Grosse Pointe Rotary Club
Grosse Pointe

Service Above Self

We meet In Person
Wednesdays at 5:30 PM
The Village Grille
16930 Kercheval Ave
Grosse Pointe, MI 48230
United States of America

Our meetings are Hybrid Meetings.

Members will receive email invites each week to join in person and a link to join virtually.

If you wish to be a guest please contact a member or Email us at GrossePointeRotary@gmail.com

Our Stories
Susan Wenzlick spoke to the club as a Senior Brownfield Consultant at Fishbeck, Thompson, Car & Huber, Inc.
 
After three decades with the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (now EGLE), Ms. Wenzlick joined Fishbeck, an engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, and construction management consulting firm based in Grand Rapids.
 
A short video was shown, highlighting the Detroit Riverwalk and how partnerships between the city, businesses, non-profits, and the State helped eliminate blight and environmental contamination, making the area as great as it is now. Collaboration and funding from all of these sources brought the dilapidated property back to life.
 
Most of the properties that become blighted and/or require environmental clean-up are mom & pop businesses (gas stations, cleaners) where the owners cannot afford to maintain or clean up the property. For unpaid back taxes, they revert back to the government who then attempt to sell at auction.
 
For properties not sold at auction, land banks were created to become the owners. Each county in the State has a land bank as well as the City of Detroit. They operate to sell the land, and also work with the State’s Brownfield Authority which provides grants and low-interest loans to communities to facilitate the redevelopment of contaminated properties. The Authority also provides tax increment financing to businesses to incentivize the cleaning and demolishing of properties where the businesses will benefit through lower taxes when redeveloped.
Nadia Nijimbere spoke to the club as the founder, owner, and chef of Baobab Restaurant in Detroit.
 
Ms. Nijimbere told us of her journey from an East African Rights Activist to a Detroit East African Cuisine restaurant owner. In 2013, she fled her country to avoid persecution and, through a connection, learned about the Freedom House, a temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution who are seeking asylum. Freedom House put her up in a facility near the Ambassador Bridge for two years and provided aid in her assimilation to the US. She was taught to speak English, given legal counsel, and given access to medical exams. During one of these exams, she learned that she was pregnant with twins.
 
Repeatedly in her presentation she expressed her gratitude to the Freedom House for the care and opportunity that they provided. Two years later, her husband, Hamissi Mamba, was able to join them. The first few years here were a struggle as Mr. Mamba was unable to look for work until his paperwork went through the system, which left Ms. Nijimbere’s caregiver job as the only source of income. In 2017 they were finally granted asylum.
 
As entrepreneurs, and, with their love of cooking, it seemed right that they open a restaurant and introduce East African foods to Detroit. Their idea allowed them to win $110,000 in two grant money competitions. Although they were lucky to acquire 6568 Woodward Avenue, Suite 100 in 2018, they did not open until 2021 and struggled during those years until they were able to obtain a loan.
 
Baobab means tree of life, and, in South Africa, a Baobab tree grows in areas without water. The staff is hired from Freedom House. www.baobafare.com.
Matthew Lambrecht spoke to the club as a US Border Patrol Agent for the Detroit The Border Patrol is the primary Federal law enforcement agency between the ports-of-entry and its mission is to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons from entering the country. This includes the detection, interdiction, and apprehension of those who attempt to illegally enter or smuggle people or contraband across our border.
 
Mr. Lambrecht’s duties as a supervisor include developing agency-wide strategies, policies, and procedures. He coordinates with other law enforcement agencies and applies his knowledge of law enforcement methods and techniques when participating in special investigative activities that impact National security.
 
Recent challenges that the Border Patrol has faced include Covid detainment issues and migrant surges which overwhelm local and state resources, especially in border communities.
Alicia Carlisle spoke to the club as one of the founders of Michael B’s Café. The idea behind Michael B’s is to form a new non-profit in Grosse Pointe Park where special needs adults can work, including Ms. Carlisle’s son, Michael, who has Autism. It will be located on Mack Ave., next to the Cabbage Patch saloon.
 
The Café will serve ethically sourced coffee that will benefit the communities where the coffee is grown and will have a second floor with event space. They are looking to partner with other non-profits to thrive. One example of this is Full Circle’s garden will provide vegetables to be prepared.
 
The goal is to raise $3 million, break ground this June, and to complete the building within one year. They have fundraising events coming up in the next few months, with the help of the GP Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Carlisle is looking for financial support but also needs the community to embrace the concept. www.michaelbcafe.com.
Diane Strickler spoke to the club as the first of out Meet Our Member serious, designed to “re-introduce” Rotarians who have been members over 20 years.
 
 Diane was born and raised in Toronto, where she worked as a nurse. She and Ron moved to St. Louis, where Ron started a residency program, and lived there for 20 years, raising three children. While there, she started a pre- school, that is still operating, and “before school” language classes, that were eventually integrated into the school system.
 
The Stricklers moved to Grosse Pointe when Ron became the head of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Henry Ford Hospital. Diane began working toward a Master of Social Work degree in St. Louis, and finished up at U of M in 1998.
 
The combination of nursing and social work led Diane to focus on prevention, leading to the formation of the Family Center in 2000. Its purpose is to provide resources and help families navigate life’s social, emotional, and physical challenges. Over the last 23 years, the organization has helped to remove the stigma associated with issues like substance abuse and mental health. www.familycenterweb.org.
 
Diane loves to cook and travel and continues to volunteer through her church and Rotary. She invites everyone to visit the garden she helped champion at GP Congregational Church when the weather is nicer.
Phil Gilchrist spoke to the club as the Executive Director of the Anton Art Center in Mt. Clemens.
 
The Anton Art Center is in Mt. Clemens at a location that was originally a Carnegie Library, which was built in 1904 and is now listed on the national registry. Over the past few decades, the Art Center has expanded while incorporating the historic nature of the original building.
 
The galleries are almost exclusively local artists, and it offers art classes and artist talks. The pandemic required the Center to become creative, starting an online exhibit within a week of the shutdown in 2020. It continues to offer virtual programming with classes and a You Tube channel.
 
Gilchrist believes it’s very important to make the building available to the public, due to its historic nature and how much better it is to see the artwork in person. The Center is now open for its 44th annual Holiday Market, running through 12/23. Holiday items, fine art, crafts, apparel, and much more are available for purchase. To learn more, please go to www.theartcenter.org.
Michael Spence spoke to the club as Administrator of Government Affairs at Southeast Michigan Council of Government (SEMCOG).
 
SEMCOG is made up of a 7-county region (www.semcog.org) whose purpose is to support coordinated local planning with technical, data, and intergovernmental resources. It coordinates local projects and provides funding from the federal and state governments, with transportation, economic development, the environment, and infrastructure as the main areas of focus.
 
These areas, which are mapped out for the next five years, have benefited the Grosse Pointes. Over $1 million has been allocated for road repairs on Cadieux and Kercheval. SEMCOG also studies traffic safety through crash location maps and safe routes to schools, which has included Maire. For our infrastructure, it has miles of pipe data of water, sanitary, and stormwater usage to better prepare for flooding and is working with an organization through a coastal zone management grant, to help fix our shoreline. Resource tools are available for local economic development with an emphasis on electric vehicles and broadband availability.
Don Riddell spoke to the club as PDG of District 6380 and Past President of our Club.
 
Riddell’s key words are footprints and impact. An individual’s footprints tell the story of their life and, in Rotary terms, their service. One’s impact is putting these footprints into motion, with one way being through the Rotary Foundation.
 
Due to its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, the Foundation has received the highest possible score from Charity Navigator for the last 16 years. It was named the World’s Outstanding Foundation in 2016.
 
The impact of Rotary is putting one’s dream into motion through the power of 1.4 million Rotarians. One of these dreams is eliminating polio, which, in football terms, is at 4th and 1, and we need to cross the goal line.
 
Since its inception, our club has donated $853,066 to the RI Foundation and have averaged $11,507/year over the last three years. During that time, we have received global grants and are currently pursuing one with a club in Egypt. Riddell challenged our Club to partner with an international club for a water program.
Up and Coming Speakers
David Eardley
Feb 08, 2023
New Member Vocational Talk
Jenny Boettcher. President
Feb 15, 2023
Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
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