Community Mental Health Association Michigan.

Originally from Ludington, Lathers has called Portland home since 1998. He has been a contributing writer for the Beacon since July of 2018. Bob’s countless hours of covering local events and writing for the Beacon are greatly appreciated and we sincerely congratulate him on this award.

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