News & Blog: Community


Guest blogger Fritz Crabb worked with Tony Campbell for many years at Heart of West Michigan United Way. In addition to being close friends, the two shared a passion for educating young people in this community. 

When Tony Campbell arrived at Heart of West Michigan United Way, he arrived with the resume, the personality, and theTony Spellebration intelligence to hit the ground running. And he did just that. Tony became a fixture in the non-profit community locally and throughout Michigan, finding ways to connect divergent groups and to get things done.

The staff soon learned that “Tony never met an idea he didn’t like.” That simple phrase kept all of us thinking about new and better ways to serve the community. Never afraid of failure, Tony never became discouraged if a new initiative did not produce the results expected. He simply listened to and worked cooperatively with all engaged parties make the changes necessary to achieve the desired results.

His passion for children was always obvious in his work. His oft repeated phrase when speaking about the condition of this community’s children was, “A difference of a mile in residence should not make a difference in a child’s chance for success in life.” His ground breaking work to establish the Michigan Reading Corps, now the Michigan Education Corps, will be a lasting legacy his passion for literacy and children.

I was lucky to be Tony’s friend and colleague for many years. His was a life centered on family, faith, people, and justice. Tony's death last summer left a gaping hole in our community; he is deeply missed. 

The Literacy Center of West Michigan is honoring Tony Campbell's life and legacy with the Champion of Literacy Award at this year's Spellebration event. The event is the evening of May 10, 2018 at the Grand Rapids Masonic Temple. Tickets are on sale now at

Sign up for our email newsletter

Get the latest word on upcoming events, opportunities and achievements, delivered straight to your mailbox.