Traverse City News and Events

Traverse City Is Thankful For Its Own

By Luke Haase | Nov. 26, 2020

Henry David Thoreau once said, “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” On this holiday, The Ticker decided to reach out to locals to hear who you’re thankful for this year. Here’s what we heard:

“Jason Smith, Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer Director who spends a lot of his time and effort creating a strong soccer learning program from our youth and community.”
Marshall Collins Jr., TBAISD and founder, Northern Michigan E3 Council

“The Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation for ensuring resources are available to support our most vulnerable students.”
Dr. John VanWagoner, superintendent, TCAPS

“Marlene Curtiss, a lovely inspirer to so many, who gives a lot of people in this community a boost by sending her in-depth, kind, heart-felt thank you notes. She has no idea how much she helps power goodness in the community by giving thanks and showing gratitude!”
Benjamin Marentette, City Clerk  

"Tifini McClyde moved to the area and joined Interlochen as our HR leader in March. I couldn't imagine anyone having a more challenging start to a new job and being so effective."
Trey Devey, president, Interlochen Center for the Arts

“Patty Hickman at The Dish offered a safe and thoughtful eatery throughout the pandemic. Her kindhearted sustenance helped keep me going this year.”
Trevor Tkach, CEO, Traverse City Tourism

“Alex Campbell at Bay Area Recycling for Charities (BARC) for keeping our compost bins empty (and our landfills even emptier!)”
Stephanie Mathewson, marketing manager, Oryana

“Stephen Morse and Tim Pulliman from Keen Technical, who have donated incredible time and expertise to help companies acquire air purification equipment.”
Warren Call, CEO, Traverse Connect

“Jean Derenzy, Downtown Development Authority, for her irrepressible positive attitude, grace under adversity, and indefatigable resolve to seek, learn, understand, and drive for the long-term wellbeing of our precious community.”
Casey Cowell, CEO, Boomerang Catapult

“Wendy Hirschenberger, the GT County Health Officer. She is juggling so much with this pandemic. Working with the city, the county, and the state to make sure policies and procedures from the CDC and MDHHS are being followed. Tracking the cases and making sure contract tracing is being done. Supporting efforts to promote and manage COVID testing. Working long hours to support our UpNorth community.”
Jim Carruthers, Mayor

“Chet Simonelli, a 90-year-old volunteer who keeps the grass mowed spring, summer, and fall at the Optimist Youth Foundations ‘Cabin Property.’”
Michael Brown, CEO, Burdco

“I want to give a shout-out to Scott Newman-Bale from Short's Brewery. Scott really helped out at Farm Club. In the middle of a major can shortage, Scott used the size of Short's to pull some weight. He used some of his cans that he had allocated for Short's and got them in our hands so we can do a small important canning run. He also delivered the cans himself (twice because of a mistake on my end). He went above and beyond.”
Gary Jonas, owner, The Little Fleet and Farm Club

“Taylor Moore, our Food Rescue Manager, and his outstanding and passionate staff for continuing to fulfill our mission of providing fresh and nutritious rescued food to our many shelters, pantries and community meal programs throughout our region. They have adopted heroically during these challenging times and won't let anything stand in their way of helping our food insecure neighbors. Thank you to the entire team!”
Bruce Byl, founder, Food Rescue

“The first person that comes to mind for me is actually our friend Jean Derenzy. She has been tireless especially throughout COVID. Just tonight she was the first email I received after the new restrictions that put restaurants back into dine-in only. Jean is a tireless advocate for local business and specifically local entrepreneurs. She is thoughtful, a good listener but a doer. She is an amazing outlet for those who just need someone to bounce ideas off of. She is fair but fights for what needs to get done to businesses thrive in the community. We are lucky to have her.”
Soon Hagerty, founder, The Good Bowl

“NMC math instructor Stephen Drake - like all of our instructors who have led our students through the transition from face-to-face to virtual learning - after 50 years of teaching at NMC headed back to the classroom this past summer so he could learn online teaching techniques  to better serve our students who are learning remotely during the pandemic.”
Nick Nissley, president, Northwestern Michigan College

“I am very thankful for my assistant Lisa Green. She has always been there for the department and for me since my promotion to chief of police. She is going to retire in the spring and I will miss her.”
Jeffrey O'Brien, chief, TC Police Department

“Mrs. Sarah Marek, a kindergarten teacher at Eastern Elementary School, who goes above and beyond for our family and many others each and every day.”
Craig Hadley, executive director, Dennos Museum Center

“Kate Thornhill, Caretaker of Leo Creek Preserve in Suttons Bay, for providing a special place of healing, beauty, and a bit of whimsy.”
Julie Clark, executive director, TART Trails

“To all the restaurant, agriculture, and retail business owners who have been flexible and innovative, and allowed our community to continue to have access to outstanding food and drink, produce, and other items that bring a little bit of joy and normalcy to our lives.”
Dr. Christine Nefcy, chief medical officer, Munson Healthcare

“Jerry, a Comfort Keepers caregiver, not only made sure to anonymously send his daughter cash when all salons shut down but also delivers meals to seniors three times a week.”
Leslie Knopp, owner, Comfort Keepers of Northern Lower Michigan

“Chase Schilling, full-time paramedic for Leland Township, also covered shifts at NorthFlight and East Bay Ambulance since the pandemic began. Following extra protocols to keep the virus at bay, always with a great attitude.”
Chuck Korn, supervisor, Garfield Township

“Wendy Hirschenberger, her amazing calm, consistency, and professionalism during a global pandemic in northern Michigan. Her knowledge was clear, her approach was clear was not political -- just the facts. She is a hero for our community.”
Jean Derenzy, CEO, Downtown Traverse City

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