Summer Storytellers Returns June 26

Two years ago, Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) inaugurated Summer Storytellers, an evening of personal stories by and about area residents. The enthusiastic response from the standing-room only audience inspired the CanDo! board of directors to make Summer Storytellers an annual event.

On June 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m., storytellers will take the stage of Windwalker Underground Gallery, 125 S. Cochran Avenue. Each will have 15 minutes to entertain, inform and inspire attendees.

One of 2017 and 2018 Summer Storytellers, Ben Phlegar, will be returning this year.  His remembrance of his time as a high school baseball coach motivated him to champion the new Charlotte High School Athletic Hall of Fame, which he serves as chairman. Ben retired in 2010 from teaching after 36 years of public service, the last 31 at Charlotte High School. He also coached high school baseball for 35 years in the State of Michigan with 33 of those years at Charlotte. He was varsity coach for 14 of those years. He lives in Charlotte with his wife Barb and has two adult sons.  Unlike the past two year’s Ben will not be telling a story about baseball.  His story is about pop culture involving his father and a group everyone knows about when he was in 8th grade from 1964.

Joining Ben this year will be the “The Man from the Land of the Hand”, Mike Cox. Mike has performed at the Alaska Folk Festival, the Duwamish Tribe’s Longhouse in Seattle, Washington and numerous classrooms in Michigan and Alaska.  He recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to his grandkids.  Mike’s story starts out as a Native American story about a monster living in the Grand River.  It has morphed into a fish tale, a whopper of tale, Jingle Bells on the Grand.

Laura Apol’s story is titled “Poems are Stories, too”.  Laura is an associate professor at Michigan State University and Lansing-area poet laureate. Her poetry has been published in four full-length collections. Her most recent book, Nothing but the Blood, is the winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry.

Another exciting addition to the Summer Story Tellers event is Jennifer Pahl Otto.  Jennifer creates and tells original stories for adults and for children.  They range from totally true to totally not true.  Her stories always have a unique point of view and a distinctive voice, quirky and kind.  She tells her stories at schools, nature centers, storytelling festivals and conferences, and other public events.  She has four books for children in print based on stories she tells, including her latest, Princess Hippopotamus.  They are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and are published by Mead-Hill.  Jennifer will be telling a story about a cat that starts in the true personal story realm and moves into the world of the tall tale. The story is titled “Red the Cat.”

This is just a peak at what is in store for you on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 pm. at Windwalker. Be sure to look next week for additional Storytellers who will join the event to entertain, inform and inspire.

Economic Development To Be Focus In May

CanDo! will feature economic development in the region for its May monthly program.  A panel of speakers will discuss local and regional economic vitality at the Charlotte Community Library at 7:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 22.

Panel speakers include Lisa Barna, Executive Director of CharlotteRising; Adam Cummins, Community Assistance Team for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Rachel Elsinga, Economic Development Program Manager for the Tri County Planning Commission.

While there are many projects and initiatives underway, the strategic conversations of CanDo! panels are “one level up” from any one project or program.  At this month’s meeting, we will discuss what is happening in Charlotte, what has been accomplished in the past and what opportunities await our community in the future.

“The May program will be of great importance, given the tremendous momentum in Charlotte,” said Yvonne Ridge, MPA, CanDo! President. “Charlotte is moving forward with a collaborative force unique to our community and local leaders have made great strides in connecting regionally.”

Each month, CanDo! programs focus on one of the “Seven Elements of Healthy Communities” from the standpoint of community vitality and prosperity. Each time, the four pillars of CanDo! Come into play, which are Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Charitable Assets and Youth. As each “element” is discussed, community leaders and interested individuals become more aware of the vision, strategies, resources, and trends in our region.

The Charlotte Community Library is located at 226 S Bostwick St., in Charlotte, Michigan. Coffee and a light breakfast will provided at no cost.

Neighborhoods and Communities Are April’s Focus

Each month, Can Do! programs focus on one of the “Seven Elements of Healthy Communities” from the standpoint of community vitality and prosperity.  Each time, the four pillars of Can Do! come into play, which are Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Charitable Assets and Youth. As each “element” is discussed, community leaders and interested individuals become more aware of the vision, strategies, resources, and trends in our region.

Can Do! is focusing on Neighborhoods and Communities for its April program. A panel of local speakers will discuss Safe Routes to Schools, Roads, Community Strategic Plan – Vision 2025 and the 5-Year Parks and Recreation Plan.  A healthy community assures equal opportunity for all individuals to participate in and influence decisions that affect each of their lives and embraces diversity and promotes a “sense of community.” 

Speakers for the panel include Ellen Dreps, who has been leading the efforts for Safe Routes to School. Safe Routes to School is an approach that promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, tools, safety, education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school.  Ellen will provide an update of and what to expect going forward.

Amy Gilson, DPW Director, will discuss how the city roads are rated and the 5-year road plan approved by City Council.  She will also discuss the Kickoff for the new 5-Year Parks and Recreation Plan.  The plan is being developed by the Parks Advisory Board and the Charlotte Area Recreational Cooperative.

The April meeting will be held at the Charlotte Community Library located at 226 S. Bostwick St., in Charlotte, Michigan at 7:00 a.m. on April 24th.

CanDo! General Meeting Focuses On Basic Needs In March

CanDo! believes that, in our community, anything is possible. Its diverse, welcoming membership creates an environment that awakens the imagination and invigorates a spirit of collaboration and generosity among community members, youth, entrepreneurs and leaders to transform the wonder of small town possibilities into realities. Its goal is to create a space to inspire everyone to engage with the community in an intentional way, to ignite action to create positive community experiences, and to celebrate results.

CanDo! will host its next general membership meeting on Wednesday, March 27 at 7:00am at the Charlotte Community Library. All community members are welcome.

This month, the meeting will focus on basic needs in the community, and will include panelists Denise Cornelius.  Denise is the Executive Director of Housing Services Mid-Michigan where she has serviced nearly 20 years.  She has championed many projects in the region, including bringing more than 100 new Mainstream Vouchers for the disabled, partnering with developers to increase affordable housing options in the County. Denise will be speaking about prevention of homelessness, homelessness, and foreclosure along with special housing options.

In addition to Denise Cornelius, the panel will include Kalli Dempsey.  Kalli has a BA in Family Life Education and is currently working as a Social Worker at Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital. Kalli has a vast amount of experience working with low income and high-risk families.  She previously worked as a Case Manager at Housing Services of Eaton County and has experience working with children as well as assisting parents in crisis situations.  Kalli will be discussing how basic needs are met by the food bank within the community. She will discuss who qualifies for services and what they may expect when they visit the Food Panty each month for assistance.

The panel is sure to generate excellent discussion, and the more community members attend, the larger the impact on Charlotte.

CanDo! To Focus On Youth Health And Wellness In Feburary

Each month, CanDo! (Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity) explores another one of the Seven Elements of Healthy Communities in an effort to incubate remarkable ideas that will help move the community forward. A February 27th presentation by four community panelists will focus on meeting the health and wellness needs of the youth in our community.

Mr. Michael Sparks is the Youth Recreation Coordinator for the Charlotte Public Schools.  The Youth Recreation Coordinator is a new position developed and charged with: Creating a website to house all youth recreation opportunities within the district; expanding and enhancing current recreational programming in the district; creating new programs of interest for local youth; building continuity within local programs allowing for better coordination with varsity-level coaches; and streaming lining communications, sign ups, dates and events, among others.  Mr. Sparks will provide an update on what is currently available for the youth in our community and what will be available in the near future.

Mr. Dan Christian, Aquatic Center Supervisor for the Charlotte Public Schools will discuss how the Aquatic Center has been building and improving programing each year.  He will speak on the success of the swim club teams, Red Cross Lifeguard Training, and swim programs available for children as young as 6 months.  In addition, Mr. Christian will talk about collaborative efforts with Hayes Green Beach Hospital in regards to the use of the exercise pool.  The exercise pool is used daily for therapy patients from Hayes Green Beach Hospital, special needs students and adults, adult exercise classes, personal training and independent water exercise.

Mr. Jake Campbell is the Director of Health and Wellness Services and has been with Hayes Green Beach since 2007.  He will discuss the strength and conditioning program recently created by Al!ve and the Charlotte Public Schools and how this collaborative program is designed for student athletes in order to improve overall strength, speed and agility.

Mr. Dan Stafford, Athletic Director for Charlotte Public Schools will discuss how Charlotte Public Schools are collaborating with local talents to properly train youth and create an environment that is safe for athletes. He will explain the importance of collaboration and give exciting updates on the successes of the High School Sports Teams.

Stafford, Campbell, Christian and Sparks will share a fast-paced presentation highlighting health and wellness opportunities for youth of all ages in our community.  They will provide information and will have time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Those interested in the health and wellness of youth in our community will find something of value in the conversation at this month Can Do! meeting. All are welcome, and there is no cost to attend. Join us for this health and wellness discussion beginning at 7:00 a.m. in the Spartan Room at the Charlotte Community Library at 226 S. Bostwick Street in Charlotte, Michigan.  Coffee and a light breakfast are provided. The program concludes by 8:30 a.m.