My City March 2023

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GRAPHIC DESIGNER Hailey Worrell Daria Akulova

DEAR READERS, After a January that seemed to last forever and a February that flew by, it’s exciting to think that Greater Flint will soon be coming to life again! Team My City always looks forward to covering the great spring “Happenings” that are upcoming. This is an important fundraising season for many and the community never fails to turn out in support. We will be there, capturing the happy faces of attendees and sharing them with you in the months ahead. Check out our coverage of three recent annual winter events starting on p.64. We’ve been fortunate to share many stories about people who are a part of Flint’s robust arts scene, and this issue includes two. We have a piece about Joe Schipani, Director of the Flint Public Art Project which has brought new life to many Flint buildings with hundreds of fun and thought-provoking murals. He is continuing to show his “Passion for Flint” – read more on p.6. And, we received a suggestion from Ed Chiles for an article about his father-in-law, Jim Ames – an instructor at the Flint Institute of Arts for nearly 50 years. WOW! Jim is 86 and the accomplished fine artist is still helping others get better at their craft. His story starts on p.30. I’m always inspired by our “Outreach” pieces about people who realize their life’s true purpose and find fulfillment in making an impact on the lives of others. Charlotte Lancaster, founder of Building Strong Women, is one of those people. For 15 years, she has been dedicated to helping women who have found themselves in a place where she once was: homeless. Read her story on p.26. Some people find their calling in entrepreneurial pursuits, myself included. This issue includes a new series called “Milestones” which highlights local businesses celebrating anniversaries. Congrats to all! Their stories start on p.16. Wrapping up the content are music, health, history, style, food, a pretty cool sports feature, our contributed columns and much more. As spring is upon us, let’s celebrate making it through another winter and look forward to emerging from hibernation to enjoy some great times in Greater Flint. Thanks for reading,



STAFF WRITER Cheryl Dennison




CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Erin Caudell Dr. Christopher Douglas Vera Hogan Marc Janca, AIF Alexandria Pazienza-Nolan Leslie Toldo Shannon White



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 conclusions 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 © 2023. All rights reserved. | Printed in U.S.A.



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26 30


My Community

6 Joe Schipani

A Passion for Flint 12 7 Questions with ... DeAndra Larkin Chief of Staff,


Mott Community College Special Section

16-25 Greater Flint

My Dish 40 It’s Citrus Season! By Erin Caudell My Dining 42 Local Eats & Drinks My Fun 44 Embrace the New!

Business Milestones My Outreach 26 Building Strong Women Doing It from the Heart My Arts 30 Jim Ames, Artist Color My World My Music 34 The Soothing Tunes Room A Classy Place for Jazz My Style 38 Spring Ahead! By Shannon White

10 Things to Do This Spring My Health 48 McLaren Proton Therapy Saves Lives 50 Embracing Fitness Ditch the Excuses! 54 Workouts & Proper Nutrition


March 2023





My Sports

56 Girl Power

Goodrich Team Raising the Bar My History



60 Castles of Time

Greater Flint’s Historic Homes Part 2 My Haps

My Finances 74 Mutual Funds, ETFs & Stocks By Marc Janca, AIF® My Econ 75 “Mild” Recessions

64 16th Annual FIA Community Gala

66 FSPA Seeing Stars! Benefit 68 8th Annual Chrome & Ice ™ ™ Indoor Car Show 70 My Can’t Miss List My Musings 72 No Time Like the Last Minute

By Dr. Christopher Douglas My Travels By Alexandria Pazienza-Nolan My Thoughts

76 Staycation

77 Spring is in the Air By Cheryl Dennison My Afterthought 80 Those Little Mischief-makers ...

By Leslie Toldo My Reality 73 This is America...


We Must Do Better! By Vera Hogan





P roducer. Novelist. Writer. Executive Director. These are just a few of the titles held by Joseph Schipani who is well known in Greater Flint. He is most known for his passion for helping improve Flint and surrounding communi ties. "I enjoy doing things to make Flint better and putting smiles on people's faces," he shares. Schipani and his partner Phillip Barnhart moved to Flint from the Metro Detroit area in early 2007. "I love Flint!" he exclaims. "We have been here for 16 years and it feels like home." After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Design at UM-Flint, he then continued his education at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning a Master of Public Administration degree. When he came to Flint, Schi pani became instantly involved in making it a better place, working very closely and passionately with the city’s robust artist community. He is Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project (FPAP), and has been an involved advocate since its inception in 2013. His work with the FPAP Mural Project has included spending much time going to neighborhoods looking for ways to beautify abandoned buildings, finding spaces for murals and artists to paint them. The project has benefited both the city and the many artists who have contributed their talents. "We’ve transformed blight into something beautiful until a


permanent solution comes along," he notes. The Mural Project is still ongoing with more than 300 beauti ful and thought-provoking pieces now completed throughout the City of Flint and connecting cities. "Our goal was to get people to cross borders and check out the murals that have already been completed," Schipani explains.




He expects 30-35 more murals to be painted in the near future adding that the current project grant is closing out and they are looking for new funding. Another project Schipani is working on this year will allow people from all over the world to enjoy the Flint murals through a VR/AR experience being created by MXD World. For the last five years, Schipani has been a project assistant in the grant-funded Flint Leverage Points Project, which was created to find ways to improve the process of food delivery and reduce food insecurity.

"I spent four years studying the food systems in Flint and how they work," he shares. The project’s goal is to identify challenges and increase access to healthy food for people in the City of Flint and surrounding Genesee County communities. Schipani also wants to remove the stigma associated with food assistance. Now that the project has been completed, the Crim

- Joseph Schipani







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D eAndra Larkin currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Office of the President at Mott Community College, working collaboratively with the College's Executive Cabinet to achieve the College’s Strategic Plan goals and develop and manage strategic partnerships. Prior to this role, she held posi tions as a nonprofit executive and in fund development. In addition to her professional responsibilities, DeAndra is active in the Flint community, currently serving on the Hurley Board of Managers, Community Foundation of Greater Flint Board of Trustees and the Flint River Watershed Coalition Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint Women & Girls Fund Advisory Com mittee and a member of the Zonta Club of Flint. In her spare time, she enjoys experiencing all the arts, cultural, recreational and food experiences Flint and Genesee County offer. DeAndra is a graduate of Central Michigan Uni versity, where she earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts, later earning a Master of Science in Administration also from CMU. She is a lifelong resident of Genesee County where she and her husband are raising their family. We thought you would enjoy a few more “fun facts” she agreed to share!

Photo by Jessica Hatter Photography






What was your very first job ? I was a sales associate at The

What is one of your pet peeves ? When someone cuts off one of my favorite songs right in the middle of the best part! Truly grinds my gears. They ' re making an action figure of you – what two accessories does it come with ? This is such a hilarious question ... Hmm, okay, it would come with an invisible cloak and a shield. How would your friends describe you ? They would say I am outgoing, positive, optimistic, adven ture-seeking and really serious about the well-being of my family and friends. I'm definitely the person they call when they want to try something new or need logical advice. I'm also the person they see calling them at 7am just to say “hello” and to see how they're doing before they start their day. 5 4

What would we hear you sing at Karaoke Night ? I absolutely love karaoke – it's one of my favorite activities! I usually warm up with Bon Jovi's “Living on a Prayer” then return to the mic with Lit's “My Own Worst Enemy” and then end the evening with SWV's “Weak.” I'm also well known to grab a mic and sing backup for anyone who doesn't want to sing alone. What is the best thing about your job at MCC ? As Chief of Staff, every single day is unique and I love it. Some days, I am chatting with students on their way to class. On other days, I am helping prospective students connect with the right person to start (or re-enter) their education al journey. Whether it's a special project or initiative, my role always connects back to student success and being an anchor institution for the community. Mott Community College is a pretty special place and I'm glad to be a part of the team! 7

Buckle in the Genesee Valley mall. I had to have been about 16 years old and was so excited! I'm pretty sure I purchased about 50 pairs of jeans while I worked there. It was a fun first job that taught me a lot. Everything was centered around customer service and service excellence. I still use the same social and customer service skills I developed while working there to this day.


What is your favorite sport to watch or play ?

My favorite sport to play is volley ball. I played a little in middle and high school. It's such a fun and fast-paced game and there is no denying the excitement of nailing a good spike or digging an oppo nent's spike. My favorite sport to watch is anything my daughter competes in. I never thought I would be a cross-country fan, but I will brave the rainy fall weather to see her run any day!

XX 13




BUSINESSES CELEBRATE SUCCESS It’s a well-known fact: business ownership is definitely not for the faint of heart! With statistics showing that nearly one in five U.S. start-ups fail within the first year, many owners feel fortunate to make it through 12 months of operation. Milestones These businesses are celebrating milestones: • Bikes on the Bricks

• Fenton Winery & Brewery Matt & Ginny Sherrow, Co-Owners • H2A Architects, Inc. Jackie Hoist, Sheri Ananich & George Ananich, Co-Owners • Jersey Mike’s Subs - Fenton, Flint & Grand Blanc Michael Balen, Owner • Lasco Real Estate Group Jennifer Lasco, Owner • My City Magazine Vince Lorraine, Publisher • Randy Wise Automotive Team Randy Wise, Owner • Sawyer Jewelers Chip Beltinck, Owner • SHIFT Heidi McAra, Tiffany Stolzenfeld & Shannon White, Co-Owners

This new feature series highlights local businesses that are celebrat ing anniversaries and want to share their stories – how they started, challenges they faced, and what has contributed to their longevity. It is an opportunity for them to pause and re flect on their journey – past, present and future – and recognize peo ple who played a role in their success. Their stories are

all unique, but one con stant is their gratitude for the support of the communities where they do business.



My City Magazine FOUNDED: 2013 |

How did My City get its start? I’ve published several mag

What are your plans for 2023 and the future? I had planned to take my magazine model to other cities; however, the pandemic put that on hold. Similar publications are facing uncontrolla ble challenges, which is unfortunate in an industry with such potential to benefit both readers and advertisers. Many businesses are focused on social media marketing, and we plan to continue building our significant social media presence – over 40,000 monthly digital page views! We are noticing an increase in ad sales. Why? Our advertisers realize an ROI. I expect 2023 to be one of our best years yet, and an even better 2024. What obstacles have you overcome? When our Governor chose to shut down the state mid-pandemic, I owned four businesses – it was the biggest hurdle I have ever encoun tered. Recovery has been a struggle; however, we made it and will be even stronger going forward. What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs? If you don’t have a passion for what you do and are not willing to work 60-70 hours a week for several decades, don’t become a business owner. If you put in the work, there’s nothing better! Who would you like to thank for your success? This feels like an “Oscars” speech moment. Since the opportunity to start this magazine was born of my other business success, I would first thank my mother who always believed in me – which was key since I became an entrepreneur at age 19! She was present for all my setbacks and successes, cheering me on. There are many others to thank: the banker who gave me my first business loan back in 1978, the many employees who believed in my vision, and my talented family who has worked alongside and supported me through it all. The list is long and they all have my sincere gratitude. What is great about doing business in Greater Flint? It’s an honor and pleasure to have this platform for highlighting so many exceptional and inspiring people. Cheers to ten more years!

azines for nearly three decades, one being a nationally-circulat ed B2B title. Back in the ‘90s, one of my duties was traveling to visit our key advertisers or their ad agencies – I called it my

“handshake tour.” My travels took me to L.A., New York, Houston and Chicago, to name a few. I would thank them for their support and discuss their future marketing goals with my publication. Then, we would enjoy a nice “thank you” lunch or dinner. It never failed that during our meal, someone would ask me, “So Flint, Michigan, huh? Why do you live/work in Flint?” In those days, the city’s image was one of murder, corruption, etc. At the time, I held seats on the boards of the Flint Institute of Music, Flint Cultural Center Corporation and others. I saw a very different city than what was portrayed on the national news. I have lived in Greater Flint all my life and always knew how great the city really was, its resilience unmatched. So, I decided to start MCM with a single goal: telling the true stories of our great city and its people. Not a single page would be dedicated to negativity or politics. Ten years later, despite pandemic shutdowns and other obstacles, my staff and I still produce what I believe is one of the country’s best city magazines. “IT’S AN HONOR AND PLEASURE TO HAVE THIS PLATFORM FOR HIGHLIGHTING SO MANY GREAT AND INSPIRING PEOPLE.” What has contributed to your longevity? It’s crazy to be celebrating ten years! Our success is a product of my team’s talent, dedication and love for Flint. We’re all on the same page (pun intended).

Oleg / NikaMooni /



SHIFT FOUNDED: 2018 140 E. Second St., Flint 810.820.7062 |

How did SHIFT get its start? In 2019, a small but mighty team of she-powered entrepreneurs felt the time was right to reintroduce the “Art of Retail” to Downtown Flint. The Capitol Theatre was renovat ed, the corner space at 2nd and Harrison Streets was available and … voila! SHIFT was born! What has contributed to your success? We credit our loyal SHIFT shoppers, social media presence and the growing strength of our brand both in our store and online. And, it’s the merchandise we bring to the community – locally sourced, globally responsible and distinctive items you truly cannot find anywhere else. We are rejuvenating in-store parties and events and thoughtfully curate a FUN shopping experience at reasonable prices. What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? We want to culti vate a greater sense of community and foster a place that is not only a des tination, but a place to gather. We will also continue featuring local artisans, providing a venue to create exposure and build their brands. What obstacles have you faced? Since SHIFT started, we have been overcoming obstacles! We were the first women’s boutique in Downtown Flint since The Vogue had closed nearly 40 years prior to our

grand opening. Downtown was not known for its retail opportunities, especially for women. Then, 18 months after we opened and were fi nally gaining community awareness, the pandemic shut us down. We ramped up our online presence,

but who needed new sneakers, cute dresses and dazzling earrings when everyone was eating popcorn, drinking wine and watching movies at home? Post-COVID, the work-from-home culture has minimized “feet on the street” and lunchtime/daytime shoppers who used to SHIFT in to find an outfit for the weekend, a hostess or birthday gift. Now, we rely on being a destination that people come Downtown to visit. What has surprised you most about business ownership? In many ways, it has changed both us and our amazing staff. Our small team has learned the business of retail, the importance of customer service and how to merchandise and advertise; but the friendships, life lessons, camaraderie and tutoring we have experienced with our young team is invaluable. We have all learned so much about life’s turmoils and finding happiness which may seem cliché, but it’s what we are most proud of – SHIFTing mindsets for the better! community to get up close to the officers and also see great motor cycle skills. Also, the Flint community has a long motorcycle history, from your average rider to local world champion racers like Jared Mees, Scotty Parker and Jay Springsteen. What has been your “most brilliant idea?” Many of our ideas came from Co-founder and Board President, the late Ed Hen derson. He thought of the police-escorted ride, adding live music, and even our event trophies – motorcycle figures mounted on actual bricks! Who would you like to thank for your success? The community! We get bikers from Greater Flint, throughout Michigan and the Midwest. We wouldn’t be here if people didn’t come join us for our event weekend. What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? We plan to continue hosting an annual, free family-friendly event in Flint. We’re adding stunt rider CrashTina and more bands in the beer tents. We love that the community supports our event and that we can be a supporter of the local economy.

Bikes on the Bricks FOUNDED: 2007 629 S. Saginaw Street, Flint

How did this event come to be? In the fall of 2007, an idea was developed for a motorcycle show to complement the Back to the Bricks® auto show held in August in Downtown Flint since 2004. The community-minded

individuals with this great idea were: Don Williamson (former Flint Mayor), Larry Ford (former President of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce), Gary Hagler (former Acting Flint Police Chief) and Ron Lonsway (Sales Executive at then Cummings Vehicle City Harley-Davidson, now Vehicle City Harley-Davidson). Lonsway contacted Kirk Bowles (Owner, Forest City Cycle Works), Ed Hen derson (Owner, Top End Cycle) and Jeff Wade (radio personality, WRSR 103.9) to see if they wanted to participate. They all agreed it was a great concept and opportunity for Flint, and the rest is history! What has contributed to its longevity? Very dedicated volunteers! Everything we do throughout the year is our Bikes on the Bricks committee and board members volunteering their time. And, the police skills competition – our star attraction and a chance for the




Jersey Mike’s Subs OPENED: 2019 |

How did you get your start with Jersey Mike’s? I was born into the restaurant industry. My parents have owned and operated other restaurant chains for over 30 years, so I spent my entire life growing up in the industry and working with my family. After graduating college, I was working for a corporate restaurant chain when I had the opportunity to get into the Jersey Mike’s fran chise. After partnering with my parents in 2019, we opened our first As a former college athlete, I learned a lot about teamwork, leadership and dedication toward a larger goal. I am thankful for my previous work experiences that gave me understanding of restaurant ownership and operation in today’s environment. My success as a business owner wouldn’t be possible without my wife Anna who works alongside me, my family and our dedicated restaurant teams. “WE HAVE SOME OF THE MOST PASSIONATE AND LOYAL CUSTOMERS, TO WHICH WE TRULY OWE EVERYTHING.” three locations in Fenton, Grand Blanc and Flint. What has contributed to your success? What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? This year, we plan to open our second Grand Blanc location, as well as five others across the state in the next few years. We are currently preparing for our annual Month of Giving which happens each March, raising money to be donated to the charity of our choice; this year, we chose the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. To end the Month of Giv ing with a bang, we will donate all of our March 29 sales to the Food Bank. We are very excited about this year’s Day of Giving and hope it will be our most charitable one yet! What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs? Make sure you’re passionate about what you do! Business ownership is a wonderful privilege, but it also comes with a 24/7 level of dedication.

Developing a healthy culture in your business is one of the most

important things you can do to retain your valuable employees, and to create a positive environment for customers. We have adopted a “developed from within” mentality that allows us to promote leaders in our stores, with each of our existing stores having general managers who worked their way up to their current positions. What has surprised you most about owning your business? The most surprising thing has been the number of opportunities we have been given to help the community through the business. Each one of our stores donates over $15,000 per year to local charities. We also support as many local teams, clubs and churches as we can. Our restaurants have also allowed me to give many teenagers their first job, which is a great feeling. We begin hiring at 14 years old, so being able to positively impact our employees’ lives and watch them grow is such a rewarding aspect that I never anticipated. What is great about doing business in Greater Flint? I grew up in Mid-Michigan, so being able to serve the communi ties that we operate in has been very rewarding. I was honored to be recognized last year as a “40 Under 40” nominee by the Flint & Genesee Group for my impact in the community. We are truly the definition of a locally-owned-and-operated family business. I couldn’t imagine doing business in a better community – we have some of the most passionate and loyal customers, to which we truly owe everything. We appreciate the support more than you could ever know and look forward to serving you A Sub Above!



Sawyer Jewelers

FOUNDED: 1947 134 N. Leroy St., Fenton 810.629.7936 |

How did you get your start? I stumbled into the jewelry business by complete accident when I was 17 years old. At the time, I worked as a manager in a small-town pizzeria and was disappoint ed about the broken promises made regarding my pay and future with the company. I began asking everyone I met what they did for a living, if they liked their job and how much they made. One day, I met a lady who was in the jewelry business. She told me two jewelers went out on their own after the Diamond Exchange in Flint moved to California. These gentlemen agreed to meet with me and I was in awe of what they could do, they were so talented. From that day on, I would drive to Flint – after attending college in Lansing and working in Durand – just to sit behind them, to watch and learn. Shortly after, I started working on jewelry and worked with them for six or seven months for free, before moving on in the profession. I was fortunate and eager to learn everything I could. What has contributed to your success? Being very me chanical, naturally; I can make and design just about anything but most of all, it is a love and passion for the profession. community where we lived that involved our passion for locally-crafted beverages. The mission was to make the best products, create a place we could see ourselves hanging out in and where the community connects. In 2007 we rented a 2,000-square-foot strip mall space, learned to make wine, built a small production area and a bar and created a lounge for tasting and gath ering. By offering tastings, glasses and cheese plates to one or two patrons at a time, we grew a following for the products and the place. After two years, we added a brewery, a kitchen, private event rooms and developed a Mug & Stem Club. In 2012, we made a crazy purchase of the abandoned Creative Wood property on N. Long Lake Road. The build-out took two years and we’ve now been there since 2014. What has contributed to your longevity? Our commitment to providing a unique customer experience and building lasting relationships – with taproom guests, local business partners, employees and communi ty organizations we support – have been the cornerstones of our growth. Moving to N. Long Lake Road to expand production, create outdoor seating and a 280-person banquet venue was pivotal. We now hope that the Dream Machine Distillery and, most importantly, investing in our team to help run How did FWB come to be? We are a husband and-wife team that wanted to start a business in the

What are your plans for 2023 and into the future? To continue expanding the store, our talents, and education. In the jewelry business, adaptability is huge. To keep the business growing, I change every year to reflect the trends and edu cate all staff about the latest trends. What has been your most brilliant idea? Our Trade in-Trade up Diamond Stud program – when someone purchases a pair of any size diamond stud earrings from Sawyer Jewelers, they can trade them in for a larger pair the next day, next month or several years later. Who would you like to thank for your success? I am thankful for my staff, the support of the Greater Flint community, and my amazing customers who continue to show their loyalty and commitment to Sawyer Jewelers.

Fenton Winery & Brewery

FOUNDED: 2007 1370 N. Long Lake Rd., Fenton Twp. 810.373.4194 |

the show and evolve operations will provide a boost to further success. What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? Now that we have realized our two-year goal of opening the Dream Machine Distillery and a craft cocktail bar, we plan to shift our focus to improving our outdoor seating areas and adding covered gathering spaces to host parties in our gardens. We will continue to focus on professional development for our team. Investing in them is an honor for us as we hope to help them advance both professionally and personally. What has surprised you most about business ownership? We knew it would be a big part of our daily lives but really had no idea of the energy and focus that was needed to make it and keep it growing. It has been a rollercoaster of struggles and triumphs. Who would you like to thank for your success? Many people are part of our story and have helped us make Fenton Winery & Brewery what it is today. It has been a humbling experience having so many hands help us whether it was building and fixing stuff, lending us money, moving things, making decisions, pushing us in the right direction, allowing us to cry on their shoulders, toasting with us time and time again, sitting out in the cold with us, celebrating milestones with us, or even just sharing our social media posts. We truly appreciate all of you out there. Thank you!



Lasco Real Estate Group FOUNDED: 2017 |

How did you get your start? After earning my MBA, I truly got my start running Six Degrees and 944 Magazines. The market

our initial goal – Real Estate Made Simple. We are known for handling some of the most complex transactions, the most niche properties, and all the while keeping the process stress-free for our clients and achiev ing the highest return for them. What obstacles have you had to overcome? I started doing business in a new area where I didn’t know anyone and built it from the ground up. Every dollar that went into building my office and business was my blood, sweat and joy. My wonderful husband was working 60 hours a week, we had two young babies and were saving money to build a house. There were many times when I would have to drop the girls off at the car dealership so I could show a house. Jay would have to run the dealership and watch the babies; we had no family to help us. Most nights, I stayed up until midnight while everyone else slept, shopping for properties for my clients. If you want something, you have to work for it – and that is just what I did! Do you have advice for new entrepreneurs? You can do it. You WILL do it. The only obstacle you have is yourself. Your ego is NOT your amigo. Be humble. Move and shift when you need to. Don’t be afraid to really listen to criticisms of your business and see if there may be something you can use to succeed. Do not ever, ever try to be a copy of someone else or another business. Be true to yourself; authenticity is very important. When you walk into a room, don’t let the room change you – YOU change the room. (Thanks for that one, Frankie J.) What has been your most brilliant idea? I only hire people I like and want to spend time with. Our whole team is such a treat to be with! In our business and in life, like attracts like. Before opening Lasco Real Estate Group, I looked at several offices – none of them offered the standard, style, technology or vibe that I came to expect while running a national magazine. I built exactly what I felt the standard should be. You know what they say, “if you build it, they will come.” Fast-forward six years: we have created such a beautiful cul ture in our office – something I have not achieved alone, but something that I am very proud of.

ing, technology, digital media, networking and ability to sit on many charity boards provided me with the foundation necessary to do my current job at the highest level. What has contributed to your success? I credit my amazing team, my husband Jay and his expertise in much of the back-end technology we use in this business. My clients have also been such great cheerleaders for me; knowing how much I love helping them and sharing their referrals with friends and family means the world to me. People who hire us know that we are not like other brokers and Realtors in the area. We have all had the training and taken the required courses, and many of us have gone on to take many more to build on that foundation. I have had the opportunity and experience to design marketing strategies for national and global companies, understand how to create print-quality photos, and have built national-penetration digital marketing campaigns. This is the unmatched edge that we provide our clients. “MY ADVICE FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF; AUTHENTICITY IS VERY IMPORTANT.” What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? 2023 is looking big! After the interesting change in the market and economy over the last two years, we have restructured our business. We are consciously growing our team in a very skillful way, deep ening our ties to the community through charities, local teams and above all, our local education systems. We plan to remain true to





H2A Architects, Inc. FOUNDED: 2013 9100 Lapeer Rd., Davison 810.412.5640 |

How did H2A get its start? H2A Architects was founded by architects with a passion for creativity, artistry, sustainability and historic preservation. Before starting H2A, the three owners – Jackie Hoist, Sheri Ananich and George Ananich – all worked together under the mentorship and training of Jim Tomblinson and Jerry Harburn for more than 25 years at THA Architects Engineers. What has contributed to your longevity? Hard work, perseverance, cultivating new clients, completing projects successfully, and referrals. Our partnership of three provides a strong bond – a cord of three is not easily broken. It provides checks and balanc es, someone to be the visionary, someone to be the pragmatist and some one to be the tiebreaker, and flexibility to let those roles change on a daily basis. Our sense of responsibility to a project has also been key – we take deep interest in our work and want our clients to have the best experience working with us. H2A’s future business is based on everything we’ve done before, and we are proud of the success of our work. Who would you like to thank for your success? We thank our clients who trusted us with their work, participated in the development of their projects, were realistic about the issues they would encounter, and appreciated us for our humanness. Also, we thank our staff and each other as partners. A lot of trust goes into a partnership, and you need that trust and support to find success in life and in business. What are your plans for 2023 and beyond? Our focus is always to continue to learn and grow. We are perfectly placed to help in unique projects others may not be interested in. H2A is the right size to provide personal service and bring years of design expe rience to any project. We will also continue to expand our technical skills and in-house graphic and 3-D capabilities, offering clients a realistic view of their proposed projects before they are constructed. We are very optimistic for 2023! We continue to have strong years, even through the pandemic. We look forward to continuing work with our present clients and are always on the lookout for new and challenging projects.




Randy Wise Automotive FOUNDED: 1989 |

maybe someday, I could own my own house and live a good life, but I never dreamt that I would be in this position. What are your plans for 2023 and into the future? My goal is to make sure the 416 employees we have are still here “IN MY DECADES IN BUSINESS, I HAVE BEEN ALL OVER THE COUNTRY LOOK ING AT DIFFERENT BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE, AND THERE ARE NO BETTER PEOPLE THAN RIGHT THERE IN GENE SEE COUNTY.”

How did you get your start?

I have spent my entire professional career in the automotive industry, beginning in May of 1970 when I started working with Al Serra at a Chevrolet dealership

in Ferndale, MI. To what do you owe your success and longevity? I owe my success to an awful lot of employees I have had over the years, some of the tutelage I have received from the managers working above me and honestly, I just refuse to fail. What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs? Stay the course – don’t let a failure stop you from reaching your goal. There will always be hurdles in your way, but if you have a

at the end of the year, and we continue to grow. What is great about doing business in Greater Flint?

good plan and a strong work ethic, you will survive. Did you ever think your business would make it this far?

In my decades in business, I have been all over the country looking at different businesses and people, and there are no better people than right there in Genesee County. I say that very sincerely – when they tell you something, they mean it. You need a handshake, not anything in writing, and that is why I love it.

No – never in my wildest dreams! My grandfather was a butcher, my father was a tool and dye worker for Fisher Body. I thought




“I promised that if God helped me turn my life around and get out of that bad situation, I would dedicate myself to helping young ladies like me – homeless with no place to go.” Charlotte Lancaster

Mr Twister /




C harlotte Lancaster made a promise. After years of going through trials and tribulations in her life, she prayed for a change. Homeless after a horrific domestic trauma and having lived on the streets for years, she was headed down the wrong road. “I acted out and all sorts of stuff,” she says. “At 16, I became a young mother with no place to go.” Later, she found herself in anoth er troubling situation in Indiana and felt that enough was enough. “I was in a bad place in Indiana and I had made some bad decisions in my life up to that point,” she remembers. “I sat down in a park and I prayed for help. I promised that if God helped me turn my life around and get out of that situation, I would dedicate myself to helping young ladies like me – homeless and in need of a place to go.” Soon after, Lancaster was able to make her way back to Flint and find the purpose and self-respect that had been missing in her life. She eventually found a career, raised a family and retired. All the while, she never forgot the promise she made and in 2007 she opened the doors of Building Strong Women (BSW) – a non-profit organization providing transitional housing/room and board to women and their underage children in need of temporary shelter as they get back on their feet. “I wanted to find a way to keep my promise of helping homeless women,” she explains. “We are open to any woman who has no place to go. They could be

divorcees, dealing with substance abuse, victims of domestic violence, etc. and if we cannot find an opening for them, we can direct them to another organization in Genesee County that can.” Since its founding, BSW has helped over 1,000 wom en find peace and stability in their lives. The organization works hand-in-hand with Shelter of Flint, McLaren and Hurley Hospitals, and State of Michigan Reentry Pro grams for women transitioning from the prison system into society. “When the hospitals or our partner organi zations identify someone in need of shelter, they contact us and we provide,” Lancaster adds. BSW operates four homes, each able to accommodate up to six women. “They can stay for up to two years,” Lancaster explains. “Our wish is to help them become self-sufficient and to help them find their own place to stand through training and support before that time.” There are very few limitations on who can be housed in the BSW homes. “Due to space, we cannot take mothers with more than two children or who have sons over 14 years of age. Some of our residents have expe rienced abuse and trauma at the hands of men and we want them to feel safe in our homes.” Residents must attend weekly mandatory meetings at BSW headquarters when they discuss topics from money management/budgeting to personal health and




more. As another condition of their BSW stay, wom en are expected to volunteer their time and help the organization through administrative support, cook ing, cleaning and other ways. “Those with income are charged a fee for housing; but I can tell you that the majority of the women staying here do not have means to pay,” says Lancaster. “We only ask that they give their time to help the organization. We are all volunteers, including myself. Every dollar we receive goes directly to providing for our women in need.” To support their mission, BSW has annual fundrais ers and rummage sales and, to show appreciation to the local community, hosts an annual picnic in the summer as well as a volunteer appreciation dinner in November. It is also a wish of Lancaster’s to take the women they shelter on a trip to somewhere special to show them that they matter. “One year, we were able to take the women on an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago for a few days,” she remembers. “I would love to do some thing like that again for them.” Building Strong Women has recently looked to expand their community footprint in the area around their home office, located on Clio Rd. in Flint, by starting a neigh borhood watch program and hopes to someday provide housing for homeless men, as well. From day one, Charlotte Lancaster and her volunteer staff have worked hard to help as many women as possible get back on their feet. Every woman helped is one who


never has to endure what Lancaster herself has experi enced: the fear and hopelessness that are part of a life on the streets. “We are here to help any woman in need,” she says. “Everything we do comes from the heart.” To contact Building Strong Women, call 810.234.7933 or visit u

BSW is in dire need of volunteers and donations. The list includes towels, comforters, sheet sets, twin beds and box springs. They are also looking for a sponsor to take the women in the shel ter on a special trip this summer. If you would like to help, please call 810.234.7933. On March 25, 2023 Building Strong Women will present a play at the New McCree Theatre enti tled “Bullies with Power” with all ticket sales and proceeds benefiting the organization. Doors open at 2pm with dinner served at 3pm, and the performance begins at 4pm. Tickets are $15.






"Water color is a swim in the metaphysics of life ... a mirror of one's own character. Let it be unpredictable and colorful.” ~Anonymous

commercial artist at Curtis Print ing while living at the YMCA. He married his late wife, Diane, in 1962 and the couple moved to Brown City, MI where he was offered a job designing motor home interiors. They stayed there for a year and moved back to Flint, where he met many people involved in the arts community. He was then offered a designer/ illustrator job in Saginaw and commuted to work there for five years. "It was the biggest art stu dio at the time," he notes. In 1972, Ames founded his graphic arts studio, Jim Ames Studio, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022. Ames decided he wanted to work with watercolor and it took him five years, but he became a member of

T o Jim Ames of Flint, color is everything. At 86, the graphic designer, illustrator, fine art painter and watercolor artist teaches watercolor and acrylic painting at the Flint Institute of Arts. He has given lectures on color at many leading U.S. art schools and with the help of son-in-law Ed Chiles, also does the layout and design for two General Motors publications. His proudest achievement, how ever, is the book he authored and published in the ‘ 90s, Color Theory Made Easy , which has sold 24,000 copies worldwide. The book explains

how to mix colors using 15 artist paint colors in relation to the Ames Colorwheel he created. "The book discusses watercolors, color theory, and art in general," he says. Born and raised in Algonac, MI Ames was drafted into the Army when he was 22 years old. He had a background in art having worked as an apprentice in Detroit and did artwork while in the Army. "I always wanted to succeed as a commercial artist," he remembers. The young artist came to Flint in 1961 and worked as a

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Color Theory Made Easy

This book presents an alternative approach that cuts through the tangle of established but contradictory concepts to give artists a universal theory that really applies to their work. Most artists are taught that red, blue and yellow are the primary color hues that cannot be created from any combination of other colors. However, as a result of years of study, author and artist Jim Ames has concluded that the true primary colors are cyan (a greenish blue), magenta (a violet red) and a yellow that does not lean toward either cyan or magenta. In Color Theory Made Easy, Ames explains the importance of these three colors as the basis for all of our thinking about color. The Ames COLORWHEEL The 8.5-inch circular colorwheel has a movable dial on both sides. There are 24 pure hue colors located on the outside edge of the wheel. The front-side is 100% pure hues. The cut-out on the front-side dial shows 30% and 50% shades of the selected color. All the colors come from various percentages of cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY). The three circular codes show the percentages of CMY of the selected color. The back-side displays


international trade journals, art galleries and businesses in several states, and in the homes of private collectors." Another very talented artist, Rich Tesner, helps Ames teach the watercolor class at FIA on Fridays. "I enjoy teaching," Ames shares. "I like to help other artists get better." How did Ames become interested in art? "I was born with it; it is a natural talent," he admits. "If you have a natural talent, it never goes away. Not everyone is an artist. You either have it or you don't." What does art mean to Ames? "It's my whole life!" he exclaims. What he is most proud of is teaching others what he knows. He re cently ran into a doctor in Saginaw who had taken one of his classes. "She couldn't say enough about how much she learned. That's what makes it all worthwhile – that and seeing Anni (Crouter) become a world renowned artist." As for his long and successful career as an artist and educator, Ames offers a final thought: "It's amazing to me that I'm still going!"

50% tints of the 24 pure hues. Source:








Refined Class & Relaxation BY PETER HINTERMAN u PHOTOS BY KATY KILDEE The Soothing Tunes Room

Looking to wind down from a rough week in a place with sophistication and style? Want to meet friends in an upscale establishment and relax to the nuance of improvisation and beat? Or, maybe you just want to have a drink, close your eyes and be tak en away by the intricacies of some great jazz? What ever your mood, motivation or desire, the Soothing Tunes Room is your answer.

Opened in August of 2022 by local businessman Sheldon Banks, the Soothing Tunes Room has been a runaway hit. The club has become THE spot in Flint for top-level jazz and social events. “It’s going great,” says Banks. “We have people coming in from as far as Bay City and Detroit.” The club features the Raphael Banks Jazz Band on the regular, led by Banks’ brother, a jazz bass guitarist. The venue pulls






in other jazz masters from across the country such as Ralphe Armstrong, the Black Rose Band, Alexander Zonjic, and Straight Ahead among others. To keep things fresh, the Soothing Tunes Room opens its stage to poets and comedians on special nights. Live shows have a cover charge of $15-$20 at the door. “We want to make sure it is worthwhile for the talent to perform here,” Banks adds. “I’ve been inspired by jazz since I was a young kid,” he shares. “We have places in the area for rock ‘n’ roll, rap, country, blues, etc. and most cater to a

younger crowd. I wanted to offer a place for the ma ture age group. That’s not to say that younger people aren’t welcome – everybody’s welcome. I wanted to create a calm atmosphere where my generation could relax and listen to live jazz.” So, when Banks learned that the former longtime home of the Pachyderm Pub was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity to build his dream. For him, the location at 1408 E. Hemphill Rd. in Burton checked all the boxes. “It was the right size and had freeway access,” he adds. He got to work and began a $300,000 renovation



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