Pontiac Community Honors Volunteers
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 22, 2016)
Pontiac, MI – Over 30 individuals and groups were nominated for volunteerism awards since Main Street Pontiac opened up nominations to the general public.
“We got to meet so many new people,” said Executive Director Glen Konopaskie at an awards ceremony on May 18. “Hopefully we can continue to bring everybody together.”
The volunteer efforts included community organizing, increasing access to housing, improving parks and historic spaces, promoting the arts, cleaning up the environment, mentoring and supporting youth, cheerleading community efforts, bringing jobs and philanthropy to the community, and for organizing the most festive event of the year in Downtown Pontiac.
The winners are The Committee of 50, Community Housing Network, Friends of Pontiac Parks, Pontiac’s Little Art Theatre, Friends of the Clinton River Trail, SP+, Oak Hill Cemetary, The Clarence Phillips Ascend Foundation, Leaders of the Future, Renee Voit-Porath, Angela Petoff Warmuth of Holiday Extravaganza Parade and Lee Industries. Organizers urged attendees to use the hashtag #lovepontiacvolunteers through the year if they see people doing good works in the community.
Read more about the winners below:
Committee of 50; Doug Jones
The Committee of 50 is recognized for the Partner Award for their partnership and support to the community. Along side Main Street Pontiac, The Committee of 50 actively advocates on behalf of the community, and engages as well as coordinates community events and volunteers.
Service Group Award
Community Housing Network; Kirsten Elliott, Vice President of Development
The Community Housing Network is recognized in the Service Group Award. Since 2013 they have built 32 homes in the Unity Park neighborhood. 8 of these homes were reserved for those with dissabilities and housing support needs. Additionally they have helped organize Little Free Libraries in the Unity Park neighborhood and community gardens. Their total investment into the community development project is 15 million dollars.
Service Group Award
Friends of Pontiac Parks; Minister Katha James
The Friends of Pontiac Parks is recognized for the Service Group Award. This group has taken the initiative to replace old and dilapidated signage within the parks to improve the image of Pontiac, increase their usage in the community and encourage community pride along with volunteer efforts to maintain the parks. The association organizes park clean up events, improvement projects including re-painting old buildings, maintaining flowers at the entrances, and installing mulch under play areas. Hustle in the Park is an annual event advocating for health and wellness while utilizing the parks as a safe and family fun center.
Pontiac’s Little Art Theatre
Pontiac’s Little Art Theatre is recognized for the Design Award. This building has transformed a former retail store that was not being utilized by the community into a public art theatre. The design of the exterior and magnificent reuse of the interior is providing for a space to house community theatre projects that will invigorate the community. The space has already donated the facility to many organizations to promote the arts in Pontiac with theatre practices, performance fundraisers, and community art fairs. Pontiac’s Little Art Theatre is a testament to creating partnerships and programs to support local arts.
Friends of Clinton River Trail
The Friends of the Clinton River Trail is recognized for the Design Award. There is a focus in this group to bring awareness and create positive changes to the perception of the trail as it passes through Pontiac. Their volunteer efforts include organizing in cleanups and maintenance of trail amenties along the trail route helping to make a healthier Pontiac by maintaining this community treasure. The organization is an all volunteer, non-profit with membership of 450 people on or near the Clinton River Trail. They most recently are working on the continuation of the trail through the previous train route through Pontiac thanks to a Michigan DNR Trust Fund Grant pending legislative approval.
SP+ Parking is recognized for the Municipal Award. As the parking management organization they are a for profit business, however they also stand along side Downtown Pontiac and the community in the development of the city. As a municipal community partner they have donated parking spaces and partnered in community events to help promote the Downtown and the City. Their community partnerships exceed beyond their contract agreement to manage parking into the are of a community partner by offering to help sustain partnerships.
Oak Hill Cemetary; Larry Kehn
Larry Keehn of the Oak Hill Cemetary is recognized for the Senior Award. Larry has single handedly searched out companies and individuals to help maintain and repair the Oak Hill Cemetary. His projects have coordinated the Hull Mausoleum whos roof caved in with funding from Binsons, a local Pontiac company, and volunteer time and materials for the project. Larry and his band of volunteers continue to find creative ways to maintain this city historic treasure so it can be respected for years to come.
The Ascend Foundation; Kaino Phillips
Kaino Phillips of the Ascend Foundation is recognized for their Outstanding Achievement. The Ascend Foundation has been pioneering giving back to the City of Pontiac’s youth. The programs supported under Kaino Phillips leadership include programs such as the Trades University, Future Builders Scholarship, and Career Planning Fair as well as Project 42. Kaino is seen in the community as a leader sharring the success of his programs at events through Pontiac Schools as well as Detroit Public Schools. As part of The Ascend Foundations mission, this past year they set a goal to feed 1000 people in the Feed the Homeless program. They managed to exceed that goal and fed 2500 people. This was done through efforts coordinated with volunteers from neighboring communities to gather food, pack, and deliver the food to Pontiac shelters.
Leaders of the Future
Anders Engnell of the Leaders of the Future program is recognized for the Youth Award. Leaders of the Future’s mission is to bring together the high school age youth in the City of Pontiac together through community service and positive action to help transform the city. Last year, Leaders of the Future had 50 Pontiac School District students attend regular Friday and Saturday community service events. Their Executie Team grew to 8 members under Anders leadership, and with that they were able to complete nearly 3,000 community service hours in the City through a variety of programs as well as trained 20 high school students in basic organizational management and leadership skills.
Special Award – Pontiac Promoter
Renee Voit-Porath is being recognized as the Pontiac Promoter, a Special Award of the Pontiac Community Awards. Renee is recognized throughout the community for her ability to not only step in and volunteer of her own time within several organizations, but also to promote and connect dots within organizations. Renee works effortlessly to connect several organizations and promote all that is good within Pontiac. She is constantly working within organizations to gather additional volunteers and supporters for clean-ups going on throughout the year and ensuring that she’s always there to lend a hand.
Special Award – Single Handed Award
Angela Petroff Warmuth
Angela Petroff is being recognized for her Single Handed Efforts, a Special Award of the Pontiac Community Awards. Angela single handedly coordinates an annual event every Holiday during the Holiday Extravaganza parade. Although it takes an entire team to execute the event, Angela works relentlessly during the season to not only gather the volunteers, but to also create the programming and identify partners for the Children’s Activity Center during the Holiday Extravaganza parade. Each year, before the Holiday Extravaganza parade, 1000 children are served with arts and crafts activities before the parade begins. The venue is filled with youth from the community who get to enjoy a free craft fair every year.
We’d like to thank a silent community partner for this very special award. Each year, the President’s Award is given to an outstanding organization or volunteer from the President of Main Street Pontiac. This year the award is being given in recognition for the impact that Lee Industries puts into their community. Lee Industries is a local business operating in Pontiac, that at the same time has a focus in providing resources back into the community. The Wisner Project was started a little over two and a half years ago which gradually transformed the property and surrounding landscape into an incredible community asset. The property was brought back to life and now is utilized throughout the community for fitness, athletics, and community engagement fairs thanks to the revitalization of this historic asset. We look forward to their continued involvement in the community as they silently impact their neighborhoods especially with their next project at Pontiac High School. They enjoy seeing how the community rewards them with the amazing utilization of their spaces to impact change and growth.
Learn more about Main Street Pontiac, including how you can be a volunteer or support community efforts, at http://www.pontiacdba.com/.
Pontiac Community Honors Volunteers