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Mike Hayward letter and chamber bucks

Several “front line” workers received the above letter with Chamber Bucks enclosed.

INDEPENDENCE – About 50 people around Independence received a special letter earlier this month. Some in person, some via mail.

It was a heartfelt missive from Mike Hayward and his family laying out how 2019 was a “tough year” for them.

- In January, Linda, wife to Mike and mother to Justin, Blake, and Cameron, passed away at the age of 61 due to complications of a stroke.

- In May, Mike contracted a lung disease.

- Then in November, Cameron passed away suddenly at the age of 42.

- This year, Mike had the opportunity to downsize from his northeast Independence home of many years to a condo in the Pines development.

Two major decisions came at the same time – how to deal with all of the accumulated stuff and, by moving to another location, Mike having to relinquish his Ward 1 seat on the city council.

The Sale

By chance, someone had asked Blake if he knew of a house in the area of a certain size with certain amenities that might be for sale. Blake spoke with his father about the family home. Mike thought it was a good opportunity to downsize, so they contacted a real estate broker and the ball got moving – quickly. Within a day, several offers poured in and one was accepted.

Then the realization of actually finding a new place and moving set in.

According to the letter, “Linda was always an avid garage sale hunter with a heart of gold.”

Mike faced sorting through the 2,500-square-foot family home with four bedrooms, a living room with big furniture, a kitchen full of pots and pans, and a full basement filled with toys for the grandkids. He was moving into a new one-bedroom condo with 1,400 square feet of space.

Mike came up with the idea of a “virtual” garage sale in a dream after realizing a traditional sale could not take place in coronavirus world. The family grouped a few items together, posted them to Facebook, and waited. Bidding for the items took off, and they had to scramble to post more and more.

“It literally exploded,” said Mike.

Two days later the sale had raised almost $1,000.

Paying It Forward

Being retired from MHI, Mike said his income from IPERS and Social Security was stable. He knew that others were not so lucky this year. Some facing employment downsizing or terminations. There were also those who were overworked as they were considered “essential” employees or had to pick up the load from furloughed coworkers.

With this thought in mind, Mike decided to take the “virtual” garage sale proceeds and double it to $2,000. As a tribute to Linda and her heart of gold, he purchased Chamber Bucks to share with those he considered were part of the front line workers – those serving in the medical field with patients and those who had to continue to be in the public because of their jobs.

Envelopes went to Buchanan County Health Center, Independence Police Department, Buchanan County Public Health, Fareway, in-home caregivers, nursing home workers, and other random people he felt deserving of thanks.

“It was a win for me, a win for those recognized, and a win for local businesses,” Mike said. “A win for everybody. What better use for stimulus money than to stimulate people.”

With the letter came a list of local businesses that participate in the Chamber Bucks program.

“We encourage you to spend it on yourself,” the letter stated. “Get yourself something nice, treat yourself, and enjoy.”