Why community connections are a priority for Suburban Collection dealerships
Jenna and Zachary Kanfer woke up early to score the first spot in line at the annual “Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo” pet adoption event that has helped more than 25,000 dogs, cats and rabbits find new homes in the last 26 years.
At the ages of 10 and 12, respectively, the children of Rachel and Darin Kanfer have been anxious to add a new pet to their Royal Oak household for months. The Detroit Zoo’s adoption drive – one of the largest off-site adoption events in the country – served as ideal location for the Kanfers to find an animal to love.
“They really want a puppy, and adoption is very important to us,” Rachel Kanfer said as she stood in a line of about 100 people awaiting the opening of the zoo’s grounds. “We believe in rescuing animals because there are so many that need a warm and caring home.
“That’s why this is such a great event and a great option for people who are looking to make a connection with animals.”
The Suburban Collection is among a host of backers who underwrite and help pull the event together every year, bringing dozens of Southeast Michigan animal welfare organizations together. In addition to its sponsorship, Suburban Collection President & COO David Fischer Jr., presented Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan Humane Society leaders with a $37,511 donation raised during Subaru’s Share the Love sales drive.
“Part of our core DNA is helping solve problems,” Fischer said. “We want to make the communities where we do business better for the people who are our neighbors, and that’s why we support more than 100 local charities every year.”
Fischer said Suburban places a primary focus on education, children’s welfare, cancer research and providing for families’ basic needs.
“We are very passionate about this as a Michigan company made up of people who care,” Fischer said.
The Suburban Collection has a long history in Metro Detroit, dating to 1948 when Richard “Dick” Fischer opened Suburban Motors in Birmingham. It has since grown, continually Michigan-based and under family ownership, to employ more than 3,000 people under 35 auto brands and 53 locations, including collision centers and auto parts stores.
Detroit Zoo CEO Ron Kagan said the Suburban Collection’s support of the adoption event is emblematic of its commitment to help Michigan move forward.
“We are very appreciative of what Suburban does for the zoo, but I’ve seen what they do around the community and it goes well beyond one organization,” Kagan said. “They’re really a model corporate supporter that looks to make life better for people in Michigan.
“(The Detroit Zoo and I) have been lucky to have a long relationship with the Fischer family. They are awesome people, and I hope what they do inspires all of our corporate citizens to action to be the best they can be.”
Visit the Suburban Collection website to learn more about the company’s 70-year history of serving Michigan residents.
In April, muralist Kelsey Montague collaborated with Taylor Swift to launch the pop sensation’s newest single.
Come July, Montague, who has built an international following with large scale winged mural pieces, will drive excitement around the Lakeshore Art Festival, centered in Downtown Muskegon on July 5-6, by creating a must-see piece for visitors to enjoy.
“We are thrilled and elated that she is going to be here and become a permanent part of our community,” said Carla Flanders, the art festival’s director. “We’ve been so impressed with her work and how intentional and interactive it is. Her pieces are inspirational, inclusive and uplifting. It’s a great message and a great fit for the Lakeshore Art Festival and for Muskegon.”
“The colorful mural and its intricate design will dominate the East side of the Frauenthal Center, becoming an attraction that continues Muskegon’s metamorphosis and its thriving downtown,” Flanders said.
Montague’s artwork will join only 77 other works around the world, including one in Ann Arbor and another in Detroit. The pieces appeal to people looking for bright art images and are a favorite of social media users.
“It’s really exciting to have Kelsey be a part of the Lakeshore Art Festival. Her butterfly-wing mural is not only breathtaking, but it is symbolic for the many changes our community has gone through and the beautiful downtown it is today” Flanders said. “This new permanent piece, coupled with the hundreds of artists at the Lakeshore Art Festival, sets the stage for another stellar year of artful engagement!”
The art festival is a summer tradition, drawing artists and visitors from around the country, leading to it earning honors as the best contemporary and classic art show in Michigan and the 11th best in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine. The weekend also serves as an economic engine for the Lakeshore community, with research showing the festival has had a $5.6 million impact since 2013. Annual attendance reaches 60,000 people, Flanders said.
“People are drawn here by the quality of art and the hospitality of the community,” said Flanders. “It’s an honor when people are excited to come back and spread the word about how incredible this festival is to attend.”
Here are five more must-see highlights for 2019:
The festival’s jury committee creates a marketplace for unique fine art and handcrafted goods by jurying more than 450 artists who apply for entry. The team then invites the art entrepreneurs to share their talents and one-of-a-kind wares in Hackley Park and throughout the vibrant downtown surrounding streets.
“You can find something for everyone here,” said Flanders. “It’s truly an artisan’s market with pieces you won’t find anywhere else. We have a beautiful setting with handcrafted art that is truly remarkable.”
There are more than 380 booths, with roughly 120 fine art exhibitors creating art with distinctive styles and various mediums including handblown glass, paintings, sculptures, photography, fibers and more.
Wine and Beer Garden
If shopping isn’t your top choice among things to do – or you just need to drop off a partner where they’ll be entertained – the festival hosts a wine and beer garden in Hackley Park and it is the perfect place to unwind. Visitors can grab a glass of wine or a craft brew and stroll through the fine art in the park or take a break from patrolling the booths and enjoy the stage entertainment.
“It was a natural fit and a great way to enhance the festival experience,” Flanders said. “It’s such a beautiful setting that you can sit back, relax and enjoy everything that is going on around you.”
The Lakeshore Arts Festival opens the door for children to experience beauty through different visions and presents an opportunity to expose them as budding artists through interactive activities.
Kids can watch a stage performance, make personalized paintings and participate in theatrical games, all captivating, enriching and educational by nature. This year’s theme, the butterfly, is right in line with not only the new Kelsey Montague mural, but also the butterfly scavenger hunt, butterfly educational booth and butterfly interactive dance.
“It’s everything artful and engaging and getting kids to think outside of the box,” Flanders said. “Each area has something new and interesting for children to do.”
Come for the art, and then let your taste buds take over during a culinary timeout from your shopping adventures. The streets are lined with vendors who offer everything from classic fair foods to tasty sandwiches, BBQ, sirloin beef tips, desserts and much more.
“There’s African-style food, Mediterranean cuisine, and of course festival food favorites like soft pretzels, elephant ears and fresh squeezed lemonade. Really, there is something for every foodie to enjoy,” Flanders said.
Flanders doesn’t like to play favorites – and suggests that visitors follow their own cravings – but at least once every year she’ll make her way to the Ice Box Brand Ice Cream Bars truck for a locally-made treat from the Whitehall-based business.
“They’re heavenly,” she said.
Authors’ Tent and Interactive Art
Find Michigan’s next great writer among 20 Mitten-centric authors who will be at the show in the Emerging Author’s tent. The authors are available for one-on-one discussions and to provide signed copies of their books that will likely be next on your summer reading list.
“This is a great chance for some exposure and to get the word out about their writings,” Flanders said. “We want to support creative expression of all kinds at our show.”
The festival even gives visitors the chance to participate in creating their own art with Chalk The Walk and the Community Interactive Art Project! On July 5 from 4-6pm chalk will be set out for guests to take sidewalk art to the streets of Western Avenue. If chalk isn’t your style, then the Community Interactive Art Project will allow you to create a masterpiece of art with paint on canvas! Each year thousands of people bring new excitement and their own touch of creativity to the event.
“It’s always really cool to see what people come up with,” Flanders said. “Everyone from kids and their parents, to art students and grandparents, get out there and get creative.”
Visit the Lakeshore Art Festival’s website to discover more about the exciting weekend in Muskegon.
Dark highway underpasses have been transformed with bright murals.
An outdoor basketball court that became an asphalt canvas.
Sculptures placed intermittently along the Lansing River Trail boardwalk.
Those are just three examples of how Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center is bringing the 2019 Art Path to the community for the second consecutive year, doubling the size and interactivity of the inaugural event last summer.
Katrina Daniels, the gallery’s exhibitions and sales director, said the 20 pieces will dot a 3.5-mile stretch of the Lansing River Trail, from Old Town to REO Town. Each of the public pieces of art comes from a Michigan resident. The installments started being placed early in June and a formal kickoff was held at the Turner Dodge House on June 7.
“We know that cultural institutions can be intimidating, so we are bringing the art to the people where they are in the community,” Daniels said. “They’ll have an opportunity to interact with the pieces on their terms and at a time of their choosing.
“By using the Lansing River Trail, the Art Path creates awareness, and people have the ability to engage during a walk, a bike ride or kayaking between locations. The trail is one of Lansing’s outstanding recreational opportunities, and now it’s being used as a cultural attraction as well.”
Organizers expect 50,000 visitors will enjoy the public art exhibition this year. Daniels said excitement built during the 2018 phase and drew people from around the state to the trail. She anticipates people will return as word of mouth about the exhibition spreads.
“We’ve been strategic in every setting, making sure to pair the right piece of art in the right place.”
The gallery partnered with the City of Lansing’s Parks and Recreation Department and donors to create Art Path.
“The community and our supporters have really shown love in being a part of this, and we could not be any more appreciative of how everyone has come together for a great event,” Daniels said. “It’s going to be an incredible summer in Lansing.”
Ada Delgado doesn’t have blond hair. Nor does she wear wooden shoes. Yet, the Holland woman of Puerto Rican descent is serving as vice-chairwoman of the annual Tulip Time Festival.
Her primary role: Make sure the popular event rooted in the community’s Dutch heritage is “inclusive of what Holland is today” by involving a range of community groups.
“I’m a true testament that you don’t have to be Dutch to be part of Tulip Time,” said Delgado, who works as a retail operations consultant for Holland-based Macatawa Bank.
Striving to ensure the entire community gets to participate in Tulip Time is a fitting task for Delgado, given Macatawa Bank’s emphasis on community service. The bank has been recognized for the past eight consecutive years as one of “West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” due in part to this guiding principle: We believe our responsibility is to support our community with our time, talents and resources.
That principle enables Delgado and hundreds of other Macatawa Bank employees to participate in community events and causes that are important to them. For example, Delgado has been active with Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) as a translator, volunteer coordinator and youth mentor, in addition to her work with Tulip Time.
In both cases, Delgado’s community involvement has been nurtured by Macatawa Bank.
“During my 14 years with Macatawa Bank I have not only had the opportunity to serve, but I have received the encouragement and support to get involved and be a part of what I believe in,” Delgado said. “I feel at home working for an organization that truly believes in giving back to the community and in letting our employees volunteer their time and talents for local organizations that matter to them.”
Macatawa Bank employees are active across West Michigan where the bank has 26 locations in Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties. The bank also runs community events on its own, such as this spring’s annual Recycle Days.
Cars lined up at the bank’s Riley Street branch in Holland shortly after Tax Day when more than 20 bank employees wearing orange T-shirts helped unload boxes of confidential documents and securely destroy them in a Rapid Shred truck. Several other Macatawa Bank branches also made shredding trucks available to both customers and non-customers in April.
“Our annual Recycle Days event is something everyone looks forward to every year – employees and the community alike,” said Jodi Sevigny, chief marketing officer for Macatawa Bank. “Our employees love the chance to serve their community by taking in sensitive documents and shredding them right on site. Our community is so appreciative that we can help them keep their identity secure, while at the same time helping to care for our environment.
“The local leaders that founded Macatawa Bank had a vision of what a true community bank could be. Today, we still live that vision.”
Macatawa Bank’s foundation of community support translates into daily banking operations, too. A full suite of banking services has been built with the needs of customers at the forefront, and decisions are made right here in West Michigan where the bank’s customers live and work.
In fact, wanting to work for a community-based bank with closer ties to customers was a big reason Andy Schmidt came to Macatawa Bank six years ago after more than two decades working for large regional banks. With a local management team making decisions, Macatawa Bank empowers Schmidt to look beyond the numbers and develop more personal relationships with his customers.
As printed on the orange shirts worn by Macatawa Bank’s Recycle Days volunteers, “we’re not revolutionizing banking, we’re humanizing it.”
“When you work with smaller, family-owned businesses, you become a much more valuable resource to them,” said Schmidt, a commercial relationship manager. “You become part of their team that helps plan their business. You get to know their kids, their spouse. They think of you as one of their key advisors.
“It’s a much more fulfilling occupation when you know you’re helping someone achieve their goals.”
That opportunity to come alongside West Michigan businesses only comes along if the community itself is thriving and successful. So, it makes sense that Macatawa Bank goes out of its way to support the community through events such as Recycle Days and so many other ways that employees volunteer their time.
Another of Macatawa Bank’s guiding principles states that we believe West Michigan is the best place to live and work. Schmidt believes that, and he’s doing his part to make sure it rings true for as many people as possible.
“In West Michigan, we understand the importance of being a good neighbor,” said Schmidt, who also serves on the board of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. “We recognize that we’re all connected, and that the health of our businesses, our families and our community all depend on us caring for and helping each other.”