Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

Hungerford Nichols Announces Two New Shareholders

 

Photos Bryan Esler

Last week, we joined our friends, Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors, at the Blue Water Grill to celebrate the election of Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt to the position of Shareholder.

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Both Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt began their accounting careers with Hungerford Nichols and have advanced within the firm. “The addition of Adriane and Doug aligns well with our mission, vision and values and we are excited to have them as part of the leadership team.” says Rick Chrisman, CPA, MST, Managing Shareholder of the firm. “Our firm continues to grow as a result of our constant focus on preparing our next generation of leaders for the future. We believe that growth creates opportunities for all and this is reflected within our succession plan.”

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Adriane specializes in the area of School District Auditing as well as heading up the Estate and Trust group within the firm. With over fourteen years in public accounting, she provides her clients with services including audit of financial statements, preparation of individual and trust tax returns and tax planning. Adriane is the third female Shareholder in the firm.

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Shareholder Jerry Nichols shares, “Although her technical expertise is one of her strong suits, Adriane is successful in her ability to build long-term relationships with the people she serves. She is able to develop these relationships by focusing on solutions to the problems clients have.”

Adriane earned both her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees at Grand Valley State University and is a national presenter of technical topics for the Association of School Business Officials International conference. She has also authored articles on estate planning.

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Doug specializes in servicing closely-held businesses in the manufacturing, petroleum and retail industries.  He has twenty four years of experience in business accounting and tax services, including audit, review and compilation of financial statements, tax return preparation and tax planning strategies. Doug works out of both the Grand Rapids and Greenville offices and manages the Greenville office operations.

Doug has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to quality. His leadership, hard work and attention to detail have contributed significantly to our continued growth and success. We look forward to his continued success in his new role.” says Tom Prince, CPA, MBA, Shareholder.

Doug earned his Bachelor of Business Administration at Grand Valley State University.

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Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors is a full-service CPA firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Greenville, MI. The firm provides accounting, business advisory, tax return preparation, tax planning, auditing, financial planning and IT advisory services with an emphasis on closely-held and family-owned businesses. The firm also services Governmental entities, Not-for-Profit Organizations and Employee Benefit Plans.  Hungerford Nichols has grown to become one of the largest locally-owned, independent CPA firms in West Michigan.  Visit their website at www.hungerfordnichols.com and join them on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/HANCbook

 

Stellafly Recap of Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2014


Restaurant Week
 came to Grand Rapids mid-August, and wrapped up last Sunday, August 24. Every year, Restaurant Week Grand Rapids encourages local restaurants to participate and celebrate the “Art of Dining Out” by offering earth-to-table menu creations from scores of restaurants.

Stellafly sent out a team of willing writers and photographers to check out three different restaurants in the Grand Rapids area that were participating in Restaurant Week: Tre CuiginiRezervoir Lounge and Cork Wine & Grille

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Tre Cugini
Sparkly Stellafly / photos Jason Hite

I had the pleasure of visiting Tre Cugini along with Jason Hite and Leah Bekins to try out their offerings. We were all first-timers at this great spot in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

In one word: AMAZING.

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If you’ve never been to Tre Cugini, it is located on Monroe Center, across from the Grand Rapids Art Museum. This four-time winner of Grand Rapids Magazine’s Award of Excellence provides a very authentic Italian cuisine experience with Executive Chef Daniel R. Chudik at the helm in the kitchen. This small, intimate space also includes a large space for events such as wedding receptions and the wine dinners that are offered by the restaurant throughout the year.

After being seated we were quickly greeted by our server for the evening, Sara, who provided excellent recommendations, service, and was a true delight the entire time we were there. Tre Cugini offered a 3-course meal for the extraordinary price of $28 during Restaurant Week, and our group tried several of the dishes listed.

Antipasto (Appetizer) Course

Thanks to the recommendation of Sara, all three of us at the table selected the Bruschetta for our appetizer course and agreed it was hands down the best we had ever had. Toasted crostini is topped with house-made ricotta cheese, fresh tomato, arugula, and balsamic vinegar—it was truly extraordinary.

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Secondo (Main) Course

Like the first course, the second course provided equally difficult decisions. The menu was full of wonderful options, from Eggplant Terrine to the Four Cheese Ravioli. Leah chose the ravioli and Jason and I both selected the Cavatelli Pasta with Sausage and Spinach. All the pasta is made in house as was the sausage. It was evident by the quiet moment at the table that everyone enjoyed their dishes a great deal. Each one was bursting with flavor and it felt as if we were actually in Italy.

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Dolce (Dessert)

It was hard to believe we actually had room to eat dessert after the first two wonderful courses, but we could not resist the house made Lemon Pudding Cake (me), house made chocolate Gelato (Jason), and Sicilian Cannoli with sweet ricotta cheese and chocolate chips (Leah). Each of these was the perfect way to end our delicious meal.

On behalf of all of us, I would like to say Bravissimo! to Chef Dan, Sara, and the entire staff of Tre Cugini for the amazing dining experience. We will most certainly be back.

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Be sure to visit Tre Cuigini on their website: trecugini.com

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Rezevoir Lounge
Eve Gardner / photos Bryan Esler

The community of Grand Rapids continues to come together to put on events that are enticing to every demographic in this growing city. Most recently, I had the opportunity to experience Grand Rapids’ third annual Restaurant Week. And, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – two days before the Michigan Titanium Triathlon.

As an endurance athlete, I sometimes feel as if there is not enough food that can fit on one plate – or three – to replace the number of calories I intentionally burn each day. While dining with a friend at the Rezevoir Lounge, one of the local businesses participating in Restaurant Week this year, my expectations were exceeded. The three courses I chose were all delicious and seemed strategically designed to pack a flavorful punch to my appetite – something not easily done!

The over-simplified menu, designed specifically for Restaurant Week, made making the decision of what to order much, much easier. In my opinion, there is nothing more damning than attempting to choose just one plate to enjoy when the menu is chocked full of mouth-watering entrée options. With only three plate options for each of the three courses included, I felt confident in each of my choices while simultaneously never feeling as if I was sacrificing the other options on the menu. Furthermore, having specific options for Vegetarians, Vegans and even those with gluten allergies was reassuring; as a Vegetarian myself, I didn’t feel excluded from this community-wide event.

My dinner included a Kale salad with a toasted fennel seed and agave vinaigrette,  a Spicy Vegetable Alfredo and Brown Rice Penne and concluded with the French 75. The Kale salad was nothing short of delicious or interesting – the agave vinaigrette dressing balanced each bite, not-too-sweet and not-too-tart.  The Spicy Vegetable Alfredo was a step above any other pasta I have tasted, especially for an Alfredo-type pasta. The jalapenos add the perfect kick to the dish while the noodle-to-sauce ratio was spot on – I didn’t feel as if I was eating a bowl of Alfredo soup and noodles, like normal. And, the French 75 for desert was … well, my taste buds freaked out in excitement in a way that I would never be able to put to words. The tartness of the sparkling wine gin sorbet and the sweetness of the Michigan cherry syrup made the perfect pairing – I almost licked the martini glass when I was finished.

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It’s not often I finish a meal at a restaurant perfectly satisfied, both in taste and in volume of food. Thankfully, the Rezevoir Lounge met and exceeded every expectation I had. And, while the food was appetizing, the atmosphere was equally enjoyable. From the lighting to the hand-crafted beer selection list and the exposed brick wall, the establishment gave off a vibe that emanated a laid back comfort. Although a bar setting, families were warmly welcomed.

Rezevoir Lounge on the web: rezlounge.com

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Cork Wine and Grille
Nancy Agrillo and Michael Meilock / photos Michael Meilock

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Every plate was wiped clean- and not just because we are 2 soon-to-be Ironman triathletes fueling up for a race. The food was delicious.

Cork Wine and Grille’s menu for restaurant week combined some standard favorites with surprising creations. The Watermark Salad blends mixed greens with a flavorful medley of dried cranberries, strawberries and candied pecans. The Stone Fruit pizza, however, took the first course to a whole new stratosphere. Who would have thought a combination of apricot, peaches, plums and olive oil on a crust would result in such delishousness? And then there’s the impressive wine selection.

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Servers Aaron and Dani recommended the perfect wine choices, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Malbec. The main course of Southwest Chicken with fingerling potatoes pleasantly surprised with the touch of black bean puree. The Peach Bourbon Glazed Trout, slathered in a sweet glaze, paired nicely with the bacon and spinach accompaniments.

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The Cane Berry Cheesecake would impress even a cheesecake snob (which I am). Server Dani recommended the Peanut butter Pie. Its luscious peanut butter filling topped with chocolate ganache was reminiscent of a top shelf Reese’s peanut butter cup.

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Cork Wine and Grille on the web: corkwineandgrille.com

WISE women: Joining together for support, friendship, advice on the road to business success

 

BY TERRI FINCH HAMILTON
PHOTOS: TJ HAMILTON

Branding expert Connie Sweet has some business advice for you, woman to woman.

Steer clear of those business card companies that offer pre-made designs anyone can choose.

“You don’t want the same business card someone else is using,” Sweet says. “You could attend an event and discover three people have the same business card design as you do — a yoga instructor, a hair stylist and a dog groomer.

“If you don’t recognize the importance of your business image, how can I feel confident you will provide the individualized service I would appreciate?”

That’s one kind of insider tip you’ll find at a gathering of WISE women.

Sweet co-founded WISE — Women in Successful Enterprises — in 2009 with friend and fellow business owner Floriza Genautis.

Both are successful entrepreneurs with impressive resumes. They decided to round up some other successful women to see if they could bolster each other.

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“There are a lot of organizations that serve start-up companies and offer classes, but once you get past that start-up phase, you no longer get that level of help or collaboration,” Sweet says.

WISE is designed for women who already have their business feet wet — but who want to continue to succeed and grow. It’s a “bridge organization,” Sweet says, that helps women business owners gain certification, corporate connections, government contracts and networking.

The group has worked with the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development and introduces members to the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, an initiative of CEED that provides opportunities for nationally recognized certification of businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.

Women who own businesses have interests and needs that not all women share, Sweet says. “Women’s conversations often center around families and children,” Sweet says. “But for business owners, a good portion of our lives is about our businesses. When we meet people at PTA meetings, we’re often just not on the same page.”

WISE offers an opportunity for women in business to connect with each other.

“We can gain a lot of information from each other,” Sweet says. “We share resources, share tips. We gain so much from each other. That’s a powerful thing for women who often feel they’re out at sea, on their own.”

Maureen Fitzgerald Penn felt that way when she left her job as marketing and development director for Catholic Charities West Michigan in Muskegon to start her business, Penn & Ink Communications, in 2008.

“I thought, ‘How do I begin this? I’m hanging up my shingle but I don’t have any contacts in Grand Rapids,’” Penn says.

Joining WISE changed all that. Penn met other women business owners, made friends and acquired a few clients.

Now, years later, the group is still valuable, she says.

“Once you’ve been in business a few years, you need to grow,” Penn says. “You have to step out of your comfort zone and approach larger companies with bigger needs. WISE has helped me break down the barriers so I can do that.”

Penn is on the group’s advisory board — they call themselves “advocates” — and helps plan each year’s events.

“We decide on the speakers and events based on our own reality,” she says. “What are the issues we’re facing? What questions do we have? Then we find speakers to address those needs.”

Events set for this year:

  •  “Common Negotiation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Speaker Penny Rosema, a professional buyer, shares negotiation tips March 12.
  •  “How to Get in with Community Media.” A panel of media experts shares tips at a gathering at the mlive hub May 7.
  •  “Building Success from Scratch,” a presentation by award-winning chef and restaurant owner Jenna Arcidiacono from Amore Trattoria Italiana Aug. 20.

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Each year WISE also hosts an event designed to give back to the community.

This year they support the American Diabetes Association at a Nov. 5 event.

“We’re reminding other business women that a social conscience should be part of your business,” Penn says.

While there is a cost to attend WISE events (and non-members are welcome, too) it costs nothing to belong to WISE.

“We formed this group just as the Michigan economy was flailing,” Sweet says. “We decided we weren’t going to saddle people with an annual membership fee.”

Sweet and cofounder Genautis met through another organization, Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs.

Sweet is founder of Connection Graphics, LLC in Lansing. She creates distinctive brands that connect with her client’s philosophy and business strategy.

Her resume of graphic design jobs includes time at ad agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, publishing houses and governmental offices.

Genautis is the principal founder of Management Business Solutions, a professional staffing firm specializing in placing candidates in the areas of accounting, finance, human resource, information technology, sales and marketing and engineering.

The tips and resources WISE members share are valuable, Sweet says, but the laughter is pretty great, too.

“What I’ve gained most is friendships,” Sweet says. “This is an open, diverse and welcoming group. And I want women to know that having a successful business is within reach for all of us.”

For more about WISE, including upcoming events, visit wiseconnections.org.

 

Veteran on a mission: Peter Meijer on advocacy and disaster relief in a post-war world

 

BY TERRI FINCH HAMILTON
PHOTOS RAEANNA ANGLEN

Peter Meijer stepped out of the command center at a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief site and immediately knew why he was there.

Another volunteer, a war veteran, came up to him, tears welling up in his eyes.

“He said, ‘Man, I’ve done three tours. But this past week, I made the most impact.’

“Ten minutes later, this older lady came up to me crying,” Meijer recalls. “I asked her what was wrong. She said, ‘Thank you. Until you came, I didn’t have any hope.’ Then she gave me a hug.”

Meijer’s quiet for a minute.

His time in the U.S. Army Reserves and embedded with the Iraqi Army as a combat advisor prepared him well for the physical rigors of disaster relief.

But the tears and hugs?

“I have no script for that,” Meijer says. “You realize, everybody’s winning. It’s 100 percent good, with a capital G.”

Meijer, 25, grandson of the late Frederik Meijer, grew up with plenty of lessons about making a difference in the world.

Now he’s doing his part through two organizations, both connected to his role as a military veteran.

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Meijer is a volunteer for Team Rubicon, a nonprofit disaster response and humanitarian aid organization that organizes military veterans to respond to crises.

And he’s on the board of directors for Student Veterans of America, an advocacy and support group that eases vets from combat life to college life.

A U.S. Army veteran, joined the Army in 2006 while in college at West Point. In 2010, while a student at Columbia University, he was deployed to Baghdad where he served as a combat adviser to the Iraqi military for a year.

When deadly Hurricane Sandy hit shore in New Jersey in October 2012, Meijer and other Team Rubicon volunteers jumped in to assist.

He prepared evacuation shelters, helped with search and rescue efforts and cleaned up debris in the battered Rockaway neighborhood in Queens.

The combination of military veterans and disaster relief makes perfect sense, Meijer says.

“When a vet comes back, he loses a sense of camaraderie,” says Meijer, who lives in Manhattan. “You have a profound emotional connection with the others you serve with. Suddenly, that’s gone, along with your sense of purpose.

“How can you find a new community to be part of that gives you a sense of purpose and community?”

Many find it through Team Rubicon.

“Your main mission is to help people — restore a sense of normalcy,” he says. “But there’s this beautiful silver lining. It also helps the vets, who often struggle with suicide, mental health issues, PTSD, issues of unemployment, how to integrate. All these difficult issues. When you try to work on them directly, you don’t make much progress. But when you’re working with other vets at a disaster, all those really difficult emotional bridges to get across fall away on their own.

“It’s the most gratifying thing.”

Meijer was in Moore, Oklahoma in May right after a deadly tornado struck, killing 23 people and injuring 377 others. Eight children died in the Plaza Towers Elementary School there.

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As he worked on cleanup, Meijer watched as one little girl collected loose roof shingles and drew rainbows on them with crayons. She gave them out to volunteers as thank yous.

Meijer found out later she had been pulled from the rubble earlier at the elementary school.

“That kind of thing,” he says, “sticks with you.”

Meijer grew up in East Grand Rapids as part of the Meijer family. His dad is Hank Meijer, co-chairman of the food retailer.

Growing up, Meijer says, “there was a very high bar.

“We learned it was good to want to do good, but that there’s a lot of goodwill out there that’s never translated into action,” he says. “What change can you actually affect?”

Some of his core beliefs come from his grandfather, Fred, he says.

“It doesn’t cost anything to care and to be a good person,” Meijer says. “And, life is too short not to have relationships with people and work together.”

There must be something to those Fred-isms, Meijer says, because he sure touched a lot of people. “The outpouring after he died was such a touching symbol of the impact you can have,” he says.

Jennifer Clipp has known Meijer since he was a freshman in high school. For 20 years she was the secretary in the guidance office at East Grand Rapids High School. The two remain good friends, and Meijer often checks in with Clipp, now retired, from his adventures.

Peter wasn’t a typical high school kid,” Clipp says. “Everybody liked him, but he wasn’t hanging out at the mall. Other things interested him. He’s an avid learner, and he wants to experience everything he’s interested in.”

And he was interested in the military.

“We had many conversations and disagreements about him going into the service,” Clipp says. “I didn’t want him to be in danger. I said, ‘Peter — why would you do this? You have your whole life to explore.’ He wanted to experience what it was about.

“Now, when you hear him speak about veterans, it’s truly heartfelt,” she says.

Meijer spelled his last name differently during high school, Clipp says, so as not to be recognized for his high profile family.

“He could easily be a very entitled young man, but he isn’t,” she says. “He’s never wanted anything given to him because of who he is. One of the reasons he chose to go to West Point was because he got in on his own, not because his father could afford to send him.

“I can’t wait to see what he does next.”

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Meanwhile, Meijer is a passionate spokesman for Student Veterans of America, a go-between, he explains, “between the college bureaucracy and the Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy.”

They help with paperwork, internships, employment opportunities and other nuts and bolts of transition.

“But there are social and emotional issues, too,” Meijer says. “These students are older than their peers, they’ve had different experiences.”

Peer support is huge, he says.

“Guys who have been there can show others what hurdles they’ve faced, so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Meijer was a student at Columbia University when he was deployed to Baghdad. When he returned, “I should have been as well prepared as anyone to make the transition,” he says. “I had already been in school. Yet it was still really difficult to adjust.

“You don’t want to be that guy in class who says, ‘Let me tell you how the world works,’” he says. “You don’t want to play the veteran card. But the reality is there’s a deep divide between the military and college campus atmosphere.

“A kid who’s just out of high school is living away from home for the first time, learning how to do his own laundry,” he says. “I’ve been shot at.”

While Meijer’s most dramatic stories of aid come from his experiences hundreds or thousands of miles away, he still has a soft spot for his own back yard.

His family has a long relationship with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. His grandfather created a donor advised fund for his grandchildren to be part of, Meijer says, and he continues to have a say in the projects it funds.

It funds restoration of a WW II glider at the Greenville Military Museum, he says, as well as restoration of the veterans memorial in downtown Grand Rapids.

The veteran experience is part of him, he says.

“You know when you’re in a foreign country at a restaurant and you realize there’s somebody else there from the same place you are?” he says. “Even if you don’t know each other, you have this immediate camaraderie.”

Same thing with veterans, he says.

“You share a lot of things that you can’t explain.”

 

 

 

Artprize Volunteer Kickoff Party: Volunteer Field Camp

 

BY: SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHY: TERRY JOHNSTON

If you’ve ever been to an ArtPrize party, you know they are pretty spectacular, and Wednesday night’s Volunteer Kickoff Party was no exception. Sponsored by Grand Rapids Community College and hosted by ArtPrizes’s Community Engagement Director Amelea Pegman, the night had a camp theme, complete with an artfully made bonfire, campfire music, and plenty of delicious food and drinks.

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As the volunteers arrived in droves (over 500 of them), the ArtPrize staff was ready to greet them with an adorable bandana and their map of the event, complete with a checklist of badges (pins) they were to collect throughout the night. Each badge represented a different personality of an ArtPrizer—such as the Socialite. In between visiting the various stations and having their photos taken at the Stellafly photo wall, they could enjoy the delicious pulled pork sandwich, homemade mac ‘n cheese, and many other delicious treats from The Starving Artist, and they also had the opportunity to try Founders Brewing Company’s Inspired Artist Black IPA, the first Artprize-inspired beer. From what I heard, this is definitely something visitors to ArtPrize 2013 will want to try.

The night was truly about the volunteers who help make this annual event so successful. This year the organization is looking to recruit over 1,000 individuals to give some of their time to ArtPrize and make all those who visit the event feel welcome. Volunteers who attended Wednesday’s event were able to talk to their peers who have been involved every year and also talk to those who have never volunteered about what a great experience it is. Kudos to the entire ArtPrize staff for throwing such a great party and rallying the volunteers as this event quickly approaches!

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ArtPrize 2013 kicks off on September 18, 2013 and runs through October 6, 2013 in downtown Grand Rapids. If you are interested in volunteering, visit the newly redesigned artprize.org for more information.

Allison Arnold: Graduating from childhood with high honors

 

BY : SPARKLY STELLALY
PHOTOS: TERRY JOHNSTON

Ernest Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under pressure.” If anyone exemplifies these words, it’s Allison Arnold.

To say Allison has achieved a lot in her 18 years on this planet is an understatement. The soon-to-be graduate of Grand Rapids Public School‘s City High School has done more before her first day on a college campus than many do in their lifetime…and she’s just getting started. She is an accomplished scholar, writer, intern extraordinaire, and activist who I am confident will spend her lifetime being a change-maker.

Born and raised in in Grand Rapids, Allison attended Huntington Woods Elementary through second grade and then St. Andrew’s Catholic School from third through eighth grade. Her writing career began with stories she wrote in Kindergarten. Her second grade teacher, Mrs. Bush, praised her for something she had written, and she was so proud that she hung it up in the house. But her “big break” came in the 8th grade when she won an essay contest sponsored by Sharpe Buick. By then, she had become more confident in her writing and developed a great passion for the written word.

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When it came to choosing a high school, Allison was looking for a challenging curriculum and the opportunity to broaden her horizons. According to her mom, Chris, “We (Allison’s parents) decided that City High would be a good school for Allison, based on the academics, diversity of the student body, and rigorous curriculum. We wanted her to be in an environment that reflects the broad diversity of our community and world. It was very brave of Allison, being a ninth grader going into City. Many of the kids had established friendships so the social aspect was challenging, but has made her a stronger person in the long run.”

In ninth grade, Allison joined the Environmental Club, which helped her develop a passion for causes such as recycling and sustainability. In her junior year of high school, she won an honorable mention award for her essay for the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. This led to an internship at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), where she combines her desire to help the earth with her love of journalism to publish the WMEAC blog posts.

She is also an up-and-coming leader, having been chosen for some incredible opportunities including the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC), an annual event that brings together high school student leaders from throughout the country as National Youth Correspondents. In her sophomore year, she began helping out at the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center at Grand Rapids Community College, where her mother serves as Director, and because of her work Mayor George Heartwell recognized her as one of his Champions for Diversity.

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As part of the Michigan Women’s Foundation’s (MWF) Young Women for Change, Allison is learning to lead as a philanthropist. Young Women for Change is a group of high school girls who receive and evaluate grant proposals, determining which proposals fit their priorities; and fundraise so they can grant more requests for funds each year. Community activism and volunteerism are also a large part of their mission.

This past year in preparation for graduation, Allison has continued to expand her horizons by interning at WGVU. During her internship with The WGVU Morning Show, she greeted guests, assisted with show preparation, and learned the industry. Her mentor at WGVU, Shelley Irwin said, “It was my initial fortune to experience Allie in what she does best…following her passion of journalism! I have also witnessed Allie in front of several large audiences, sharing personal words of inspiration, moving the audience to tears. Allie is destined to follow her calling of motivating others to do their best.”

But all of these experiences, all of the amazing opportunities…it doesn’t mean that life has always been easy for Allison. She has had (more than) her fair share of frustrations and struggles as a young woman. In 2011, Allison was hospitalized for anorexia and depression. Striving for perfection, trying to solve all of the problems of the world, and attempting to be involved in every extracurricular activity available had taken her to a very dark place. Two years later, she is doing much better. That’s not to say she never has tough days, but Allison does not let it slow her down. In fact, she takes the time to talk to others about it because she wants to use her story to inspire others.

In 2012, Allison spoke at the MWF’s 25th Anniversary Luncheon, telling her story of a struggle with anxiety and an eating disorder. She gave a beautiful testimony, speaking with amazing grace and poise, and received a standing ovation from a room full of community leaders. Stacie Behler, Vice President of Public Affairs at Meijer, Inc., got to know Allison through the MWF, where Behler is a Board Member. “Allison was a wonderful ambassador and spokeswoman for the Michigan Women’s Foundation and its Young Women for Change programs. She spoke from the heart and shared her story with and inspired me and so many others to be mindful of the struggle young women may face with depression and anorexia. She is a strong, stellar role model that I am so proud of,” said Behler.

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All of these experiences have helped prepare Allison for the next phase of her life—college. Starting this fall, she will move to Ann Arbor and become a University of Michigan Wolverine. She has been awarded the Grand Rapids Chapter of the University of Michigan Alumni Association’s scholarship; Latino Youth Scholarship; and the very prestigious Jean Fairfax Scholarship from the University of Michigan. The Fairfax Scholarship recognizes students with strong academic performance and a solid record of leadership, and will provide $40,000 towards her college education. She plans to study International Relations and Social Justice and Environmental Issues with a career in journalism and photography. She hopes to have a career at National Geographic one day.

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Before she heads off to Ann Arbor, she will certainly be spending time at her favorite places in Grand Rapids – working out at The Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse and the YMCA; eating at her favorite restaurants like Marie Catrib’sGroveBistro Bella VitaAmore Trattoria ItalianaMaggie’s Kitchen, and Speak EZ (she loves farm-to-table food and restaurants with a nostalgic atmosphere; and enjoying a good book in various coffee shops around town. You will also be seeing her all over West Michigan this summer as the newest member of the Stellafly team, as she will be interning as a writer. We’re beyond thrilled to have her join us and anticipate incredible things from this up and coming talent.

When I asked her what else she hopes to do in life, travel is definitely on the list. Her favorite city is New York, and she hopes to visit Seattle, Los Angeles, and take a backpacking trip through Europe—she’d like to become fluent in Spanish and visit Spain. No matter where Allison ends up, her heart will belong to Grand Rapids. She loves how “everyone is connected,” and she is thankful for all the people here who have cared for and supported her.

Most of all, Allison will do the things that make her happy, because in her words, “If you can’t do something that makes you happy, don’t do it.”

 

 

 

 

The Ballroom at McKay Grand Opening Celebration

BY: SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHY: TERRY JOHNSTON

“Be Our Guest.”

That was the theme throughout a very special grand opening of Grand Rapids’ newest event space, The Ballroom at McKay, on Friday evening. Located on the second floor of the historic McKay Tower, and once home to Grand Rapids National Bank, the nearly 11,000-square-foot space has been beautifully restored into a world-class event venue. As you enter the ballroom, the first thing you will probably notice are the eight incredible twenty-four foot Doric columns, the beautiful chandeliers that sparkle throughout, and the original marble slab walls with gorgeous detail. The modular black lacquer bar features mirrored glass that compliments the mirrored glass on the upper walls.

On Friday evening, well over a hundred event professionals, city leaders, and friends of those involved were invited to get the first look at The Ballroom at McKay. Chaundra Derks, Director of Operations for Steadfast Holdings and McKay Tower welcomed everyone and thanked the architects and the many contractors who made the ballroom into what it is today. She introduced her father and owner of McKay Tower, Jonathan Borisch, who was elated at the results of the restoration project. He hopes that this space and the building are “a blessing to the city of Grand Rapids.”

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Mayor George Heartwell was there as well and thanked the Borisch family for the “great gift” they have given to the residents of Grand Rapids. He remarked that it is projects like this in great cities like ours that attract bright, young, talented people to the area. The Ballroom Director, Alicia Caldecott, owner of A Day in May, Event Planning and Design in Traverse City, will oversee any events in the space. Caldecott talked about the many possible uses for the room, from weddings to social gatherings to fashion runway shows, and described the state-of-the-art audio/visual system that will accommodate a variety of technologies.

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Beautifully designed tables by Jennifer Ederer of Modern Day Floral & Events; Caldecott’s firm, A Day in May, Event Planning and Design; and Jodi Bos of In Any Event showcased three very different concepts for table design in the ballroom, and there were beautiful place cards and menu cards featuring calligraphy from Lola Grace Calligraphy. Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Applause Catering, Martha’s Catering, The Catering Company, and The Gilmore Collection—preferred providers of the venue—were on hand with delicious hors d’oeuvres, meats, cheeses, fruits, and of course desserts for the guests who walked through the space, in awe of its timeless beauty.

If you are interested in seeing the space for your special event, it is open by appointment only—call (616) 951-1078 or email info@theballroomatmckay.com.

They can’t wait for you to be their guest!

 

Kent County Girls on the Season Finale 5k Run

 

BY STELLAFLY
PHOTOS TERRY JOHNSTON

At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, the stadium at East Kentwood High School was filled with over 2000+ strong, confident elementary school girls ready to give new meaning to the phrase “girl power.” The girls, along with family, friends and community members, arrived together, in teams, in a 5 K (3.1 mile) celebration run to mark the completion of their involvement in the 10-week Kent County Girls on the Run program.

Prior to the event, Molly Barker, Girls on the Run‘s founder, spoke to two local elementary Kent County Schools. Barker started Girls on the Run in 1996 to help girls untangle from the negativity that squishes their spirits during middle school. She left her career as a counselor to do it, making ends meet by catering at night. Her passion for the cause was fierce. Barker started the program in Charlotte, N.C. with 13 girls. Today, it’s grown to 160,000 girls in more than 200 cities. (Read more

The most important day for every GOTR girl is the Season Finale 5k – this is an event where they can celebrate all their hard work and training! Because this is such a special day for so many, the entire community is invited to participate. The goal of the season finale 5K is for the girls to do their best while having fun! The girls are not encouraged to race competitively, but rather to reach their own individual goals. For most girls, that means making it to the finish-line – whether by walking, running or skipping.

Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit program that combines training for a 5K (3.1 mile) run/walk with a series of engaging, fun lessons that inspire girls to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. The non-competitive 5K celebration run is a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.

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The Kent County Girls on the Run is now in its ninth year. Kicking off the 2013 season, KCGOTR welcomed 8 new sites to their Council family, making a total of 68 sites in schools throughout Kent County. 2055 girls participating on over 130 teams. This is all done through the efforts of over 270+ volunteer team liaisons and coaches. The teams, comprised of girls in the third through fifth grade, meet twice a week after school and follow a 10-week curriculum that mixes running workouts with games and group discussions on topics ranging from emotions and gratitude to gossip, bullying, drugs and nutrition.

A key part of the program is involvement in community service. Each team selects a project in which to participate in as a way of experiencing what it means to help others. The program culminates with the non-competitive 5K celebration run, a capstone event that helps participants realize the power they have to achieve their goals.

A similar program, Girls on Track, is offered in the fall for girls in grades six through eight.

The program is funded by program fees, offered on a sliding scale, donations, sponsorships and grants. A number of fundraising events are held throughout the year to raise funds to support the nonprofit program.

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LIKE Kent County Girls on the Run on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kcgotr
Kent County Girls on the Run on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KCGOTR
Kent County Girls on the Run website: http://kcgotr.org

Girls on the Run website: http://www.girlsontherun.org
Girls on the Run Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girls.on.the.run.international
Girls on the Run Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GOTRI

Design/Educate/Connect



BY SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHY IAN ANDERSON

The Cook Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was filled with a little over a hundred guests on Friday night who were interested in hearing what some of the city’s most innovative and entrepreneurial creative had to say about design. This was the third annual interview/lecture event hosted by Design/Educate/Connect (DEC), a nonprofit started in 2010 by Benjamin Edgar, Josh Beebe, and Evan Daniels.

The evening’s format was a 1-1 interview, with each interviewee given the opportunity to choose their interviewer for a 12-minute conversation. First up was Cliff Wegener of Mighty in the Midwest, a mobile and web design firm located above Hopcat, who was interviewed by his close friend and mentor, Tom Crimp. Wegener had three keys to long-term success for technology design firms such as his: realize that process and technology are constantly changing; trust what you know works; and experiment with new technology, using what works for you. He described Grand Rapids as inspiring and a hotbed for technology and design, and he loves that his peers are right in his neighborhood.

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Jill DeVries was interviewed by her good friend Marissa Kulha. As she talked about her passion for capturing beauty through her camera lens, it was easy to see how much she truly loves what she does. Growing up she had thoughts of being an architect and had a great love of “beautiful spaces and good design.” DeVries told the audience that in her opinion, good design is “knowing what is necessary and what is not,” and she applies that philosophy to her portraits. To her, beauty is everywhere. It is “not about the camera, it’s about the vision.”

Shoe designer Tyler Way’s career began in his freshman dorm room with a Sharpie marker. Way was interviewed by Adrienne Rehm, his girlfriend of 4 ½ years. In their lighthearted and completely endearing interview, the audience learned that Tyler got his big break by “trespassing” his way into several Detroit Pistons games by using his ID badge from his internship the previous summer. He got the attention of Tayshaun Prince, who had Way design a pair of shoes for him, and his business skyrocketed from there. After years of creating custom footwear, Way is now designing shoes for Sebago, a brand under the Wolverine Worldwide umbrella, and volunteers his time as Creative Director for Fashion Has Heart, which pairs wounded veterans with artists to create custom t-shirts.

Derek Coppess, Founder and Managing Director of 616 Development, was interviewed by Monica Clark, Director of Community Development at 616 Development. Coppess’ father was a high school drafting teacher, and he learned a lot from his father about design. He is not an architect, not an interior designer, but his experience with design comes in the form of relationships with people. He is most inspired by the human emotions that go into their projects and designing their communities. He also designs the team—616 Development is always evaluating their “tribe” and when they determine there is a gap, they make sure to fill the gap with the right person.

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Then came Laura Caprara, founder of Stellafly Social Media, interviewed by Eric Kuhn of Site:Lab. Caprara graduated from Calvin College and then drove to Oregon to begin a job as a Graphic Designer, which turned into a job teaching an “old school art director” how to integrate technology into his work. She returned to Grand Rapids and eventually launched the Grand Rapids Social Diary in 2009—she would send photographers to document events around town, post the photos on Facebook, and guests at the event would tag themselves. This idea took off, and in 2010 she saw an opportunity to monetize her business and began charging for event coverage. In 2011, the business was rebranded as Stellafly in an effort to expand the efforts outside of Grand Rapids and even outside the state. Today, Stellafly does the day-to-day online messaging for organizations such as Grand Rapids Public Schools and TEDx Grand Rapids. They are also covering events that range from art openings to concerts to black tie galas.

The evening ended with Christian Saylor, Creative Director and Joe Johnston, Director of User Experience and Director of R & D for Universal Mind, interviewing each other. When asked what inspires him, Johnston answered that he loves “watching people interact with things.” He grew up on a farm so when he could, he would go to the mall and watch people do just that—interact with things. Saylor is inspired by storytelling. He told of car rides with his father who would tell him and his siblings captivating stories, and talked about the walks he takes with his wife, where they discuss the books they are reading and his favorite question to ask her is, “What’s the story?” Saylor and Johnston like to look at their projects through the lens of a great story, looking at who they are designing for and what the end product will be, based on their story.

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Grand Rapids is overflowing with creativity and design, and the interviewees at tonight’s Design/Educate/Connect event were an incredible representation of this city’s talent, and it truly showed the wide variety of ways that design can be viewed. What is your definition of “design?”

LIKE Design/Educate/Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedecproject