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Wixom police launch "Stuff the Squad Car" campaign to collect items for families in need


The Wixom Police Department is calling on the community to help fill a patrol car with clothing, toys and books. 

As part of its"Stuff the Squad Car" campaign, the department will donate all new, unwrapped items to the Hospitality House, a Commerce Township-based food pantry, for distribution to over 600 needy children during the organization's annual Santa Shop on Dec. 15. 

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Local credit union pays 30 employees to help furnish homes in Metro Detroit

A staggering 50 percent of families emerging from homelessness return to a homeless shelter after moving into an unfurnished home. Since 2009, only one percent of the families helped by Humble Design have returned to a shelter after 12 months.

When a homeless family finds a house it's a miracle. Furnishing it is another blessing that many families are unable to do. Humble Design assists families who are coming out of homelessness and abuse shelters. Their mission is to turn four bare walls into a clean, dignified and welcoming home by repurposing gently used household goods and using those items to fully furnish homes. The outcome is a home, and a new hope for hundreds of families.

"Our goal is to end the revolving door of homelessness by turning empty spaces into warm, welcoming homes through a dignified experience that leads to successful lives," said Rob Strasberg, Co-CEO of Humble Design.

Chief Financial Credit Union joined Humble Design to help make a house a home home for four metro Detroit families. As part of its mission to empower financial success and inspire creative philanthropy, Chief Financial offered a total of 240 paid hours to give its employees the opportunity to volunteer their work hours with Humble Design.  

“Our employees carry out our mission every day,” said Tom Dluzen, Chief Financial CEO. “Empowering our team to spend a work day with Humble Design was an amazing way for us to give back. Each of them came away inspired by Humble Design, and by the brave families they were able to meet. And that is why we exist, to create true change in our communities.”

Four teams of Chief Community Crew volunteers worked with Humble Design throughout August, September and October. Each team started at the Humble Design headquarters in Pontiac and then headed to a house in need of furnishing. A very full day with a life-changing outcome.

“It really put things in perspective. Someone in need was right down the street from us. To be able to help brighten someone's day by giving a few hours of your life is so rewarding,” said Kandice Navarro, Chief Financial Lender/MSR. “It makes me realize I am blessed with what I have: my family, job, home, food in the fridge...Humble is such a small word that means so much! I am so grateful for this experience!”

The Chief Financial team can be seen on the show ‘Welcome Home’ in November. The show follows Humble Design’s co-founders on several projects sharing the journey of each family as they find their way home. ‘Welcome Home’ airs on the CW Network on Sundays at 10:30am.

“It is an honor to be a part of the incredible work that Humble Design does across metro Detroit, and now across the country,” said Cheryl Boodram, Chief Financial Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “The hope being restored in each of these families’ lives is the reason that Chief strives to create philanthropic opportunities for our team members and hopefully the entire community.”
About Chief Financial Credit Union
Chief Financial Credit Union prides itself on being the only financial institution headquartered in the Greater Rochester Area. With a commitment to empowering financial success and inspiring creative philanthropy, Chief Financial has been meeting the needs of its members since 1941 through its branch locations in Pontiac, Dearborn and Rochester Hills, Michigan. Chief Financial is also the official credit union of Leader Dogs for the Blind and Rochester College. For more information, visit www.chiefonline.com.

Visits with Santa, yoga, and more holiday fun in store during Holiday Splendor at Cranbrook House

Holiday Splendor will soon return to Cranbrook House with seasonal fun, including a chance for children to share their wish list with Santa Claus. New this year, participants will have the chance to destress from the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season during two yoga sessions offered in the Cranbrook House Library. Proceeds from this annual holiday fundraiser support the preservation and beautification of Cranbrook House & Gardens. 
The event begins with Yoga, Teas & Trees on Thursday, November 29, 2018 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Each session includes a 60-minute yoga class led by a Citizen Yoga instructor, a self-guided tour of the Holiday Splendor displays, and complimentary tea and hot cocoa. 
“If you want to experience the holiday exhibits in the evening, join us during yoga,” said Randy Forester, Fund Development Chair for Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary, “yogis will have a relaxed environment to view the trees and cross off some of their holiday shopping, since each session is limited to only 15 guests.” 
Holiday Splendor will be open to the public 12:00pm to 4:00pm from Friday, November 30, 2018 through Sunday, December 2, 2018. Santa will visit with families from 9:00am to 12:00pm on Saturday, December 1, 2018. A scavenger hunt will keep children of all ages entertained and adults may find inspiration in the holiday trees and tables that adorn the historic manor. The gift shop will be open for holiday shopping during the entire event. 
“This event continues to be a holiday tradition thanks to our dedicated volunteers, talented individuals and local organizations such as the Herb Society of America Southern Michigan Unit that decorate the house, and our loyal patrons who return every year,” said Ellen Dougherty, Chair of Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary, “we are pleased that our fundraiser also helps support Mittens for Detroit in their collection of new mittens and gloves for Detroiters in need.”  
General admission is $20 for adults, $15 for Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary members, $10 for children ages five to 10 years old, and free for children under four; tickets may be purchased in advance online or at the door during the event. Admission for yoga is $35 per person. Santa admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 10 and under. Reservations are required for the yoga and Santa events and may be made online or over the phone. 
Cranbrook House is located at 380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304. Parking is available onsite and across the street at Christ Church Cranbrook. A shuttle will be provided during general admission. 
For more information on Cranbrook House & Gardens, please call 248.645.3149 or visit http://housegardens.cranbrook.edu

Veterans Day ceremony to honor all those who served

Veterans, their families, friends and the general public are invited to attend a Veterans Day ceremony honoring all who served in the armed forces of our country.

The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly will host the observance, set for 11:00 a.m. Sunday, November 11th. Adam Weiner, Navy Veteran and Bronze Star with Valor recipient will be the keynote speaker.

The ceremony will feature patriotic music by New Century Chorale. presentation of colors, a rifle salute and taps will be conducted by the Wyandotte Veterans Honor Guard. The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and POW/MIA will also make a wreath presentation. The invocation and benediction will be conducted by Father David Blazek, Pastor, St. Rita Catholic Church.

The Great Lakes National Cemetery is one of two such National Shrines in Michigan. Opened for burials in 2005, the cemetery’s 544 acres will be the final resting place for an estimated 244,000 veterans. Thus far, over 39,000 veterans and their eligible dependents have been interred at the site.

Sunday’s ceremony is one of a multitude across the area and the nation. The Great Lakes National Cemetery is located at 4200 Belford Rd. in Holly, Michigan. If you have any questions about this ceremony, please contact Garth Wootten, Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council President, at wootteng@oakgov.com or 248-858-0785.

Co-working spaces thrive in Oakland County

As the workforce evolves and more people work remotely, an increasingly diverse array of Metro Detroiters are using co-working spaces to get the job done. Lawyers, marketing agencies, engineers and an acupuncturist are setting up shop in shared work locations throughout Oakland County.

The county boasts several shared or co-working spaces, which usually offer a mixture of desks, private offices, meeting rooms and other office amenities in a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs, remote workers, independent contractors, freelancers and other businesses. The county also is home to several virtual offices that can provide a physical mailing address, phone number, meeting rooms and other business services.

Lisa Schmidt, a lawyer who co-founded PatchWork Collective in Ferndale, said she opened the co-working space this summer to tap into the mobile workforce of people who define themselves by what they do rather than where they work.

PatchWork Collective’s members include a graphic designer, a recreational therapist and an acupuncturist. Schmidt’s law firm also operates out of the space. Members get 24/7 access for $220 per month while the daily drop-in rate is $20. Offices and conference rooms can be rented by the hour for $30 to $50, and there are discounts for students and nonprofits. Some offices are available for rent on a permanent basis.

“Mostly we want to be part of the changing work economy … we want to be there for that next generation of workers that just do work differently than previous generations have,” Schmidt says.

Oakland County has thousands of solo entrepreneurs in professional, knowledge-based industries, so co-working serves the area well, says Greg Doyle, manager of Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center and Tech248 initiative.

Over the years, Doyle said he’s heard from entrepreneurs who long for the vibrant, collaborative environment of areas like Silicon Valley or Boston, where people could walk into a coffee shop and easily find several entrepreneurs chatting and working on new ideas. Co-working is starting to create that environment in Oakland, Doyle says.

“They’re great places just to go and really meet up with people, but also I do believe that there’s a good amount of connectivity that results in business opportunities for folks,” he says.

Sharing more than a workspace

Michael Keith strives to provide a spot where people can bounce ideas off one another and find inspiration and guidance at The Office Coffee Shop in Royal Oak. The business is open to the public as a coffee shop and also offers flexible workspace. People can either grab a table and set up their laptop as they would at a Panera or other café, or they can reserve a table, rent a private office, conference room or larger meeting space.

“We have people that are looking to just get their first start and we help collaborate and help them meet their needs,” he says.

Keith works as a consulting engineer and found that when he travels to client sites, he’s more comfortable talking with his team outside of the office. While he said he doesn’t mind occasionally working from home, it gets tough to stay motivated and engaged that way. There are also benefits to working alongside people from varied backgrounds and industries.

“People pass a lot of work around, and that is natural and organic, and it’s without a cost, per se,” Keith says. “You come in, and it’s a functional space, but it’s not like you have to pay $500 or $600 a month to be a part of the community. To be a part, you just have to participate.”

Incubizo also sees itself as more than a place to just rent a desk. The co-working site in Ferndale has hosted events with business and government leaders to discuss improving the community and assisting entrepreneurs.

It serves a wide range of clients, including the Western Market grocery store, which uses the space for employee meetings and human resources needs. Incubizo also is working with the French American Chamber of Commerce and Oakland County’s economic development team to serve as a landing spot for international or other outside companies that are coming over to do business with local automakers or other companies, but aren’t ready to commit to large, permanent office space.

“There’s a lot of flexibility that they think is going to be very attractive for helping recruit businesses to Oakland County and grow the economy and so we’re really trying to be able to meet those needs as well,” says Incubizo’s Josh Champagne.

Check out these other co-working spaces in Oakland County:

Byte & Mortar
A play off the term brick and mortar, Byte & Mortar offers both virtual office services and physical office space in Troy. The virtual office includes mail and phone services, so people who work remotely can have a physical address and secretary to answer calls. The office offers coworking and private office space.

The Den
The Den, or Downtown Education Nook, operates in a historical log cabin in Auburn Hills and offers students and community members space for studying, coworking, leisure, and meeting with small groups. The Den is funded by tax increment financing.

Founder Doug Van Slembrouck opened ShareSpace in his hometown of Rochester in 2014 after moving back from Chicago, where he had grown accustomed to taking advantage of the city’s numerous co-working spaces. The site offers shared desk space, reserved desk areas, and permanent semi-suites.

The 25 best distilleries in the U.S.

Royal Oak's Motor City Gas gets some top honors from Travel + Leisure in their latest roundup of the "25 best distilleries in the U.S." Check it out here, and congratulations to the folks at Motor City Gas! 

The Rainbow Connection is honored to be one of three recipients for 2018 Impact 100 grant

The Rainbow Connection is honored to be one of the three non-profit recipients for the 2018 Impact 100 Oakland County grant.

The Rainbow Connection will use its Impact100 Oakland County grant to support The Rainbow Connection Impact Kits for families experiencing a child facing a life threatening medical condition and difficulty meeting basic living expenses. The Impact Kits are tailored to each family’s documented financial needs and includes assistance with gas, food, parking, public transportation and other emergent needs.

“This group has made it possible to address the quiet suffering these families are dealing with. Our close relationship with Wish Families and hospital social workers has made us increasingly aware of the crippling financial burdens families face as they care for a sick child,“ George Miller, Executive Director explains. “Things that many of us take for granted, including having enough money for every day expenses are situations that our Wish Families encounter and worry about on a daily basis.”

About The Rainbow Connection

Since 1985, The Rainbow Connection has made dreams come true for over 3,400 brave children in Michigan that have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Giving a child the opportunity to dream about their once in a lifetime wish is such an amazing gift. It gives them something positive to look forward to while providing hope. A wish allows families to create priceless memories together. To learn more about The Rainbow Connection and to donate please visit: www.rainbowconnection.org or call 248-601-9474

Greek Islands Coney Restaurant in Birmingham: 24 years of food, families, and "Opa!"


“Opa!” exclaims John Kotsogiannis as he stops by a booth to greet a long-time customer with a warm handshake and a clap on the back. “Where’s your daughter? Still in New York?”

As the two men chat for a moment, John nods his head and smiles at other lunch patrons who are picking up or ordering carry-outs or looking at menus, seated in his restaurant’s newly renovated booths and tables.

“We’ve been in Birmingham for 24 years,” says John. “I’ve seen families grow up here.”

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Homeowners can cash in renting their spare bedrooms to medical students


When Nicole and David Seals moved into a new house in Clawson in August, they were pondering the possibilities for their old one on the opposite side of town. The couple, co-owners of Clawson’s Due Venti restaurant, even considered renting it out.

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Profiles in taste: Meet Farmington's farmers and artisans

Back in 1993, a handful of farmers began selling produce from their trucks in the parking lot in the Village Commons Mall in Farmington. Then in 1996, with encouragement from Market Master Walt Gajewski, a planning partnership between the city and Wayne State University was formed.
This committee envisioned the farmers’ market as the focal point for downtown Farmington. In October 2005, construction of the pavilion completed and opened as the new 30,000 square foot Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market.
This year marks the market’s 25th Anniversary and second year of winning Best Farmers Market award by WDIV’s Best of Detroit awards.
Every week, 40 or more vendors, including local 15 farmers, provide fresh products grown within 400 miles of Farmington. From produce to artisan crafts, to children’s activities and weekly live entertainment, to delicious and hot apple cider doughnuts, it is no wonder why Farmington receives 80,000 visitors each year.
Cooking demonstrations make the market even more appealing for visitors.
“We have a chef’s series called ‘Cooking in the Market,’” says Gajewski. “For example, John Cowley & Sons was at the market with a generations-old family recipe demonstrating Irish potato soup.”
“One of the great things about our market is there’s certain solidarity amongst all of the vendors,” adds Gajewski.
Metromode visited the market to meet some of the vendors and shoppers in the pavilion. Here’s who we met and what we learned.

Free platform tennis clinic offered at Waterford Oaks County Park

Just because the weather has turned colder doesn’t mean the tennis racquets have to go into storage. Platform tennis is a great alternative to traditional racquet sports and one that can be played all winter long.

Learn more about platform tennis during a free clinic from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at Waterford Oaks County Park, 1702 Scott Lake Road in Waterford. Instruction will be provided by the Waterford Paddle Club.

This clinic is an opportunity to “test drive” platform tennis and learn about play from local residents who are platform tennis enthusiasts.

“Platform tennis is a great way to stay physically active during the colder winter months. It’s also a great way to meet new people and socialize,” Jeremy Brown, assistant park supervisor, Waterford Oaks County Park, said.

Platform tennis is a fantastic family sport that is easy to learn. With lighted courts that include heated platform surfaces designed to remove ice and snow, it is the only racquet sport that players can enjoy outdoors in winter weather conditions because after the snow is removed, the courts’ special floor heating units provide a dry playing surface.

The game is played on an elevated aluminum deck that is one-quarter the size of a regulation tennis court. Rules vary slightly from traditional tennis as a 12-foot high, taut 16-gauge “chicken wire” fence allows play off the walls, similar to racquetball or squash.

Extra equipment will be available during the clinic for first-time players or those who do not have their own paddles or paddle balls. No pre-registration is necessary, but participants should dress for the weather and wear tennis shoes. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

Information on platform tennis memberships will also be available during the clinic. An individual or family membership, which covers the cost of the lights, heaters and access to the warming building, is required to play. There is no additional charge for court time.

Platform tennis season is October-April and is split into two halves: October to mid-January and mid-January to April. Half-season trial memberships are also available for those new to the sport.

For more information, call Jay Reynolds at 248-645-9671, Betsy Hodges at 248-892-0580 or Oakland County Parks and Recreation at 248-858-0916.

Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

STEM Quest at OCC to offer hands-on learning, robots and rockets

Sure, making pancakes with a 3D printer and assembling Snap Circuits kits into electronics sounds like fun, but wouldn't it be cool to know the mechanics behind making those pancakes or how those kits come to life from parts and pieces?

A daylong STEM QUEST event November 10 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills Campus, 2900 Featherstone Road, will provide answers to these questions and a more.  The event, open to Scouts and non-Scouts, will let young people interact with staff from businesses and organizations such as Legoland, Magformers and the Michigan Science Center.

Kevin M. Bratton, Ph.D., dean of social sciences and human services at OCC, said the college’s collaboration with the Boy Scouts was driven by the need to expose more young people to fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition, Magformers will demonstrate principles of conceptual geometry using materials other than paper, pens and calculators.

Participants will get hands-on training in STEM areas such as building cars for a Lego Pinewood Derby, using pieces of fruit to learn how parts of coding communicate with each other, and seeing what underwater robotics is all about.

“With the economy growing at one of the fastest rates of all time, employers are lacking highly skilled workers,” Bratton said.  “OCC and the Scouts are partnering together to produce an event that introduces students to STEM disciplines as well as to the college’s high-tech programs, where  students can develop their skills and earn a degree or certificate for successful entry into the workforce.”

Said Eric Suender, STEM executive with the Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America, “We were very intentional in making sure that each activity offered will give our participants hands-on learning under the direction of experts in their fields.”

The activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m.  Suender said participants should bring a sack lunch or snacks and water if they plan to stay for the entire day.

The cost of STEM QUEST is $10 per person. To register, visit the Michigan Crossroads Council website.

For additional information, contact Suender at Eric.Suender@scouting.org or call (517) 885-3618.

Business pitch event comes to Troy, creates investment opportunities for entrepreneurs

Pitch Club is coming to Oakland County.

Kyyba Innovations and Bodman PLC are hosting the event, which takes place at the Automation Alley offices in Troy on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Pitch Clubs are hosted throughout the year in cities across Michigan, including Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

The mentoring and funding program intends to connect economic ecosystems and smart zones throughout the state. The event is both an educational and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs.

In addition to an as-yet-to-be-announced keynote speaker, three entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges. Entrepreneurs could then be selected to present to the investment team of Kyyba Innovations during their quarterly Angels meeting. Investment opportunities range from $25,000 to $100,000.

The list of judges include David A. Stone, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer, Professor, Health SciencesProfessor, Philosophy, Oakland University; Chris Stallman, Partner, FONTINALIS PARTNERS, LLC; Damien Rocchi, CEO & Founder, Grand Circus; Jacob Evan Smith, Director of Detroit Venture for America; Tember Shea, Director inGAGE, Inforum; and Kristin Welch, Corporate Strategist, Technology Leader, Relationship Builder.

"Pitch Club provides a tremendous opportunity for cross-pollination and increased deal flow across Michigan, something that currently is not at the level it should be. This program will be very valuable for both the startup entrepreneurs and investors and will hopefully create a meaningful dialogue, as well as a technological and economic impact for the entire region," says Tel Ganesan, Managing Director, Kyyba Innovations.

"In order to make this initiative even more successful, I encourage seasoned entrepreneurs in each of these areas to join us by serving as a mentor."

Visit Pitch Club online to learn about registration opportunities.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Historic local cemetery a focus as experts discuss preserving and revitalizing sacred places

Pontiac’s historic Oak Hill Cemetery will be featured at the 2018 Heritage Conference as national and local experts discuss strategies to revitalize sacred spaces, ensuring they have sustainability as special places and community assets.

“Sacred Spaces, Special Places” is set for Nov. 5 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 171 Pike St. in Pontiac. Registration is $25 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Online registration is available at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com.

The conference focus ranges from church buildings to cemeteries and their landscapes as sacred spaces and their value as special places for communities. The keynote speaker is Bob Jaeger, co-founder and president of Partners for Sacred Places, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that focuses on transforming and revitalizing historic and sacred spaces into special places that nurture, uplift and better serve their communities.

“For anyone interested in Oakland County or who wants to learn about some of our historical assets and strategies to preserve them – this is a must-attend conference,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

Two members of the county’s planning division will present workshops at the conference:
  • Ron Campbell, a principal planner, architect and expert in historic preservation, will give a presentation entitled, “The Architecture of Death: An Integral Part of Life Today. The aspect of death has motivated some of the most iconic structures in a community and created some of the most memorable spaces.
  • John Bry, a principal planner and Main Street Oakland County coordinator, has more than 20 year’s experience in historic preservation, heritage tourism and community revitalization. His presentation is entitled, “Thinking Outside the Fence: How to Preserve Your Historic Cemetery.
The conference includes a tour of Oak Hill Cemetery. Oak Hill was established in 1822 by the city of Pontiac and was named to the National Register for Historic Places in 1989. The remains of six veterans from the Revolutionary War, more than 27 soldiers from the Civil War, including Gen. Israel B. Richardson, and Michigan Gov. Moses Wisner are all interred there.

Bry said municipal cemeteries are often huge financial burdens for communities, requiring partnerships that may include the city, a non-profit and a third party to pay for ongoing maintenance and repair. He estimated the annual cost for upkeep on Oak Hill is more than $200,000.

There is a reception following the conference at Fillmore 13 Brewery, 7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac, which is sponsored by the Oakland County Historical Commission.

The conference is sponsored by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, Oakland County Parks, the Historical Commission and produced with the support of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

13 Michigan schools earn coveted Blue Ribbon awards


Does your school deserve a blue ribbon?

Thirteen Michigan schools received the coveted 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools award Monday  — a recognition of either overall strong academic performance or progress toward closing achievement gaps. It's the biggest honor a school can receive in the U.S.

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