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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What You Missed at the State of the City Address for Troy Michigan

Today I attended my first State of the City address for the city of Troy, Michigan. I took notes as "Key Takeaways"that I would share with a colleague or manager who was unable to attend the event. And also as takeaways for my team to consider as we are planning our own "State of" event later this year. So if you missed the event, here's what you missed. Feel free to share this with others and add anything I missed with a comment to this post.

Mayor Dane Slater gave the remarks for the event. At the end, I went up to him and said that my husband and I were considering moving to Troy someday, and his remarks confirmed our plans. It was my first time hearing him address a large group, and I was really impressed.

Council Member Doug Tietz stopped by the Walsh College table to say hello. Such a great guy. Doug and I were once Toastmasters together and we've kept in contact since. Doug's wife Amy is an alumni of Walsh College where she now teaches as an adjunct faculty. They are a great couple and I'm sure they have the whole world and family-life balance figured out. Whenever I see Doug at an event, I know I'm in the right place. Doug is now the District Director for Congressman Dave Trott.

Troy Rotarian and fellow Troy Chamber member William (Bill) Cowger was at the event along with two full tables of Troy Rotary members. Bill filled me in on some of the goals and focuses of Rotary International, where he has been a member for many years. It's on my "someday" list to be a member. Bill is also a photographer that I highly recommend. Great work, great prices, and excellent service.

There were many others from the city and from around the region.

James Robertson (the Detroit resident who made news due to walking 21 miles a day to work) attended the event and it was announced that he now makes his home in Troy, Michigan. Mayor Dane Slater presented James with a key to the city. It was a heartfelt introduction and you could tell how much the warm city welcome meant to James.

Storytelling. Teamwork. Community collaboration. 

Mayor Dane Slater warmed up the crowd by welcoming multiple audience VIPs, including my group from Walsh College as well as many other community leaders and partners.

Following the introductions, the Mayor played a video which told the story of the City of Troy's strategic planning process. Kudos on the video. It was informative, entertaining, and provided simple explanation with engaging visuals. I don't see the video posted yet, but I'll add it to this blog once I find the link. Video was done by Maggie Hughes, said Mayor Dane Slater.

Several videos in the "Dane and Dave" show series were shown to the group. Hilarious, informative, and entertaining. The videos feature Mayor Dane Slater and Councilman Dave Henderson. Please give this page a like and help them get to 100 fans. As of the time of this post, they are up to 97 likes (up from 91 earlier today).

There was a huge theme of teamwork and collaboration throughout the event. Posterboards throughout the room celebrated team members with their headshot photos and key accomplishments under their leadership. The poster boards will be available for viewing at the Troy City Hall after the event.

A nice shout out to Walsh College plus numerous other businesses and organizations who make their home in Troy, Michigan. They also showed a picture of the Walsh Troy campus renovation. Both mentions made me and the Walsh table very proud. We have been a part of the Troy community since 1922 and it's great to see such a strong partnership between our institution and the City of Troy.

Some key facts about Troy were shared with the group.

  • Troy was named the "Safest City in Michigan" again for 2015. Details.
  • Troy was named the 7th in the nation as "Best Cities to Live In" by 24/7 Wall St.
  • The city is focusing on businesses in Troy on Maple Road in its new series, "15 on Fifteen." Check out the videos on They are rolling the business videos out one-by-one. Clever. So far, there have been features on the new MJR Cinema, Media Genesis, Troy Auto Glass, and a few others. 
  • The City is focused on Top 10 Strategies which you can read here. The strategies range from public city to diversity and more. Clear. Focused. 
  • The Troy Transit Center's October 14, 2014 ribbon cutting was announced. I've taken the Amtrak train once to Chicago and look forward to my next trip leaving from the Troy Transit facility.
  • If you omit Ann Arbor from consideration (which is skewed due to its international student population), Troy is the #1 city for diversity in the state of Michigan.
  • The Arab-American & Chaldean Council recently moved to Troy.

Mayor Dane Slater issued one challenge for Troy residents and businesses: help others. 

He suggested numerous organizations including:
Also, the City of Troy is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and the Mayor invited all of us to save the date for the Saturday, June 20th celebration.

A great time was had by all. Please spread the word by sharing this post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About First Step

About a year ago, I participated in an executive leadership program through Inforum Michigan. Our group selected First Step as a charitable cause for our group project.

Here are some things you may not know about First Step.

1. Who they are. According to their website:

Who We Are:
First Step envisions a community where respect, fair treatment, comprehensive support, and social justice are available to all survivors of domestic and sexual assault and their families.
The mission of First Step is to eliminate both domestic and sexual violence and to provide comprehensive services to individuals and families impacted by these crimes.

2. They have a downloadable pocket card:

3. You can help in more ways than you know. Check out their wish list:

4. Pets of these families need help, too. Click to read more:

5. They are building an awesome, safe playground. Check out their Facebook page for photos and updates.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Facts About the University of Michigan Depression Center

Denise Kulak and a visit to Other Fun Stuff:
guaranteed to make you smile!
When I mentioned that I would be blogging about non-profit, charitable organizations, my friend Denise Kulak (owner of "Other Fun Stuff") suggested adding the University of Michigan Depression Center to the list, in memory of George Orley, a talented young man in his twenties. While I don't know George personally, I think we all can relate to knowing someone who has suffered from or is suffering from depression. If you are reading this blog and seeking help, I hope that this blog is helpful.

Here are five facts about the University of Michigan Depression Center.

1. They offer resources for family and friends of those dealing with depression. Visit to read strategies for helping a loved one who is working through depression.

2. Support groups are offered for several areas at Support group categories include: Depression and Bipolar Disorder; Survivors of Suicide; College Students; and Military Family Members. Information about group meeting times and locations can be found at the workshops link noted above.

3. The site mentions that "One in six people will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime." Depression often goes underdiagnosed and untreated. Depression may be more common that we think and it does not discriminate.

4. Multiple resources and self-tests are available, including those covering Insomnia, Depression, and a Sleep Assessment. The site cautions you that these are not to replace medical advice, but the self tests may help you to identify if there is an issue.

5. They have news and tips including an article on Seasonal Affective Disorder which is common in the dark, winter months. According to the site, symptoms of SAD include:
  • Low mood for most of the day
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • A heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • In extreme cases, suicidal thoughts
Thanks again to Denise for the suggestion of the University of Michigan Depression Center.

Was this blog informative and/or helpful? Please click to share on your social networks and leave a comment. And if you are suffering from depression, please know you are not alone and resources are available to you. 

Read about other charitable organizations here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five Things You Should Know About the Fraser Barrier-Free Park Project

If you live in Fraser, Michigan, you are probably aware that the Fraser First Booster Club is committed to supporting the development of a barrier-free playground at McKinley Park... "where children and adults of all abilities can play and learn together."

But, there are a lot of other great facts you may not know about this project. Here are five things in particular.

1. If you are interested in supporting the project, there are many ways to help. Become a member of the Fraser First Booster Club. Volunteer your time. Donate money. Direct a fundraising project at your school or organization toward this project. If you ask Vania, she'll tell you your support can come in many different ways that aren't all monetary commitments. But money is always appreciated. In fact, you may have seen a "Park-$-Ching Meter" at a local Fraser restaurant like the Fraser Ram's Horn where you can donate.

2. Read about news and information regarding the park project at the Facebook page  While you're at it, please give the page a "LIKE" and mention you read about the project from this post.

3. The park location is just north of 13 Mile Road off of Grove Street. Drive by and check out the progress. And in the meantime, check out the images below to see what the completed project will look like.

4. The barrier-free playground makes all areas accessible to children and adults of all abilities. The project includes a 1,300 foot play structure, walking path, restrooms, ADA parking lot, and more.

5. There are many, many residents of Fraser and Macomb County supporting this project. The first time I met Mike Lesich was at a Detroit Regional Chamber marketing event and in our first discussion, he asked if I could help support the project in any way. In the years since that first discussion, I've learned about the Fraser First Booster Club, met Vania, supported the project with donations and at their fundraisers, and most importantly I've learned about the vision and passion that so many share about this project. There was a Macomb Daily article about this project earlier this year which you can read here. (thanks @debbiekomar1It makes me proud to live in Fraser.

Please click to share this post with others, and add comments below if you have been involved with this great project.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Takeaways from #SocialMitten

Today I'm attending #socialmitten and will be live tweeting my notes from @BrendaMeller. Sometime this weekend, I'll come back and share my main takeaways.

1. I'm digging the fact that I walk in the room and laptops and smart phones are welcomed and opened. Plus there are power strips everywhere for plugging in. The Social Media Club and conference planners really "get" us social media folk. Kudos to you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About the American Cancer Society

1. You can send an e-card to family and friends announcing your quit day and asking for their support.

2. Their current ad slogan is "The Official Sponsor of Birthdays." How awesome is that?

3. In case you've wondered like I always have, cancer cells are abnormal cells. From their site: "Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells can’t do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell."

4. They offer you the ability to create a free mosaic page to honor someone who has battled, is fighting, or has lost their life to cancer. The pages include links for fundraising.

5. Perhaps most important of all: "More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests."

Monday, September 15, 2014

The BIG 4-0

Yes, that fireball is 40 candles. ~ Brenda Meller
In honor of my 40th birthday and with hopes that this blog will reach people far and wide and hopefully make a positive impact on organizations on this list, I asked my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn network to share their suggestions for charitable organizations, including a web link and their thoughts on why people should support the organization. It's no ice bucket challenge* and I don't have any high hopes that this post will go viral. Rather, I hope it is beneficial to the organizations who have been mentioned by giving them a bit more awareness beyond their current supporter base. 

If you know me, you know I'm a big believer in the power of social media. It has truly connected and amplified our impact with others throughout the world. Therefore, the focus of this "BIG 4-0" is a list of charitable organizations to consider. And if something intrigues you, please follow the link and consider supporting the organization. 

At the very minimum, read the entire blog and click to share -- because you never know who might benefit from one simple click or share. Yes, YOU are that powerful. :)

Thanks to all those who offered suggestions. 

1. American Cancer Society in memory of my mom. They are dedicated to eliminating cancer. Side note: to pay tribute to my mom, I would love to get involved with this organization in some significant other way than giving (yes, I already give). I've participated in their Relay for Life Walk and I'm also signed up for a long term study to support cancer research.

2. University of Michigan Depression Center in memory of George Orley. A talented young man in his 20s. (Thanks to Denise Kulak for the mention)

3. First Step. First Step-the western wayne county project on domestic assault makes it possible for survivors of domestic and sexual assault to change their lives -peaceful families and safe communities! -plus , we are putting in a wonderful playground and healing garden for the 600 or so kids who see us each year and also a pet area so victims won't have to leave their pets behind when entering the shelter! And all of our services are free! (Thanks to Theresa Bizoe for the mention)

4. Mary's Mantle, which helps support homeless, expectant mothers. Always a great cause. (Thanks to Caleb Bellow for the mention)

5. To support adult stem cell research for ALS, other neuromuscular diseases, cancer, and poor diseases (those big pharmaceutical companies do not think they could profit from), you could mention the John Paul II Research Institute... (Thanks to John S for the mention)

6. The Dearborn Animal Shelter. After 20 years of providing shelter to more than 42,600 animals and offering high-quality service to the community, we are embarking on a campaign to build a new Animal Adoption & Education Center. Please join us in our efforts to “Build a Home with Heart.” We’ve always had the heart . . . now we need a new home. (Thanks to Anne Garbus for the mention)

7. The New Day Foundation for Families. Because, they truly help reduce financial, emotional and physical strain on families affected by cancer. (Thanks to Josephine Dries for the mention)

8. Mcrest Macomb county home shelter. Retating homeless shelter supported by Macomb county churches...90 day program to help men, women. and families facing homelessness.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)

9. Angels of Hope. Non profit organization which offers financial support for families with children effected by cancer.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)

10. Gilda's Club "an org I help regularly in honor of both of my grandpas that had cancer," says my friend Jessica.  (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)

11.  American Heart Association says my friend Jessica, "because my dad and uncle both had quad bypass surgery." (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)

12.  CaringBridge, says Cindy, "a non-profit website hosting organization for people needing/desiring to keep friends and families in touch during times of medical challenges. In addition, personally, in memory of our sweet, 7-year old friend Morgan." (Thanks to Cindy Wyckoff for the mention) 

13.  U of M Pancreatic Cancer Research says Carol, "in memory of my uncle Joe that passed this year. My aunt Kelly Butler Saullo and family have a fundraiser in Nov at Black Finn in Royal Oak". (thanks to Carol Butler for the mention)  

14.  Autism Speaks in support of a family member who was diagnosed at age 2. There are too many children impacted by the autism spectrum disorder. (by me)

15. Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County: Local affiliate of international humanitarian organization that places the dream of home ownership within reach of low income households by providing a hand up, not a hand out. Over 120 simple, decent, and affordable houses have been built or refurbished in Oakland County through a sustainable partnership model built upon the foundation of mutual sweat equity contributed by donors and the families that purchase Habitat homes. (Thanks to Derrik Kingsley for the mention)

16. As described on their site, "a group of local women who are interested in supporting our local community in the Detroit MI area by contributing to local charities together as a unit to increase the impact." 100+ women Motown (Thanks to Karen Rashid Balow for the mention)

17. Through the American Red Cross, you can give blood to help others.  Also through the American Red Cross, you can donate blood platelets. It's a longer process but the platelets are precious to recipients. 

18. International Asherman's Association is an organization dedicated to awareness of Asherman's Syndrome, which causes infertility and is treatable with proper medical care.

19. In memory of a family friend who recently passed away and requested donations, I'm adding Forgotten Harvest to this list. "The mission of Forgotten Harvest is to relieve hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing surplus, prepared and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers."

20. In memory of the passing of a close friend's dad, Disabled American Veterans. "DAV is the most long-lasting veterans advocacy and assistance group in this country. We’ve watched this country change and grow, and we’ve grown along with it. However, DAV has never wavered in its core mission to fulfill our country’s promises to the men and women who served."

21. The National Marrow Donor Registry. "For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. Over the past 25 years Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. We work every day to save lives through transplant."

22. Gift of Life Michigan, whose mission is: "To improve and extend lives through quality programs which maximize organ and tissue donation for transplantation."

23. Fraser First Booster Club is leading the effort to create a barrier-free playground at McKinley Park in Macomb County (Fraser, Michigan). This playground will be an inclusive and innovative project "where children and adults of all abilities can play and learn together."

24. SOS (South Oakland Shelter) is the Oakland County version of MCrest whose goal is to end homelessness. (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)

25. "In honor of my aunt, the Alzheimer's Association in Southfield, MI." (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)

Organization's # 26 through 40 are still open. Reply to this post or message me on social media and I'll add you to this list. This offer is open to non-profit organizations only.

* Speaking of the ice bucket challenge, how cool would it be if the extra visibility and awareness, combined with the donations made are causing so much positive momentum that it might lead to a cure for ALS? And then maybe the next mass viral trend tackles cancer or another disease next.  Plus, consider that there is a parallel to those suffering from ALS. They wish the symptoms of their disease would just stop, too. The public annoyance over this trend is just a drop in the bucket (pun intended) of ALS patients' own form of suffering. It's making us all talk about the disease and that's a good thing.