From left, Michele Robinson, Addison Gale, Denyse Semann Couture, Rich Little, Dennis Hughes, AJ Anderson representing Boy Scout Troop 189, and Jim Brueck were honored for turning their love into servicing the community, May 23. Photo by Wendi Reardon Price
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Honorees at the 32nd Clarkston Community Awards saw a need in their community they didn’t let slide.
“They said ‘I can do something about that,'” said Geoff Black, Worship Arts Pastor at Clarkston Community Church where the event was held May 23. “They saw a passion to serve in something they love. They stepped up and did something about it.”
Independence Township resident Rich Little was named Citizen of the Year for his service to the community.
Little became involved with Clarkston city government by volunteering his time serving on the Facilities Committee. He led the committee to find short-term solutions to storage issues and continues to investigate long-term solutions.
Little is always looking to improve his community whenever he can. When the Clarkston city manager suddenly resigned and there wasn’t an assistant manager to replace her, Little volunteered to be the interim city manager last fall until a replacement was found. Little saw his community was in need and wanted to help in whatever way he could, which included keeping the flow of government going and also the continuous flow of numerous community events such as the Holiday Lights Parade, Christmas Tree Lightning and Shiver on the River.
“I would like to thank the selection committee,” Little said. “I would also like to thank the city employees who work in the village offices. They opened the door, let me in and adopted me. They showed me how to do things and are very dedicated and hard working group.”
Michele Robinson from Lighthouse of Oakland County – Clarkston received Business Person of the Year.
Lighthouse provides food to the hungry, provides toys and school supplies for children, assists the elderly, and participates in local fundraisers.
Robinson has worked as a crisis resolution advisor for Lighthouse in Clarkston since 2001, where she hears from and advises 140 clients monthly. She not only helps the community but is also “a source of inspiration for the many volunteers and organizations that work alongside her.”
“Thank you for this honor,” Robinson smiled. “I am very humble to receive this. Without volunteers, Lighthouse of Clarkston wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission. This award honors all the people who made Lighthouse’s vision possible. Thanks to my friends and my family who have helped me on this journey, especially my husband.”
Dennis Hughes, chosen as Volunteer of the Year, has volunteered at least 36 hours a week for the last 21 years to Clarkston High School’s Team RUSH 27 Robotics team.
Hughes is described as patient and kind, especially when he is helping students on the team and encourages them to help the community.
“I just want to thank my family for all their support, the award committee for considering me,” Hughes said, accepting the award. “Thank you to Clarkston Community Schools for allowing me to come in and volunteer. I need to thank my wife (Kyle) for nominating me and for dragging me into the program. Now you can’t drag me away.”
Addison Gale, a Clarkston High School sophomore, received Youth of the Year.
Gale wanted to help teenagers who are struggling with mental illness during her freshman year. She began a project called “The Overlooked,” which is described as similar to Make-A-Wish foundation to benefit teenagers. Her project is now a government certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
“I would like to thank Dr. (Rod) Rock and Mr. (Jonathan) Paddock for nominating me for this award,” she said.
“I would like to thank Mr. Paddock for allowing me to be myself and try new things I never thought I would do in his classroom. This is an amazing opportunity for me. I would like to thank my parents and my brother for supporting me all the time and always pushing me to be the best I can be.”
When Jim Brueck retired from General Motors he didn’t know what he was going to do. He had an interest in native plants and it spiraled into being honored with the Community Beautification/Preservation award.
Brueck began learning more about native plants, the roles they have and why they are important.
“It was quite rewarding,” he shared.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Clarkston WILDOnes to help educate the community about Michigan’s native plants. He also helped in the promotion and construction of beautification projects in Depot Park in downtown Clarkston.
“I have enjoyed working in the city and with the rain garden projects,” Brueck said. “It really is a labor of love. I thank you for the recognition. I thank my family for the support.”
The Boy Scout Troop 189 from Calvary Lutheran Church has 39 registered scouts and completed 892 hours of community service leading them to the Community Enhancement award.
Projects throughout the community include building standing desks and buddy benches at local elementary schools and helping to beautify local parks and preservations.
The scouts thanked Clarkston Community Church for hosting the event and the Clarkston community for their support.
“We owe this award to our parents and leaders for their encouragement, and specifically all the beneficiaries of our scout projects as we plan and carry out each project,” they shared. “We will use this award to remind us of what is achievable – know what we do today will impact others for years to come.”
When strolling through the community and you see artwork or hear beautiful music during Community Sing, you can thank the Clarkston Cultural Arts Council, recipients of Community Collaboration, for bringing it to the area.
The mission of CCAC, which is volunteer-based, is to promote and increase awareness in the arts in not only Clarkston but local areas.
“We are trying to bring more art to the community,” shared Denyse Semann Couture, creative director, adding with summer coming, look for Easels in the Park during Concerts in the Park.
Also coming is Harmony in the Park, classes, workshops, and the council is partnering with Detroit Institute of Arts to bring the Inside/Out program back to Clarkston.
“We have so many people and organizations to thank – Kristy Kaer from Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce for nominating us; we have a fantastic board; Optimists, Rotary, Independence Parks, Recreation and Seniors, retailers association, My Habitat Clarkston, Chamber of Commerce, Clarkston schools, City of the Village of Clarkston, Clarkston Independence District Library, most of all for our family and friends – our tribe for making all this possible,” said Couture.
“I believe it’s people like you every day to live your lives servicing others,” said Black in what he thought made the community great. “It’s believing in your dreams and believing the God who gave you those dreams is big enough to give you strength and encouragement and all you need to accomplish those dreams. I encourage everyone to dream big dreams. Think about ways you can help out and have the courage to do so. It’s the small things we do each and every day that make a big difference. It is the people within the community loving each other and choosing to serve each other that make our community great.”
Each recipient or group chosen this year was first nominated by someone in the community. The nominations were reviewed and the Awards Selection Committee and Community Awards Committee selected the winners.