Story by David Wesley
IN EVERY CITY AND TOWN, THERE ARE PEOPLE who you can call “fixtures” of the town. This simple word often hides a wealth of history, trivia, and local knowledge. Pat Cissell is definitely a fixture, having lived in Ferndale all of her 58 years, and offering her unique skills, talents, and vision to make a better life for her family and for her fellow citizens.
Pat’s name should be quite familiar. She volunteers for many local events. She ran for city council, and her son Andrew ran for state representative. Recently, mother and son worked together on the legalization of marijuana through the milegalize.com ballot initiative, pounding the streets to change the law. “Even a full-time homemaker can make a differ- ence in the world by getting involved.” Pat says. “There are many ways to do it. You don’t have to be famous or rich. Regular people make the world go round.”
We talked to Pat recently, and here’s what she had to say.
Ferndale Friends: Pat, what has your storied history with Ferndale included?
PC: I have lived in Ferndale all my 58 years. I have been a full-time homemaker and mother. I have three children who are grown. I worked at our family company, Soltman Heating & Cooling, that had been in Ferndale and now is in Oak Park. I also ran for the City of Ferndale council in the mid ‘90s because I wanted to make a difference in my city.
Currently I have been working as a Detroit area movie extra and volunteer on the Ferndale CERT team. That is the community emergency response team that backs up at the police and fire as needed. Ferndale CERT is under the jurisdiction of the Ferndale fire services and Chief Kevin Sullivan. We train monthly in the preset CERT program as it is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
I deployed for a cooling center a couple of years ago, and I missed the Ferndale floods when the CERT team was very helpful, as I was visiting my daughter in California at the time. I was also a Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop and outdoor cooking trainer for the Girl Scout Council leaders. I am going to Ethiopia in Africa as a missionary for my church also.
I started a Facebook page probably about three years ago or so called “Memories of Ferndale Michigan.” We have over 3500 members around the world, who grew up and have lived in Ferndale. It is for the folks
who like to remember growing up in the old days of Ferndale.
FF: Given your experience, how do you feel about Detroit’s comeback? What do you see for its future?
PC: As a movie extra, we have filmed in the city of Detroit for a few TV shows and many movies. I think the tide is turning but it will take some time to find a new normal. I personally am in Detroit quite often, and enjoy its restaurants and museums. A week or two ago a few of my movie pals and I toured the Motown Museum, sat along the riverfront in lounge chairs in the shade, drove around Belle Isle and did some hiking to the lighthouse there. Then we finished up our day at the top of the Renaissance Center for a drink.
“Detroit is making a comeback due to many reasons, such as people with the means and vision buying and improving properties and bringing in jobs and changing the economic culture of downtown. Also, many of the neighborhoods are being improved and making a comeback. Detroit is a very large city with many residential and commercial areas that will need much help for many years yet to come. Ferndale is a much smaller location to manage and help improve. Ferndale, over the last number of years, has made great strides in becoming a much visited and talked about location to visit. Both, the city of Detroit — our neighbor — and Ferndale will continue to coexist side-by- side and continue to be great places to live, work, and visit!
The last thing I would say is if you want to make a difference, get involved! There is always some place that volunteers are needed… get involved to help make a change for the better.
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