2016 Volunteer Service Award Recipient

When I was told I was receiving this award, my first reaction was to ask: How can I accept this award when so many people have helped me accomplish my volunteer projects? My Girl Scout troop and co-leader, as well as the schools, my friends, and co-workers, have never hesitated to support my visions (and crazy ideas), and to all of them I am truly grateful for those opportunities.

WE made happen the on-going Entrepreneur Night at Hiawatha and Kinawa, the OHS Spaghetti Dinner Drive Thru, the Winter Sports Swap fundraiser for Ski Team, and the recycling programs at Hiawatha, Kinawa and Chippewa. For me, this award embodies America. Where else can someone come up with an idea, figure it out, and make it happen?

As a mom, my personal goal is to volunteer only for activities that I can do with my daughters, of which I have two: Elena at UM and Elise a 9th grader. These young women have enjoyed the experiences of bringing these volunteer programs to fruition and had fun along the way.

My upbringing is blessed. My father, a professor of international soil science was sent by MSU to teach professors of undeveloped countries and improve their programs. As a come-along, I grew up in Columbia, Nigeria (I had a monkey), Indonesia, Hawaii, and Switzerland. I graduated MSU with a Bachelor in Zoology, as close as I could come to oceanography on dry land. I interned with NOAA in Cape Cod and was one of the first women in the program to scuba dive. Disillusioned with working for the government, I then got my pilot’s license and later bought a Hallmark store with a partner, who was my business mentor. I LOVED BUSINESS.

My husband, Dan, and I partner as a team and we started an appraisal company, a real estate company which got pretty battered through the recession, constructed a self storage facility, parlayed a portfolio of student rentals into an apartment community, misguidedly purchased a rustic 46 room lodge in Texas, and are currently re-developing the YMCA building downtown into a 147 unit apartment building.

It is a gift that I can work at what I love, and that I wake up happy every morning, looking forward to each day!