A Saturday well spent volunteering for Meals on Wheels

Like many people, I use my weekends to run errands, catch up on sleep and get together with loved ones. But late this summer, I decided I could do more with my time off. Perhaps support an organization in need or give back to my community in some way. So I did some research and landed on volunteering with Meals on Wheels (MOW).

pexels-photo-233236Working for Macomb County, I had heard there was a need for local help. I’d never volunteered for the MOW program before, but I figured I’d give it a shot. The specific request – one Saturday morning, a total of two hours delivering boxes of non-perishable food to seniors ahead of the fall and winter months. And while that sounds fairly minor, those boxes can be a lifeline for older individuals that are homebound or unable to cook for themselves. Because when bad weather hits, normal Meals on Wheels delivery drivers cannot bring supplies and hot meals around. So seniors have to rely on the cans of soup, crackers and other snacks that are given during this one-time box drop off.

Knowing this, I woke early on that Saturday ready to get to work. I arrived promptly at 9 a.m. at the MOW distribution facility in Clinton Township and joined a line to receive my delivery route and materials. While I waited, I heard a family behind me discussing their decision to volunteer. Two parents were telling their children about the importance of giving back to their community and how their work would make a lasting impact. I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment and felt moved by the gesture this family was making.

After a few minutes in line, I was given my instructions for the day and my car was loaded with 14 boxes. My delivery route focused in Warren and I’ll admit, I was a little nervous arriving to my first drop-off location. Questions filled my mind. Will the recipient be home? Will they talk to me? What will we talk about? In the end, I decided that I would treat this individual as my own grandparent. Greet them with a smile, ask how their day was going and alert them to the contents of the box. My nerves receded after that first door was answered by a lovely woman with a cat. She was thrilled to receive the package and we chatted about our shared love of felines. After a few minutes of conversation, I returned to my car with a smile on my face and a hint of a tear in my eye. It felt so good to make that connection and it warmed my heart in so many ways.

I carried on making my deliveries, encountering some charming folks along the way. My final stop was at the apartment of a woman who had immigrated to the United States from Europe around World War Two. She opened her door and greeted me with a booming voice. I explained my role and what was in the emergency supply box and the conversation continued from there. She was so grateful for the delivery – sharing how they had nothing in war-torn Europe and telling me how blessed she was to be in America. At one point, she even opened her cabinets to show me how full they were and told me how lucky we were to be in a country where food and resources are abundant. After sharing goodbyes and well-wishes, I left the building and reflected on that simple interaction. The woman was entirely right. I am lucky to be here and fortunate to have so much. I thought I knew that already, but volunteering for MOW made me count my blessings like never before. And I’m thankful for that.

mow volIf you are looking for the same type of life lesson, I ask you to consider volunteering with MOW – as Macomb County leaders recently announced an urgent request for volunteers with its regular delivery service. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday to more than 1,800 seniors throughout the county and volunteers ensure that this process runs smoothly. Drivers can deliver to as many seniors as they are able and routes are available in several areas. To receive more information or to sign up, click here or contact the Macomb Community Action Office of Senior Services at 586-469-5228.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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Shop Local Macomb: Small stores with gifts galore

mapTake one look at our interactive map (pictured right) of Macomb County’s independently owned and operated retailers and you’ll quickly realize that there are endless opportunities for shopping local this holiday season. More than 1,600 small businesses are featured on the digital resource, and their offerings range from clothing and tools to books and wine. With just a few simple clicks, you can find shops with gifts for everyone on your list!

Today’s MMYH blog features several of these local stores, places where you can buy gifts for family, friends and co-workers. And the good news: most are giving away discounts and offering specials for the holiday season! Check out the options below and make sure to visit our offer portal, which is updated every day with new deals and sales. Happy shopping!

  • All Around the House Interiors
    Join All Around the House Interiors for a holiday open house on Friday, Nov. 16 from Noon – 8 p.m. and on Saturday Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Find unique home decor for holiday gifts and gorgeous Christmas decorations for your own home. Located at 111 South Main St., Romeo, MI
  • Dealers Discount Crafts & Florals
    Shoppers that use promo code “shop local” at Discount Crafts will receive 10% off their order Nov. 12 through Nov. 17 (clearance, Black Friday specials and after x-mas tree sale excluded). Located at 8199 10 Mile Rd. Center Line, MI
  • Evola Music Shelby Twp.
    Interested in gifting music lessons? Evola Music in Shelby Township has 10- week Play-For-Fun Adult Keyboard Classes available for $49! Located at 12745 23 Mile Road, Shelby Twp., MI
  • Forefathers Grooming
    Forefathers is offering 20% off Detroit Grooming products in November and $5 off for all new clients. Please note – police, fire and military always receive $5 off. Located at 43536 Van Dyke Ave, Sterling Heights, MI
  • Landslide Skate Park
    Landslide is offering 20% off a party room rental and 10% off clothing. Located at 44621 Morley Drive, Clinton Twp., MI
  • Party Cakes
    Party Cakes is celebrating its 10 year anniversary on Small Business Saturday by giving away a free gift with every purchase. Shoppers can also enter to win a gift basket valued at $100. Cake and candy will be available for sampling! Located at 48919 Hayes Road, Shelby Township, MI
  • Pure Beauty & Wellness Center Schipper
    Pure Beauty and Wellness Center is offering the following special savings: Vitamin Therapy (B12/Lipo C) 50% off at $10 per injection; Restylane Dermal Filler: 2 mL for $900 (up to $300 savings); Versa Dermal Filler: $350 per 1 mL; Latisse 5 mL $165 (reg: $179), Dysport /toxin/ wrinkle relaxer $3 unit (reg: $3.50). Located at 36397 Harper Ave, Clinton Twp., MI
  • Pure Essence Resale Boutique, LLC
    Shop Pure Essence every Saturday in November and December from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Located at 11443 E 13 Mile Rd, Ste 302, Warren, MI
  • Rock and Roll Prep School Macomb
    Visit Rock and Roll Prep School for half off clothing (t-shirts and hoodies) and 20% off party packages. Located at 17917 Hall Rd., Macomb, MI
  • Simple Computer Repair Shelby Twp
    Stocking stuffers galore at Simple Computer Repair! Wireless speakers are only $15 and cell phone accessories start at $5. Located at 50480 Schoenherr Rd, Shelby Charter Twp., MI
  • Starkweather Arts Center
    Starkweather’s annual holiday show will open November 16 with a Ladies’ Night Out from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Shop for hand crafted gifts and art and enjoy a lovely appetizer table. Regular holiday hours are Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays Noon – 4 p.m. Located at 219 N. Main, Romeo, MI
  • Sycamore Hills Golf Club and Pro Shop
    Sycamore Hills Golf Club offers a popular gift basket for the holiday season. It costs $125 and includes two 18-hole rounds of golf with cart, a Detroit Tigers golf glove, a bottle of wine, a bag of tees, a logo ball and a dozen Titleist ProV1 golf balls (all valued at $185). The club also has pre-paid 18-hole rounds of golf with cart available for $29. Located at 48787 North Ave., Macomb, MI
  • Tech City Electronics Romeo
    Tech City has great deals on desktop and laptop computers and offers quality computer repair. Located at 121 South Main St., Romeo, MI
  • Totally U Boutique Eastpointe
    Totally U Boutique will celebrate Small Business Saturday by giving shoppers 10% off a purchase. Located at 24450 Gratiot, Eastpointe, MI
  • TSK BOUTIQUE EASTPOINTE
    TSK is giving customers 10% off a total purchase. Located at 22220 Gratiot, Eastpointe, MI

Don’t forget! When you shop local this holiday season, you can enter for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards (donated by First State Bank)! To be considered, snap a photo of your shopping, submit it and share using #ShopLocalMacomb between Nov. 23 and Dec. 2. Five lucky winners will be randomly selected during a live Facebook drawing at noon on Monday, Dec. 3. For details visit makemacombyourhome.com/shoplocal.

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Shop Local Macomb is coordinated by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development with support from area chambers, including the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce and the Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce. First State Bank is the generous sponsor of the $500 gift cards.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted in #ShopLocalMacomb, Fun, macomb county, Shop Local, Shop Local Macomb, small business | Leave a comment

Three reasons to shop local in Macomb County this holiday season

pexels-photo-749353The holidays are upon us once again! And if you’re like me, your list of people to buy gifts for just keeps on growing. I need something for my parents and siblings, a gift for my in-laws, presents for my nephews and bits and bobs for friends and various hosts of holiday parties. How do I keep up? Shopping local right here in Macomb County! Here’s why —

1. You can avoid the crowds. Buying presents at local small businesses certainly helps beat the stress of the seasonal shopping frenzy. No dealing with crazy mall parking lots or long lines to check out – just a quick trip to some friendly neighborhood retailers and you’ve crossed several names off your gift list! How easy is that?

2. You can help your community. Research from the American Independent Business Alliance shows that shopping local is great way to support your hometown. For instance:

  • Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local nonprofits, events and teams compared to big businesses.
  • Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they are also the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc. – expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
  • All told, each dollar spent at independent businesses returns three times more money to a local economy than one spent at a chain.

3. You can win cash!  Five $500 gift cards will be given to Shop Local Macomb campaign participants that snap a photo, upload it and share it on social media with #ShopLocalMacomb. The fun begins on Friday, Nov. 23 and ends on Sunday, Dec. 2. Winners will be announced live on Facebook on Monday, Dec. 3 at noon. Get all of the details here:  makemacombyourhome.com/shoplocal

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Now let’s recap. If you shop local in Macomb this holiday season, you’ll beat the crowds, help your community and potentially win some cash! Here are some tools to help you make a plan:

  • The Make Macomb Your Home interactive map, which features more than 1,600 independently owned and operated stores. Search it by community or retail specialty.
  • The Shop Local Macomb holiday sales portal, which features the specials and discounts being offered by the proprietors of unique boutiques and businesses.

There. Now you are set to enjoy shopping for the holidays — which means you’ll check off that long gift list in no time!

Happy shopping everyone! For more information on the Shop Local Macomb campaign, visit nhttp://www.makemacombyourhome.com/shoplocal.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted in #ShopLocalMacomb, community, Fun, Shop Local Macomb, small business | Leave a comment

24 immigrants become U.S. citizens during naturalization ceremony in Macomb County

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  (“The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus)

These are the words posted alongside the famed Statue of Liberty. For more than a century, they have greeted visitors, refugees and every other individual that has come to our shores. They are a sign of freedom. A mark of acceptance. And a poignant reminder of our country’s history. You see, we have always been a nation of immigrants. A place made stronger by our diversity. We are a melting pot of races, ethnicities, religions and creeds. We are a country that welcomes people of all backgrounds – and that’s something we can be proud of.

Leaders from OneMacomb and Macomb County recently espoused these sentiments during a naturalization ceremony held on Friday, November 2 for 24 individuals from 16* different countries. These ceremonies, which see immigrants become U.S. citizens by taking the Oath of Allegiance, are the culmination of a four to six year process. They are an emotional and meaningful event for all involved.

“It’s been a long journey for you on your path to citizenship, and you have many new responsibilities,” said Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers in remarks to ceremony attendees. “And one of those near and dear to OneMacomb is embracing diversity and differences of opinion and culture. We hope that you become an active member of your community and share and celebrate those differences with us.”

Remarks were also given by the master of ceremonies, Michael Tolhurst, a supervisory immigration services officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Following a performance of the National Anthem by Lia Catallo, a student at Parkway Christian School, Tolhurst reflected on the hard work that it takes to become a citizen.

“It’s a hard and difficult process to become a new citizen,” he said. “[…] at times we all struggle to reach goals, but today is a culmination of your success. Your hard work is evident.”

DSC_3634County Executive Mark A. Hackel also joined in this position, commenting on the “incredible journey” it takes to attain citizenship.

“Witnessing these ceremonies is an emotional experience,” he said. “Becoming a US citizen is quite a journey. A journey mixed with eagerness, anxiety, hope and passion – with the goal of exploring opportunities and to enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted. I am so excited for each new citizen and wish them much success as fellow Americans.”

DSC_3655.JPGHackel then introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Inge Zomboreanu Boettcher, a Macomb County Community Mental Health employee that shared her own citizenship story. Inge was born and raised in communist Romania. She and her family came to United States as political refugees in 1990, after the 1989 Revolution. They became U.S. citizens in 1996 and Inge has worked for Macomb County for 17 years. In her remarks, she shared how she is still very much Romanian in her heart, but she is also a proud American and grateful to her new country for the opportunities it has provided.

Following Inge’s story, the ceremony proceeded to the Oath of Allegiance led by the Honorable Judge George Caram Steeh from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The 24 immigrants rose from their seats and recited the Oath and the Pledge of Allegiance. They then received special documentation and by the time they sat back down, they were new U.S. citizens – individuals with different backgrounds from places that span the globe, who are all now connected by a love of country, the United States of America.

To learn about the naturalization process and see what qualifications individuals must meet to become citizens, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page here.

*Individuals participating in the naturalization ceremony represented 16 different countries including: Albania, Bangladesh, China, Croatia, Germany, India, Iraq, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia and Yemen.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted in community, culture, government, OneMacomb | Leave a comment

Oakland University and Mount Clemens launch food drive to benefit the Macomb Food Program

No one should struggle with food insecurity, but it’s closer than you think. Your neighbor, child’s classmate or even a co-worker may all be effected by this issue.  Especially vulnerable are children. For instance, a family of four dealing with hunger may need 36 additional meals a month simply because they do not have the money to purchase enough food. Seniors and older adults are also at risk, with numbers showing their struggle at an all-time high.

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To support these individuals, Oakland University and the city of Mount Clemens have partnered to launch a community-wide food drive to benefit the Macomb Food Program. The food drive kicks off on Nov. 1 and continues through the 43rd Annual Macomb County Santa Parade on Saturday, Nov. 17.

This is the third year OU is hosting the campaign.

“OU strives to be a good community partner in Macomb County,” says Julie Dichtel, OU executive director of Macomb County Outreach. “Our annual food drive allows OU staff, students, faculty and alumni to make a positive impact in the community where they live. By collaborating with the city of Mount Clemens this year, we will be able to help even more residents in need this holiday season.”

In 2017, OU staff, students, faculty and alumni collected 1,175 pounds of food – nearly triple the 394 pounds collected in 2016. The goal for 2018 is 3,000 pounds of food.

“We’re grateful to Oakland University, the city of Mount Clemens, all participating local businesses and the community for your support,” said Shannon Mallory, program manager for the Macomb Food Program. “Food donations are crucial to our mission to feed the hungry in Macomb County. Donations help us keep the shelves of the more than 50 Macomb County hunger relief organizations and food pantries we work with stocked with food to feed those in need.”

OU will accept non-perishable and canned food donations at its Anton/Frankel Center at 20 South Main Street in Mount Clemens and the Macomb University Center at 44575 Garfield Road (UC2/Suite 103) in Clinton Township. For days and times the buildings are open, visit OU’s Macomb County Outreach Facebook page at oumacomb1.

Food donations may also be made at the following locations in Mount Clemens from Nov. 1 through Nov. 16:

  • Weirdsville Records
  • SVS Optical Center
  • Paperback Writer Books
  • O’Halloran’s Public House and Hall
  • Orleans Sports Café
  • The Nest
  • Macomb County Sheriff’s Department
  • Mount Clemens City Hall
  • Macomb County Administration Building

For an updated list of participating businesses, visit OU’s Macomb County Outreach Facebook page at oumacomb1. For more information and to get involved, contact Rebecca Robbins, OU community engagement intern, at (248) 370-3910 or rarobbins@oakland.edu.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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New interactive map allows users to virtually explore land and water trails in Macomb County and beyond

We’ve all used Google Street View to check out housing, restaurants and tourist sites – but what if you could use it to preview a trail or waterway? Take a peak before you begin a trek or a kayaking trip? It might make life a bit easier. Well, if you’ve ever had that thought, today is your lucky day! The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) recently launched a new tool that does just that.

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The digital resource, known as the Southeast Michigan Trail Explorer, makes it possible to tour 630 miles of regional trails on a computer or mobile device. It can be accessed from its own page on SEMCOG’s website here, but it has also been integrated into Southeast Michigan Parkfinder, the app that enables users to search more than 2,600 parks within Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties.

“Southeast Michigan Trail Explorer makes it possible for lovers of the outdoors to preview some of our region’s greatest recreational assets and prepare for real-life adventures,” said Kathleen Lomako, executive director of SEMCOG. “[…] this enhancement highlights the beauty of our region while also enabling communities and recreation providers to showcase the outdoor experiences they offer.”

Trail Explorer features high-resolution, panoramic and digital 360-degree-image files of hiking and biking trails, trailheads and points of interest along trails, rivers and their banks, river access points and boat/kayak launches.

Specific mapping areas are:

Hiking and biking trails

  • Macomb County: 36 miles, including Macomb Orchard Trail, Clinton River Park Trail and River Bends Park Trail
  • Livingston County: 20 miles of Lakelands State Park Trail
  • Monroe County: 14 miles, including River Raisin Heritage Trail, National Battlefield Park and Sterling State Park Trails
  • Oakland County: 55 miles, including Addison Oaks County Park and the Clinton River, Paint Creek, Polly Ann and West Bloomfield Trails
  • Clair County: 14 miles, including Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron and Wadhams to Avoca Trail
  • Washtenaw County: 25 miles of Border-to-Border Trail
  • Wayne County: 44 miles, including Detroit Riverwalk and Dequindre Cut, Downriver Linked Greenways and Hines Park Trail

Water trails

  • Macomb County: 60 miles, including Clinton River Water Trail and Lake St. Clair Water Trail
  • Livingston/Oakland/Washtenaw/Wayne Counties: 115 miles of Huron River Water Trail
  • Monroe County: 30 miles of River Raisin Water Trail
  • Oakland County: 30 miles of Clinton River Water Trail
  • Clair County: 125 miles of Blueways of St. Clair
  • Wayne County: 62 miles, including Detroit River Heritage Trail and Rouge River Water Trail

So if you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity in Macomb County and beyond, check out the new trail explorer and map your journey in advance.

To learn about the variety of parks and natural resources specific to Macomb County, click here.

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Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted in bike path, community, environment, Fun, Metroparks, outdoor | Leave a comment

Ghostly frights and donut sites: A guide to fall and Halloween fun in Macomb County

Raise your hand if you’ve already put up your Halloween decorations, gorged yourself on candy corns and watched too many scary movies. You can’t tell, but I’ve definitely got mine in the air. I love this time of year and everything that comes along with it. Which is why I’m thrilled to share the 2018 Make Macomb Your Home fall fun and Halloween guide!

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Looking for a spooky hayride? We’ve got you covered. How about a haunted house? Yep. Or maybe something a bit more family-friendly that features donuts? Sure thing! Here’s just a few of the Halloween and fall happenings here in Macomb County:

Terror on Tillson Street
This Macomb County street is famous for its elaborate Halloween decorations during the month of October. A dedicated group of homeowners come together each year to put together a spooktacular display like you’ve never seen! Installations include a yard full of corpse brides and a zombie invasion – just to name a few. The best part? There’s no fee to enjoy this Halloween display! So head on out to the Village of Romeo to experience this fun holiday tradition.

Blake’s Big Apple Haunted Attractions
Blake Farms in Armada offers a variety of fall activities, including pick-your-own orchards, a cider mill and a hard cider bar and restaurant. But it also has some of the most impressive Halloween entertainment in the area. For instance, there’s the Zombie Paintball Safari, where players hunt live zombies with paintball guns. There’s also a spooky maze explored via 3D glasses, a three-story haunted barn and a 20-scene haunted hayride that includes a tasty donut and cider treat! Tickets for these scary sites are available here.

Moonlight Hayrides at Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill
Perhaps you prefer a more relaxing fall activity? Well, the Moonlight Hayrides at Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill might be the right fit for you. Guests can enjoy a pulled wagon ride through the orchard with no planned spooks – just the darkness and the nocturnal wildlife! After the ride, everyone receives a glass of cold cider and a donut that they can enjoy by a bonfire. If this activity sounds more your speed, click here to purchase tickets.

Wow! There’s certainly a lot going on in Macomb County this season. And this isn’t even our complete guide! To see our full listing of haunted happenings and fall fun, click here: http://living.macombgov.org/living-thingstodo-FallFun. And of course, let us know in the comments if we’re missing something.

Have a safe and happy fall season everyone!

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Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted in entertainment, family friendly, Fun, macomb county | Leave a comment