Special

By Kevin Alan Lamb

WE LIVE IN A TIME WHEN IT IS DIFFICULT TO TAKE 10 STEPS before someone offers their uninvited opinion or advice on how to act, think and run your business.

Rather than lead by example or applaud those pioneering a unique path, we often criticize others who face the changes we weren’t willing to make ourselves. As such, it is refreshing to discover a place, space, and concept designed to help their clients find their own way.

“The D-Loft Cafe is focused on being a hub for the food professional,” says Brandi C Shelton, founder/ owner.

“We assist new and established professionals to grow and maintain their customer base while assisting them in the development of business concepts that increase their brand awareness, financial stability and most importantly creativity. The Cafe works daily on the enrichment of small food businesses by working hand-in-hand with the creator/ owner and continuously developing new and out of the box thinking for the future.

“We work to provide things not normal to a banquet space or hall. Social connections build. A banquet hall isn’t a place to build unless it’s made into a full social environment. TVs, fireplaces, lounge furniture and more provide the client with a different viewpoint. It is a training concept. Social spaces are considered banquet halls but what we do and how we offer the space is by far on a different level to our consuming public.

“Our drink partners both help us to be innovative. No more of the boring drinks. We bring a full brand to the table. It is healthy, tasty and fresh. Our drinks are handcrafted right here in Michigan and they are a super-small business. Lymonheadz started with five total drinks on their menu. In one year we assisted them in the development of 25 flavor combinations and they have even started distribution to stores and restaurants for 2022.

FOR OVER 20 YEARS, SHELTON HAS BEEN BLENDING BUSINESS AND BEYOND, which she credits as the recipe for creating social spaces.

Like rocket fuel for dreams realized, Shelton’s passion and vision continue to provide others a guide to reach, and navigate their stars. The D Loft’s mission is to ensure each professional that walks in their doors is successful on three levels.

• START: Beginning stages of building the business and brand foundation.

• MOVE: Movement is the element where the business is growing and gaining momentum with a brand presence.

• TRIUMPH: The final stone to the foundation of building a business. When the company is established and working, growing and making money. It is the crossover point of knowing you are in the winners circle.

NO MATTER YOUR PROGRESS ON YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY, the D Loft’s mission should excite and quite possibly intrigue you. Their studio space focuses on being a part of the arts, building with educational programs, independent artists, and other small businesses. They host a variety of different business and art-based forums, all by special invitation only.

There’s even a bed-and-breakfast. “Another hole in my belt of trying something new. We took a home and converted it into a boutique style, mini-hotel concept, with art and more. We removed the basic kitchen appliances and replaced them with what a general hotel would have, and created a breakfast menu for up to eight to partake in every morning of your stay. What can go wrong with shrimp and grits, French toast or pancakes, fruit platters, fresh juice, alkaline water and desserts?”

Investing time, energy, and love into the realization of others dreams, helps illustrate the reality that a dream shared, is less likely to be a dream deferred.

“There are several success stories. From food to food trucks. The mission is sustainability. From Confections Factory to Flavor for the Soul, Jerri’s Cheesecakes, Rosey Cheeks Treats, Sweet Babe Treats (our sweet lineup), Blu VI Catering, Chef Taz Bistro (our co-Executive Chefs), Chrissy Cuisine, Culinarian’s Corner (our Executive Chef and Food Director) to Fantastic Fruit (fresh fruit and veggies) and more. On the food truck side, we built a relationship with Touch of Honey and DC Novelty Eats and they both are gaining momentum.

“Touch of Honey is focused on the building phase of life. Her final goal is full domination in the communities where she becomes a household name. She brings back that mama approach, providing you a meal that reminds you of Sunday dinner on a Tuesday. All of them hold something special to me and the foundation of what the cafe stands for. Collectively, there are 20 members that build up.”

Visit the D Loft’s three locations – Hamtramck, Ferndale and Oak Park – to experience its wondrous offerings for yourself.

13710 W Nine Mile Rd, Oak Park
138 Stratford, Ferndale
313.879.0750 | thedloftcafe@gmail.com

By Sara E. Teller

Serving the Public for More Than 70 Years

PUBLIC SERVICE CREDIT UNION (PSCU), formerly known as the Wayne County Employees Credit Union, opened for business in the Detroit Metropolitan Area more than 70 years ago. Branch offices can be found all across Southeast Michigan and the company is headquartered in Romulus.

“We have 140 dedicated employees who feel an obligation to provide the best financial services available to our near 35,000 members,” said Nadine Hohnke, Digital Member Experience Manager for PSCU’s Oak Park branch. “Our mission is to help our members reach their financial goals.”

Every customer who walks through the door can be sure their own unique needs are heard and met. In fact, members are considered part of the team. Hohnke said, “As a member of the PSCU family, everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Every one of our members is also part owner of the Credit Union, which means that whatever benefits the Union also benefits members.”

While PSCU seems to have a more personalized feel than larger banking facilities, it’s still able to offer a broad range of financial services from checking and savings accounts, CDs, online and mobile banking options, vehicle loans, mortgages, and more.

“We also provide a wide array of commercial banking services for our business members,” Hohnke said. “Best of all, our products and services are offered at better rates [than at traditional banks] because we are a not-for-profit cooperative that does not have to create income for stockholders.”

Some of the more specialized services PSCU Oak Park extends to its members include Savvy Money, which provides free credit monitoring and daily updates without impacting credit score, as well Round Up, which allows customers to round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the extra pocket money into a special savings account. First-time auto buyers also have an opportunity to purchase a vehicle without having a credit history. “This is a great service to the younger buyers,” Hohnke said.

PSCU OAK PARK IS INVOLVED IN A VARIETY OF LOCAL ACTIVITIES and fundraising opportunities throughout the year. The Pink Fund, Eleanor’s Walk for HOPE, and Relay for Life are just a few of the charitable events in which PSCU has participated.

“Every year a group of PSCU employees go out to spread some holiday cheer in our neighboring cities, including the City of Oak Park,” Hohnke added. “In the past, we have gone to stores and paid for a shopper’s items at checkout, purchased meals for strangers, surprised people by filling their gas tanks at the pump as well as extended many other random acts of kindness.”

Of course, the pandemic has put a damper on some of the community involvement over the past couple of years, but PSCU Oak Park has developed alternative strategies for continuing to give back.

“This past holiday season was a little different due to the pandemic,” Hohnke explained. “We decided to do PSCU 12-Days of Tipping. Employees were encouraged to order carryout at local eateries. PSCU gave our employees $200 to tip [for their service].”

THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS HAVE ALSO PROMPTED PSCU to make a few changes to allow for members to have better access to online services. “To meet the needs of customers during these uncertain times, PSCU redesigned its mobile app, online banking portal, and websites so customers can do even more online,” Hohnke said.

She believes PSCU Oak Park is more than just one of the branch locations, saying, “It’s where the community, local businesses, and organizations can come together to receive genuine support. Through lending, financing, investing, and community development, PSCU is here to grow and sustain the wonderful community of Oak Park.”

For more information on membership options, products or services, call 734-641-8400 or visit www.PSCUnow.com

13401 W 9 Mile Rd, Oak Park MI 48237

By Sara E. Teller

THE BERKLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS KNOWN FOR PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS from early elementary to beyond high school. The District is highly-ranked in the State of Michigan as well as nationwide, and there are plenty of diverse opportunities for students to excel both academically and in extracurricular activities.

“In the Berkley School District, students are prepared to be creative, curious, confident, well-rounded critical thinkers,” said Jessica Stilger, Director of Communications. “They are kind and caring and have a global perspective while understanding their communities.” She added that the District “is known for [presenting] pathways for students to achieve their individual best, whatever that looks like for each student.”

One of the main reasons Berkley has one of the top districts has to do with the tremendous support from residents. Since its inception in 1840, the District has enjoyed support from everyone, including businesses and families without children attending school. Stilger said, “Berkley’s students enjoy the multitude of experiences and successes because of the overwhelming community support, the fantastic work of their great teachers and administrators, and the rich and vibrant environments that families create. The incredible successes Berkley students experience are possible, in part, because of the support provided at every level.”

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES

IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED to think critically and reach their full potential through out-of-the-box courses in the Cultures of Thinking & Reading program as well as writing workshop models designed to enhance literacy skills and increase comprehension in all subjects.

There are a number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses available in higher grades – 26, in fact. These allow students to extend their knowledge beyond a traditional curriculum. Students also have an opportunity to take classes at the Oakland Schools Technical Centers as well as the Center for Creative Studies & the Arts (CASA). These partnerships allow for additional career exploration that is invaluable post-graduation.

“Classes like zoology, forensics, Encore! show choir, creative writing, film studies, history of the Holocaust, marketing, African-American literature, computer programming and more challenge and engage students,” Stilger explained. “Students can explore robotics, foreign languages, student newspaper opportunities and various music options in middle school. In addition, many middle school students complete high school credits while attending Norup and Anderson.”

Berkley offers a plethora of sports, including softball, baseball, football, basketball, track and field, cross-country, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, golf and tennis. Students can also join clubs like the yearbook team, Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), Black Perspectives Club, Dungeons & Dragons, gaming club, robotics, and art and drama. The high school, specifically, offers soccer, cheerleading, hockey, figure skating, dance and rugby. Stilger explained, “At the high school level, students are able to join over 50 clubs of varying interests, like Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), GSA, drama club, future teachers and more.”

DISTRICT AWARDS

BERKLEY HAS ACHIEVED MANY AWARDS, including being named Best Community for Music Education for the last ten years by the NAMM Foundation (2012-2021). The District is also among the top 25 school districts in Michigan, according to the 2022 Niche rankings, and Berkley High School was named Best High School by the U.S. News & World Report in 2021, as well as being among the top six percent of high schools in the nation.

In recent years, students have been named All-State and Academic All-State for swimming, baseball, tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Twenty student athletes signed with colleges and universities in the 2020-2021 academic year. The Berkley High School (BHS) Orchestra was one of three high school orchestras nationwide invited to play at Carnegie Hall in 2019 for the World Stride Music Festival. “This was the second trip to Carnegie Hall in four years,” explained Stilger.

The BHS Drama Department produced a musical in Spring 2021 and performed outside to ensure the show would go on despite the Coronavirus pandemic. BHS was also the first school in the state to adopt Sources of Strength, a peer-led wellness program.

“The Berkey School District is incredibly proud of all of its students and the paths they are forging for themselves,” said Stilger, adding, “Families are encouraged to join their school’s support groups to stay involved with their child’s school and education.”

In fact, each school has its own Parent Teacher Association parents can join to have a say in the opportunities offered. Choir, Orchestra, and Instrumental Booster groups support grades 6 through 12, and the Athletic Boosters support high school athletics. The Berkley Education Foundation helps all students in all buildings through teacher innovation grants, student scholarships, elementary enrichment programs, and sending students in eighth grade on college tours.

2021 INITIATIVES

THE BERKLEY COMMUNITY PASSED A SINKING FUND INITIATIVE IN 2018 that was meant to expand upon a 2015 bond initiative to provide funding for school roofing and concrete replacement projects, technology infrastructure improvements, energy and security developments, technology device purchases and more. Most recently, the District has focused this funding on building an addition at Anderson Middle School for a multipurpose and cafeteria space. Construction is slated to be completed soon.

A draft of a new strategic plan is also ready for community feedback. The plan will guide the District’s work for the next three to five years, setting stretch goals for the District as a whole and creating a plan for the administrative team to report on to the Board of Education. “The words inspire, empower, lead, will guide the team through this process,” Stilger explained.

Berkley is continuing to ensure that diversity is at the center of its commitment to students and families. Stilger said, “The School District is committed to keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of its goals by creating an environment where all staff, students and community members feel a sense of belonging. Many diversity, equity and inclusion goals and strategies are embedded in the new strategic plan proposal.” This focus ensures that the District’s core values of lifting up, encouraging, and supporting each and every child is upheld.

“All are welcome in the Berkley schools no matter the color of their skin, who they love, how they identify, if or how they worship, their family income, where they live, what they look like, their abilities or what language they speak,” Stilger said.

Berkley also has a new superintendent, Scott Francis, who was the District’s Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology for four years prior to moving into his most current position in May 2021. Francis was also the principal of Pattengill Elementary from 2014 to 2017.

“Superintendent Francis will spend the first months of his new position building relationships with staff, families, and community members,” Stilger said. “The goal of the conversations and work will be centered around what is best for students and staff, and how the community – along with Superintendent Francis can create a shared vision for the future of Berkley Schools.”

For more information on the Berkley School District, please contact the administrative office at 248-837-8000 or visit www.berkleyschools.org

By William Good

THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN CHALLENGING FOR OUR COMMUNITIES, and Ferndale Schools are no exception. High-quality instruction continues safely in our schools, and we are progressing swiftly to heal all of the difficulties of the recent cultural challenges while continuing our commitment to positive improvements.

SUPPORTING STUDENT NEEDS

FERNDALE TEACHERS HAVE LONG UNDERSTOOD THAT NOT EVERY STUDENT enters the classroom the same. Some start with the skills and knowledge to exceed expectations, and some have to be taught these prerequisite skills first. These challenges can be academic or behavioral. Still other students are eager to accelerate their learning journey.

And this level of preparedness may vary for an individual student every year, or every day. In many ways, addressing the needs of students returning from Distance Learning is familiar territory. However, social changes and a pandemic are showing their impact.

Fortunately for our students, Ferndale Schools are prepared with a robust system of supports that adapts to each child. Achieving this includes:

• Fostering a Culture of Support.

• Identifying Needs.

• Deploying and Adapting Support as Needed.

Learn more about the process and see support examples at www.FerndaleSchools.org/MTSS.

RESTORATIVE SCHOOL CULTURE

STUDENTS SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN SCHOOL. In classes, clubs, cafeterias and common spaces, students develop complex relationships with classmates as well as adults and other peers at different stages of development than their own. All of these interactions amount to a very dynamic set of variables influencing each child while at school.

Guiding these relationships in a positive direction requires a school culture with well defined principles and clearly communicated expectations of behavior, attitudes, and procedures for seeking support. At Ferndale Schools, we guide our culture with empathy by putting Restorative Practices at the forefront of everything we do.

WHAT ARE RESTORATIVE PRACTICES?

RESTORATIVE PRACTICES include appealing to relationships and proactively encouraging empathy for others. By emphasizing pro-active culture building, we reduce the need for responsive behaviors such as punishment that may instill shame in students and isolate them from classmates and support networks. Making poor decisions is most often the result of situational effect or mood. By encouraging peer to peer interactions in the classroom, we strengthen those connections that provide a vital support network for our students.

Cultivating our school culture improves our schools by:

• Increasing sense of community and belonging.

• Reducing instances of interpersonal conflict.

• Reducing the need for punitive discipline.

CULTURALLY CONNECTED

SHOWING EMPATHY TO OTHERS REQUIRES SOME UNDERSTANDING of their experiences, and connecting ourselves to those experiences. Our school culture is not simply a reflection of or a response to the world we live in, it is a connection with it. Connection is forged by developing an understanding in our students, staff, and community that includes all aspects of cultural strengths and cultural inequities. With understanding comes the opportunity to include the methods communities have developed to reduce stress and build resilience which fit their unique culture.

Learn more about our Restorative Practice strategies in Ferndale Schools and the core principles that you can practice at home at www.FerndaleSchools.org/Restore.

FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS

We have been making major improvements to our facilities, paving the way for 21st century learning and play. You can view more photos and details at FerndaleSchools.org/New

By Brandon Jiles
Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THE Oak Park School District’s nearly 3,800 students are served at Einstein, Key, and Pepper elementary schools (grades PreK-5), the Oak Park Preparatory Academy (grades 6-8), Oak Park High School (grades 9-12), NOVA (grades 3-12) the Oak Park Alternative Education Center (ages 16-19 years old) and My Virtual Academy of Oak Park (grades 5-12) in Oak Park, MI in Oakland County located in a suburban community near Detroit with approximately 30,000 residents. Our District consists of over 450 staff members, including 250 teachers and 11 building administrators.

Our School District boasts an abundance of educational and co/extra-curricular programs to meet the needs of a vast array of learners from Pre-K through twelfth grade. We encourage students to challenge themselves academically, explore comprehensive course offerings and take risks to discover their gifts.

We are dedicated to providing an intellectually challenging educational experience in safe, nurturing school environments that thrive on cultivating and empowering students to be their authentic selves. In addition, our academic and co/extra-curricular opportunities provide agency and shape self-identity, which are critical components to the adolescent development process.

The Oak Park Advantage is a holistic approach to education that not only prepares students academically and fosters a sense of belonging but also creates long-lasting connections to the Oak Park community. While attending Oak Park Schools, students develop a confidence that is woven throughout their post-secondary, professional, and social-emotional well-being years after they graduate.

“We take pride in our commitment to fostering a diverse teaching staff that is inclusive of everyone it’s integral to our culture as we aim to empower our students to bring their best self, unique perspectives, and talents to the classroom every day.” Brandon Jiles, Communications Coordinator

Commitment to student growth and emphasis on athletics and the arts are just a handful of the many Oak Park advantages. The Wade McCree Incentive Scholarship Program offers four-year scholarships to attend Oakland University for Oak Park High School students who graduate with a 3.0 GPA and score at least a 1060 on the SAT.

OUR COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATIONAL AND ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS allow us to distinctively meet the needs of all learners in Oak Park. In addition to the major academic areas, courses are offered in art, music, physical education, computer science, foreign language, bilingual education, alternative education, advanced placement, co-op, work-study, special education and college prep, advance placement courses at the Center for Advanced Studies and Arts (CASA). Special facilities include the state-of-the-art Hoffman planetarium, TV studio, multi-lingual studies, and computer labs.

Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, Oak Park Schools had an award-winning 2020-21. Oak Park High School teacher Owen Bondono was named the 2020-2021 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY). Bondono will be entering his seventh year of teaching English language arts in the fall. Before teaching, he worked as a paraprofessional in the classroom for four years. Bondono’s selection as the 2020-21 MTOY began with the nomination of more than 400 teachers during the fall of 2020.

“Ultimately, teaching is an expression of my love of humanity. My way of making my mark on the world is making the next generation better. I know that growing the next generation of humanity is a community effort, so I will create that community wherever I find it.” Owen Bondono

IN ADDITION TO OUR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, a wide variety of extracurricular activities keeps students involved after school as well, we have a robotics team, National Honor Society, Wayne State C2 Pipeline, and also a new partnership with the City of Oak Park Recreation Department offering hip hop dance classes and gaming competitions in the newly remodeled Knight Café.

According to Mlive.com, the Oak Park High School’s athletic department is one of the top 50 athletic programs in the state. Our girl’s Track & Field program has become a perennial power-winning MHSAA Division 1 State Championships six out of last seven years, also garnering three national titles in 2021. The Oak Park football program has 13 players currently competing on the NCAA Division 1-FBS level, which is ranked fourth best in the State of Michigan.

STEVE GAMBURD IS AN IMPRESSIVE AND ACCOMPLISHED LOCAL ARTIST/MUSICIAN. His career path and achievements have covered a broad range over the years: Art exhibition; picture framing; landscaping, gardening and beautification; murals; house painting; restoration; art curating; watercolor and drawing instruction; event coordination and design, and venue booking and management.

Gamburd’s popularity and obvious charisma most likely come from a combination of his overall enthusiasm, talent, upbeat energy, and his outgoing nature: “I am very thankful for my experiences, and I also appreciate the work that others put in. I am always looking for inspiration, and I have always figured out a way to integrate my art into my life. It’s part of my spirit!”

In Gamburd’s early days of art, he greatly enjoyed comic books – especially the superhero characters – and particularly those with independent or adult themes. Then he began creating his own comics, which became an ongoing pursuit. In his college days, he found the art of abstraction and expressionists highly influential. Gamburd’s continual inspiration has stemmed from working with life themes over the years, such as the figure, nature, still life, or sketching random people/settings.

Regarding music, he was influenced by quite a few experimental sounds, but, “I did not consider myself to be a musician until I realized that music is also art. I had no idea when I was younger that I would ever play the drums!” At around age 28, Gamburd discovered his new love of the drums. He wrote a number of songs over a period of five years, with a new-wave, indie-rock quartet called The Nerve. From then on, Gamburd has gigged and recorded studio albums with a number of bands, of various genres. These have included: Polar Opposite (folk-rock); Black Lodge (postpunk); Bastion (indie-pop/rock); Steffie & The Dirty Virgins (glam-rock); New Centaur (jazz-rock), Superbomb (grunge & space-rock); Abul On Fire (psych-rock) and 8th Chakra (sludge-punk). His current band, Origami Phase, is shoegaze/dream pop. Gamburd commented, “I’ve had the fortune of playing with great musicians over the years. These bandmates played a major role in my development as a drummer and songwriter.”

BY WAY OF EDUCATION, Gamburd majored in studio art at MSU in 1993, illustration at LCC from ’94-’95, liberal arts at OCC in ’96, and then dropped out of college to focus on art exclusively. In 2011, Gamburd returned to OCC for an Associates in Liberal Arts. In 1994,  Jim Ferguson became a huge influence on Gamburd’s passion for watercolor: “I took his watercolor classes until I could no longer receive credit from them.” Watercolor subsequently became a ‘true love’ for Gamburd, and one that he knew would endure for a lifetime: “This is the most awesome media. Instead of seeing it as the stereotypical ‘watered-down’ medium, I see it as being explosive and bold, with various ways to approach it. There are so many levels that I am still trying to figure out!”

Gamburd mentioned the importance of setting goals and completing them! On this subject, he is busy writing a comprehensive, full-color watercolor manual, where the final goal is a 125-page book. Drawing from some previous teaching experience, he is well on the way into lesson plans which form a ‘step by step’ guide on how a beginner can complete a watercolor painting.

Gamburd has an ongoing exhibition at the Dovetail Cafe in Warren (29200 Hoover Rd.) until the end of February 2022. This show is named “The Poster Show” and it features over 100 event posters created over the last two decades by Gamburd and his friend, Steven Czapiewski. His band Origami Phase performs at Bowlero in Royal Oak on Thursday December 30th, at 9:00 P.M.

I HAD TO ASK: “HOW DO YOU STAY SO ORGANIZED?” Gamburd’s response, “Someone has to make it all happen – make the calls and follow up with contacts. It all starts with a big plan or idea, then people just want to get involved.” The Phoenix Cafe was a classic example of his skills in show-casing diverse talent. “I love providing shows of different kinds, where we are all on the same page, and where a passion for creativity is the driving force. Hosting as a venue really opened up my interests a lot. It opened my mind to other genres of music. I have to look into things as I am not easily pleased!”

Gamburd feels the Phoenix years were like an open canvas of possibilities. Pianist Hans Barbe and the late steampunk creator Michael Wiggins opened a space that was a place for growing, healing and community. Gamburd was gallery coordinator and created special events, including fundraisers and art exhibits from 2009-2012. Then he went on to renovate the space, with the help of the existing Phoenix family, and became co-owner/general manager for the venue from 2013-2017. Gamburd developed music festivals at the Phoenix and abroad with co-owner Ben Frank, plus he curated themed art shows with Czapiewski. He also hosted Lewandowski’s “See What Stacey Started” figure-drawing class. (This non-instructed class and art community continued to gather after the closing of the venue).

Over these years, many good networking relationships formed between bands, which led to a number of collaborations. However, at this point, Gamburd described having less time to be a visual artist as it is a hugely time-consuming venture. Even though it had multiple positive outcomes, and was a powerful way for people to connect, Gamburd added that the Phoenix Cafe was “not profitable.”

Once the venue closed its doors in December of 2017, Gamburd was able to gig with his bands, present a long-awaited solo art show based on his ‘dream’ art, and shift into more gardening/house painting jobs. Now – following a busy season of those pursuits – he is excited to focus on comic book illustration, and more watercolor lessons.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

FOR TIFFANY PUGMIRE, HER ARTWORK IS HER MEDIATION, her cathartic release. For others, Pugmire’s artwork invokes joy, cheer, inspiration and more.

“WHEN CREATING,I AM CONSISTENTLY sifting my way through transitions and emotion; thus the extra play time with this medium lends to the remedy or healing process,” Pugmire said of her work. “For me, there is a magnetic sensation when looking at the reflection of light, and the contrast of the hidden colors in shadows. It keeps me interested in a subject as I attempt to capture this quality in my efforts.”

Pugmire gained local fame last Spring when she put her talent to work through sidewalk art. In exchange for chalk to perform her skills, Pugmire would take requests of what individuals wanted displayed on their sidewalk. Mayor Marian McClellan requested Vincent Van Gogh’sSunflowers,” and others requested birthday messages, recreations of other well-known art pieces and more.

While, the rain has since washed away the sidewalk art that brought smiles to Oak Park residents in the height of the COVID pandemic, Pugmire’s artwork can now be viewed in City Hall. This artwork won’t be found on the floors of City Hall, though; rather her oil paintings are displayed on canvas throughout the art gallery near the main entrance.

PUGMIRE’S ARTWORK DISPLAY IN CITY HALL IS PART OF Oak Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program, which is administered through the City’s Arts & Cultural Diversity Committee. Her artwork can be viewed now through the end of December.

The use of light and shadow in Pugmire’s paintings is quick to catch a viewer’s eye. The way in which she brings life to a simple bowl of eggs or a cabbage on a string is something only someone with true, raw talent can accomplish. Pair Pugmire’s inherent artistry with her training and still life art becomes anything but.

WHEN PUGMIRE IS NOT DELVING IN HER ARTISTIC SIDE she can also be found teaching yoga, practicing Reiki and working for the Oak Park Public Safety Department’s Records Bureau. She is a woman of many talents, and the City of Oak Park is thrilled to serve as a conduit between her artwork and the public.

For the Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program administered by the Arts & Cultural Diversity Program, local artists are encouraged to apply on a rolling basis. The Committee regularly seeks two-dimensional artwork for the lobby of City Hall for the duration of a quarterly exhibition period, and seeks art that represents the diversity of our community. Varied artistic styles and mediums are welcomed. All artists are encouraged to apply; however priority is given to Oak Park resident artists. Artwork should reflect positively on our community and must be suitable for public display.

By Sara E. Teller
Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

A DEDICATED STAFF THAT ENJOYS PROVIDING PUBLIC SERVICE

THE FRIENDS OF THE OAK PARK LIBRARY (FOPL) WAS FOUNDED IN THE MID-1950S, just prior to the opening of the Library itself in June 1958.

The purpose of the group is to provide support for the Library by offering a broader understanding of what it offers, as well as soliciting a wider use of it services. In its earliest days, FOPL volunteers went door-to-door asking residents to join or donate funds and materials to help establish the facility that patrons enjoy today.

In 2012, the Oak Park Public Library (OPPL) underwent a remodel and expanded its space, offering residents an even wider selection of products and services in a larger space. The Library currently houses nearly 75,000 books and other materials, and provides the community with enrichment programs including classes, seminars, presentations, and other efforts to promote literacy and reading. It also offers a wide range of technology services, including courses designed to teach web-based skills. The diverse selection of materials available at OPPL represents that of Oak Park’s community-at-large, according to Library Director Kimberly Schaaf.

“The Oak Park Public Library [serves] an amazingly diverse community, and our material collections reflect that,” she said. “We have everything from urban fiction to a Russian language collection. Our setting also makes us unique, as we are located adjacent to a beautiful neighborhood park and our community recreation center.”

Adapting with the times, OPPL now offers patrons quick and simple ways to access the Internet on the go, which is particularly important to residents who are in need of free services that support their busy lives.

“The Library recently started circulating Internet hotspots so people can access the Internet at home or on the go,” said Schaaf. This allows the Library to continue partnering with residents during a time at which many individuals would rather be at home.

She added, “In addition to these hotspots, we also subscribe to Libby, giving residents access to thousands of downloadable e-books and audiobooks.” Patrons looking to attain continuing education credits (CEUs) can access Universal Class through Libby, which offers over 500 courses.

“We also recently purchased a variety of children’s picture books that read out loud to kids,” Schaaf said, speaking to the library’s commitment to offering products and services to all populations. She added, “The Library offers notary service, test proctoring, technology assistance, remote printing, resume review, and study rooms. We have a computer lab and regular events, including author talks, concerts, book clubs, and school readiness” options.

THE OAK PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY IS AN INTEGRAL PART of the community, Schaaf says, because “the goal of all the services and materials we offer is to impact our patrons’ lives in a positive way. Whether it’s helping a person scan a document, find their next favorite book, providing study space, providing access to online resources, or a place for their child to get ready for school, we are here to help people.”

As far as COVID-19 is concerned, while it has negatively impacted the library’s budget, Schaaf prefers to look at the positives. “We are currently operating in a fairly normal capacity with our normal services being offered,” she explained. “COVID-19 did impact our budget in a negative way. [Our overall] revenue has been reduced by COVID due to the many restrictions that were in place last year.” But, she added, “despite the loss of revenue, the Library has and will continue to offer the same level of support, service, and materials.”

FOPL continues to raise funds and attain other support for OPPL and is actively looking for volunteers for educational programs, physical improvements, and to encourage the overall enjoyment of reading. The group now has provided more than $50,000 to maintain operation of the library.

Schaaf said, “The Oak Park Public Library is blessed to have an amazing Friends of the Library organization who supports events, equipment, and material purchases. If anyone is interested in helping the Library, becoming a Friend of the Library member is a great way to do that. In addition, we are always looking for community partners and ways we work together with other organizations to accomplish common goals.”

FOPL meets the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 P.M. in Room 4 of the community center. Anyone hoping to join should download a copy of the membership application online, fill it out, and drop it off at the Library during regular business hours. There are also numerous upcoming and ongoing events in which residents can get involved.

FROM DECEMBER 1, 2021, TO JANUARY 5, 2022, THOSE WHO ARE A PART OF THE OPPL BOOK CLUB will read A Promised Land by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the first of two volumes, and meet to discuss their experiences. Meetings take place from the safety of readers’ homes via a video call on first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 P.M. The Promised Land will include in-depth discussions during a minimum of two sessions.

Patrons can also look forward to Storytime with Mr. Stuart, an ongoing, fun reading program for toddlers through age 6 that occurs on Wednesdays from 10:15 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.

The Library is partnering with local businesses in Oak Park and the surrounding communities and encourages residents to shop at Kroger, which donates a percentage of its profits to FOPL. Residents can also shop online at smile.amazon.com and the company will donate a very small percentage of any Amazon Smile purchase to a charitable organization. Library patrons can select FOPL to support the library at no additional cost.

In general, the OPPL is a small library which fits perfectly with the close-knit feel of Oak Park. Schaaf says, “Readers should know that although we are a small library, we have a very dedicated staff that enjoys providing public service. We look forward to welcoming new members.”

For more information regarding the Friends of the Oak Park Library or the Oak Park Public Library itself, visit OPPL’s page on the City of Oak Park’s website at www.oakparkmi.gov/departments/library/index.php, stop by in person, or call 248.691.7480.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

Detective Dwaine Green

DWAINE GREEN WAS RECENTLY PROMOTED TO THE POSITION OF DETECTIVE IN THE OAK PARK PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT. This promotion became effective on March 8, 2021 for the six-year Oak Park Public Safety Department veteran. Detective Green is a highly decorated and respected officer, as is highlighted by the numerous citations he has throughout his career.

He also serves as a Field Training Officer for newly-hired recruits and is a select member of the Comeback Quick Response Team, which supports “Hope Not Handcuffs” and the “Families Against Narcotics Program.” Both programs assist citizens who are challenged by a substance-use disorder.

The decision to promote Green to detective was based not only on his successes as an officer, but also on his personality traits. Detective Green is intelligent, knowledgeable and possess a keen sense of awareness, all valuable skills for a detective. He also has a natural ability to relate with all citizens. Detective Green is a key asset to the Investigation Bureau and the Public Safety Department is proud to have him.

Parking Officer Michael Foster & Public Safety Officer Steve Arbenowske

In addition to promoting Det. Green, the Public Safety Department also welcomed Michael Foster as a new Parking Enforcement Officer in July of 2021. Foster is an Oak Park resident and has several years of parking enforcement experience with the City of Ferndale. He has strong communication skills, which are further enhanced by his great personality.

Director Steve Cooper & Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp

Oak Park Public Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp was presented with a Director’s Commendation by Public Safety Director Steve Cooper at the Monday, Aug. 23 Council Meeting. Officer Beauchamp is one of the Department’s newest officers and completed the Fire Academy as the number one Academic Recruit amongst 23 fellow graduates.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

HELLO FROM YOUR OAKLAND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS! We, Commissioners Charlie Cavell (representing Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods and Royal Oak Twp., and part of Oak Park) and Yolanda Charles (representing Lathrup Village and parts of Oak Park and Southfield), would like to take a moment to say that it has been an honor to serve the residents of Oak Park throughout 2021.

And it brings us both great pride to continue representing you on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners into 2022. As we adapt and move forward through this challenging time, we are committed to supporting our residents of all ages and backgrounds, in addition to our diverse businesses and organizations.

The Board of Commissioners recently adopted the 2022-2024 County Budget, which includes funds for a number of programs that will directly assist the residents of Oak Park. In the first year of the pandemic, Oak Park small businesses were awarded $2.3 million in grant funding from the County, and local government, educational institutions, non-profits, seniors, individuals, veterans, and libraries and community centers were awarded $3.9 million.

We look forward to bringing you more information about relief and support programs made possible through Oakland County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds as the Board works with County administration to find meaningful ways to get help to those who need it most.

IN ADDITION TO THOSE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE PANDEMIC, the Board has spearheaded projects that impact all areas of life for Oakland County residents. Early in 2021, we both participated in a press conference at the Ferndale Housing Commission to launch the Fair Housing Initiative, aimed at ending source of income housing discrimination. We have also brought environmental sustainability initiatives to our communities, stood for County-wide equality initiatives and made efforts to make County government more accessible to the constituents we serve.

We thank you for your engagement and commitment to making your community a rewarding place for us all. As two commissioners serving their first terms on the Board, it’s been extremely gratifying to get to know Oak Park. From community groups to cultural events, every nook of the city has something to offer its residents and the county.

Please remember that the Board of Commissioners is here for all of you, so do not hesitate to reach out to your commissioner for any reason at all. For more information about the Board, visit www.oakgov.com/boc. For the most up-to-date information, sign up for our newsletters from our commissioner pages, which can also be found on the website.

Commissioners Charlie Cavell (District 18) and Yolanda Charles (District 17)