Kat Champagne went from a concerned mother to an all-around volunteer and advocate for the SOGIE community. Kat’s involvement was wide and varied. Kat started with her involvement with the Perceptions Transgender Groups where she took an active position to broaden its scope, ensure the physical safety, and advocate for the betterment of the trans community. Kat was a member of the 2018 Pride Committee and was vital in making decisions that shaped the event to become stronger. Kat was on the 2017 Perceptions Holiday Gala Committee and made it her mission to gain as many silent auction items from our Friday Night Dinner hosts as possible and was very successful. Kat organized the Perceptions Friday Night Dinner, one of Perceptions longest running programs and expanded the selection of restaurants to gain more diversity of selection. She advocated the change of the name of this program to “Friday Night Out” so that offerings could be expanded to include events such as “Game Night”. Kat and her son, Jamie, were members of Perceptions Harmony Diversity Choir. Kat organized the Perceptions Thanksgiving Gathering in 2017 and 2018 where she cooked food and meats and led marketing for the event. In 2018, when she was ill, she put on her “advocacy hat” and approached The Savory and through her advocacy abilities she managed to get the meal donated from them. Kat was a Perceptions Event Representative where she volunteered to represent Perceptions at various community events running tables. Kat was also a member of SOGIE YAK and PFLAG. Kat was always looking for new information and partnerships. She made connections both locally, regionally, and nationally. Kat passed away in December 2018 and is dearly missed by her Perceptions friends and family.
Emily Simbeck is an outpatient therapist at M.P.A. Group and one of a very few gender specialists in the Mid-Michigan area. Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, graduating from coastal Carolina University. She received her Master’s in social work at the University of Michigan. Emily has furthered her education by attending the University of Michigan transgender specialized training, receiving a Certificate in Transgender Practice Focus. Emily has attended many other professional development opportunities and always brings back advice and guidance to the rest of her co-workers for improving their skills.
Emily organized a Transgender 101 training for the Bay City community. The event happened on April 24, 2019 with a 100% positive rating on exit surveys. Emily consistently demonstrates a commitment to the LGBTQ community and to provide guidance and brainstorming to the M.P.A. leadership so that they can keep the agency on the front lines as we strive to learn, grow, be open and welcoming, and provide the very best possible care to all out consumers, including those among the SOGIE and Ally communities.
William “Bill” Ostash, was born and raised in Bay City. Bill moved to Saginaw in 2004 and has been involved with the Saginaw Historic District Commission since 2006 where he served as Chairperson from 2008-2014. Bill created “Preservation Saginaw”, a Facebook page to advocate, educate, and preserve Saginaw history for the importance of Saginaw’s past and future.
Bill is the first openly gay person to be elected to the Saginaw City Council in November 2018. Bill has attended many local and state SOGIE events and is very aware of equality issues. Bill has been featured in “Between the Lines” during his campaign and on WNEM TV5 after his election, along with other SOGIE people who won their elections. As a Saginaw City Councilman, Bill has a stronger voice for the SOGIE community.
Howard Ungerleider is the President and CFO of Dow and an active member of Dow’s inclusion Council. Through his position and personal actions, Howard has been a vocal advocate for a safe, inclusive and supportive workplace for all employees. He has advocated for Great Lakes Bay Region LGBT citizens’ equality and respect both within the Dow employee base and in the community. He has increased the visibility of the SOGIE community, provided both influential and financial support, and provided needed counsel and advice to the Great Lakes Bay Region SOGIE and Ally non-profit leadership.
Through Howard’s actions and influences, he has advocated for better lives for the Great Lakes Bay Region’s SOGIE community, its right to be seen and heard, and its need to be in a safe and supported environment. He has assured funding – both personal and corporate – to ensure key events and programs were offered to the community needs. His advice has helped guide the current SOGIE programs and future growth initiatives, which will continue to raise the quality of life in the region for generations to come.
Rev. Rebecca M. Dunn, Saginaw, receives the Pride Award for showing outstanding pride. She founded the first local trans- gender support group, the Perceptions Saginaw Valley Trans- gender Group. She is an ordained New Thought minister, Meta- physical Practitioner and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for Unity Church of Bay City. She has served on the Board of Trustees for Perceptions Saginaw Valley where she was a part of the creative team behind respect fest, a community celebration of our similarities and differences. Rebecca has been a role model for everybody by just being herself.
Tom Brubaker, Saginaw, receives the Unity Award because he cooperatively works with a multitude of organizations and individuals for the overall betterment of our community. As the outreach coordinator for the AIDS Care Program at BASIS-Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, he has raised more than $150,000 for the Michigan AIDS Walk – Bay City, Saginaw and Midland in the past four years. Tom started and facilitates the Perceptions Men’s Discussion Group that meets at the Zauel Library regularly. Tom’s presence and work has affected so many, especially the needy.
Jim Kleinsorge, Bay City, receives the Volunteer Award for his selfless dedication – going far beyond the call of duty. He is always “there” – setting up Friday Dinners, taking minutes, posting messages, greeting people with his beaming smile, etc. He is on the Perceptions Board, serves as secretary and coordinates several committees. Jim tries to make others feel comfortable. Jim’s a keeper.
Terry opened his beautiful Bay City house for the first Chocolate Party in 1991 to raise funds for the Wellness Networks Tri-Cities and it’s phone-line. Later he hosted so many Chocolate and Garden Parties for PFLAG Tri-Cities – and later for a fledgling organization called Triangle Saginaw Valley – renamed to Perceptions Saginaw Valley. Terry’s longtime generosity became the seeds of a multitude LGBT groups and causes that made us stronger today.
Tim maintained an informative website for local GLBT people long before Perceptions existed and continues to serve as the webmaster for Perceptions. He conceived and organized the efforts to establish the Perceptions Endowed Scholarship Fund – presently nearly $16,000. He devotes countless hours of planning, volunteering, and organizing events and activities. Tim’s service as a volunteer is unparalleled.
Bill Giorgis (Saginaw) is a giving, considerate, thoughtful, helpful, unselfish and supportive person — describes one of several individuals who nominated Bill. Another said, ― “I can’t tell you how many times that man has come to my rescue.” As the owner of Mike’s Wrecker Services, Bill was inducted into the International Towing Hall of Fame 2002. He has served as President of Michigan Towing Association for over a decade. Bill is an active member of several community groups including the Saginaw Area Fireworks & the Lawn Chair Film Festival and has donated generously to the LGBT community. He regularly purchases and then donates tickets for events like tonight’s Pride Banquet and the Holiday Party. He has made generous donations to the Perceptions Auction and most recently donated space for the Perceptions general meetings. Bill is man who’s generosity knows no bounds.