Hazel Park City Guide 2019
2019 Hazel Park City Guide

By Ingrid Sjostrand

WHILE HAZEL PARK IS ON THE RISE ECONOMICALLY, it’s important to remember the environmental areas that benefit our community too. Natural spaces help wildlife and create a more aesthetically-pleasing city, which is why the Hazel Park Nature Initiative (HPNI) is working hard to make sure there is green growth added to the area.

Created by Amy Aubry, Hazel Park Mayor Pro Tem, and Grace Vatai, Executive Director and Naturalist of Mulberry Hill Wildlife, the Nature Initiative focuses on creating and restoring native green spaces in Hazel Park through four tenets – habitat creation, land management, education and community.

“We plan to create habitat and natural space in the city for the benefit of both wildlife and residents. Wildlife will benefit from things like native wildflower beds, pollinator gardens and lawn alternatives,” Vatai says. “Residents will benefit from increased beautification of our city through aesthetically appealing natural spaces, as well as opportunities to learn about and implement natural practices in their own yards.”

The idea for the Nature Initiative came when Vatai and Aubry found they had a shared love for the environment, and both recognized a lack of natural space in Hazel Park. After further discussion, they found there was community interest too.

“Nature helps ground us and promote well-being it’s good for us to be around,” Aubry says. “Increasing native landscaping and habitats will give residents more opportunities to see our diverse flora and fauna and help them flourish while receiving their own benefits in return. The Nature Initiative will also enrich our parks, streetscapes, and overall community.”

The HPNI has produced a few presentations at the Hazel Park Library to educate and encourage interest, including Bat Week and Native People, Native Plants programs. Bigger projects are in the works as well, including one that will encompass habitat creation, land management, education and community.

“We are currently developing a new natural area in Hazel Park which will contain native plant beds including a pollinator garden, woodland garden, native wildflowers and more,” Vatai says. “This will provide habitat for beneficial wildlife and also educational opportunities for everyone in Hazel Park by creating a place for people to come and learn about nature through direct experience.”

Vatai and Aubry encourage residents to join the Initiative and offer various opportunities to get involved including helping care for the gardens or providing donations. They will also be holding public events for residents’ feedback on the HPNI.

“When the time comes to address our City ordinances, City Council will vote on the proposed changes. We will hold public hearings where residents are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and questions on the changes suggested, as well as offer up suggestions of their own,” Aubry says. “In addition, we will have lots of opportunities for resident participation: Come to fun, educational classes, volunteer at events such as plantings, or jump all-in and replace your grass with native plants on your property.”

“The Hazel Park Nature Initiative is one small step we can take that can have a big impact when we work together. By restoring food sources for wildlife and pollinators we can help creatures like the monarch butterflies and bees thrive,” Aubry says. “This life is bigger than ourselves – I’ve always been a bigger-picture kind of person and taking care of our surroundings is part of that bigger picture.”

“Being in nature is a spiritual experience. No matter who you are or what your beliefs are, there is a certain undeniable connectedness that reveals itself if you allow yourself to truly ‘be’ in nature,” Vatai adds. “Co-authoring the Hazel Park Nature Initiative is a fulfilling experience. Every human being deserves to experience the joy of living fully in a naturally beautiful place, and I believe that beauty is possible right here in Hazel Park.”

For more information or to keep up to date on events, visit facebook.com/hpnatureinitiative.

By Sara E. Teller

MULBERRY HILL WILDLIFE (MHW) BEGAN IN 2010 with two goals in mind – to care for the environment through sustainable, wildlife-friendly agricultural practices and provide the community with healthy local food.

“The roots of Mulberry Hill Wildlife begin in the most unlikely of places,” explained Executive Director and Naturalist, Grace Vatai. On the roof of an old apartment building in Detroit lived a few potted plants and a chicken named Henny-Penny. They were tended to by Grace and her husband, Patrick, two dedicated people who would go on to start Mulberry Hill Farm & Garden in Hazel Park, the first and only organization of its kind in the area.

This organization would soon grow to include several programs including a Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystation, nature educational components and much more. Today, MHW is home to both Mulberry Hill Farm & Garden and Mulberry Hill School.

“Mulberry Hill School provides nature education programs and opportunities including presentations, classes, and the Mulberry Hill Wildlife Nature Table,” Vatai said. “We regularly distribute informational materials to the community through social media and other outlets. Additionally, we provide a home-school program and education consultation for approved families and learners of all ages.”

The Farm & Garden portion provides doorstep delivery of wildlife-friendly produce and native plants through its Produce Delivery Membership program. Vatai explained, “We grow native wildflowers, produce and herbs. We unite people with produce from local farms that share the value of using sustainable practices whenever and wherever possible. Our survival is made possible by the land we live on.”

She added, “Our mission is to inspire, educate, and assist individuals and families in conserving and protecting wildlife while providing access to wildlifefriendly local produce, live native plants, and quality educational opportunities. These resources help establish a vital nature connection and an appreciation for all life. Our goal is to achieve a peaceful, sustainable, and healthy future for all of earth’s inhabitants.”

MHW believes that a connection with nature is key to getting people involved on a personal level and it is that personal connection that motivates them to love, value, and truly appreciate the natural world. Vatai said, “Spirit awakens in nature, and when people care personally they instinctively do their part.”

MHW’S SISTER BUSINESS, CEDAR FOREST HENNA, also contributes to its mission by helping to fund its programs and projects, and it gives MHW the opportunity to work directly with the community.

“Henna is an ancient natural art, utilizing a dye made from the Henna plant, Lawsonia intermis. While we can create almost any design, traditional Mehndi designs often incorporate nature motifs and mimic the detail, complexity, patterning, and flow so often found in nature. All proceeds from Cedar Forest Henna contribute to fulfilling our mission and help make what we do here possible,” Vatai said. Cedar Forest Henna can be requested for a variety of celebrations and occasions. Anyone interested can visit https://cedarforest.webs.com for more information.

The organization is always looking for an extra set of hands. “By connecting with us online, people can stay up-to-date on our endeavors and calls for volunteer help,” Vatai explained. “One project coming up is a new nature area in Hazel Park which we are developing through the Hazel Park Nature Initiative. We are co-authoring this initiative with Amy Aubry, Mayor Pro Tempore, and will need volunteer help as we develop new projects. We encourage people to get involved!”

Donations can be made at https://squareup.com/ store/mulberryhillwildlife and go towards the preservation of nature and wildlife through all of MHW’s endeavors, research, and projects.

“We can’t emphasize enough how much we appreciate the continued support we receive from the community,” Vatai said. “Especially as we come into spring, donations are going to make a big difference for the activities and projects we have planned. There is a lot to do and funding is vital for all of it.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand

2019 IS SHAPING UP TO BE A GOOD YEAR for the Hazel Park Police Department. The city has seen a decline in crime and the Department is looking to increase its police staff, according to Chief of Police Brian Buchholz.

“In 2018 we saw some significant decreases in crimes compared to 2017 in terms of robbery, breaking & entering, larcenies, motor vehicle theft, malicious destruction of property, retail fraud and felony assaults,” he says.

This has allowed the Department, which currently has 34 full time sworn-in officers, to focus on filling open positions, a somewhat arduous task due to a scarcity of candidates.

“One of the challenges across the country in law enforcement is retaining and finding new employees for law enforcement,” Chief Buchholz says. “Despite this, I feel we have a strong team here in Hazel Park and we are excited to get our staffing to our preferred levels. We replaced a detective position that was vacant for a period of time and added an officer to a federal task force; both positions that will benefit the City and Police Department.”

The success of the Department wouldn’t be possible without the citizens of Hazel Park and actions as simple as keeping police informed if they see something out of the ordinary.

“I believe a lot of our success is dependent on our residents. They are our eyes and ears. If they can look out for each other and contact us when they see something suspicious in their neighborhood, that is the key to our success,” Chief Buchholz says.

THE DEPARTMENT OFFERS SEVERAL PROGRAMS FOR RESIDENTS who want to get more involved in the safety of Hazel Park, including Neighborhood Watch, the Mobile Communications Support Unit and the Reserve Officer Unit, each offering various levels of involvement ranging from watchful citizens to armed and uniformed volunteers. The Department also hosts quarterly meetings updating residents on what is happening in the community and how to protect their neighborhoods.

Another key to a smooth-running police force is the communication among all City departments, something Chief Buchholz says Hazel Park excels at.

“One thing I’ve seen since becoming Chief is the great communication between all the departments in the City,” he says. “The City Council and City Manager have created a great environment for us all to communicate; this helps us all achieve the best possible outcomes for all and that benefits the city also.”

Chief Buchholz hopes that with continued collaboration, the Police Department can focus on helping the city thrive and continue to decrease crime in 2019.

“Our goals are to continue and try to provide the best environment to live, work, travel and play for all of those that come through the City of Hazel Park,” Chief Buchholz says.

THE HAZEL PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONDED TO 3,527 CALLS IN 2018, including 2,655 medical calls and 872 fire runs. The Department consists of 20 members, including the Fire Marshall and Fire Chief Rich Story II. I sat down with Chief Story to discuss the state of the Hazel Park Fire Department in 2019 and how residents can help support their city:

What are the goals for the HPFD in 2019?

Chief Story: We are always proud to provide top-quality service, expedient response times and a kind, professional smile to our citizens and visitors. We’ve started offering CPR classes to those interested and have trained and established a CERT team. In May, we’re hosting a vehicle extrication class to keep our skills sharp and learn about new vehicle construction.

Can you tell me more about the CERT team?

CERT is the Community Emergency Response Team and used for large-scale emergencies. The team assists in notifying the public about any emergency information and could also assist at our Memorial Day festival with traffic control and general first aid.

What are some of the biggest challenges the HPFD faces in 2019?

Some of our challenges are recruiting and retention of firefighters. Fire service is at an all-time low in job interest and retention is difficult because the City of Hazel Park only has so many resources -it’s difficult to compete with cities with deeper coffers. When a nearby city is hiring probationary firefighters at the same rate we pay our captains, it makes it very difficult to keep personnel.

The HPFD has agreements in place to assist Ferndale and Madison Heights as needed. Tell me more about this program and how it affects the Department?

This is an Auto Aid agreement. When one Department has a fire of any severity, their dispatch calls the other two cities automatically and those cities send a fire truck with two or three personnel if the manpower is available. This helps each city by increasing the numbers of firefighters on the scene to extinguish the fire, making a safer and more efficient firefighting team. This has worked very well since implementing it approximately ten years ago.

How can Hazel Park residents keep informed and participate in programs offered by HPFD?

We try to keep everything on social media. We loan out canes, crutches, walkers and wheelchairs to our residents on a temporary basis. We have a smoke detector program, and we will supply residents with a smoke detector if they stop by the station and can install it if needed. As stated above, we offer CPR classes to citizens and install and inspect child safety seats.

What are some things the residents might not know the Fire Department does?

The Fire Department performs all the checking and maintenance of our fire hydrant system. The HPFD also tries to stay involved with the community; we’re involved with several clubs and are active at city functions. Our Fire Marshall, Jeff Woodcock, works hand-in-hand with the building and code departments making sure businesses comply with rules. He shows businesses how to utilize their fire extinguishers and investigates all our fires in conjunction with Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Fire investigation team. Last but certainly not least, the HPFD provides advanced life support care (paramedics) and transport to the area hospitals.

What is your favorite thing about the City of Hazel Park?

My favorite thing is the diversity of calls we respond to, the camaraderie we have as a Department and how each city department works together. I’m extremely happy to have been able to provide service to Hazel Park for 25 years. I wouldn’t change anything in my time here; I lead a great team and work for a great community.

By Sara E. Teller

THE MISSION OF THE HAZEL PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT (HPSD) is clear: “Inspiring and empowering all learners to achieve excellence.” Part of this means offering families a variety of options when it comes to learning. There are many programs available that are designed to cater to the individual needs of each and every student.

“We have a variety of school options in Hazel Park,” said Superintendent Amy Kruppe. For starters, there’s the Webster Early Childhood Center that houses the District’s Great Start Readiness Grant Program (GSRP). She explained, “GSRP is our State of Michigan grantfunded preschool program. This program uses HighScope curriculum.” The HighScope curriculum is research-based and used to prepare children for future school success.

There are also three elementary schools which house K-5 classes – United Oaks Elementary, Hoover Elementary, and Webb Elementary – as well as the District’s Junior High School and Hazel Park High School (HPHS).

“We also have two early five classrooms – one at Hoover and one at Webb – for students who are not eligible for kindergarten or perhaps not ready,” Kruppe said, adding, “We also have several options of schools for students who may need options to meet their individual needs.”

Advantage Alternative School is available for students grades 3-12 who have needs that may be best met in a smaller classroom setting. The program has been made available to those struggling in a traditional environment in order to encourage students to continue pursuing academics rather than dropping out. Invest Alternative School is also available for students grades 9-12 and provides an alternative environment to support students.

HPSD HAS SOME GREAT OPTIONS FOR THOSE WHO PREFER an online learning environment. ACCESS and MCA are both online alternative schools that give students an opportunity to access education from just about anywhere. These programs are for those who prefer to learn at home rather than in a classroom setting. Viking Virtual, which is led by Hazel Park staff members, is another option. It mirrors the in-classroom curriculum and is available to all students who opt for a more flexible environment. Learners can choose to attend online 100 percent of the time, or they can take some courses at the high school and log in virtually part of the time.

As part of its mission to “collaborate with stakeholders in order to prepare and support students for the future through innovation and technology,” HPSD has recently implemented advanced options in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) for students K-12.

“This is a growing program, and we are coordinating with programs yearly such as Oakland University, Project Lead the Way, and now are adding computer programs from Amazon,” Kruppe said, adding, “We also have programs such as access to Oakland County OTECH, UAW/Chrysler school to work program and more. And we should not forget that students who are living in the District are eligible for the Promise Zone.”

THE PROMISE ZONE IS A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION founded in 2010. It is one of ten original “Promise Zones” created through legislation signed by Governor Granholm in 2009. It is offered alongside the Pell Grant program. Students attending Oakland Community College (OCC) are fully funded for up to 62 credits within four years of high school graduation through either Pell Grant and/or Hazel Park Promise Zone scholarship. A student attending a college or university other than OCC is eligible for up to $1,600 per semester for a total of $6,000. Pell Grant dollars awarded in a given semester are subtracted from the $1,600 for that particular semester.

In order to be considered for funding, a student must submit a Promise Zone scholarship application and inform the Promise Zone Executive Director which school he or she will be attending prior to college course registration. A student’s FAFSA student aide information must be fully processed by a college or university in order to receive Promise Zone scholarship funding.

“Our students this year are on track to receive over four million dollars in scholarships thanks to the support of our high school staff and the Michigan College Access Network, the Promise Zone,” Kruppe said.

RESIDENTS OF HAZEL PARK OR THOSE LIVING IN SPECIFIC PARTS OF FERNDALE are automatically assigned to Hazel Park Schools. The District also supports Schools of Choice. Students and their families interested in applying for inclusion must turn in their discipline and academic history for the last two years. This is reviewed at the District’s central office.

There is a set of beliefs all HPSD administrators and staff members abide by and, as a whole, the District “supports the social, emotional, physical, and academic needs of each child. Kindness, respect, diversity, equity, and integrity are valued, taught, and modeled. A caring, healthy, safe, and respectful environment is provided for all. Student achievement is the core of every decision. All students have the ability to learn. All students, staff, and families are engaged and support learning, and all stakeholders are provided high quality researched-based curriculum which is aligned with state standards.”

HPSD also has some stand-out extracurricular options for students to partake in, including many different clubs and sports.

“In the last several years our wrestling, track, softball, soccer, and baseball teams have had many stand out seasons. We’ve had several amazing boys’ basketball seasons as well,” Kruppe explained, adding, “Our band continues to be recognized yearly, and I enjoyed seeing them once again at Ford Field. Our junior high students are recognized each year with high band ratings as they “go-to” competitions. Our cheer teams continue to be successful. We are incredibly proud of all our students.”

In addition to these notable achievements, HPSD is growing its robotic teams and has one of the longest-standing dance teams in Michigan. There also has been an increased focus in recent years on improving students’ test scores. Currently, HPHS allows learners to access SAT prep resources.

“We are excited by the curriculum that we offer and continue to review K-12 on a yearly basis,” said Kruppe. “We are continually looking for ways to help our students grow and access best practices in education.”

 

By Sara E. Teller

SHELLBACK MANUFACTURING CO. is Hazel Park’s oldest manufacturing business. “We’ve been here for 85 years and Hazel Park hasn’t even been around that long,” said Office Manager, Colleen Lessnau. “The company was founded before Hazel Park became a city.” The pump maker, which ironically got its start due to some unfortunate personal circumstances on the part of its founder, was established back in 1934. It all started after Axel Nielsen and his wife, Marie, came to the United States from Denmark in 1928. Finally able to purchase their own home after years of hard work as a chauffeur, private cook and housekeeper for a local family, the couple settled into a small residence in Hazel Park. The home did not have a basement, prompting Axel to dig one. Unfortunately, it flooded soon after he had finished, and Axel could not find a sustainable solution. It flooded again and again until he realized he had to dig a crock.

Axel then went shopping for a sump pump, but when he took a close look at the device he thought he could probably build his own. So he picked up all of the components he’d need instead and assembled it at home. It worked! Apparently, Axel and Marie’s home wasn’t the only one in Hazel Park with a flooding basement and the couple soon started receiving requests from their friends, asking if Axel could make them sump pumps, too.

The Nielsens eventually had more orders for pumps than they knew what to do with and it became apparent the endeavor was a gold mine. Axel worked at General Motors during the day and assembled the sump pumps at night. Marie would paint them while he was at work. On the weekends, the couple began driving to hardware stores to sell their products. Finally, business grew so much that Axel quit his day job and officially started his business, incorporating Shellback Manufacturing Co.

“Axel was the original owner and he has the patent for the pumps,” Colleen explained. Now his son, William, is the owner.” William J. Nielsen, Axel’s son, is a United States Air Force veteran as well as a veteran of the Korean war. He has taken over the charge, keeping Shellback in the very same location in which it started all those years ago.

THE BUSINESS HAS, AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE, passed down to the Nielsens’ family members. “This allows for a personal touch in the daily operation of the company,” Lessnau said, explaining that the company’s family-oriented structure has probably enabled it to survive for so many years, “because during hard economic times, personnel could be adjusted easier.” Shellback also has a reputation for employing local residents. It continues to operate as an OEM repair shop for all types of home and industrial application pumps and pump mechanisms; manufacturing, distributing, and repairing its Torpedo Sump-less Sump Pumps and Laundry Tray and citing customer service as a top priority. Asked why being located in the heart of Hazel Park is ideal, Lessnau responded, “Employees can walk to work.”

Residents looking for a new pump or to service an existing one can contact Shellback Manufacturing Co. at 248-544-4600 or sbmfg1320@gmail.com, or just stop on by 1320 E Elza. The office is open 8:00 A.M.-4:30 P.M., Monday through Friday.

By Maggie Boleyn

CIVITAS COFFEE HOUSE MAY BE YOUR FIRST HINT that this is not your grandfather’s Hazel Park. As the city slowly transforms from an economy which heavily relied on the Raceway for revenue, you see more service-related businesses opening, creating new opportunities for residents to connect with one another, forming a new sense of community.

Students of ancient Rome will immediately recognize that Civitas Coffee House, by its very name, aims to be such a communal place. The Latin term civitas, in the time of the late Roman Republic, referred to the social body of the citizens. While ancient Roman citizens were united by law, Civitas Coffee House unites those who love good coffee and tea.

Jessica Bracker, owner of Civitas explains, “We wanted to create a space for people to get together in the community and get to know each other.”

This feeling of community helps shape the vision for Civitas as a “place to meet and get to know neighbors.” Civitas supports local artisans with nearby artists displaying their work in coffee shops on weekends in the past.

“There are not a lot of places, except bars, to get to know your neighbors,” she said. While local bars can be a good way to meet others, Bracker joked that one advantage at Civitas is “it’s easier to talk to others in a coffee shop.”

Bracker and her husband have visited coffee houses around the world, logging trips to over 250 coffee houses. Bracker’s husband has been steeped in coffee house culture since his teen years. The couple has lived in Hazel Park for ten years.

Bracker says she likes Hazel Park and what the city is about. “It’s a nice little city.” She likes the recent growth and the opportunity for further development. “We like the Ferndale, Royal Oak, Hazel Park area,” she continues. She enjoys the “small-town/city-life” feel of the area.

BUT YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE COFFEE. Civitas serves lattes, mochas, and other flavored drinks. “Our main focus is coffee,” Bracker said. There is also a selection of loose-leaf teas for customers to savor. There isn’t a large food menu. Bracker says, “We’d rather do a few things really well.” You can grab a muffin or a piece of fruit to go with your coffee or tea. Initially, Civitas did not offer decaffeinated coffees, but Bracker said that they have recently put decaf selections on the menu, and there are several caffeine-free teas available.

Civitas aims for strictly fresh coffee, providing the best customer experience. “People really don’t know how long coffee has been sitting,” she says. Two methods the shop uses are the French press and pour-over. “French press” uses coarsely ground beans which are stirred into water boiled at 195 degrees and then left to sit for four minutes. “Pourover” is a drip-coffee method in which the water is poured in a thin, slow, steady stream over a filter cone. Both methods provide a superior coffee experience.

The Civitas website warns new customers not to be alarmed if your French Press drink has a few coffee grounds. “A small amount of grounds in your cup is perfectly fine and normal.”

Memorial Day weekend marked the first anniversary for Civitas. Bracker says future plans for Civitas include using their own roaster to offer customers an even greater variety of coffees from other countries. Civitas Coffee House is located at 906 E. Nine Mile Road next to Hungry Howie’s. Visit their website at civitascoffeehouse.com.

By Sara Teller

DIVINE FAVOR MINISTRIES BEGAN IN 2006 and relocated from Roseville in 2012 to Hazel Park. They currently offer services at 22223 Rhodes Ave.

“We are a small but mighty group of believers who honor God and love people,” explained Ann Marie Reed. “We held services for two years in what is now Joebar and was then a dance studio. In October 2014 we were able to purchase the former Hazel Park Masonic Temple and transform it into Divine Favor Ministries. Our nondenominational worship opportunities are held Sunday mornings at 10:00 A.M. and Bible Study is Wednesday evenings at 7 P.M.”

The congregation is led by Ann Marie Reed’s husband of 28 years, Pastor Kenneth D. Reed, Sr. The group also offers opportunities to serve the community through various programs organized throughout the year, and there are opportunities for members to connect outside of service through involvement in small groups. The women’s ministry, Women W.I.N., for example, offers a chance for women 18 and over to gather together once a month and discuss topics of interest, and WE FEED is a program that has grown substantially since its inception.

“One of our largest ongoing projects is our WE FEED program,” Reed said. “Not only do we distribute food to families from Hazel Park and surrounding areas, we also have several events throughout the year where we distribute new clothes, school supplies, household and personal care items, and even new toys for Christmas at our annual Breakfast with Santa.”

WE FEED distributes the last Saturday of each month at 10:00 A.M. “We ask that our intake paperwork is completed and recipients bring valid ID,” Reed explained. “Another project we are working on is Divine Connections Life Solutions. We are hoping to be able to provide homes, childcare, and other wraparound services to single parents in need.”

TEENY TINY TERRITORY TAKEOVER WAS A FUNDRAISER held specifically for Divine Connections Life Solutions, a non-profit extension of Divine Favor Ministries Church that offers programs designed to help single moms with their bills, housing assistance, referrals, and childcare in Southeast Michigan. Reed came up with the idea of the Teeny Tiny Territory Takeover, which was based on the concept of tiny homes. During the event, “awesome artists from the Hazel Park Arts Council transformed birdhouses into amazing works of art,” she said, adding, “They were definitely the highlight but we had other items available for auction, too. We also had take-home kits that you can decorate yourself.”

Residents were able to support the endeavor by donating online via an auction as well as attending the event in person at the church. Linda Yono from the Arts Council made four birdhouses and Nina Cairo, also from the Arts Council, made one. Yono, who has been a member of the Arts Council for almost four years, said, “I have been an artist all my life.” She added, “Hopefully, the Arts Council can help do this again.”

Reed said, “They just did a phenomenal job. The birdhouses were completely transformed. They were all themed – one was a peacock; one was a Candyland theme. I had no idea they were going to come back the way they did! I would say we raised around a thousand dollars.”

The mission of Divine Connections Life Solutions is “to facilitate the movement of homeless families toward self-sufficiency by providing shelter and other services that will increase the interpersonal, parenting and household skills.” Reed acts as the organization’s Executive Director and is a perfect fit for the position as a former childcare center owner/operator with over 20 years of housing management experience and ten years in the nonprofit sector. Monthly women’s events held at Divine Connections Life Solutions include counseling, spiritual guidance, self-esteem building, and meetings centered around other personal care topics.

REED ALSO WORKS AS AN AGENCY RELATIONS COORDINATOR FOR GLEANERS COMMUNITY FOOD BANK, where she is able to help hundreds of other churches and non-profits start, build, and maintain food pantries throughout Southeast Michigan. She is a graduate of Grace Bible College (Magna Cum Laude). A wife and mother, she also manages to squeeze in some time for a personal passion of hers – crafting.

“I love crafting! Machine embroidery, candle making, and quilling are my current favorites, but I’ve been known to crochet, knit, and sew just about anything. I would like to start a monthly crafting class at the church, Crafted in His Image, where we would highlight a different craft each month,” she said.

Anyone interested in the WE FEED program or Crafted in His Image (either as a participant or instructor) can contact Ann Marie at ladyamreed@yahoo.com.

By Sara E. Teller

YOUNGBLOODS IS A BARBERSHOP AND MEN’S RETAIL STORE that sits at the former Phoenix Café location on John R. in Hazel Park. Husbandand-wife team Lyle Hayman Jr. and Angie Yaldoo officially opened for business in July 2018. Hayman and Yaldoo both have years of experience in their field – Hayman as a hair stylist and Angie as a retail and fashion guru. Hayman was formerly a stylist at the Berkley Chop Shop and Yaldoo was a manager of Incognito, a now-defunct Royal Oak boutique.

The “youngbloods” are excited to start their first venture together and blend their expertise to offer a unique experience for members of the community. Their shop is an eclectic mix of dark colors with pops of red and gold – a masculine, yet classy look with a touch of edgy rock n’ roll. On racks and shelves at the back of the store, patrons will find men’s hats, jackets, jeans, shirts, and accessories. The shop is lined with Straight to Hell apparel, which is inspired by music and culture and includes leather and denim jackets, animal prints, and more.

There’s even a line of all-natural, soy, handmade candles available in black and white. And, of course, at the front, the shop offers a wide variety of men’s hair styling products, including pomade, balms, and sprays.

Yaldoo explains, “We offer everything from haircuts and beard trims to men’s apparel, accessories, grooming products and candles.”

Hazel Park was a great place to establish because of the tight-knit neighborhood and ability to connect with residents. When locals walk in they’re looking to get to know and trust their stylist, so they can return time and again. Hayman was already wellknown around town and has maintained some of his Berkley clients.

“WE LOVE THAT HAZEL PARK ISN’T OVERRUN BY BIG CORPORATE CHAINS and individuality is still embraced. We also love the people! Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive,” Yaldoo said, adding that they chose the location because “we loved the energy of Hazel Park and the renaissance that is expected to happen within the city.”

Keeping with the vibe of the once prominent Phoenix Café, which was a place for residents to come out and listen to live music, the couple has incorporated music into their routine as well.

“We strive to provide an experience,” Yaldoo said. “It’s more than just a place to get your haircut or pick up a shirt. We recently hosted a show where a handful of bands played after hours. We hope to have other events and pop-up shops here as well.”

Hayman and Yaldoo believe they can offer something a large chain cannot. “Youngbloods is owner run and operated and the staff genuinely cares about their craft and their clients,” Yaldoo explained.

As far as the “experience” that kicks in as soon as patrons walk through the door, it’s one that is unique to the barber shop and boutique. It’s not simply about a quick haircut and shopping trip. “We love to have a good time,” Yaldoo said. “Come in and find out!”

For an appointment or to learn more about Youngbloods, stop by or call 248-629-6626 Tuesday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. or Saturday from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Check out their Facebook, www.facebook.com/YoungbloodsBarberMenswear Boutique, and Instagram pages, @youngbloodsbarberboutique, to keep up with what’s happening.

By Maggie Boleyn

BILL HITCHCOCK KNOWS MORE THAN A THING OR TWO about Hazel Park and properties in the City. He and his family have lived and worked in this area since the 1940s.

Hitchcock is a certified real estate brokerage manager, and owner of Hitchcock Real Estate, also known as ReMax in the Park. Hitchcock Real Estate is one of Hazel Park’s oldest businesses. Hitchcock has been selling real estate for over 60 years, beginning by working in his father’s real estate business.

“My father started out in 1946,” Hitchcock said. The company has been in the same area ever since. Hitchcock himself began selling real estate in 1951. “I sold my first house when I was 15,” he recalls. The property was sold as a land contract, and Hitchcock typed up the sale paperwork himself. “My father didn’t type,” he said with a chuckle. Today, Hitchcock Real Estate is reported to generate an estimated $1,000,000 in annual revenues and employs approximately ten people at the Hazel Park location.

The Hitchcock family has been a long-time fixture in this area. The family moved to the Hazel Park area in 1941. Hazel Park was incorporated in 1942. Hitchcock is a product of the Hazel Park school system, and a graduate of Wayne State University.

The City of Hazel Park is currently undergoing exciting changes. The city’s story cannot be told without mentioning the Hazel Park Raceway. The Raceway opened in 1948 and was instrumental in the city’s growth. By providing a hefty chunk of tax revenue, the Raceway supported Hazel Park’s finances for many years. The landmark clubhouse, stables, and track at 10 Mile and Dequindre have been torn down, making way for new growth. Now, with the Raceway only a fading memory, current development on the property includes one of the largest buildings in Oakland County. “I remember when that corner was the trash yard for Highland Park,” Hitchcock says.

Now, as in the very early days of the city, Hazel Park is an economical alternative to living in nearby cities. “The town is growing, and schools are improving,” Hitchcock points out.

Hitchcock has served as the chairman for the Downtown Development Authority since its inception, more than 40 years ago. He says that present plans include a bond sale to finance resurfacing of John R and Nine Mile roads. Hitchcock says plans for John R include narrowing the road at certain points. He says this will help local businesses currently located on John R, and will serve to attract new businesses to Hazel Park.

HITCHCOCK ALSO SERVES AS CHAIRMAN FOR THE PROMISE ZONE, which helps finance college for Hazel Park High School graduates. “The Promise Zone is a unique thing in this area,” he said. Scholarship grants have blossomed from approximately $500,000 in the first year to $6.1 million dollars. Hitchcock credits City Manager Ed Klobucher with the rise in recent building developments as well as the increase in Promise Zone scholarships.

There are many qualities that make Hazel Park a one-of-a-kind place to live. There is a strong spirit of volunteerism in Hazel Park. Time and again, since the city’s founding, residents have pitched in to improve the city. “Volunteers have made Hazel Park what it is,” Hitchcock says.

As the city’s website notes: “Hazel Park has proven itself to be adaptable to change and will continue that tradition in the coming years. “

Hitchcock Real Estate, which also operates under the name ReMax in the Park, is located at 22200 John R Rd in Hazel Park.

By Sara E. Teller

DETROIT GT, A DESIGN & APPAREL COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN DETROIT AREA PRODUCTS, WAS STARTED BY CHRIS GORSKI IN 2003.

“It was a creative outlet for me while I was working in advertising as the art director at CampbellEwald,” Gorski said. “It was just fun to do, to illustrate all the time. I would come up with these sketches and co-workers would tell me, ‘That’s funny, you should put that on a shirt.’ So I did. It started as a hobby. I would bring the shirts to work and take them to small events.”

Gorski’s hobby ended up paying off big time. “In 2009, I was let go at Campbell-Ewald,” he explained. “Actually, because of this side business, my boss laid me off first. He handed me my severance check and said, ‘Go make t-shirts.’ I listened to him, freelanced for about a year, and during that time, I began to build the business.”

A car enthusiast and collector as well, Gorski started to sell the apparel out of a vintage Chevy. “I didn’t want to be in a tent, I wanted to sell out of a vintage car,” he said. “Then, when the owners of The Rust Belt Market opened shop in 2010, I would take my truck there and sell my shirts. They were open every weekend, and I have been there since the beginning.”

Gorski also began selling his designs, many of which begin as simple sketches, at other venues and events such as AutoRama, Motor City Pride, the Berkley Art Bash, Ferndale Pride, Hazel Park Art Fair, and Northville’s Buy Michigan Now. He also sells in area malls such as Twelve Oaks, Briarwood, and Partridge Creek (in The Art is in Market stores) and online via an Etsy page.

“I live in Ferndale and have a 3,000 square foot studio there,” Gorski explained. “This is where I press the shirts. Most are heat transfers, and I also do some silk-screening. This is done at the Eastern Market. I have three employees who mainly help with sales. And my husband, Jason, usually has some time off around the holidays to help by visiting stores, de-cluttering and restocking.”

Gorski creates special t-shirts for each city he travels to and sets up shop. “I do some research and come up with something that is recognizable with a twist. For Hazel Park, I created a “Hip and Happening Hazel Park” shirt,” he said.

RECENTLY, GORSKI SAID HE HAS EXPANDED HIS BUSINESS to include a line of home décor made up of “simple, modern, iconic illustrations” of various buildings in and around Detroit. “There’s coasters, art prints, and canvas prints,” he said.

When he’s not busy creating, Gorski likes to focus his time on his other passion – cars. “I love classic cars, especially Chevys,” he said. “I’m a car collector. My father had a Corvette when I was younger that he sold to put an addition on our home. I remember many Sundays driving around lots with him looking for a replacement.”

They eventually found one in an unlikely spot. Gorski remembered, “My aunt also had a Corvette and she sold it to him to restore. It was a project we were able to work together on.”

Gorski also enjoys traveling. “My husband is a flight attendant, so we have the benefit of flying stand-by. Sometimes we get to do a long layover in a city, anywhere from 24 to 36 hours,” he explained. “He is from Greece, so we also travel there to visit family.”

Gorski always carries around a sketch book and has a pen in hand, he said, adding, “Even at the bar, I’ll sit there doodling. I’m always doodling about current events, drawing something happening around me while people are watching, or while I’m traveling.”

For a full list of where to pick up the latest DetroitGT gear or to shop online visit DetroitGT.com.