Professional Highlights from the Great Lakes Bay Region

DCECU members, employees turn fundraiser into community blessing via donation of plush animals to Midland PD
A recent fundraiser at Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union resulted in the donation of more than 125 plush toys to the Midland Police Department to provide comfort to children during traumatic incidents.
Over the holidays, DCECU sold stuffed animals for a $10 donation to support the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates state PAC, a political action committee that supports credit union-friendly candidates for the Michigan Legislature. The plush toys were offered for personal gift-giving for the holidays, or members could choose to donate them to the Midland Police Department.
MPD Community Relations Officer Paul McDonald said the department was excited to partner with DCECU to collect the toys, which will be included in the child trauma toolkits that MPD keeps in all of its vehicles.
“Whenever we encounter a young child in a frightening situation, such as a car accident, we provide them with a comfort item, like a blanket or stuffed animal,” McDonald said. “Items in these toolkits also help kids understand that the police are friendly and there to help.”
DCECU accountant Alison Lutren was especially pleased that the fundraiser had multiple benefits, both to the local community and to the statewide credit union community.
“Sales of these soft, cuddly plush animals not only provided easy gifts for that special child, but more importantly will comfort a child during an emotional or traumatic event,” she said. “DCECU members and staff were incredibly generous during this fundraiser for the MCUL PAC; the plush animals were a big hit, selling out in just 12 days. DCECU and the Midland Police Department are incredibly thankful for this thoughtful act of community kindness, which will surely go on to bring a touch of comfort to local children in their time of need.”
Team One Salutes Veterans, First Responders
It was a happy holiday for veterans, police officers, firefighters, ambulance and first-responder dispatch from Flint, Saginaw, Bloomfield, Caro, Sandusky, Bad Axe, Bay City and Owosso as Team One Credit Union provided 250 tickets to the Dec. 15 Detroit Lions game at Ford Field.
The Salute to Veterans and First Responders Day was in appreciation for their service, sacrifice, and the example that they set for the community.
While the game didn’t end in a win for the Lions, one recipient from Bay City was happy to be able to attend the game just the same, stating: “Thank you, Team One Credit Union. Your support of first responders is very much appreciated.”
Hidden Harvest Spreads Holiday Joy
A new initiative funded in part by a monetary gift from the Elizabeth J. Husband Fund of the Bay Area Community Foundation allowed Hidden Harvest to share in the Spreading Christmas Joy program with its partners in Bay County.
Through the program, 30 seniors received holiday food boxes from Hidden Harvest, along with additional holiday cheer through a collaboration with Do-All. The recipients of the food distribution at Center Ridge Arms also were visited by a group of carolers who are participants in the Do-All program.
The Bay Area Community Foundation awards grants twice a year to local nonprofits and 501(c)(3) organizations in Bay and Arenac counties.
Ott Retires from Leadership Roles at Foundations
After more than 34 years of service, Alan W. Ott announced his retirement from leadership positions at two key Midland-based foundations, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation.
A longtime president and CEO of Chemical Bank, Ott joined the board of the Gerstacker Foundation as a trustee in 1985, becoming treasurer a decade later. Gerstacker later joined the board of the Pardee Foundation as a trustee.
Community projects supported by the Gerstacker Foundation include the Tridge, Midland County Courthouse, Washington Woods, rail-trail projects and others.
“For decades, Alan Ott provided financial brilliance and community commitment in guiding our philanthropic efforts,” said Gail Lanphear, chair of the Gerstacker Foundation and the Pardee Foundation. “We have all learned from him, and we will miss him.”
Jolt Names Lewinski Employee of the Year
Jolt Credit Union accounting specialist Taylor Lewinski was chosen as the 2019 Deborah L. Frisch Employee of the Year. Credit union management annually selects one employee for the honor who has displayed exceptional work performance, service to the membership and dedication to the credit union goals.
“We are very pleased to see Taylor Lewinski honored as this year’s Deborah L. Frisch Employee of the Year,” said Ann Rechsteiner, Jolt chief financial officer. “Taylor most definitely encompasses the true meaning of the Jolt essence by the way she interacts with others and goes above and beyond to help our members. She frequently volunteers to help co-workers with special projects. Her energy and passion to be great lives up to our Jolt promise of giving it all we’ve got, every day and everywhere.”
Midland Center Partners on Cultural Program
The Midland Center for the Arts partnered with Midland Area Interfaith Friends for an evening of music and conversation with Arab-Jewish ensemble Shesh Besh on Jan. 15 at United Church of Christ, 4100 Chestnut Hill Drive in Midland. The goal of the evening was to open a window for further dialogue and cultural exchange. The ensemble performed several selections from both Eastern and Western repertoire and answered questions while facilitating conversation about life in the Middle East and its goal of building bridges across religion and culture through the art of music. The event was free and open to the public.
Arts Center Welcomes New Vice President
Midland Center for the Arts has recently announced the addition of Michael Mirto as the new vice president of development. Mirto was the vice president of philanthropic services for the Community Foundation of Southest Michigan. Prior to that, he was associate vice president of individual giving at Wayne State University.
“Michael brings a wealth of experience in developing personal and thoughtful relationships to connect with patrons and donors to our everyday work,” said Terri Trotter, arts center president and CEO. “We are thrilled to have Michael join our executive leadership team, bringing his ideas and enthusiasm to the table to cultivate new supporters of the museum and performing arts programs.”