My City December 2022

Animated publication




A R T & D E S I G N


GRAPHIC DESIGNER Hai ley Worrel l Dar ia Akulova

DEAR READERS, It’s our final issue of 2022 and we’re happy to present our Cityzen of the Year, Linnell Jones-McKenney. I met Coach Linnell this summer when we both went “Over the Edge” for the Disability Network at The Durant. She was recently honored by the community with the Art Hurand Award for her exemplary leadership, and we agree that she deserves recognition for her contributions as a champion for Flint youth. She has done some big things and has more in the works; read about it starting on p.10. Congratulations, Coach! Team My City is always grateful to have this platform for paying tribute to community members, including those we have lost.This month, we feature three special women who passed recently within days of each other: St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center Co-founder, Sister Judy Blake (p.8), and Frankenmuth matriarchs Irene Bronner and Judy Zehnder (p.14). All were beloved by their communities and will be greatly missed. As always, this issue has great variety and depth of content that will be great to curl up and read while the snow falls.We have stories about two more women, both about the rewarding careers they were meant to pursue – one just beginning, and the other retiring. Read about a Grand Blanc native, Rabbi Zoe McCoon, who just began leading a congregation in California as one of only a handful of twenty-something Rabbis in the U.S. (p.42). And, recently retired Dr. Chery Wagonlander, an educator who pioneered the middle college concept in Michigan by founding Mott Middle College in 1991, shares her story on p.46. Our history pieces by Pete Hinterman remain on the most-read list, and this month’s subject is apropos of the season: “The White Hurricane Cometh” (p.52) explores the history of the Great Lakes shipwrecks. Do you know which lake has claimed the most lives? Holy happenings! In spite of the difficult times so many of us are experiencing these days, people have been gathering to celebrate their community and give back.Check out ten pages of recent events starting on p.56. Finally, this issue certainly has a holiday feel – festive and fun things to do locally and just out-of-town, plus shopping, cookies and Santa! (He lives in Grand Blanc, you know.) Whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you all a season filled with the love of friends and family. Thanks for reading,



STAFF WR ITER Cheryl Denni son




CONTR IBUTING WR ITERS Er in Caudel l Dr. Christopher Douglas Vera Hogan



Marc Janca, AIF Alexandr ia Nolan Les l ie Toldo Shannon Whi te


14165 FENTON RD. FENTON, MI 48430 810.230.1783 - MYCITYMAG.COM ISSN#1559-3436 is published monthly by My City Magazine, Inc., 14165 Fenton Rd. Fenton, MI 48430. Canadian Mail Agreement #41971515. For back issues, inquire for availability. Editorial Cor respondence: Address product information and inquiries to: Editorial Department, My City Magazine, 14165 Fenton Rd. Fenton, MI 48430, phone 810.230.1783. To authors, photographers, and people featured in this publication: All materials, articles, reports and photographs in this publication are the property of My City Magazine and cannot be used without written permission. The opinions and conclu sions recited herein are those of the respective authors and not of My City Magazine. My City Magazine is not responsible for returning unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or other materials. Every effort will be made however, to return rejected manuscripts, etc., if they are accompanied by sufficient first-class postage, but the publisher will not be responsible for any loss of such material. Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. | Printed in U.S.A.


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In Memoriam 8 Sister Judith Blake, CSJ My Community 10 MCM Cityzen of the Year Linnell Jones-McKenney 14 The Matriarchs of Frankenmuth


My Dining 36 Local Eats & Drinks My Fun 38 A Magical Experience! Santa’s Farm Grand Blanc My Style 40 Still Shopping? By Shannon White My Story 42 Rabbi Zoe McCoon Compassion and Connection 46 Dr. Chery Wagonlander A Model Educator Retires My History 52 History of the Great Lakes The White Hurricane Cometh CONTENTS Honoring Irene Bronner & Judy Zehnder Keller 18 Gaines Jewelry Kicks Off Red Kettle Campaign 20 It’s All Positive! at Whaley Children’s Center 24 Campus News from MCC Reconnecting is Key to Success 26 Holiday Happenings Galore! Greater Flint & Beyond My Eats 32 It’s Cookie Time!

December 2022





My Haps 56 AAHC Ensure the Legacy Banquet 58 Chair-ity Fundraiser



60 Art of Achievement Awards 62 Tapology Fall Tap Festival 64 HSGC Ties & Tails Fundraiser My Reality 66 Click, Print, Label Future Generations Will Thank You By Vera Hogan My Econ 68 The Global Energy Crunch By Dr. Christopher Douglas My Musings 70 A Family of Misfits By Leslie Toldo

My Finances 72 Do You Have a Plan? By Marc Janca, AIF® My Thoughts 74 On the Road Again! By Cheryl Dennison My Travels 76 Tiny Traveler 78 My Can’t Miss List My Afterthought 80 A Man of the Season

By Alexandria Pazienza-Nolan



Sister Judith Blake, CSJ 7.19.44 - 10.19.22

The Flint community lost a longtime champion of the less fortunate as Sister Judy Blake has passed away at the age of 78. Sister Judy was co-director of Flint’s St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, co-founded in 2002 with her dear friend, Sister CarolWeber.Together, they helped change countless lives.The two received several awards for their service to victims of abuse and poverty who turned to this refuge for food, job-training, education and acceptance. “Thousands of men and women have come through these doors for help and I’m so grateful to be of service to them,” Sister Judy once stated. “I’mhere becauseGod trainedme for this ministry beginning at a very young age.” Born in Phoenix, AZ Judith Blake and her brother were raised by their mom, a single parent, and they lived with her grandmother. Sister Judy often credited her grandma with teaching her to care for others. “She taught me by example,” Sister Judy shared. “As her inheritance to me, she left me a compassionate heart.” Sister Judy was a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth,MI at the time she entered into the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth in August, 1977. She pronounced first vows on July 25, 1982 and final vows on June 8, 1985. Sister Judy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science at EasternMichigan Univer sity, aMaster of Ministry at Marygrove College and completed course work for a Doctor of Ministry Degree at the EcumenicalTheological Seminary. She began her ministry of teaching junior high students at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, St. Joan of Arc Parish in St. Clair Shores, and St. Pius X in Flint. She later transitioned into pasto ral ministry at St. John the Baptist, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Agnes and St. Luke parishes in the Diocese of Lansing,MI and was pastoral coordinator of St. Luke Parish in Flint. Also an accomplished author, Sister Judy wrote the best-selling book, Beyond Survival to NewLife - Unleashing the PowerWithin Each of Us . A public memorial mass for Sister Judith Blake was held onOctober 26 at St. JohnVianney Catholic Church in Flint.Her passionate and mission-driven leadership will be missed by the entire community. u

ananaline /







“ Dream Big” is the message that had the chance to realize their dreams, then what a wonderful place this would be,” she states. Known as “Coach Linnell” across the city, Jones-McKenney found her calling at a very young age. “I’ve been called ‘Coach’ since middle school,” she laughs. It was at an Jones-McKenney has shared with youth and peers her entire life. “If every child

She’s a basketball superstar, a member of six halls-of-fame, a Se nior Olympic Gold Medalist, recent Art Hurand Art of Achieve ment Award recipient, a champion of Flint youth and MCM’s 2022 Cityzen of the Year – Linnell Jones-McKenney. “Awww... it’s such an honor to be recognized for everything I have been blessed to accomplish,” she says, humbly. “I’m very grateful for the chance to work toward what I would like to see happen in this city. Thank you very much.”



“We want Flint kids

to see that life can be better! That’s what we do at SBEV. If we plan for our dreams, we can be successful.”

After graduation, she attended Ferris State University where she made the basketball team, quickly becoming a standout. She then transferred and played with Saginaw Valley State before earning a full-ride scholarship to Ken tucky State University where she be came a two-time All-American. “I was the first woman from Flint to receive an athletic scholarship to play basketball,” she states proudly, “and in 1980, I made the United States Olympic Team but that year, the U.S. boycotted the sum mer games.” Next, she was the fourth overall selection for the U. S. Women’s Professional Basketball League, but that league quickly folded.Then came an incredible opportunity – one that Coach

motivational speaker and build a sports complex for Flint,” she says. She quickly got to work building those dreams. At Bryant Junior High School, Coach Linnell honed her skills on the basket ball court, playing on the boy’s team as no girls sports program was offered until Title 9 began in the late ‘70s. Off the court, her time was spent traveling to various schools and other functions with a few older kids to work with youth in basketball and to speak on the impor tance of following your dreams and planning for the future. Organized by Coach Linnell, the group was known as “The Traveling All-Stars” and it sparked her passion for working with youth that would continue through the present day.

even earlier age, however, when Coach Linnell found her ultimate purpose. “When I was six years old, I knew that my life could be something different,” she remembers. “I felt I had a calling from God to make this world a better place.” So, she started to dream big.

“I wanted to play professional basketball, travel the world, be a



the continent. In time however, Coach Linnell was beginning to feel the draw of home getting stronger. “It got to the point overseas when I just knew it was time to go back and focus on helping the youth of Flint,” she explains. “When I grew up in Flint, the city invested in its youth,” Coach Linnell shares. “It was a dream city – we had ongoing afterschool programs, open parks and more.The community school directors would give us a chance to be at the gym until 9 or 10 pm. We could walk every street and develop our skills at no cost to us. Now, we are seeing the effects of that lack of investment,” she continues. “We barely have sports or art programs in schools and with a lack of after-school programs, children don’t have the opportunities we had. In fact, nearly 70 percent of kids in the city go to schools outside of their district or to charter schools.” Upon her return to the city from overseas, Coach Linnell took a step toward resolving these problems and started her “School of Champions” pro gram and after working with youth and other programs for nearly forty years, she was drawn to Sylvester Broome. “When Sylvester Broome Empower ment Village (SBEV) was just starting in 2017, I inquired about using the facility,” she explains. “SBEV Executive Director Maryum Rasool called me up and I told her my dream of helping youth in the city build and follow their own dreams.”The two quickly joined forces and “School of Champions” merged with the vision of SBEV. Now,

SBEV provides a space for youth to learn and enhance their academic prowess, practice the arts and excel in athletics. Everything Coach Linnell dreamed of being able to provide … except for one thing. “Eventually, the need and idea to build a sports com plex came up between me and Ms. Rasool. We have been working very hard to get there and have had some setbacks, but we should be ready to break ground next spring.” The plans for the Flint Sports Complex include three basketball courts, space for gymnastics classes, robotics, soccer, baseball and more. “We want our kids to have the opportunity to play in tournaments, to learn and to train so that their dreams can be realized,” Coach Linnell states. “We want them to see that life can be better! That’s what we do at SBEV. We introduce them to robotics, sports, music and art, so that they can dream of becoming a nurse, doctor, engineer or athlete. We want to show them what success looks like, so they can see themselves in that role. Our kids see negativity every day and they internalize it. We look to give them a positive image of themselves and of life. If we plan for our dreams, we can be successful.” The SBEV model has been turning heads around the country and the organization is in the process of opening another facility in Chicago to help the youth there.They are even looking to expand to other cities in the future.


Linnell simply had to take. “My agent called and told me that the Europe an Basketball League was offering 15 Americans the chance to play overseas. I signed up and was chosen.” She played in Rome professionally, traveled the world and became a star and league MVP. Two big dreams had been realized: traveling the world and playing pro basketball. While in Europe, she checked an other off the list when she was asked to work and speak with youth during numerous basketball clinics across



In accordance with her work with SBEV, Coach Linnell has worked to curb violence and bullying in the City of Flint by joining the No More Violence Movement and starting Teen Club, where young adults gather to have fun and be mentored by profession als from all occupations and walks of society. “We talk about the importance of realizing their dreams and of them selves,” adds Coach Linnell. “If youth realized how important they are, we wouldn’t have a violence problem when they get older.” For the last two years, Coach Linnell has also been successful at another proj ect near and dear to her heart – bring ing the Gus Macker 3 on 3 Basketball tournament back to Flint. “It was so big in Flint during the ‘80s!” she exclaims. “I was on a team that traveled to different places to compete, and Flint used to be one of the biggest tournaments in the state.” Coach Linnell is proud to say that two years ago, Gus Macker was back and a surprising success. “The turnout the first year was good,” she explains, “but this year’s turnout just blew me away! We had teams from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana playing here. Everyone still wants to come to Flint to prove them selves. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.” Coach Linnell says Gus Macker was the third biggest event in Flint this summer behind Back to the Bricks and The Crim. It’s easy to see that she still loves the sport – in May, she took the court for Team USA at the Senior Olympics in Fort Lauderdale, FL, bringing home gold.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized for everything I have been blessed to accomplish.”


Throughout her life, Linnell Jones-McKenney has always wanted the best for Flint and its youth and she is driven to give back to the city she loves. When asked about her next goal for Flint, she didn’t hesitate one second with her answer. “To bring it the biggest, most-amazing youth ac tivity center in the world!” she laughs. “Just acres and acres of new opportu nities and dreams being fulfilled. If we

can help today’s youth learn the skills needed to rebuild this city, to realize their dreams, there would be no need for drugs, violence or gangs.There would be no poverty. We could have heaven on earth, right here in Flint.”

Congratulations to Coach Linnell Jones-McKenney, MCM’s 2022 Cityzen of the Year!



THE MATRIARCHS OF FRANKENMUTH Honoring Irene Bronner & Judy Zehnder Keller BY PETER HINTERMAN u PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CARLA BRONNER SPLETZER & MARTHA ZEHNDER KASCZYNSKI Irene Bronner F rankenmuth, the little Bavarian city to our north, lost two of its most influential and beloved citizens this fall. On October 16, Irene Bronner of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland passed away at the age of 95, leaving behind a loving family, a supportive community and a world famous shop offering holiday wonders for all.Then, just three days later on October 19, prominent Franken muth businesswoman, Judy Zehnder Keller passed away. She was 77. Many of us in Greater Flint have fond memories of exploring Bronner’s and enjoying meals at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant & Lodge, and neither would exist if it weren’t for the influence and dedication of these two treasured women.We at MCM consider Fran kenmuth a part of Greater Flint and are honored to offer this tribute. Bronner’s and Frankenmuth. She was beloved by the staff and the community.” Born Irene Pretzer in 1927 in Hemlock, MI, she became a teacher in Frankenmuth before meeting Wally Bronner

Honoring the TrueMeaning of Christmas

in 1951. After they married, she dedicated her time to helping him build and maintain Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. “Faith, family and the Christian community were of main importance to her,” explains daughter Carla. “She treasured the real meaning of Christmas. ‘After all’ she would say, ‘faith and Jesus are the reasons we are all here.’” Throughout the years, Irene’s influence continued to guide the store’s direction from a seat on the board of directors and leadership positions up until and after Wally passed in 2008. She also served as a member of the St. Lorenz Evangelism team for over 30 years, was a past president of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Guild and a former Saginaw Valley Zone Walther League president. She played an active role in the establishment and continued works of the Wallace and Irene Bronner Family Charita ble Foundation, helping many humanitarian causes such as the Salvation Army, rescue missions, soup kitchens and others. Giving back and following her faith was a big part

In Greater Flint and through out the State of Michigan,

the Bronner name is synonymous with Christmas. Founded in Frankenmuth by Wallace “Wally” Bronner in 1951 as a combination sign-painting business and Christmas decora tion retailer, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland soon grew from a trio of small shops to the 45-acre holiday experience it is today. With 350 decorated Christmas trees, over 6,000 different ornaments to choose from and over 50,000 trims and gifts displayed, it is the largest Christmas-themed store in the world. And, at Wally’s side for its creation and estab lishment was his guiding light and wife, Irene. “She was with him when it all began,” says her daughter, Carla Bronner Spletzer. “My mother was part of the heart and soul of both




of her life throughout its entirety, from making donations through the Foundation to playing piano for those in care at the Lutheran Home in Frankenmuth for nearly 40 years. “My mother loved music and learned piano at an early age,” Carla shares. “She loved singing in the choir and playing for residents of the Lutheran Home.” Through all of the busy times, she always made room for family. “She loved the grandkids and all of her family im mensely,” says Carla. “The top priority was always faith and family.The family pretzel bakes are some of my fondest mem ories. About 15 of us would get together, make the dough and roll the pretzels. It became one of our favorite traditions.” Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland is a magical place for adults and children alike and as folks from all over make their yearly pilgrimages to Frankenmuth, Bronner’s is a must-stop. Every nativity scene, bulb, light and decoration holds a small piece of the spirit, love and warmth that Irene Bronner dedicated to the season throughout her life. “One of her favorite things was to see the joy that the store brings to both visitors and staff,” adds Carla. “She loved seeing their faces light up with Christmas and joy.” ß

“My mother treasured the real meaning of Christmas. ‘After all’ she would say, ‘faith and Jesus are the reasons we are all here.’” CARLA BRONNER SPLETZER



Judy Zehnder Keller Dedication, Community and Love With all the success Judy Zehnder Keller had, her

president, and as chairperson for the Frankenmuth Sister City Committee for 22 years. Appointed by Governor Jennifer Gran holm, she served two terms on the Michigan Travel Commission and Hotel Board of Directors. In addition, she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Presidential Commission for the German-American Tricentennial, joining the delegation with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. In June 2022, she designed and donated Frankenmuth’s “Sister City Chair’’ in recognition of the 60th anniversary between Frankenmuth and Gunzenhausen, Germany. Through all her achievements, Judy remained humble. “Every holiday, we worked to serve our guests,” says Martha. “She loved our guests and our team members.They didn’t work for us; we worked with them. She was successful and held people account able but was extremely empathetic. I remember her giving the coat she was wearing to an employee who was without one.That’s who she was.” Of all the lessons Martha learned from her mother, the one that comes most readily to mind is the concept of geduld. “Geduld means patience (in German) and Judy believed that we must have geduld and things will happen,” she explains. “Every team member can tell you all about geduld. It’s just one of the important life lessons we all learned from her.” Judy Zehnder Keller lived a life of purpose, dedicated to her family, community and the city she loved – a life of inspiration for her family, the people of Frankenmuth and the team. “She was a wonderful, wonderful person,” says Martha. “She made such an impact on peoples’ lives.” Thank you to both women for the legacies you built for Frankenmuth and Greater Flint.May you rest in peace. u

daughter Martha Zehnder Kaczynski says she always had time for family. “No matter how busy she was, she would find time for any of us,” she remembers. “We have a tradition that whenever a family member graduates high school, the family makes donuts. When I graduated, she had to oversee a very large event being hosted at the Bavarian Inn. She showed up to the event, did what she needed to do and then left to make donuts with the family. It’s a small thing, but she took the time to always be there.”And, for someone as busy as Judy, time was always in short supply. As the eldest daughter of Bavarian Inn founders Tiny and Dorothy Zehnder, Judy dedicated over six decades of her life to the Bavarian Inn and Frankenmuth, the city she loved. “The com munity meant everything to Judy,” says Martha. “Second to her family, Frankenmuth was her joy. She loved absolutely everything about it.” After officially starting to work at the Bavarian Inn Restau rant in 1960, Judy dedicated her life’s passion to the business and the city. In 1986, she built the Bavarian Inn Lodge and helped develop other family businesses in Frankenmuth such as the Schnitzelbank Shop, Covered Bridge Shop, the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus and numerous retail stores at Frankenmuth River Place Shops. She took great pride in the city, serving on the Fran kenmuth Downtown Development Authority for 23 years. “She always worked to make Frankenmuth beautiful and appealing to residents and visitors,” adds Martha. “She helped so many business owners get their start – not for recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.” Judy also served as the first female City Council member, the first female Rotary Club member and





“Second to her family, Frankenmuth was her joy. She loved absolutely everything about it.” MARTHA ZEHNDER KACZYNSKI



Joy Peterman. “David is a longtime friend and it just made sense

for him and Selina to be co-chairs.” For the first three years as a Time 2 Ring sponsor, Gaines Jewelry has offered watches, rings and other items as added incentive for volunteer bell-ringers.This year, David Gaines went big. “We are offering a chance to win a $2,000 Gaines Jewelry gift card,” explains Peterman. “Every volunteer who rings for two hours at one of our 28 Genesee County Red Kettle locations will be entered into a drawing to win the gift card.” Every two-hour shift completed will earn an additional chance – the more you ring, the better your chances.The drawing will be held Decem ber 26, right in the middle of the Christmas holiday. “Anyone 18 and older is eligible,” adds Peterman. “We

On a wintry November 17, the Salvation Army held its Red Kettle Time 2 Ring Kickoff at Gaines Jewelry for the second consecutive year. As a rare honor, Proprietor David Gaines and his daughter Selina were chosen to co chair the event. “The Salvation Army approached me and asked if both my daughter and I would like to co-chair the kickoff,” says Gaines. “It’s a great honor to help celebrate the beginning of this season’s bell-ringing efforts.” “Gaines Jewelry is in its fourth year of sponsoring the program,” states Salvation Army Development Director,



need volunteers to hit this year’s goal of $650,000.” Each dollar dropped into a kettle goes right back into the com munity through Salvation Army programs.The money made during just two hours of volunteer time can often feed a family of four for a week. Started by Salvation Army Captain Joseph Mc Fee in 1891 as a way to feed the poor citizens of San Francisco, the Salvation Army Red Kettle promotion has become synonymous with the Christmas Spirit of Giving. Who hasn’t given a dollar or two to the Red Kettle here and there? Even young children are eager to give whatever change they have. Each year, the Salvation Army serves more than 25 million people across America by providing meals, shelter, clothing and Christmas gifts to those in need. In Genesee County, the Salvation Army provides emergency assistance, food assistance, substance abuse rehabilita tion, youth empowerment and more, and every dollar donated helps support their programs. “My father was a big proponent of giving back to the community,” says Gaines, whose father passed five years ago, “and it just so happens that the kickoff happens on his birthday this year, so it became the perfect opportu nity to pass the torch to the third generation. It will be a cool moment and I’m sure it would make him happy to share this honor with his granddaughter.” This year, take (at least) two hours to ring the bell and help the Salvation Army in their mission of giv ing. After all, every unmanned Red Kettle represents a missed opportunity. Visit to choose a day, time, date and location that works best for you. You can also call Lydia at 810.600.4497 to sign up via phone. Remember, every two-hour shift is also a chance to win the Gaines Jewelry $2,000 gift card! Grab a bell, put on your best Mr. or Mrs. Claus costume and get ringing! David Gaines can’t wait to get his hands on a bell this season. “Oh, yes!” he says. “I plan on it.” u

“It’s a great honor to help celebrate the beginning of this season’s bell-ringing efforts.” David Gaines



Monday” emails to get the week start ed, and reminders and resources for practicing mindfulness can be found throughout the buildings. A room in the school building was transformed into the “Zen Room’’ that contains many items to support mindfulness practice and yoga.The room is open to kids and staff to use at their leisure. “Thanks to support from a generous grant, the Crim Fitness Foundation team provided training for our staff over the past two years to help us create this mindful culture throughout our agency,” Williams adds. In addition to the training, the Crim Fitness Foundation came to Whaley to teach brief mindfulness and yoga classes with the staff and kids.They were also helpful in designing the Zen Room and bringing attention to details through out the campus to create a mindful environment that encourages staff and kids to take moments for self-care and self-awareness. “It was a joy to work with the Whaley team,” said Sarah Sullivan, Director of the Mindful Flint Initiative at the Crim Fitness Foundation. “They already had such an inclusive, compassionate approach to their relationships with one another and the kids they serve.” Sullivan also noted that the Whaley team took the training and resources shared by Crim and quickly prioritized and implemented all of the recommendations. Whaley Children’s Center has un dergone two threat assessments con ducted by the Genesee County Sheriff ’s Department.The department has been Safety


For the kids and staff at Whaley Children’s Center, 2022 has been a year of positive change. And many good things are happening thanks to the support of the community and dedicated volunteers, according to CEO/President Mindy Williams.The Center has focused on three main goals: launching the Inde pendent Living Program, creating a mindful culture and designing a safer campus. It’s All Positive! at Whaley Children’s Center BY CHERYL DENNISON WHALEY’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS CELEBRATES THE SUCCESS OF THEIR TUX & TENNIES FUNDRAISER.

Independent Living Program Whaley’s new Independent Living Program offers a multi-service approach to provide for the physical, emotional and social needs of youth transitioning out of foster care.The new residence, Journey Home, is located in Downtown Flint, providing youth a safe place to call home while they are learning to be independent.

“We are so happy to be up and running, filling the house with kids and help ing them succeed as they transition to independence,”Williams reports. “The boys were able to celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner this year, help each other with school work challenges, take driver’s training, obtain employment and soon will celebrate Christmas as a family. It’s not always easy and there have been bumps along the way.The boys have grown and learned to jump over the bumps and keep going! They don’t give up, which they easily could, because we are here to help guide them.” Whaley has partnered with the Crim Fitness Foundation to assist them in creating a more mindful climate and culture throughout the campus.The staff receives “Mindful Mindfulness

“Through the platform My City Magazine has provid

ed us, we have been able to tell our story throughout the year. The My City team has been welcoming, supportive and encouraging.” Mindy Williams, CEO/President Whaley Children’s Center


“We have been involved with Whaley Children’s Center for over 20 years. We feel it takes a community to help raise these kids right and I am honored to be a part of that community. Everyone should do their part to support this cause. I work very hard to ensure the an nual golf outing and Roofsit event are successful and I strongly encourage others to do so, as well.” Mike Meythaler, Client Financial Services

instrumental in helping to create a safer campus for the youth, staff, volunteers and visitors,

with the youth at Whaley,” says Major William Lanning, Genesee County Sheriff ’s Department. “Yes, we are there for the obvious reason – to help them understand that law enforcement are the good guys, the ones making arrests and the ones they can call for help. But, we are also there to support the youth who never asked to be in foster care, who didn’t deserve to be abused and who need us.We knew how much they needed us when we started our partner ship; what we didn’t know is how much we needed them .” Other Positive Changes Playground Because of the overwhelming support generated by Whaley’s Tux & Tennies event, the Center is replacing its 20-plus-year-old playground and creat ing an up-to-date outdoor wellness/ac tivity space catering to older youth and providing an overall positive physical activity environment.

Carls Foundation,Williams reports. All donations are now received, sorted and disbursed through the warehouse.This is also where they house and repurpose items donated to be sold at Reclaimed by Whaley in Downtown Flint. “I can’t wait to have the space to spread out a little!” exclaims Ashleigh Sanders,Whaley’s Director of Community Development, “but more importantly, to be able to create more fun items for Reclaimed with our youth and volunteers.” Trauma Informed Campus Project Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $100,000 to support Whaley’s Trauma Informed Campus Project.The project’s purpose is to create a trau ma-informed design throughout campus that is more conducive to meeting the challenges of the Center’s higher-needs population.The focus will be on the fam ily game room with the addition of fresh paint, new flooring, new furniture with warm colors and natural light. “The space needs to make our children feel safe, valued and supported,” says Williams.

Williams reports. “The safety of the Center is a priority for all of us,” states Whaley Board Chair, Nadeem Gebrael. “We are grateful for the partnership we have with the Gene see County Sheriff ’s Department.” The Center has updated its emergen cy management protocols, redesigned the exterior lighting, upgraded the camera system and completed ALICETraining® (Active Shooter Preparedness). “Our residents have typically only interacted with law enforcement during scary times in their lives,”Williams shares. “We are very thankful for the partnership we have with the Genesee County Sheriff ’s Department.They show up to ensure our kids know that law enforcement officers are safe – they are allies and here to help. At the end of the school year, they stop by to celebrate with our kids.” “Most people understand that we work tirelessly each day to keep our community safe.What you may not know is we have the unique opportunity to spend time and build relationships

Donation & Workforce Development Center

An onsite Donation and Work force Development Center has been made possible by a grant throughThe



If you’ve ever wondered where to go for medical treatment, you’re not alone.With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the beginning of the flu and cold season, and pediatric respiratory illnesses, choosing between your primary care provider, the ER and an urgent care clinic can be challenging. If you have mild symptoms of illness, such as a temperature below 101 degrees, aches and pains, a mild cough, etc. that could be caused by the flu or COVID-19 and you feel you need to be seen by a doctor, calling your primary care physician is your best option.

If it’s after hours or you need more immediate care, then you may want to visit an urgent care clinic. For even more severe symptoms, the emergency room offers a higher level of care. Remember: when choosing between the ER and urgent care, it is important to trust your instincts and err on the side of caution. Assessing the seriousness of your symptoms can prevent overwhelming an ER with mild illnesses or injuries that could be managed elsewhere, and also help you choose the care option that best fits your needs.


When to Go to the Emergency Room

When to Go to Urgent Care Urgent care clinics are the appropriate option when you can’t wait to see your primary care provider, but your symptoms are not severe enough for the ER. Hurley Urgent Care facilities are open every day, have far shorter wait times than the ER and cost less than a traditional ER visit. Hurley Urgent Care clinics offer same-day treatment for minor illnesses and health care needs for both adults and children. They’re also ideal for needs outside of normal business hours (9 to 5) as most are open until 10pm on weekdays and from 10am - 6pm on weekends. What to Expect at Hurley Urgent Care After checking in at the reception desk, you’ll sit in the waiting room until you are called to an exam room. Shortly after a medical assistant talks to you about your symptoms and takes your vitals, a provider will come to diagnose and determine the best treatment option. If the urgent care provider thinks you need a higher level of care, they will get you to the ER.

Symptoms best evaluated at an urgent care include: • Abdominal Pain, Upset Stomach or Vomiting • Acid Reflux & GERD • Allergies, Bronchitis, Sinus Pain & Infections • Bladder Infection, Painful Urination • Colds, Sore Throat, Cough or Congestion • Constipation or Persistent Diarrhea • Dehydration

Certain medical conditions are considered emergencies because they require rapid or advanced treatment, including surgery, that are only available in a hospital setting.When faced with a life threatening situation, always call 911. What to Expect at Hurley Emergency Room When you arrive in the ER, you’ll be right in front of the check-in station and the waiting room. Once checked in, your condition will be assessed by a triage nurse, from 1 (most life-threatening) to 5 (least life-threatening).The emergency department then prioritizes those that require rapid care. After seeing the triage nurse, most patients will return to the waiting room to wait for an exam room. While all patients are important and will be seen, Hurley is a Level 1 Trauma Center.This means a constant influx of critical patients, which could result in extended waits for non-critical patients.

• Ear Infections & Pain • Non-complex Stitching • Fevers without Rash • Mild Flu-Like Symptoms • Minor Burns • Minor Cuts Requiring Stitches

• Pink Eye, Eye Redness, Discharge or Itchiness • Pulled Muscles, Sprains, Strains or Tendonitis • Rashes without Fever • Skin Disorders, Bug Bites or Stings

• Sexually Transmitted Infections • Severe Toothache or Abscess • Wheezing or Shortness of Breath • Workplace Injuries

Who Goes First in the Emergency Room?

1 - MOST URGENT Heart Attack Stroke Severe Bleeding Poisoning Head Trauma Spine Trauma



4 - LESS URGENT Stitches Strains/sprains

5 - NOT URGENT Cough Congestion Eye Infection Rashes Ear Infection

Severe Fractures Severe Allergic Reaction Fever above 104 Serious Burn

Seizure Fainting Head Injury Broken Bones

Falls with minor injury Urinary Tract Infections



Reconnecting is KEY to Success

Washington’s educational path was a little different. She also started and stopped, but hers was a hard stop when she had a stroke at the age of 25. At the time, she was pursuing a degree in social work, working two jobs and caring for her infant son. “After the stroke, I pivoted to culi

J ennifer and Kai – two women on very different paths, but whose sto ries intersect in that they both wanted a second chance to pursue their dreams.They got the “do-over” through Michigan Reconnect, a tuition pro gram that helps adults earn an academic credential.This program allowed Jennifer Cronkright, 45, of Hadley and Kai Washington, 27, of Flint to pursue their academic and career goals at Mott Community College. Cronkright saw Reconnect as a way to finish the education she started and stopped multiple times. “I took a few classes at MCC in 2003, but I had to drop out due to a complicated pregnancy. I came back in 2011 be cause I was laid off from my job. I attended classes for a few semesters, but wasn’t really focused because I started my own business and dropped out again due to work demands,” she explained. “Through Michigan Recon nect, I came back for reals during the pandemic.” She really did come back “for reals” – hit the ground running, got good grades, became involved in campus groups and worked two jobs on campus. She served as president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was in the Honors Clown Troupe and a member of the MCC President’s Student Advisory Council. In 2022, Cronkright earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, graduating MCC’s Honors College with High Honors and a Global En dorsement. She transferred to UM-Flint where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. “I didn’t plan to go this far,” she shared. “I came back for an associate’s degree, but I transferred so many credits fromMCC to UM-Flint they moved me up to a senior status. I am the only communications major at UM-Flint in the Honors College, and the Honors Program is encouraging me to pursue a master’s in communications.” Currently taking seven classes equaling 20 credit hours, Cronkright has a 4.0 GPA. “One of my goals is to take every history class MCC offers,” she said. “When I transfer the history credits to UM-Flint, I will have to take one three-credit class and will then have a minor in history.”

nary arts – to pursue a life I am passionate about,” she said. “My life mantra is that I want to ‘serve those with the least, with the most care.’”Combining her understanding of social work with her love of cooking,Washington would love to open a soup kitchen; but not just any soup kitchen. “I want to reform how we see soup kitchens by bringing the refinery of culinary arts to those in need in a welcoming and affirming environment. Sharing a meal with someone is the universal way to build a relationship,” she added. “Reconnect has allowed me to pursue what I love without any restraint.” Still juggling family, school and work, Washington and some fellow culinary arts students are trying to revive the Culinary Arts Club. On her own, she has “spun some ideas” around the Mott Eats food pantry for creating a cookbook of recipes made from items available at Mott Eats. “I want to show busy students how to create healthy and nutri ent-rich dishes. It is the intersection of culture and positive feelings,” she explained. “Helping others recreate or modify their favorite or comforting foods is what I love to do. “I have a burning desire to make good cooking ac cessible to everyone. I think this attitude works

in my favor because I can think of 17 ways to cook with broccoli that my three-year old will eat,” she added, with a laugh. For more information about Michi gan Reconnect at Mott Community College, visit gan-reconnect.shtml. u






M ichigan is one of the absolute best states for enjoying a memorable holiday season. It’s not too cold, it’s (usually) not too snowy and the people are downright neighborly. Scrooges here are few and far between. So, we at MCM say, “take advantage of it!” Embrace the beauty, fun and majesty of the hol idays in the best way possible – with family, friends and a festive atmosphere. After decorating your home for the much-awaited December celebrations, why not collect those around you and head out to one of the happenings in Greater Flint or (if anything catches your fancy) a little further away. Get out-and-about and recapture that old Christmas spirit once again. Holiday Happenings GALORE! Genesee County & Beyond BY PETER HINTERMAN

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Greater Flint Fun Holly Dickens Festival “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep

Cosmic Christmas I think it’s time you take the kiddos back to the planetarium … What say you? Start the festivities off right with the Cosmic Christmas laser light show featuring 16 classic holiday songs all set to trippy (I mean festive) Christmas visuals.The show runs through the month of De cember and can fit into nearly every schedule with multiple showings, so you have no excuse. Visit sloanlong to select your time and date. Christmas at the Holly Hotel On December 7, the movie “Christmas at the Holly Hotel” will premier locally at The Capitol Theatre in Downtown Flint. Filmed in Holly, the story centers around Holly native Kathy as she returns home after finding career success in New York City.There, she meets and falls in love with a handsome and kind police officer.Will she head back toThe Big Apple or decide that where she truly belongs is back home in Holly? Enjoy this down-home Christmas story in a setting that we all know and recognize. For tickets, visit

Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!” – Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” Get into the spirit of the

season in Downtown Holly at the Dickens Festival.Take the kids back in time (get into the correct attire for added fun), start talking in your best British accent, and enjoy tasty food, Christmas vendors, carriage rides, games and brilliant stage performances. Great memories can be made just a hop away in Holly, but you have to act fast – the last weekend of festivities takes place December 10-11. New Century Chorale Yuletide Festival On December 11, the New Century Chorale will take the stage for their much-anticipated Yule tide Festival. Join Artistic Director Steven Holovach for a wonderful and dynamic mix of traditional holiday carols, sing-a-longs and rarely heard holiday music from the beautiful voices of the chorale and accompa nying chamber orchestra.This year’s festival will take place at St. Paul’s

Episcopal Church in Flint.Tickets are $12.The concert will also be streamed live and you may purchase tickets at newcenturychorale.square. site and a link for the live-stream will be emailed to you.

Flint Symphonic Wind Ensemble Holiday Concert

The 2022 FSWE Holiday Con cert will take place December 13 at Mayfair Bible Church in Flushing, MI. Join Conductor Chris Anderson on a heavenly journey through the music of Christmas.This popular holiday performance is sure to get anyone in the mood! The program features classic seasonal melodies as well as selections from Leroy Ander son, Alan Silvestri, Vincent Gassi, John Cheetham and others. For more information, visit ß



FSO Presents: Holiday Pops The FIMWhiting will be full to the brim with

holiday mirth when the Flint Sym phony Orchestra jumps into the 2022 Holiday Pops concert! On December 17, the FSO will play time-honored audience favorites from traditional and contemporary Christmas music along with upbeat special selections from 300 years of Mexican and Latin American traditions. Holiday Pops is one of Flint’s most anticipated shows of the year and never fails to leave a rosy glow on the season. For tickets, visit Christmas Season at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm In our favorite Christmas town, Frankenmuth, is Grandpa Tiny’s Farm located at 7775 Weiss St. Decked out for the holidays, this unique experience gives visitors the chance to see Santa’s workshop, reindeer in training and even Santa himself ! Kids are encouraged to bring a letter to St. Nick detailing how good they think they were this year and what gift they hope to receive. Watch and chat with Santa’s farm workers and then create an ornament at “The

“It’s a Wonderful Life” One of the greatest Christmas movies of all time will be playing in all its splendor at The Capitol Theatre in Flint on December 21 – just in time to learn the true meaning of Christmas.This classic film stars the iconic James Stewart as George Bailey, a small-town banker who loses his spirit and will to continue on.Through the help of his angel, Clarence, Bailey gets a chance to see what life would have been like in his home town if he’d never been born. Bailey soon learns that his life does matter to the people he loves, and he comes out with greater spirit than before. For ticket info, visit capitol Trail of Lights Presented by Davison Township Parks & Recreation, the Trail of Lights brings the holidays home in a dazzling and beautiful walk through the Robert Williams Nature and Historical Learning Center. Horse drawn carriage rides are available on December 9 & 11 for $15 and in clude the ride, a visit from Santa, hot cocoa and a craft.The trail is open to walking visitors on December 10, 16-18 and 22-23. For those with special needs, the trail is open on

December 15, 6-8pm. On Friday, December 16 the Davison High School Choir will be on hand for caroling. Christmas at Crossroads Well, you’ve seen the lights, you’ve heard the music, and the big day is nearly here.What else is there? Only the biggest Christmas experience in Greater Flint, that's what! Open on weekends through December 30, Christmas at Crossroads is the ulti mate experience for those with all the holiday spirit. Brilliantly decorated, Crossroads Village comes alive with carols, performances, shops, Santa and more. Don’t forget to purchase your Huckleberry Railroad tickets early as it WILL sell out. It’s our local version of "The Polar Express" and nearly every person in Genesee County has fond memories of seeing the amazing lights from the window of the moving train.Tickets for the train and village are $24, and $15 for village access only. ß

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Woodworker” to mark the occasion. Grandpa Tiny’s Farm is open weekends through December 18. Admission is $14.75.



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