Culture

By Sara E. Teller

SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1840, THE BERKLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS ENJOYED REMARKABLE SUPPORT from the community, including businesses and families outside of the District. “The incredible success Berkley students experience is possible in part because of the overwhelm- ing community support provided at every level to ensure they are provided with a state-of-the-art educational experience,” explains Director of Communications, Jessica Stilger.

IN THE EARLY PART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY MANY OF THE DISTRICT’S PRESENT-DAY BUILDINGS began to take shape. In 1921, the School Board constructed Angell Elementary School, and in 1925 Pattengill and Burton elementary schools were added. Six years later, both Burton and Pattengill were temporarily closed for financial reasons, but ended up reopening in 1941 and 1943, respectively.

In 1949, Berkley High School (BHS) opened. Shortly after, in 1951, Tyler (Avery) and Oxford Schools were added, followed by Hamilton (Rogers) in 1952. The addition of junior high schools came in 1956 with Anderson and in 1957 with Norup. Tyndall became the last elementary school to be added in 1965 and was ultimately converted to a community education facility in 1977.

In October 1994, the District was officially named the “Berkley School District,” and in the Fall of 2002 it began its mission titled, “Restructured for Success.” Avery became an early childhood center, serving children from six weeks of age through grade 2, while Norup Middle School was reconfigured to serve students in grades 3-8.

During the 2005-2006 school year, budget concerns led to an initiative titled “Downsizing by Design,” which included the sale of the Oxford property to Eli Construction, LLC for $1,080,000 and moving the central office staff from Oxford to Avery in 2006. The Oxford building was demolished during the Summer of 2007 with new homes built on the site. The plan also called for Norup to be reconfigured yet again. The remaining Avery K-2 graders moved to the Norup International School in the Fall of 2006.

In 2018, both the Tyndall and Avery early childhood centers combined into one. This new center opened in August 2018 and the Tyndall center now houses only administrative
staff. Currently, the Berkley School District includes educational opportunities for students in Berkley, Huntington Woods, and a portion of north Oak Park, and the District consists of eight schools in total:

  • BERKLEY BUILDING BLOCKS EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER
    Oak Park | 6 weeks-5 years ANGELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Berkley | Grades TK-5
  • BURTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Huntington Woods | Grades TK-5 PATTENGILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Berkley | Grades TK-5
  • ROGERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Berkley | Grades K-5
  • NORUP INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Oak Park | Grades K-8
  • ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL Berkley | Grades 6-8
  • BERKLEY HIGH SCHOOL
    Berkley | Grades 9-12

STILGER IS ALSO THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BERKLEY EDUCATION FOUNDATION (BEF), which has been funding the #BerkleyDifference since 2000. The BEF’s purpose is to help maintain and enhance educational opportunities and programs for all Berkley Schools students.

“The BEF creates and facilitates fantastic experiences which enrich the lives and worldview for the entire school community,” Stilger said.

The foundation accomplishes these goals by supporting student scholarships for the BHS Maxfield Science Symposium, sending all 8th graders on college tours, funding teacher mini-grants for innovative ideas and experiences and providing an elementary enrichment program.

Some points of BEF pride include: Over the last four years, the Foundation has sent 1,353 students on college tours; during the 2018-19 school year over 600 students were enrolled in the free elementary enrichment program; and the BEF has reached over $100,000 in donations in recent years.

THE BEF RAISES FUNDS IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:

A STAFF-MATCHING GRANT
An anonymous donor gives the BEF $5,000 if Berkley Schools’ staff can match the $5,000 through donations or payroll deductions.

DOLLARS FOR THE DISTRICT MAILING CAMPAIGN
In November, all Berkley School District residents receive an appeal letter from the BEF outlining goals and accomplishments and asking for donations.

OFF TO THE RACES
Each February, the Saturday before the Superbowl, the BEF hosts its Off To The Races event, which includes simulated horse racing that guests “bet” on to win prizes. A silent auction powered by mobile bidding is available as well as a big 12th race where one lucky winner takes home a vacation package.

KROGER REWARDS
The BEF receives donations throughout the year through this program.

There are several ways one can become a part of the Berkley School District. Residents who live within the District’s boundaries are welcome to register directly with the enrollment
office. If a family is uncertain whether their residence is within the boundaries, there is a map available online or at the enrollment office.

EACH YEAR, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION also has the opportunity to approve School of Choice slots for a limited number of students in grades TK-5, and there are a set number of openings in 9th grade for the Berkley High School (BHS) Scholars program. Although the Board has approved the School of Choice slots the last several years, availability is reassessed on an annual basis and the continuation of this program is not
guaranteed. Additionally, if the number of applications for School of Choice received after the program is approved exceed the number of openings, a lottery is held to place students. If a student’s name is drawn, he or she will be allowed into the District.

According to Stilger, Berkley students “are prepared to be creative, curious, confident, and well-rounded critical thinkers who are kind and caring and have a global perspective while understanding their communities.” The District has been named one of the state’s recipients of the Best Community for Music Education award eight years in a row. The high school is also currently ranked 62nd in the state with a 97-percent student post-graduation employment rate.

BHS was named a Best High School by the U.S. News & World Report in 2019, among the top 11 percent of high schools in the nation. In 2018, it was one of 175 schools in Michigan to be honored with the GreatSchools.org College Success award, demonstrating the District’s commitment to preparing its students for continued success after graduation. BHS was also named to the Washington Post’s 2017 Most Challenging High Schools list, ranking 21st in Michigan and 1,575 in the nation.

“Berkley School District is known for being dedicated to creating pathways for students to achieve their individual best, whatever that looks like for each student,” says Stilger. And Superintendent Dennis McDavid is leading the charge, ensuring students are supported not only while achieving their educational goals, but also while reaching their career goals after they move forward in their journey.

BHS CURRENTLY OFFERS 26 ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES and students are able to attend courses at the Oakland Schools Technical Centers. Outside-of-the-box courses include zoology, forensics, Encore! show choir, creative writing, film studies, history of the Holocaust, marketing, computer programming and many more. Students can also participate in the school’s newspaper, or learn robotics, foreign languages or video production while still in middle school. Many middle school students complete high school credits while attending Anderson or Norup.

Berkley’s elementary schools offer opportunities for children to excel at their own level and pace by utilizing the Cultures of Thinking & Reading & Writing Workshop models. This allows administrators to gage each student’s individual needs for furthering their academic growth.

Berkley offers a wealth of opportunities for middle school and high school students to join clubs and sports. Middle school sports include softball, baseball, football, basketball, track and field, cross country, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, golf, tennis, and clubs include yearbook, robotics, and art and drama. BHS offers football, basketball, swimming, soccer, wrestling, and cheerleading, among others, as well as club sports including hockey, figure skating, the dance team, and rugby. At BHS, students can join over 60 clubs, including unique offerings such as the vine-and-cheese club, drama, and the future teachers club.

Berkley’s students have been named All-State and Academic All-State honorary recipients for activities such as swimming, track and field, baseball, golf, hockey, and soccer. Twelve student athletes signed with colleges and universities during the 2018-19 school year. The BHS Orchestra was also one of three high school orchestras nationwide invited to play at Carnegie Hall in 2019 for the World Stride Music Festival and Berkley High School was the first school in the state to adopt Sources of Strength, a peer-led wellness program that benefits all students.

LAST YEAR JULIE SMITH, ONE OF THE CHOIR DIRECTORS AT BHS AND ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, was named the Oakland County High School Teacher of the Year. Also, in 2018, Danielle Ozanich, Angell 5th grade teacher, was named the 2019 National Hannah E. (Liz) MacGregor Teacher of the Year in the middle school division by the National History Day organization. In 2018, Superintendent Dennis McDavid was one of four people in the nation to be named a Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher.

The Berkley School District is always looking for ways to improve, and in 2018 the community passed a sinking fund initiative which levies 3.0 mills on all properties in the District for a total of ten years and equates to approximately a 1.0 mill reduction in levies on all properties. Sinking fund dollars support community investments and the program is designed to further the work that started as part of a 2015 bond initiative. Roofing and concrete replacement projects, technology infrastructure improvements, energy and security improvements, and technology device purchases are all top priorities.

CURRENTLY, THE ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM IS PUTTING TOGETHER a new strategic plan for the next five to ten years. “This work will set goals for the District and the words ‘inspire,’ ‘empower,’ and ‘lead,’ will guide the team through this process,” according to Stilger.

She added, “Families are encouraged to join their school’s support groups to stay involved with their child’s school and education, and each school has its own Parent Teacher Association (PTA).” The District trusts its PTA members to “believe in an education which prepares students with well- rounded opportunities and challenging experiences necessary for individuals to succeed in life.” It strives to ensure every child receives a
life-changing education and is committed to getting outstanding results for all students enrolled.

The Choir, Orchestra and Instrumental Booster groups support grades 6-12, and the Athletic Boosters support high school athletics. There are volunteer opportunities at all of Berkley’s schools, including helping in the classroom or chaperoning off-site activities and field trips. Anyone interested is required to complete the Volunteer Release Form ahead of time. This is available on the District’s website. For more information, parents and other family members are encouraged to contact their school’s office or Erin Haley at 248-837-8007 / erin.haley@berkleyschools.org.

By Sara E. Teller

THERE ARE MANY OPTIONS FOR RESIDENTS OF Huntington Woods, Berkley and the surrounding areas to get out and meet their neighbors by joining local clubs. The Huntington Woods Mens Club, Huntington Woods Womens League, Berkley Dads Club and Berkley Junior Womens Club are all long-standing nonprofits that offer fun activities, events, and fundraising opportunities throughout the year.

Huntington Woods Mens Club

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS MENS CLUB (HWMC) BEGAN IN 1977 with two dozen residents who were looking to establish a civic- minded group. Today, there are over 150 members who engage in multiple fundraising efforts and events such as the annual 4th of July parade.

“Our biggest event each year is the HWMC Service Auction,” president Michael Egnotovich explained. “This is held every March and 800 guests come to the Huntington Woods Recreation Center for food, drink and the chance to bid on over 400 auction items ranging
from $25 gift cards to an African safari.” He added, “We also coordinate an
annual cider sale with the Huntington Woods Women’s League every October and hold a raffle fundraiser for the city’s 4th of July fireworks display.”

The Club regularly raises over $150,000 at its auctions, with over $2,000,000 raised in total to date, and uses this money to fund local groups or city projects such as parks and equipment. Egnotovich said, “The Club has been making these contributions for over 35 years. We have also helped fund Berkley school district programs, such as offering concert wear for the BHS orchestra, raincoats for the marching band, and fabrication equipment for the Berkley Robotics team.”

The annual cost of membership is $75. Monthly meetings are held in members’ backyards during the summer and at indoor locations during the winter. For more information, please visit hwmc.org.

Huntington Woods Womens League

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS WOMENS LEAGUE (HWWL) STARTED IN 1970 with a mission to bring together women so that they can exercise their energies and abilities to benefit themselves and their community by promoting civic, cultural, educational and social welfare. The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at residents’ homes.

The HWWL hosts a number of events throughout the year, including a Ladies Night Out, cookie exchange, and Euchre parties, as well as fundraising efforts including an annual home tour and gala. Funds are donated to three major categories of recipients: community, education, and women and children’s interests.

Lynne Sullivan, who has been the club’s president for the past two years, said, “The home tour is our biggest fundraising event. We inherited it from the Library. Every year, there are five homes involved with a sixth reserved for the gala the night before the tour
begins.” Historically, this event, which takes place the first Sunday in June, has brought in 400-500 people with an increase in interest every year.

The HWWL currently has 45 members, and the annual dues are $35. For more information, visit hwwl.org.

Berkley Dads Club

THE BERKLEY DADS CLUB IS IN ITS 71ST YEAR, having started in 1948 with civic activities primarily focused on baseball, hockey, boxing and wrestling. Today, the focus of the club is on baseball with the organization attracting over 800 players every year and offering spring baseball, a travel club, and other related programs and clinics. Those affiliated with the Berkley School District can play in the summer league, including those enrolled in schools-of-choice.

“We get players from Royal Oak, Madison Heights, and even further out,” said President Mike Kerby, who was a player himself years ago and has been in his position for nine years.

The organization hosts a fundraising raffle every year, as well as Euchre parties, squares parties, and other events. The funds go towards parks and recreation initiatives, including improvements for existing facilities as well as the construction of new spaces.

“We donate to baseball fields and surrounding parks. We also put in a batting cage in Huntington Woods,” Kerby said.

For more information, visit berkleydadsclub.org or email berkleydadsclub1@gmail.com.

Berkley Junior Womens Club

BERKLEY JUNIOR WOMENS CLUB IS A NONPROFIT THAT STARTED with twelve members in 1985. The club’s mission is to develop and foster projects of civic betterment and promote leadership training and cooperative action among its members. It meets the third Wednesday of every month at the Berkley Community Center at 7:00 P.M.

“Our group engages in a variety of volunteering,” explained President Lisa Kempner. “The majority of it is local to Berkley, but we also participate in events outside of Berkley, such as Race for a Cure. We collaborate with a multitude of other non-profit organizations and city departments to help wherever we can.” She added, “Many of our events are a collaborative effort. We work with Berkley Parks & Recreation to put on Boofest, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son Fun Night, and Breakfast with the Bunny. We work with the Holiday Lights Parade Committee for the tree- lighting ceremony, and with the Downtown Development Authority in putting on the Robina Rhapsody concert series. We also work with the Berkley Days Association to sponsor an event during Berkley Days, and we sponsor Candy Cane Lane at the Berkley Community Center.”

The group offers an annual scholarship to a female Berkley High School student that demonstrates a high level of volunteerism, and each year, the club works with Berkley-Huntington Woods Youth Assistance to sponsor a family for Christmas and to send children to camp in the summer.

The club is open to women over the age of 21. There is a $20 membership fee. Those interested can attend a meeting or email berkleyjuniors@yahoo.com.

By Lisa Howard

SINCE 1990, YAD EZRA (OR “HELPING HAND” IN HEBREW) HAS BEEN PROVIDING KOSHER GROCERIES TO LOW-INCOME JEWISH FAMILIES IN THE COMMUNITY. While there are other food pantries in the area, Yad Ezra is the only kosher pantry.

But that’s not the only thing that makes them different — they also offer a choice pantry, which is to say that clients can choose which items they want from a shopping list of options ranging from dry staples like canned fish and whole-grain pasta to whole chickens and fresh produce. “We’re unique in that we purchase much of the food we distribute rather than just relying on donated foods,” says Lea Luger, the Executive Director of Yad Ezra. “Because of that, we have a bigger variety to offer clients.” They serve about 1,250 families each month and distribute over a million pounds of food every year. In addition, they provide clients with non-food essentials like toilet paper, diapers, and household cleaning items.

With only six people on staff, Yad Ezra depends heavily on volunteers to keep the pantry running smoothly. Fortunately, they have a core group of 125 to 150 volunteers who are willing to help out, whether that’s delivering food to homebound clients or sitting down with clients to review the menu and make sure they’re maximizing the points they’re allotted. (Yad Ezra gives each client a certain amount of points to spend based on their family size.)

Yad Ezra is a supplemental pantry, meaning that they assume clients have other means of financial support, such as SNAP benefits. Still, most clients find that their monthly visit is equivalent to about three weeks of groceries. “There’s a misconception that if you live in a certain area or are of a certain religion or ethnicity or demographic, no one in that community is low-income, and that’s not true,” Lea says. “Hunger is everywhere. But food insecurity is not like homelessness — you don’t see it. It’s hidden.”

Although Yad Ezra is a kosher food pantry, says Lea, because they care about the hunger issue in general, they go out of their way to address food insecurity in the greater community. She and her staffers work with fellow organizations like Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest to make sure that all donated food items are given to someone in need. If Yad Ezra receives donated food that isn’t kosher, for instance, they give it to those fellow organizations so that they can distribute the food to the greater community.

Yad Ezra also advocates for Metro-Detroit programs that focus on food, including programs like Do It 4 Detroit, a micro-grant program that supports grassroots organizations addressing hunger or food justice issues in Detroit, Highland Park, and/or Hamtramck. This year, Yad Ezra was able to secure grant money that is allocated directly to Do It 4 Detroit. They also participate in the Crop Hunger Walk and 24 Hour Food Stamp Challenge every year.

ANOTHER ASPECT OF YAD EZRA’S MISSION IS TO PROVIDE COMMUNITY EDUCATION, particularly for youth. Four years ago, they were able to expand their Giving Gardens and hire a master gardener to oversee the gardens, allowing them to host agricultural workshops for both youth and adults. (Most of the harvest also goes to their clients.) Helping with the gardens, hosting food drives at schools, and participating in food drives at synagogues are all ways Lea would love to see more youth get involved as volunteers.

And, she points out, it’s important to stay involved. “This is the time of year when people start thinking about Thanksgiving and call us wanting to donate a turkey dinner,” she says. “Awareness is high at this time of year. That’s fantastic! But the truth of the matter is that hunger is a year-round issue. Do a food drive in May or June, when the need is just as great — hunger doesn’t go on vacation.”

www.yadezra.org | 248.548.3663

By Sara E. Teller

THE TWISTED SHAMROCK STARTED IN DOWNTOWN FERNDALE IN 2005. OWNER JIM MONAHAN RECALLED, “I am of Irish descent and felt that the greater Metro-Detroit community needed a good Irish/Celtic goods shop. After leaving the corporate world, and doing some intense research, I opened the store.”

The shop was on 9 Mile for a decade. “I had a good run there for ten years and celebrated all the great things happening in Ferndale, except for the parking,” Monahan said, adding, “My last few years in Ferndale the parking continued to become more congested.”

While he said he wasn’t “looking forward to a move,” Monahan knew it was necessary, and in
2015 he found just the right spot in nearby Berkley. “I found a new space on 12 Mile that was perfect,” he said. “The new space has ample parking – and it’s free to park! – and it also had a rear entrance off the parking lot which I didn’t have in Ferndale.”

The new location officially opened that Summer and proved to be even more advantageous when the County Oakland Irish Festival started taking place right downtown.

MONAHAN SAID, “SINCE COMING TO BERKLEY, a few good Irish people and organizations gathered and have organized the County Oakland Irish Festival here. The festival just celebrated its fourth showing on September 7, 2019 [and] featured over 20 bands, musicians, pipers, and Irish dancers, as well as vendors and food trucks. Of course, all the great shops and restaurants in Berkley join in.”

The Twisted Shamrock easily fits in with its wide array of Irish/Celtic goods – from stunning jewelry to Irish sweaters, capes, men’s caps, vests, and art, home goods, and edibles, including tea, candy, and jams. Those looking for everything Irish can also shop online at thetwistedshamrock.com.

Customers come from all over searching for unique treasures. “You can’t find Irish shops everywhere,” Monahan explained, “So, many people searching for [stores that] carry the Irish goods” stumble upon the Berkley gem and become regulars.

Monahan said he’s eager to share Ireland travel tips and contacts as well, stating, “If anyone is looking to travel to Ireland, we also are connected to great travel tours. Stop in and ask. I’m always happy to talk about Ireland!”

248-544-4179 | 3074 12 Mile Rd.
Tues. – Fri. 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M., Sat. 10:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Sun. 12:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

By Lisa Howard

WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF SCHOOLS, THEY THINK OF TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS. But many other professionals and programs focus on helping every student be successful. One of those professionals is Brittany Kalso, a caseworker for Oakland County’s Berkley/ Huntington Woods Youth Assistance program. It’s a tri-sponsorship program supported by the Oakland County Circuit Court Family Division, the City of Berkley, and the Berkley School District, and it supports youth in a variety of ways.

“I love being here, because we have an initial opportunity to prevent what may become detrimental to the student’s success,” says Kalso. “All of the school administrators and the OC Circuit Court and the municipality really, really support our program. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make sure that every student has an equal opportunity to be successful.”

In her role, Kalso provides short-term counseling and casework services to children or families who are referred to her by the school district (i.e., a principal, teacher, or school social worker) for various reasons. Maybe a student is struggling with anxiety or impulsivity, or maybe they’re dealing with a situation at home, like a divorce or mom having a new work schedule and the family needing to readjust.

OCCASIONALLY, KALSO SEES STUDENTS as part of the Circuit Court’s diversion program, which was created to help students potentially avoid formal court charges for things like shoplifting— police can refer students to Kalso, and she can work with them within the framework of the Youth Assistance program, providing counseling and assigning the student to community service or another form of restitution.

Along with caseworker services, the Youth Assistance program supports students in a variety of ways: They do a school supply drive for families in need, they grant scholarships that send kids to summer camp, and they have skill- building scholarships for students who want to take music lessons or participate in team sports. They also have a mentoring program where they match supportive adults who have gone through a screening process with the County with students who may need more support or who may need a positive role model in their life. The program’s board of volunteers also offers parent education programs on various topics.

One of their most well-attended events was when they showed the movie Screenagers, which helps parents be more aware of what’s going on online and on social media. Another recent program dealt with vaping and was offered in tandem with the Tri- Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Berkley that works to prevent substance abuse and related risky behavior.

ONE OF KALSO’S FAVORITE ASPECTS of the Youth Assistance program is their youth recognition ceremony, where they recognize students in the District for their positive efforts and their contributions to their schools and/or the community. “It’s an amazing event!” Kalso says. “A lot of times these students aren’t your typical student athletes or musicians, but they’re nonetheless amazing students who have made very positive impacts on their community, and it’s great to show them our appreciation for what they do.”

Another highlight of the year is the Taste of Berkley. Not only is it the Youth Assistance program’s main fundraising event, it’s popular throughout the community — attendees can sample menu offerings from a variety of Berkley restaurants and also make bids in a silent auction. That kind of community involvement is something Kalso gets to see on a daily basis. The District is very supportive of students’ success, she says, and that makes her job feel valuable as well as satisfying. “You can see the high level of community support when you work with the families,” she says. “I see them when they’re at a vulnerable point, yes, but together, we’re able to steer them towards success.”

By Lisa Howard

GOOD THINGS TEND TO COME IN THREES, AND THE TRI-COMMUNITY COALITION IS NO EXCEPTION. It’s a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent substance abuse and improve mental health wellness in three cities — Berkley, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods — and its efforts are aimed at youth, adults, and the community at large. (Three again!)

Given the link between stress and risky behavior, it’s not surprising that Judy Rubin, the executive director of the Tri-Community Coalition, thinks it’s important to also focus on mental wellness. “Recently, we’ve found through data that our kids are really stressed,” Judy says, “So we offer mental-health wellness techniques in the hopes that we can prevent kids from possibly going down a substance abuse path.” Part of that assistance includes supporting the Y.O.U. (Young, Optimistic and United) programs at high schools in the Tri-Community area. The groups are student-run and very self-sufficient, but they can turn to the Coalition for guidance and financial support for their activities.

For parents, the Coalition offers Parent Now programs, covering topics like social media, bullying, depression, and how to recognize, avoid, and get out of toxic relationships. These programs are generally held at the Berkley Public Library, and although they’re primarily aimed at parents, anyone is welcome to attend. The Coalition also hosts programs specifically dealing with drugs, such as vaping, underage drinking, and marijuana use. “It’s about keeping parents apprised of what they should be looking out for and how to intervene constructively,” Judy says, adding that unfortunately, underage drinking is a problem with younger and younger kids these days — it’s become common in middle school, and it’s not unheard of even among fifth-graders. (The Coalition has become more active in middle schools as a direct result of this trend.) Vaping is also on the rise.

ONE OF THE TOOLS THE COALITION OFFERS to help parents and kids alike is free drug-testing kits, which Judy sees as a preventative rather than punitive tool. “A lot of times, parents and kids don’t know how to get out of peer-related sticky situations,” she says. “If a child is offered a drug, one way for them to get out of the situation is for the child to say,‘My parents have a drug kit.’ It gives kids an easy out from peer-pressure.” Parents are also given suggestions about how to have open and constructive conversations about drugs, as well as refusal skill tools they can pass on to their kids.

For the past two years, Coalition has hosted a health and wellness fair for the greater community in the spring, and also for the second year they are offering free Narcan-training sessions and nasal spray kits in an effort to address the opioid epidemic. They also support nationwide substance-abuse prevention efforts like National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an event that aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs while also educating the general public about potential prescription abuse.

This year, the Coalition will be partnering with the Huntington Woods and Berkley Public Safety Departments for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 26, from 10 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. During that time, everyone is encouraged to drop off any unused or expired drugs to the Berkley Public Safety Department. (Please no sharps or liquids.) As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

By Sara E. Teller

MATT CHURCH HAS BEEN THE DIRECTOR OF THE BERKLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY since September 2013. It’s a position that has given him the opportunity to maximize the Library’s resources and connect with residents.

Church said, “It is a great honor to service the Berkley community through the Library. In the past several years I’ve worked with the Library team to expand our offerings in both collections and programming. We have seen an increase in circulation and program attendance. People view the Library as an essential hub in the community. As a Berkley resident, I am grateful to live and work in the same community.”

Contrary to what some may believe, he said the Library is still alive and well in the digital age. Church explains, “People sometimes ask if libraries are going away or if people even use the Library anymore. I encourage you to stop in to see for yourself the number of people using our space to study or work, utilize
our computers or connect to our Wi-Fi, or the groups of children checking out books from the youth room. This Library is active, alive, and thriving!”

BERKLEY’S SPACE REGULARLY TEAMS UP WITH THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, the Downtown Development Authority, Berkley First, the Tri-Community Coalition and more to offer a variety of activities for patrons. The Library has also collaborated with Berkley schools to ensure there are materials in their collection that support students’ curriculum needs.

“We now offer music concerts, evening story times, robotics workshops, and more,” Church said, adding that craft programs for teens and history lectures are also available. In late Fall, a Santa mailbox is placed out front, which Church said was “redesigned and repainted last year” by “one of Santa’s elves.”

Local business Vitrine Gallery & Gifts brings a different artist’s works into the Library each month. “This has been a fun partnership that highlights a local business while making our space more interesting and inviting,” Church said. The Library also has a robust online presence with downloadable books, audiobooks, comics, movies, television shows, and magazines. He added that the “usage of online services has doubled in the last five years.”

THE HUNTINGTON WOODS LIBRARY ALSO HAS A WEALTH OF FUN ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS planned for Fall 2019 and into 2020, according to Director/Adult Services Anne Hage, including an ongoing book discussion group, a social justice book group, adult coloring classes, knitting workshops, music classes, and more. Some events to be on the lookout for:

HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN! will be held October 19 and 26, 11:30 A.M., and allow patrons to design their own custom-painted umbrellas.

WRAPPED & BEADED SERVING PIECES will take place on November 16 and 23 at 11:30 A.M. and offer an opportunity to repurpose humdrum serving pieces into colorful works of art.

Just in time for the Christmas holiday, BOARD GAME ART VOLUME 2, to be held on December 14 from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M., will allow residents to design a handcrafted tic-tac-toe board using wood and decorative paper while sipping hot cocoa and sampling cookies.

All programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Library and are offered free of charge, although registration is recommended.

The Huntington Woods Library is also home to the well-known, one-of-a-kind Woods Gallery, which since 1984 has been a space for hundreds of area artists to share their diverse works of art with the community. The gallery’s mission is “to create opportunities for our community to experience a wide variety of creative arts for display and for sale.”

The origins date back to the founding of the Huntington Woods Art League in 1961. The League founded an annual art festival featuring both amateur and professional artists, and in 1984 they teamed with the Friends of the Library to sponsor Russell Keeter in a one-man exhibit in the basement’s Hardy Room. This exhibit inspired the development of the Woods Gallery in the same room, and the Library has showcased a rotation of artists on a continual basis ever since.

Unique services available with a Huntington Woods Library membership include the ability of patrons to use their card to access a collection of over 30,000 movies for free with Kanopy and the ability to receive discounted memberships, tickets, parking, and dining at many area venues through the TLN Tickets & More program.

For more information on all the services offered at the Huntington Woods Library, call 248-543- 9720 or contact Anne Hage at
ahage@huntingtonwoodslib.org.

By Sara E. Teller

VITRINE GALLERY & GIFTS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2017. The Berkley location was perfect because it included both a studio and retail space, according to owner Susan Rogal.

“We jumped on it,” she said. “Later, I would understand more fully the incredible sense of community in Berkley. I have been in retail for almost 40 years, and it’s rare to find men shoppers, couples shopping together, just happy shoppers. Every hour of every day there are lovely people in here.”

The name of the store is a French word meaning “a glass display case filled with treasures,” she explained, and it was inspired by a shabby chic antique hutch Rogal found with a glass front. This would also be incorporated into Vitrine’s logo.

In the retail space, shoppers can explore a multitude of treasures, including clothing, accessories, housewares, food, and other goodies made by artists and artisans. Vitrine also features garden accessories, handcrafted baskets, and a spa area with many handmade soaps and bath bombs. SERV, Ten Thousand Villages, and many others are on display, with products also available for purchase online.

ROGAL SAID, “THE STORE IS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS, artisans, potters, jewelers, and crafters. We feature many local artists and foods, soap artists, pens, and many other products each month. We have Wee Bee Jammin’ jams and Sanders Chocolates. The shop has also become the flagship store for Kari Hughes’ Buy the Change line. We have an art show once a month, and we also curate the art through the Berkley Public Library, which offers even more exposure.”

She added, “It’s really a trip around the world, and we bring in new stuff once a month. Our vegan handbag line has quite a following. We searched the world for a wonderful collection with phenomenal prices. Many people buy more than one!”

To add to the eclectic and one-of-a- kind ambiance, there is a door at the back that annexes to Holy Cannoli’s Bakery which fills Vitrine with incredible bakery smells and allows guests to experience both businesses at once. The studio also serves as Rogal’s workspace for her other endeavor, Artwear Detroit, a company that transfers local artwork onto items available at Vitrine and elsewhere. The company’s mission is to support regional artists and their contribution to Detroit’s legacy.

ROGAL BELIEVES IN A “DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD” mantra and remembers as a child her mother sponsoring children in developing countries through World Vision.

“She would always have their pictures on the wall and would refer to them as her other children,” she remembered fondly. “Now that she’s passed, I wanted to do something for her – offer a memorial gift – and I also wanted to do something extra to show how much we care. This became a very personal journey.”

She added, “We decided to have some of our profits go towards sponsoring six kids in Haiti, all from the same village. And, eventually the goal is to support ten. Doing it this way, we can extend our resources to the entire area, supporting healthcare, clean water, safety and education. It goes towards the whole community.”

Through Vitrine and Artwear Detroit, Rogal is truly able to exemplify her personal mission of giving back. “It’s my hope that as the world gets smaller with resources like the Internet we’ll all begin to realize we can make a difference.”

Vitrine is especially event-driven throughout the summer, participating in the Street Art Fest and hosting various pop-ups featuring a rotation of artists. Rogal said that Small Business Saturday, held on November 30, 2019, will also be an especially big day for all Berkley businesses.

For more information, visit Vitrine at 2758 Coolidge Hwy,
thevitrinegallery.com, or call 248-629-7329.

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

TEN YEARS AGO, A SMALL SHOP CALLED BERKLEY EYEWEAR opened on Coolidge near Wiltshire. Lisa Gilbert was the driving force behind the store – she had worked in the optometry field for nearly three decades – but, soon after, her husband Andy found himself working there, too.

Seeing as his dad, cousin, and brother-in-law are optometrists, it wasn’t a stretch for him to join the family trend. The couple opened a separate shop called Local Sunglass Company just down the street by Dorothea to also offer sunglasses, and eventually they built out the second location and merged the two arms of their business. Today, they offer eye exams as well as a carefully curated collection of glasses and sunglasses.

“We can’t be everything to everybody, but we try to be everything we can to the local community,” Andy says. He and Lisa focus on offering high- quality lenses and frames for reasonable prices whether people have vision insurance or not. Unlike many of the bargain-basement glasses you find at big-box stores, at Berkley Eyewear their lenses are made with a protective scratch- resistant coating that makes them much more durable.

And Lisa is always on the lookout for stylish frames. “There are also big differences between single-vision lenses and progressive-lens technology,” Andy explains. “For one thing, you don’t see a line with high-quality, progressive lenses.”

As he and Lisa have tailored their collection over the years to suit their customers’ needs, they’ve come to specialize in frames for petite women. Andy points out that it can be difficult for small- framed women to find glasses that fit well and are age-appropriate. “They don’t want to have to shop in the kids section and wind up with glasses that don’t quite fit and aren’t the kind of patterns or colors they want,” he says. While bright blue frames with lime-green dots might be fun for kids to wear, it isn’t exactly a flattering look for an upscale night out on the town. Likewise, if you’re a man who finds himself shopping in the big-and- tall section, the standard glasses selection might not work for you, either.

NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF STYLE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, you’ll find glasses ranging from $90 to $450. “Our meat-and-potatoes is within the $150 to $200 range because that’s a reasonable amount for a pair of good-quality, fashionable frames,” says Andy.

Their eye exams are equally reasonable – for those without insurance and paying in cash, an eyeglasses exam is $65 and an exam for contacts is $95. Either way, the exam includes looking at the eye health of the patient. A lot of people don’t realize it, but regular eye exams are greatly beneficial because optometrists can spot a lot of chronic problems early on (diabetes, high blood pressure), when it’s much easier to manage or correct the issue. Another bonus? Rather than using the dreaded “puff test,” the optometrist uses a tonometer to check for glaucoma.

ALONG WITH RUNNING THE SHOP WITH LISA, Andy is involved in many other aspects of Berkley life, from serving on the DDA Board and marketing committee to sponsoring the Berkley Street Art Fest. Andy thinks the art fest in particular has been an exciting event. It began in 2017 on Dorothea in the municipal lot right behind Andy and Lisa’s shop and then expanded onto Coolidge the following year, drawing several thousand attendees in the process.

“I still remember the first year the fest happened,” Andy recalls. “I walked out of my back door and saw people milling around and making and admiring art, and I just thought it was fantastic!” One attendee he talked to that day said that he had lived in Berkley for 20 years but had never noticed Berkley Eyewear before. A few weeks later, that same person became a customer. As Andy sees it, that’s the whole point of having events like the Street Art Fest: To introduce people to the shops along Coolidge.

After the Street Art Fest was established Andy rejoined the Berkley Area Chamber, and it’s also why he now participates in various other civic organizations in the city, too. He advises business owners and residents alike to get involved – it’s a fun way to help the city grow.

ASIDE FROM ATTRACTING MORE CUSTOMERS, another bonus of having a big annual event on Coolidge is the increased interactions between near-by business owners, from newcomers like Ullman’s Health & Beauty and Toadvine Books to established merchants like Nova Chiropractic. “The Street Art Fest has brought together businesses who may not have otherwise interacted much, especially as the event keeps growing and getting bigger and better,” says Andy.

That, plus increased support from the Chamber and the DDA, has led to a feeling of positive momentum along the Coolidge corridor, with several businesses using the DDA grant façade program to renovate and improve their storefronts (Andy is one; he’s hoping to get his new look before it snows). Ongoing regular events like Ladies Night Out also create buzz and lead to long-term customers.

“At the end of the day, Berkley is a fun little town,” says Andy, adding that he’s seen the area go from not exactly bustling when he opened in 2010 to now being one of the focal shopping districts in the city. “I like hanging out right smack in the middle of Coolidge – it feels like everybody is friends.”

Home


2680 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley
(248) 629-6410
Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 6 PM Saturday: 11 AM – 4 PM
Sundays: Closed

Story: Ingrid Sjostrand | Photos: David McNair

THERE MUST BE SOMETHING IN THE WATER – or the food – that makes Berkley restaurants flourish. For a city of only 2.6 square miles it’s unusual to have so many successful restaurants, but the local eateries continue to defy the odds.

Two restaurants in particular have thrived in Berkley: Crispelli’s and Bagger Dave’s. Both source local product for their food, focus on adapting to their customer needs and have expanded to multiple locations due to their success in Berkley.

CRISPELLI’S

CRISPELLI’S, LOCATED AT 28939 WOODWARD AVE, has felt the support of city residents from the minute they opened their doors. Director of Operations Ron Nussbaum shares the story of their opening in February 2012.

“We had paper up in all the windows, we took it down at 4:30 P.M., and by 5:15 P.M. we had a wait – all we did was take the paper off,” he says. “We’re thinking ‘if someone comes in we can practice,’ but it turned into chaos within minutes. We thought no one would notice, but the first couple tables came in and started calling friends, telling them we were open.”

The fast-casual restaurant is best known for its gourmet pizza, but they also specialize in Italian classics and fresh-made artisanal bread. The style of “fast-casual” is somewhat unique to the area, allowing guests to order and watch their pizza made in front of them.

THE FAST-CASUAL PART REALLY SET US APART. And the speed – we still try to get food out in five minutes,” Nussbaum says. “When you order, by the time you’re done paying your pizza is almost ready. It’s good food, made from scratch in under five minutes.”

Due to the continued success of the Berkley location, the Crispelli’s brand has grown into a bakery in Royal Oak, restaurants in West Bloomfield and Troy, a food truck that made its first appearance at Berkley Street Art Fest this past summer and a new location in Clarkston, set to open in October 2020. All of this expansion hasn’t slowed the Berkley location one bit.

“This store continues to grow and it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Nussbaum says. “Restaurants don’t grow for seven or eight years straight; it just isn’t normal. Every day I find someone that says they have never been here before.”

(248) 591-3300 | 28939 Woodward Ave, Berkley Sun 11a-9p | Mon-Thur 11a-10p | Fri-Sat 11a-11p

BAGGER DAVE’S

ORIGINALLY STARTED AS A FRANCHISEE OF BUFFALO WILD WINGS IN 2008, Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern has matured into a restaurant truly focused on customer satisfaction. From where they source their food to the daily specials and discounts, Regional Managing Partner Aaron Van Kuren says it’s evolved into a much different experience.

“Three to four years ago we stabilized the menu, did some different things with our main items, expanded shareables, signature burgers and craft cocktails, and have gotten really good feedback,” he says. “Our mission statement is ‘Making regulars,’ and it’s really all about making every guest feel welcome.”

Located at 2972 Coolidge Hwy, one of the main ways Bagger Dave’s works to keep patrons coming back are their menu specials. On top of monthly specials like “buy-one-get-one burgers” and “two for $10 appetizers,” there are also everyday deals throughout the week. Matt Blankenship, owner/operator of the Berkley location, details some below.

“We have daily specials, like our $6.95 Great American cheeseburger Tuesday, and kids meals are half off on Wednesdays and Sundays,” Blankenship says. “Thursdays are all-day happy hour – we have a really aggressively-priced happy- hour menu. We have something pretty much every day.”

EVEN WITH DAILY DISCOUNTED PRICES, Bagger Dave’s doesn’t skimp on quality. Their ingredients are locally-sourced and fresh, including turkey burgers brought in from Grand Rapids.

“We don’t have walk-in freezers. We prep every day, we make our own sauces, we have local craft sodas, local draft beer,” Blankenship says. “I think that’s what separates us. We’re more local and in tune. We want to be the neighborhood go-to restaurant.”

“Eighty to 85 percent of the menu we get is from Michigan or the Midwest. We want to support the community by not only buying the products in the area but being one of those places that people want to go to get something fresh,” Van Kuren adds.

Bagger Dave’s has grown to include eight restaurants across the Midwest with five locations in Michigan, two in Ohio and one in Indiana. Although they’ve grown, they haven’t forgotten where they came from and appreciate the Berkley community, even offering discounts to local businesses.

“It’s a very tight-knit community. We’re just a small piece of the pie here and we enjoy taking part in it,” Van Kuren says. “It’s a very diverse area. We love each and every person that comes in.”

(248) 543-3283 | 2972 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley Sun-Tues 11a-10p | Wed-Thu 11a-11p | Fri-Sat 11a-12p