Clawson volunteers, businesspeople recognized for contributions

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 18, 2015


CLAWSON — Volunteers and leaders in the business community were honored last week at the annual State of the City address March 11 at City Hall.

Renee Niewolak, branch manager of Diversified Members Credit Union, was awarded Business Person of the Year.

A Rotary member, Chamber participant and volunteer, Niewolak is known for continually giving her time, talents and funding. She was hailed for her enthusiastic work ethic.

“Your attitude and philosophy from the top down have contributed to the success of the credit union and what you do for each and every group in Clawson,” Mayor Penny Luebs said as she presented Niewolak with the award from the City.

All honorees received official proclamations from the offices of U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, state Sen. Marty Knollenberg and state Rep. Martin Howrylak.

“This community is just so welcoming; it feels so natural to be involved,” Niewolak said.

The 2015 Organization of the Year Award went to the Clawson Rotary Club.

The organization was lauded as a hard-working, fundraising and community-supporting group.

Rotarians flip pancakes at the Fourth of July gathering in support of fresh drinking water around the globe. They host a golf outing to raise money for college scholarships and foreign exchange students, and they fund two Interact clubs.

The Rotary Club also donates to the Clawson Robotics Club and numerous other youth events.

Volunteer of the Year certificates were awarded to resident Carrie Chambers, 30-year Department of Public Works employee Raymond “Butch” Vincent and Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Richard Welsh.

“I enjoy doing this work and now I have to live up to it,” Welsh said. “You do it year after year and you don’t even think of these things, and all of a sudden someone tells you (that) you are getting an award. It really is nice to be recognized.”

Luebs said Welsh is known as one of the faces of Clawson. He helps set up and clean up events, as well as participates in most Chamber happenings.

Welsh has a reputation for knocking on many doors throughout Clawson and Royal Oak to find members for the Chamber.

“Without a certificate of recognition, you are recognized everywhere in the city with the businesses,” Luebs said as she presented him with the award. “You are out and about. You are one of the faces of Clawson.”

Carrie Chambers is known for her role in the schools and community. She serves as the Clawson Mavericks volunteer photographer, assists with the Champions Club and, in December, organized a fundraising campaign that exceeded $11,000 for the Maccallum family after they lost their home and belongings to a fire.

“She is commonly known as Wonder Woman,” Luebs said.

Vincent was the third recipient recognized for his 30 years of employment with the Clawson DPW and 13 years as a coach for the Clawson Mavericks.

Vincent is known for going above and beyond for anyone who asks, and guiding the Clawson Mavericks players as a coach and life mentor.

“You are the person with common sense, and you know what needs to be done and how to do it,” Luebs said as she presented his award. “You are the person with the experience and the wisdom and the good heart to get it done.”

Luebs said volunteers are the backbone of the city. 

“Volunteers spend countless hours organizing and working at events,” she said. “The events enhance city services. 

“Recognizing volunteers with awards is one way to show our appreciation and thank them for the work they do.”

The Putting Clawson on the Map Award went to Paula Kelley, owner of PK Yarn Over Knit.

Kelley has been attracting customers and cult yarn lovers to Clawson from neighboring cities for five years.

She is known for greeting customers with a smile and her dog, Muffin. She also does a lot of charitable knitting work.

“Thank you for your wonderful personality, your welcoming atmosphere and what you do for Clawson,” Luebs said as she presented Kelley with her award.

The lifelong Clawson resident said that receiving the award was humbling and she felt fortunate to receive it.

“I get to combine my passion with the love of the city,” she said.