Berkley Huntington Woods City Guide 2019

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:

    Oak Park | 6 weeks-5 years ANGELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Berkley | Grades TK-5
  • ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL Berkley | Grades 6-8
    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.


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

In November, all Berkley School District residents receive an appeal letter from the BEF outlining goals and accomplishments and asking for donations.

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.

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 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 /

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

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

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 or email

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

Story By Ingrid Sjostrand | Photos By David McNair

Sometimes a passion just follows a person and inspires them throughout life. For April McCrumb this passion is art, and for nearly two decades she has shared her creative craft with the City of Berkley.

Co-owner of Berkley stores Catching Fireflies, Yellow Door Art Market and co-founder of the Berkley Art Bash, McCrumb’s interest in art developed in childhood. And although she pursued a degree in education, she found ways to incorporate creativity into teaching.

“I was always raised to be creative, but I followed my parents lead and took a conservative college route and just dabbled in art shows and craft fairs on the side,” McCrumb says. “While working in education, a lot of paper was being recycled; I created stuff in class with the kids and it transitioned over time into the traditional papermaking hobby.”

This hobby became A.I. Paper Design which McCrumb and her husband Steve made out of their home and sold at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market. As demand grew, they found the perfect 2200 sq. ft. storefront available in Berkley to grow the brand and McCrumb’s career shifted back to art full-time. An old pharmacy at 3117 W 12 Mile Rd. was transformed into Catching Fireflies in October 2000 with some bright paint and help from friends looking to sell their own work on consignment.

“We thought the front half could be used for selling and the back half would be our studio; essentially the goal would be to make enough in the store to pay the rent,” McCrumb says. “Over time Catching Fireflies gained popularity. We moved our studio and turned it into a full store.”

MCCRUMB’S VISION FOR THE STORE GREW from an art studio space with a storefront to a gift shop with the purpose of bringing others joy.

“Our favorite adjective is ‘whimsical’ – we like to delight and inspire happy things,” She says. “We want people to come in here – whether they buy or not – to be uplifted, this world can drag you down and we want this to be a little haven.”

The popularity of Catching Fireflies propelled into the opening of multiple locations – one in Grand Rapids that was eventually moved to Rochester and another in Ann Arbor. They’ve stayed true to the whimsy theme and have been conscious of the locations of their shops.

“All are in unique historical buildings. Rochester is located in the old train depot downtown and Ann Arbor is a very old building in the middle of Kerrytown,” McCrumb says. “I love that our buildings represent quirkiness and fit the flavor of our brand.”

Another thing that sets Catching Fireflies apart from other local gift shops is their online presence. They created an e-store in 2008 before it was a common trend among smaller retailers.

“We have progressed with the times and 90 percent of our catalog is available to purchase online,” McCrumb says. “I’m proud that we are keeping up with the big dogs and it helps us gain customers that are not local.”

SOON AFTER THE CREATION OF CATCHING FIREFLIES, in 2001 McCrumb collaborated with the Berkley Chamber of Commerce to create Berkley Art Bash. The event occurs on the second Saturday in June and is the largest community event in Downtown Berkley, shutting down 12 Mile Rd. between Kipling and Buckingham Rds. It has attracted crowds as large as 10,000 people.

“We had 150 booths this year and over the years we’ve had such a great response,” McCrumb says. “For the Chamber, it’s a huge bump to make money and make the city a great place to do business. Now we have over five blocks of booths, kids activities and music.”

While Catching Fireflies carries multiple artist brands and Berkley Art Bash provides an event for art in the community, McCrumb noticed a lack of spaces where artists could control the sale of their own work. When a storefront became available doors down from Catching Fireflies at 3141 Twelve Mile Rd. she jumped at the chance to create the Yellow Door Art Market in 2010.

“It’s tough being an artist. You have Etsy and art fairs but I thought we could be the in-between space for artists that don’t want to do art shows and be a bridge for artists who want to open a store but might not be ready yet,” McCrumb says. “People can shop there and truly shop local – everything in there is made by someone in Michigan.”

MCCRUMB MAY HAVE BROUGHT ART TO BERKLEY in a variety of ways, but she recognizes that she couldn’t have done it without the help of the city.

“The community has been so supportive of local art. Being here for 19 years, we’ve seen so many changes and I think it’s only gotten better,” she says. “The City is great, the population is supportive and I really feel blessed by this whole community in Berkley.”

And she says if you’re passionate about something, take the chance and pursue it.

“It sounds cheesy but I love the quote, ‘Follow your heart but take your brain along with you.’ Not to say this didn’t come with a lot of hard work and sweat equity, but you can follow your dreams and make it work beyond what you ever imagined.”

Catching Fireflies (248) 336-2030 3117 W 12 Mile, Berkley, MI 48072

Yellow Door Art Market (248) 336-2038 3141 12 Rd, Berkley, MI 48072

Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 10-6 Thur 10-8 Sun 12-5

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.” | 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

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 Sara E. Teller

LOCATED IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN BERKLEY,Sum Girls Boutique is a sustainable-fashion, new apparel and accessories hot-spot for ladies of all ages. It features higher-end, trendy clothing and accessories from well-known brands, consignors and boutiques in the Metro-Detroit area.

“We also feature reasonably-priced, practical, fun gift items from local vendors,” said owner Robyn Coden. “We have your back if you need a birthday present, teacher gift, or maybe just a treat for yourself or a friend.”

A warm and whimsical place, and one of empowerment, sisterhood, good values, smiles and memories, Sum Girls is a spin- off of Coden’s blog Dim Sum and Doughnuts.

“‘Dim Sum and Doughnuts’ is a blog named for my daughters – one who is from China and one who is biological – to have when they get older,” she said. “I have been writing Dim Sum and Doughnuts since 2001. It’s an honest, comedic girl empowerment blog about growing up, making mistakes, and having fun with a life lesson or takeaway in every post.”

CODEN KNEW SHE WANTED TO EXPAND UPON THESE CONCEPTS in a real, physical way but wasn’t quite sure how to, at least at first. “It took years to come up with a good business fit to go with our Dim Sum and Doughnuts brand, and in the end it was my younger daughter who brought the idea of a store to my attention,” she explained. “After much research, a business plan, and several months of approvals and meetings and renovations, we opened as a start-up, family-owned business in October 2017.”

In addition to offering a wide variety of fashion- able goodies, Sum Girls Boutique hosts its own Girls’ Night Out events which usually take place once a month. “We like to pick a local charity and either donate a percentage of our proceeds to that charity or make the entire event a charity drive for a local at-risk, underprivileged or special needs organization or school,” Coden said.

Sum Girls Boutique is located at the corner of 12 Mile and Robina Avenue. Store hours are
Tuesday through Friday 11:30 A.M.-6:00 P.M. and Saturdays 11:30 A.M.-5:00 P.M. For more information, stop in or visit

By Sara E. Teller

ETERNAL BALANCE HOLISTIC LIFE CENTER ORIGINALLY OPENED ITS DOORS BACK IN 2001, providing massage therapy services and alternative healing strategies focused on promoting total body wellness. The center’s mission is “Creating Balance for Mind, Body, and Spirit” and they offer a wide range of healing options for each of these facets.

“I bought the business in 2011,” recalled current owner Denise Egrin, who was employed at the center until the previous owners decided they wanted to start a place of their own and she was given the opportunity to take the reins. A few years later, she decided to relocate the business to Berkley because of its central location and the community’s tight-knit feel.

Egrin explained, “We were in Huntington Woods until we moved to Berkley in 2015. We moved because I like the community, I love the building that we are in, and it is close to Huntington Woods, Ferndale, and Royal Oak.” She added, “We love Berkley because the community is welcoming and friendly.”

EGRIN IS A LICENSED MASSAGE THERAPIST who graduated from Irene’s Myomassology Institute. Always a strong proponent of healthy living, she is also certified as a Reiki Master/Teacher, as well as a Craniosacral Practitioner, and is currently continuing her education in Animal Communication. Egrin has taught Reiki energy healing at Eternal Balance, hosting Reiki Share sessions. With five practitioners on site, Eternal Balance offers a full range of massage services as well as variety of nontraditional techniques, including Reiki energy healing, craniosacral therapy, inner child healing, intuitive healing, life coaching, medical intuition, raindrop therapy, and tarot card readings, among others. Each option is meant to bring balance to the mind, body and spirit, while massage is used to increase circulation and aid in toxin and stress release.

Egrin said, “Our [massage] services include therapeutic, deep tissue and Swedish massage, lymphatic massage, oncology massage, cupping massage, Reiki massage and prenatal massage.” She added, “I describe Eternal Balance as holistic wellness because we offer more natural and holistic modalities. At present we have five therapists, including me. All of us here are licensed, experienced, caring therapists dedicated to providing the community with a natural way to health and wellness.”

Eternal Balance Holistic Life Center, located at 3311 12 Mile Rd., is open
10:00 A.M. to 7:00
P.M. Mon.-Fri. and
10:00 A.M. to 5:00
P.M. Sat.

Services offered by appointment.

By Sara E. Teller

DR. NICK NOVAKOSKI GRADUATED FROM LOGAN UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS,MISSOURI, in 2014 with a doctoral degree and a passion for physical therapy and helping athletes recover from sports injuries. He worked at Lifetime Fitness as a personal trainer while completing his education, and learned all about injury recovery and the importance of posture.

Eventually, he decided he wanted to open his own practice and, in his search for the perfect spot, Novakoski fell in love with Berkley’s family- friendly feel, opening Nova Chiropractic on Coolidge in November 2016. The center’s mission is “to eliminate pain, correct postural inefficiencies, and maximize human performance by improving and optimizing the function of the human body through the highest quality of chiropractic care.”

FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS, Nova Chiropractic has cared for Berkley’s residents, offering a wide variety of services to fit the needs of each individual patient. The center offers consultations, muscle scans, and posture assessment as well as manual manipulations and therapy. Nova also offers foam rolling, in which a roller is used to help with soft tissue injuries and sore muscles, as well as services for children and pregnant women. There are two massage therapists on staff to help further ease muscle tension holistically.

Mackenzie Powers has been the office manager at Nova for two years. She said, “The community is everything. People really care here. They’re involved and they support small business. Patients love being here, and it’s rewarding to be part of that. There’s a lot of trust in the community, and people love Dr. Nick.”

Nova Chiropractic is involved in many of the events and festivals, including Berkley Days, Ladies’ Night Out (LNO), and the Street Art Fest. “We have a bouncy house set up every year,” Powers said of the art fair. For the LNOs, “We bring in vendors at the clinic and have chair massages,” she added. “You can come in and have a five-minute massage while learning about our services.” Best of all, the clinic has an official greeter, Milo, the
hypo-allergenic cocker spaniel and poodle mix!

8:00 A.M. 11:30 A.M. & 1:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M., Weds 4:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Sat 8:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Call (248) 398-1155 or visit

By Sara E. Teller

OWNER OF BALANCED HEALTH & WELLNESS, DR. SARAH KIRSCH HAS BEEN A CHIROPRACTOR FOR 13 YEARS. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a bachelor’s in human biology, as well as a master’s degree in human nutrition and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

“I started Balanced Health & Wellness with only myself and a portable adjusting table in a shared room in this building,” she explained. “Over the years, we have grown to four chiropractors – three are also nutritionists – three massage therapists, a holistic health coach, and two full-time office staff.” This growth demanded a larger space, too. Kirsch said, “We now occupy the whole building and recently expanded into the space next door to build a classroom to teach health and wellness classes.” The clinic treats patients of all ages, including infants and seniors, and offers a variety of services, including “hands-on personalized chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, and holistic health coaching,” according to Kirsch, who added, “Our classroom offers foam rolling classes, gut-brain connection workshops, physical therapy classes for pregnant and post-partum moms, healthy cooking classes, and so much more! We are thrilled to offer a wide range of services to help our patients live a healthier life.”

Each member of the Balanced staff has a different advanced training background serving pediatrics, pregnant women, athletes, “weekend warriors” (those who need services after a particularly eventful weekend), nutrition, rehabilitation, exercise, and functional medicine, which addresses the underlying causes of chronic pain. “We do our best to match patients with the doctor or therapist best suited to their needs,” Kirsch said.

She is happy to be part of such a warm and tight- knit community, too, saying, “I chose Berkley because it has such an incredible population of people who support local businesses. It has such a charming small-town feel which I love. People stop and wave as they pass by.” Kirsch, who lives nearby in Huntington Woods, added, “I love the community effort to support local businesses, especially the Berkley Area Chamber and DDA events to help bring more business to Berkley. I love that citizens enjoy keeping their business local and ship small whenever possible.”

Balanced Health and Wellness is currently taking course suggestions and would love to receive input from residents on what to offer next in The Classroom. For more information, call 248.397-8122, email, or check out Balance Health and Wellness online at, and The Classroom at