Madison Heights Men’s Club hits one-year milestone

Inaugural year focused on parks, schools, families in need

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 14, 2014

MADISON HEIGHTS — It’s been little more than a year since the formation of the Madison Heights Men’s Club. In that amount of time, they’ve already made a name for themselves with a variety of good deeds.

Recently, they participated in a food drive that brought in more than 1,000 pounds of food for Gleaner Food Bank and the food pantry of Guardian Angels Catholic Church, which will feed nearly 700 families. The effort was spearheaded by Maria Haywood, a Madison Heights resident and Girl Scout leader, who enlisted the help of the Men’s Club and St. Vincent de Paul, as well as local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Flyers were dropped off at homes between 12 Mile and 13 Mile in Madison Heights on April 19, as well as part of Royal Oak. Then, on April 26, the volunteers returned to pick up the food donations. Lessenger Elementary allowed a Gleaners truck to set up on site for the food drive that weekend.

“I was very happy the Men’s Club helped,” Haywood said. “They do a lot of good work for the community.” She also thanked Wendy Abbott, leader of a local Boy Scouts group, for her help coordinating the effort.

Around the same time as the food drive, the members of the Men’s Club also returned to the Red Oaks Nature Center at Friendship Woods for the annual Spring Cleanup arranged by Oakland County Commissioner Gary McGillivray, coming full-circle at the event where they made their debut last year.

“It was an impressive turnout with a lot of new faces, as well as the faces of kids a year older,” said Todd Whalen, a member of the Men’s Club. “For the most part, they centered us around the nature center building, raking up leaves and laying out close to 10 yards of mulch. We also had people cutting down brush they wanted out of the way.”

Whalen said that McGillivray showed up at one of their recent meetings, along with Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Brian Hartwell.

“It was nice to have local government there to help us understand what we can do, helping the city in this way or that way,” Whalen said. “They’re looking to do a Civic Center cleanup, so we’ll get our members together for that. We share the same agenda, cleaning up the city, which is part of our mission statement — beautifying the city and taking pride in it.”

Toward this end, the Men’s Club also had volunteers cleaning up the 10 Mile service drive in August, for a quarter-mile stretch from John R. Then, they cleaned the flowerbeds at Madison Heights City Hall in September. At the recommendation of the city, they also painted playground equipment at Ambassador Park in October.

The club currently has between 20 and 30 active members. During their first year, they donated $100 to each of the elementary schools and middle schools in both the Madison and Lamphere districts, for the purposes of helping families in need.

They’re also raising money for $500-minimum scholarships for students at both Madison High and Lamphere High, with the students qualifying based on staff recommendations, student essays and community service. The more money raised by the Men’s Club, the bigger the scholarships and other donations to the schools will be. 

Fundraisers have included an evening at Marinelli’s and a bowl-a-thon at Universal Lanes that featured strong support from local businesses contributing raffle items. Whalen mentioned Green Lantern, On the Rocks, Boodles, Texas Roadhouse, Amori’s Market, Lady Jane’s and Rosie O’Grady’s all helping out, alongside Marinelli’s and Universal Lanes.

The hope is that support will continue to grow as the club grows.

“We want to model ourselves after groups like the (GFWC Madison Heights) Intermediate Women’s Club,” said T.J. Atherholt, treasurer for the Men’s Club. “We’re hoping we can get to that level and do even more for the community.”

The Men’s Club is also now part of the Madison Heights Community Round Table, which comprises dozens of civic groups trying to make a difference in the city. 

“All of us guys have the same view: We want ourselves and our kids to be proud of being from Madison Heights,” Atherholt said. “We’re not just a small town next to a bigger city. We want everyone to be proud of where they live and go to school — of where they’re from.”

He added that being a positive role model is already paying dividends.

“Some of our kids at Lessenger Elementary actually started a Junior Men’s Club,” Atherholt said. “They have their own meetings at recess, and we want to get T-shirts for them. They look at what their dads do, and we think it’s a good thing for sure. It’s neat it’s caught on.”

The Madison Heights Men’s Club meets at 7 p.m. at the Red Oaks Youth Soccer Complex on the west side of John R, north of 12 Mile, the third Thursday of each month. Membership is $50 a year, but the first meeting is free to attend. The nonprofit is for men ages 21 and older. For more information, call (248) 765-9429.