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

Our Stories
On November 29th we were joined by Nicole Valentini, MSW, the Development Director for BuildOn Detroit.
BuildOn is a national organization, operating in five regions, with the Detroit branch being formed in 1993. Its mission is to break the cycle of illiteracy and low expectations through service and education.  
The Detroit branch operates in 4 of the 14 Detroit public schools, with the hope to extend into all of them. It has Engagement Specialists in each school, partnering with teachers and operating as mentors, looking to recruit students into their program.  Their strategy is to engage 9th graders and focus on dispute resolution and community action.
In addition to partnering with other service organizations for local projects, BuildOn wants students to think globally.  They do this by offering 12-day international service projects.  97% of the students in the Detroit program graduate from high school.
To donate or register for an upcoming event, please go to
On November 15th, we were joined by Jenny Boettcher, the President and General Director of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce. Jenny shared with us a rundown of the services and opportunities that the Chamber of Commerce is continuing to provide to the Grosse Pointe communities going into 2024. The Chamber makes it their goal to promote local businesses and encourages residents to support them. They have many opportunities including student intern services, start-up support, welcoming new residents, volunteering, festivals, and so much more to help the community grow. All rotary members are also considered members of the chamber and are privy to all benefits that the chamber has to offer. 
The chamber puts on the annual Thanksgiving parade down Kercheval and is in the process of building Santa his new sleigh. The parade is on Friday, November 24th, and the chamber is looking for volunteers to marshal the parade. Please reach out if you would like to volunteer. 

The Chamber is also organizing snow globe making, where 50 local businesses will be given these globes to customize and put in their shops. This crafty project is to encourage the community to shop locally during the holidays.

Be on the lookout, in the summer of 2024 there will be sphere statues all around Grosse Pointe that have been beautifully painted by artists. Similar to the dog and heart statues that are around the community, the sphere will be the next creation displayed around town, organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Mark Higbie – Michigan Central Station Art Program

Mr. Higbie describes the artwork at the Station as a “persistent presence” since it was built in 1913. It was the tallest railroad station in the country with the same designers as Grand Central Station in New York. At its peak, 200 trains and 4,000 passengers would pass through daily, and in the floors above, there were 3,000 office workers. In the 1970s, the amount of train travel at the Station dwindled, until it finally closed in 1988.

From the Station’s artistic perspective, there are three acts. Act 1 is its Rise and Fall: It was built with polished marble hallways, with a huge concourse that had skylights, as light was part of its design. Starting in 1988, 30 years of neglect allowed the elements to tear away at the structure. Act 2 is New Voices in the Hall: During this neglect, graffiti artists from around the country decorated the walls and columns. It was vandalism, but skilled, and art found its voice through these murals. Act 3 is Welcome to the Future: Since purchasing the building and surrounding properties in 2018, Ford Motor Co. has pledged to spend $740 to renovate. In addition to bringing the structure to its 1913 glory, some of the graffiti has been archived and all of it has been digitally preserved. New artists have also been hired to bring in new art, some of which can already be seen at the Bagley Mobility Hub. 

To learn more, please visit

Russ Jones – District Governor 
DGJones, a member of the Plymouth Club since 2003, strongly believes in RI’s theme for this year, Create Hope in the World. Every service project, no matter how mundane, creates hope in people that you may never meet and that it’s the rotary moments”, whether it’s a meaningful project or just having fun, that keeps one engaged and active. The creation of hope can come from just one person. 
District 6400’s theme is Be The One. DG Jones believes that everyone should take a leadership role, whether at the board or committee level. 
Topics that are important to our District Governor are (1) the environment, where the District is pursuing a RI global grant to restore the Rouge River; (2) mental health, where there is a Rotary action group that addresses its stigma (; and (3) human trafficking, where he supports attempts to eliminate it in all of its forms, whether  domestic, agricultural, or child. 
There is a District 6400 Foundation Dinner Celebration on 11/9 where past RI president Jennifer Jones will be a speaker. The District Conference will take place from 5/3 to 5/5 at the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids. As Kim Towar noted, the fellowship and knowledge obtained at a conference is where one becomes a Rotarian.  Tickets for both can be purchased at
Judy Florian – League of Women Voters
Proposition 2, which became part of the Michigan constitution in 2022, provides greater voting accessibility and security:
First, all registered voters have a fundamental right to vote a secret ballot in all elections. This means that no law, rule, or regulations can
be adopted to interfere with this.
Second, the outcomes of all elections need to be certified, based on votes cast, by county and state canvassers.
Third, every city and township must offer early voting in statewide and federal elections. This must be open for at least eight hours/day on nine consecutive days at early voting stations (EVS), beginning on the second Saturday before the election and ending on the Sunday before.
Fourth, registered voters can request to be permanently placed on a list to receive absentee ballots before each election.
Fifth, having a photo ID is not required. If a voter has one, they must show it but, if not, they can vote by signing an affidavit.
Sixth, voters can track the status of their ballot and will be provided with an opportunity to correct any mistakes (i.e., no signature).
Seventh, clerks must distribute drop boxes for absentee ballots equitably throughout each city or township.
Michelle Hodges, President & CEO of the Belle Isle Conservancy
The Belle Isle Conservancy’s mission is to protect, preserve, restore, and enhance the natural environment, historic structures, and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all – now and forever. Its focus areas are people, planning, programming, and preservation (and philanthropy). Since its inception in 2012, it has brought in $16 million.
The park is owned by the City of Detroit with the Michigan DNR currently leasing it for 30 years. The Conservancy partners with both to bring additional resources, which includes the management and operation of the aquarium.
The four pillars of the Conservancy’s strategic plan are to be a voice for park users; create valuable programs to enhance the experience; partner with the DNR, the City, and private organizations; and build organizational capacity to support their work. To learn more,
Amanda York – Mason Elementary inclusive playground
(Ms. York was joined by Katrina Bennett, the Mason PTO president).

Mason Elementary’s playground is the oldest in the District and is at the point where parts to fix the equipment are no longer available. The playground is used year-round, and the community is in need of a wheelchair accessible location. A wheelchair sidewalk is very expensive so the design is still being determined and will be finalized based on the funds raised.
The school district does not provide funding for playgrounds, so it is left to the school’s PTO. Through many fundraisers and some
generous donations, they are $12,000 from the base $250,000 needed. Installation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024. The ultimate goal is to raise $300,000 to include some much-needed shade structures.
To donate, please visit their website
Up and Coming Speakers
MAJ Patrick Linford
Dec 20, 2023
U.S. Army - operational vs. institutional
Jef Fisk
Jan 10, 2024
"Right Brain / Left Brain: Creativity takes many forms"
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