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Local giving and volunteerism are woven into the fabric of Courtland’s culture.  Courtland’s Pay It Forward tradition grew out of those values and now all employees look forward to this time of year and sharing our stories of how we’ve paid it forward in our communities using our Pay It Forward funds; with some adding their own funds to do more good! Our founder, Steven Trudell, read an article several years ago about a family that used this time of year to perform random acts of kindness for people in their community and it struck a chord. “It helps me to put everything into perspective” says Steve. It’s the best time of the year! Please keep reading to hear about all of the good we are doing, and come back often, to see the new stories that are added throughout this month.

Courtland Consulting’s Pay It Forward Stories

Lisa Selleck: Lisa is a deployment lead on the South Carolina Child Support Project

I used my Pay It Forward by splitting it up and giving it to two different women who are raising a family, working and rely on their faith to get them through each day.

They were both very appreciative!

Chris Wurm: Chris is a senior consultant and Project Manager for the CIMS Project

I was happy to be able to help two important organizations.  Hope Project to prevent human trafficking and Sparrow Children’s Miracle Network, helping save the lives of kids in our community.

Sharon Pizzuti: Sharon is an Executive Director for Courtland Consulting

This year, I was blessed to receive $100 to pay it forward. I used it to bless children who couldn’t otherwise afford a weekly camp for the performance arts!  A child will receive professional instruction in voice, movement, & drama that will culminate in a performance conveying a positive message of joy and peace in May 2017. Believing that our world can be healed through our common love of our children, music and messages of love! I’m so thankful to be able to contribute towards the children who hold the future!

Anita Bilek: Anita is a business analyst assigned to the Michigan Child Support Enforcement Project.

This year, I wanted to do something a little different, but still stay true to my goal of finding people that fall outside of the normal channels of assistance.  I’m a member of an online…let’s call it a support group….for women in the Lansing area.  In addition to the questions asking others for advice, Christmas also brought a few requests for assistance.  There was one in particular that caught my attention.  A woman was asking for toys for her friend’s young children; just a few toys, nothing else.  She explained the parents live together and are both working, but are catching up after the father had been unemployed for a time.  I don’t know why this particular story caught me, but it did, and I was able to contribute towards the family’s expenses.  I hope they’ll be in a position in the future where they will remember the Christmas they received some extra help and be able to do the same for someone else.

Sue Zakrzewski: Sue is a policy analyst assigned to the Office of Child Support.

I always donate to charities out on the coldest evening while I am shopping during the holidays. The Salvation Army volunteer that sings carols outside Tom’s Market in Okemos got the “pay it forward” (it was really cold out) and I got to hear a great carol as well!! Thanks Steve, a great idea!

Tim Bonnette: Tim is an Implementation Lead assigned to the South Carolina Child Support Project.

I will be forwarding the pay it forward donation this year from Courtland to a personal friend and his family in the greater Grand Rapids area. His name is Todd and he is a lifelong friend of Dona’s and her group at the cottage/lake we visit year round in Fremont. He is also one of her brothers best friends. Todd has been fighting ALS now for the past few years and it appears to be drawing to an end. He has been so strong throughout and lives each day with a simple motto…”Keep Smiling”… and he has done this since day one. His family has gone the entire journey with Todd and have sacrificed careers, downsized homes and donated every spare minute they could to assist in this journey and to help with Todd’s expenses. I’m very pleased to work for such a company as Courtland and be able to offer this year’s pledge to Todd and his family.

Thank you Steve and Happy Holidays to all.

Holly Schafer: Holly is our office manager and human resource assistant.

Along with my two daughters Kendall and Olivia, I bought fabric and we created a tie blanket for someone in need.  At the time we made it we weren’t sure where we were going to donate it, we just enjoyed making it together.  As I was trying to decide how I was going to use the rest of my Pay It Forward funds and where we would donate the blanket, I was made aware of a family in our community whose eldest daughter was fighting cancer.  Her mother has had to take leave from work as she accompanies her daughter to treatments, cares for her after the treatments, and takes care of her other two children as well.  This struck a chord with me since my husband and I went through caring for a sick child with our first daughter Claire.  After talking with my girls, we decided we wanted to give the blanket to this little girl fighting cancer. So along with some of our own money, we donated the pay it forward funds and the blanket to this family to help them through this difficult time. It’s so wonderful to work for a company that remembers what the holidays are truly about.

Sandi Beach: Sandi is our creative division manager.

I Paid It Forward to Lean On Me Outreach Center. This is the 3rd year I have donated them. Lean On Me Outreach Center is a ministry of my church. Their vision is “to take what our society has deemed to be outdated, expired, and damaged and use it to help people in our community. We use whatever God places in our hands: food, clothing, furniture, vehicles, mobile homes, housewares, etc. to meet the needs around us. We minister to the whole person. We provide for their physical needs by sharing food, and we meet their spiritual needs by sharing God’s plan of salvation. Each week church volunteers show the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to over 1,600 people.”

I have supported Lean On Me Outreach Center for many years. I started my volunteering my design skills and created their logo, first website and other printed materials. A few years after helping them, Andy got a new job and we moved to the east side of the state and then a couple years later moved back to the Grand Rapids area. During our transition, we bought a house, but had a few months before we could move in. We put all of belongs except our family’s beds and clothing in storage and lived with my parents until we could move in. This was in the winter through summer and the storage unit we used didn’t seal properly and we had water damage (mold everywhere) and mice get into all of our belongings. Once we moved into our new house, we had 2 stools, 2 lawn chairs and a folding table in our living room, dining room and kitchen. Lean On Me helped us with furniture for our house, towels, and a fridge. I got my job at Courtland a few months after that and we bought a couch and dining room table. We were financially sound at the time, but it was an unexpected loss of a lot of our things and it was such a blessing!

Kally Stehouwer: Kally is a graphic designer and developer for our creative division.

Thanks to Steve’s generosity, I paid it forward this year to the Wounded Warrior Project.  In retrospect, it seems so little in regard to the price that these men and women paid serving their country. I can’t begin to imagine the hardships they endured and continue to endure, but I’m sure the combined efforts of many people giving to this organization makes a big difference.

Greg Holmes: Greg is lead programmer for our creative division.

I donated $100 to Reese’s Rainbow’s “Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign”:

“The mission of Reece’s Rainbow is to advocate and find families for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs by raising funds for adoption grants and promoting awareness through an online community, media communications, and other events.”

South Carolina Team

Pay It Forward S.C.


Part of our South Carolina Team decided to pool together their Pay It Forward Funds to help fulfill some of the items on the Christmas Wish List at the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital a part of Children’s Miracle Network. The hospital is located in Columbia, South Carolina where they are all working on the South Carolina Child Support Project. The toy drive was sponsored by Garlitz Dentistry. 




Melissa Sellers: Melissa is lead tester and part of the creative division support team

I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to “pay it forward,” so first I want to say Thank you!  This is such a great thing to do and makes my heart happy to be able to participate.  There are so many quality and deserving organizations/people to contribute toward…it’s hard to choose just one.  This year, I ended up donating to two different organizations.  First, I donated my “pay it forward” funds from Courtland to Helping Women Period.  (  This local organization is making a huge difference for homeless/low income women in our area, by providing them with the products they need. 

My second (personal) donation was made to the Michigan Make-A-Wish Foundation.  This Foundation does such a great thing for children who are dealing with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and gives them the opportunity to experience something they have only dreamed of doing – at a time when there may not be a  “later,” for them to do it. 

Beth Friar: Beth is a Technical Writer and Training Developer assigned to Optum

I used my Pay It Forward money on Giving Tuesday. Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (the organization my family raises money for every year) had an opportunity for all Giving Tuesday donations to be tripled by another donor. So Steve’s $100 became $300! With FDA approval of the first-ever Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug this Fall (finally!!!), we are inching closer and closer to finding a cure. My nephews are now 12 and 16. The average lifespan of a boy with Duchenne is 20-30. Every second and every penny counts! 

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