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April 24, 2013

Community House crafts coloring book filled with city’s historic landmarks

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — The Rochester area has a bright history, but it will soon become even more colorful.

The Rochester Community House is in the process of creating a 48-page coloring book featuring people, organizations, and historic and current points of interest in the Rochester community.

Rochester Community House Director Mary Lee Kowalczyk said the book, which will serve as a new fundraiser for the nonprofit, will also be a legacy to the children in the community to illustrate how certain buildings and events came about and just who or what civic group was responsible for it.

“We’re trying to come up with something that would be geared to preschool children through the third grade — something that would be a legacy for them, that would give them, while they are coloring, a little bit of history about how things got here,” she said. “You know, I’m 77 years old … and having lived in Rochester all my life, there are so many things that I remember historically and who was responsible for them. (I thought), I need to do something to capture this, so this is why I decided that this is what we are going to do. We’re going to capture some of those memories that a lot of us, who have been here for a long time and lived in Rochester, remember and we’re also going to capture some of the ones that are currently happening right now.”

The Rochester Community House is asking Rochester-area artists to participate in the fun by volunteering to draw a page or two. The book will feature a variety of historic and current points of interest in the Rochester community, including the Rochester Lions Club, the Older Persons’ Commission, Rochester High School, Park Davis, Van Hoosen Farms, the War Memorial, the Van Hoosen children’s garden, Lytle Pharmacy, well-known local historians Rod Wilson and Gail Kemler, and more. All chosen participating artists may sign their page.

“We have lists and lists of places that we want to include in the book. Some of them lend themselves to coloring and some of them don’t. …  We’ve been going through a lot of old pictures and sending out the call for people to draw these pictures so that they will be able to be colored by little people,” Kowalczyk said. “It is really fun, so we are excited about it, and the more people we get involved the more excited we get.”

Local artist Dave Koss has been hard at work creating a number of pages already, including the Harrison building, Van Hoosen Farms, the Rochester Elevator, The Community House 1933 Pavilion and more.

“It sounded like a neat project to put together the historical influence of Rochester in a coloring-book form, so that the kids could have interest in the older homes and businesses that they could color, learning in the process,” he said.

Approximately 500 copies of the book will likely be ready for sale in a year, Kowalczyk said, although she would prefer to have it ready by the holidays, if possible.

“I personally feel like I am a year out before it will be completed, but the more artists that we get involved, the sooner we can do this,” she said.

The coloring books will cost $6 each and will be available for sale at the Community House and also possibly at Lytle Pharmacy, the Rochester Hills Public Library and the Museum at Van Hoosen Farms.

All proceeds will benefit the Rochester Community House. Founded 1975, the nonprofit community center hosts a variety of enrichment classes, nonprofit organization meetings, business luncheons and seminars during the week, and also serves as a venue for weddings, business functions and other events. The Rochester Community House also offers a Community Kitchen program — which distributes bags of emergency groceries to those in need from its back door each week — as well as its Sunday Dinner program, sponsored by local residents and organizations, which allows low-income families and seniors to be served restaurant-style in the Community House each month.

Rochester-area artists interested in participating in the coloring book are asked to contact Kowalczyk at (248) 651-0622.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.