FOX 17 announces 2016 Pay It Forward Person of the Year at annual gala

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- FOX 17 hosted the annual 'Pay It Forward' awards gala Thursday, recognizing some of the incredible people giving back in West Michigan.

The gathering at Frederik Meijer Gardens honored all of our Pay It Forward Persons of the Month and revealed our Person of the Year.

Lisa Cober was chosen as the 2016 Pay It Forward Person of the Year.  The West Michigan mother, who was once homeless herself, now dedicates her time, money and resources to underprivileged kids.  She provides them with clothing, hygiene items and food so they can concentrate on learning instead of worrying about their next meal.

"They're probably the bravest kids out there because they're homeless and they're still coming to school," Cober said. "They're the heroes, not me.  And If I can help them, I'm all for it."

Lisa tells FOX 17 she plans to continue using the $2,500 in prize money to continue to help, hopefully building a shed to store all of the free items she donates to students in need.

"What I love about the idea of Pay It Forward is that it doesn't have to stop at the next person," said August PIF winner Terence Reuben. "It can continue to grow.

Pay It Forward Person of the Month Winners

Pay It Forward Person of the Month Winners

It's something we've seen over and over in the stories of the 12 selfless individuals we named as a Person of the Month in 2016.

"It's very humbling," said March winner Ron Douglas. "There's a lot of good people doing a lot of good stuff in southwest Michigan."

FOX 17 teamed up with Consumers Energy to bring them all together for Thursday's gala.

During the ceremony, Lisa Cober was chosen as the 2016 Pay It Forward Person of the Year.  The West Michigan mother, who was once homeless herself, now dedicates her time, money and resources to underprivileged kids.  She provides them with clothing, hygiene items and food so they can concentrate on learning instead of worrying about their next meal.

Lisa tells FOX 17 she plans to continue using the $2,500 in prize money to continue to help, hopefully building a shed to store all of the free items she donates to students in need.

FOX 17 also announced several new Pay It Forward categories this year.  Here are those winners:

  • Pay It Forward Firefighter of the Year presented by FOX 17: Chief Alan Styles
  • Pay It Forward Police Officer of the Year presented by AmeriGas: Tino Reyes Jr.
  • Pay It Forward Charity of the Year presented by Kentwood Community Church: The Diaper Depot of Ascension Lutheran Church
  • Pay It Forward Healthcare Professional of the Year presented by Samaritas Senior Living: Julie Gortsema
  • Pay It Forward Teacher of the Year presented by Courtesy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram: Renne Wyman
  • Pay It Forward Veteran of the Year presented by Tom Stehouwer Auto Sales: Paul Potter
  • Pay It Forward Business of the Year presented by Howard Law Group: Gracie's Bookstore

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