Pontiac honors the volunteers that make the city shine

Every year the community of Pontiac, organized by the Pontiac Downtown Business Association (PDBA) honors volunteers and organizations that help make the community shine.  Glen Konopaskie, President of the PDBA, honors each awardee along with a co-presenter Patrice Waterman, President of the Pontiac City Council to each of the volunteers as a thank you for their time, service and commitment to the community.

The community of Pontiac and the Pontiac Downtown Business Association invited guests for an evening of fun and appreciation at the Pontiac Community Awards hosted at Downtown 51 Grille on December 17.

The annual event has become a tradition for the community to come together to honor volunteers and angels that give the city spirit.  Nine award categories were handed out for Design, Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in the Community, both a Youth and Senior Award, as well as recognition to a Service Group, Municipal partner, and Community Partner award.  Glen Konopaskie, President of the PDBA, honors someone every year at the event with the President’s Award for an incredible partnership and commitment to the community also.  The volunteers donate over 15,000 hours of their time towards recovery, celebration, and programming that positively affect our great city.

Deirdre Waterman, Mayor of the City of Pontiac had the following to say about the volunteers “Together we make the City and Downtown Pontiac shine.  Thank you to all the volunteers.  Earlier this year we launched the Spirit of Pontiac campaign to bring our community together.  You have all shown how volunteering and organizing drives the communities growth both from a civic mindset and economic engine powered by people.”

Glen Konopaskie, President of the Pontiac Downtown Business Association started the event off by noting some incredible growth.  Konopaskie stated “We started the year off with more awards for our organization, secured national accreditation for our Main Street program for our second year, and have had meetings with other Cities about how we overcome a $0 budget with economic struggles to effect positive change through volunteers, leadership, and organization.”

Konopaskie also stated the achievement of the PDBA in “reaching a major goal this year with part time STAFF for downtown for the first time ever!  The staff includes a part time Downtown Manager, maintenance, and two part time administrative assistants shared between the Treasurer’s office, President’s office and the downtown managers office.  With roughly $50 million dollars invested since 2011 and almost $70 million dollars more already committed our turnaround strategy is working!”
 
The awardees this year included:

ELEKTRICITY Night Club for the Design Award
ELEKTRICITY Night Club is recognized by the Pontiac Downtown Business Association for this year’s Design Award”.  Recognizing design that embraces a brand within our Downtown does not happen effortlessly.  For their cohesive design that attracts tens of thousands of visitors a month, we’d like to thank Amir Daiza and his team.

ELEKTRICITY has created a design element utilizing their architectural elements that attract a young population to the Downtown.  It looks beautiful at night, but also shines as a gem in the evenings.  They have also shared their design aesthetics with us such as last year’s Community Awards program.

Kathie Henk, The Henk Studio & Jim Terebus, Erebus Haunted House – Volunteer of the Year Award
Volunteers tend to work great in teams, and this year we recognize two team leaders who volunteer their time as well as coordinate others to suddenly make things happen.  In recognition of the years spent on volunteering and leading our downtown and city we honor both Kathie Henk and Jim Terebus.

As an example of the ways that Kathie Henk of The Henk Floral Studio and Jim Terebus of Erebus Haunted House volunteer, for years they have helped paint the town red for the holiday’s by hanging and un-hanging our street banners with their respective teams.  For their leadership and volunteer time we thank both Kathie and Jim and their respective teams.

Downtown 51 Grille for the Outstanding Achievement Award
Many people see businesses as for-profit entities, but within our community we also have those businesses that have a kind heart.   For their outstanding achievement and having a kind heart we’d like to thank Downtown 51 Grille.  

They been giving back to the community from simple acts such as free hot chocolate for children during the Holiday Extravaganza parade since 1996 to this year.  More specifically they also helped to raise $1,500 dollars this year through their Summer Solstice event to be re-invested through the Pontiac Downtown Business Association.  The money was used to help make Downtown Pontiac more green.

For consistently giving back to the community, Downtown 51 Grille we thank you for all you do.

Tarrikk Brown for the Youth Award
Tarrikk Brown represents the youth of the community because of his involvement with Ministerial Alliance at New Mount Moriah International Church.  Earlier this season he was honored by the Holiday Extravaganza Parade as the Pontiac Junior Grand Marshall.

When you hear Tarrikk speak, in particular to children of the community, he inspires them and speaks to their hearts and young minds.  Thank you Tarrikk for representing our City and for your achievements which lead to your recognition as a Junior Grand Marshall.  Additionally the Oakland County of Commissioners honors you with a Certificate of Recognition as well.

Maureen and Bo Young for the Senior Award
We honor the lifetime support and volunteer efforts of an incredible couple within our community.  In recognition of the many ways in which they both support and enhance the City of Pontiac we thank Maureen and Bo Young.

For years of being active business owners, civic leaders, and inspirational volunteers Maureen and Bo offer their time and energy to the community and have been doing so for decades.  

Each have spent time in civic roles within the community, have sat on and even chaired non-profit boards, and even had a business named as their namesake – Bo’s Smokehouse.  You see them both attend steering committees around the city offering their leadership where needed.  Beyond that they have raised their two sons to carry their torch within the community.

The Pontiac Garden Club for the Service Group Award
The Pontiac Garden Club is truly an amazing organization.  Producing leadership and helping to literally beautify our city through the grace of flowers and plantings.   The Ladies of the Garden Club and Lenora Lighthall accepted the service group award.

The Pontiac Garden Club meets regularly to educate their members on the secrets of the Green Thumb.  They also donate not only time but money towards the cause.  Members have been actively involved in the community for years keeping our city gorgeous throughout the year.  

They undertake initiatives such as planting and maintaining Huron Street in Downtown Pontiac, around our civic and historic buildings, and even gifts for those in our nursing centers.

For this, and More, we say Thank you for all you do for us Pontiac Garden Club.

Waterford Regional Fire Department for the Municipal Award
This year we have seen more from this particular municipal partner.  Every year organizations help to maintain efficiency by volunteering or beginning initiatives within the community.  For continuing to make our City safer we thank the Waterford Regional Fire Department.

The Waterford Regional Fire Department has become a stronger partner of the community and embracing our firemen and women during the recent transition.  Their commitment to the community has been shown through actions such as the National Night Out initiative every year, and their support of the smoke house as an education for our youth and residents.  Most recently they have also partnered with our downtown building owners to improve the training and preparedness to deal with our historic and tall structures.

For this, and More, we say Thank you for all you and our fireteam does for us, our residents, our businesses, and our visitors.

Kyle Westburg of West Construction for the Community Partner Award
This next business has seen a lot of press recently as they help grow the economic growth of Downtown.  Along with renovating historical landmarks and bringing them back to life, they also make incredible community partners.  Kyle Westburg of West Construction accepted the Community Partner Award.
 
This downtown business, has brought back historic landmarks such as the old Sears building into the recent Lafayette Market and Lofts.  Most recently we have heard of their next initiative involving The Strand Theatre.  Each project brings back a historical landmark into an operational entity to be enjoyed by all.  

They do not forget their community either with other initiatives such as helping to finance as well as install the historic wayside markers throughout Pontiac.  These wayside markers show off the pride in the community to it’s automotive historic heritage and attracts visitors to honor our past.

We look forward to your next amazing projects to share with the community!

Russ Di’Bartolomeo of 7 North and Robert Carazim of Canvas Pontiac for the Community Award
Our Community Award this year recognizes two organizations for bringing back the ever important art.  Robert Karazim from Canvas Pontiac and Russ Di’Bartolomeo from 7 North were recognized for their programs community achievements.   

Russ has been welcomed with open arms as the new owner of the 7 North building.  As it was previously known as the Pontiac Art Center, it looks to restore art incubation.  You may have noticed their new tenants, the Oakland County Pioneer Historical Society who have done an amazing pop-up museum to demonstrate the historical program that has travelled the country.  The building has also seen craft and art exhibitors during events such as the Dream Cruise and Holiday Extravaganza Parade.
Canvas Pontiac, under Robert Karazim’s leadership has consistently seen growth of public art available to the community.  The upcoming season of Canvas Pontiac will prove to be even more fantastic than ever before with the upcoming announcement of Pontiac 3D.  Additionally the program’s success has been recognized by other county’s and states, in which they are looking at the program for how it brings art into a community’s place-making and economic development.  This year we are also proud to announce the partnership with the Detroit Institute of Arts with the Canvas Pontiac art program.  

Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer for the Presidents Award
When you get to name the treasurer of the county as a partner, it’s an incredible asset already, however personally this awardee and partner is more than that.  Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer and his team have represented the community of Pontiac in significant ways throughout the year.
 
Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer has been a critical parter to the City of Pontiac, and Downtown.  Leveraging his role as treasurer, he has facilitated weekly tours to bank partners to show off the investment opportunities in the community.  These tours have helped improve conversations with our local businesses and their respective banks.

Beyond that Andy Meisner is also a fan of the arts.  He has connected his passion of the arts to assist our Canvas Pontiac program.  Next year we are proud to announce an incredible partnership made possible through Andy Meisner between the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the Canvas Pontiac program.  

Andy cares for our community  by facilitating connections that grow our local economy and enlighten our spirits.  The community of Pontiac and the Pontiac Downtown Business Association thank you from the bottom of our hearts.