During a May 15 awards luncheon at the Club Venetian in Madison Heights, Amy Schroder holds her plaque recognizing her as the Madison Heights Community Round Table’s Volunteer of the Year.

During a May 15 awards luncheon at the Club Venetian in Madison Heights, Amy Schroder holds her plaque recognizing her as the Madison Heights Community Round Table’s Volunteer of the Year.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Community Round Table announces 2019 volunteer honorees

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 23, 2019

 Kimberly Heisler, director of the Madison Heights Community Coalition, presents the Rickey Busler Community Service Award to Keri Valmassei, executive director of the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce.

Kimberly Heisler, director of the Madison Heights Community Coalition, presents the Rickey Busler Community Service Award to Keri Valmassei, executive director of the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — Volunteerism can be difficult, discouraging and often thankless work. But at the awards luncheon each year for the Madison Heights Community Round Table, or MHCRT, kudos are given to those who dedicate themselves to the greater good.

The MHCRT is a network of groups from the Madison Heights community that includes the city, schools, Chamber of Commerce and numerous nonprofit organizations. This year’s event was held at the Club Venetian May 15.

While each member group in the MHCRT has its own honoree to highlight, the MHCRT as a whole also recognizes one individual overall for especially outstanding work. That individual this year was Amy Schroder.

The daughter of Diane McGillivray and Oakland County Commissioner Gary McGillivray — who together were last year’s overall winners — Schroder has been involved with Madison Heights Youth Assistance (MHYA) since it restarted four years ago, serving as its secretary and co-chairing its We Are Family Committee, which focuses on educational and recreational opportunities for youth.

Among the events hosted by the We Are Family Committee were a candy cane hunt featuring the Grinch, a self-defense class for teenage girls and two co-sponsored screenings of “Angst,” a film on anxiety. These efforts supplement the ongoing work of MHYA in the areas of counseling, student scholarships, skill building and more.

“Amy has been an integral part of the prevention programming accomplished by MHYA for the last four years,” said Deb Lindsey, MHYA’s caseworker. “She has generously donated her time and talents to growing our local program efforts to benefit our families living here in Madison Heights.

“Amy has a heart for the children and families of Madison Heights, and it shows in the care and dedication she gives to her volunteer work, and her work as a teacher at Hiller Elementary (in Lamphere Schools),” she said. “All of us at MHYA appreciate her volunteer spirit, the work she does, the creativity she brings, and her strong commitment to strengthening the youth and families of Madison Heights.”

Schroder’s volunteer work extends beyond MHYA to other efforts as well, such as the International Night at Hiller Elementary started by Schroder and her co-worker Rachael Wenskay.  This year’s event was held April 25, beginning with a ceremony honoring 13 new Madison Heights families who all gained their U.S. citizenship in the last two years.

Many of the immigrant families left war-torn countries and immigrated to other countries before arriving in the U.S. Schroder explained that after receiving their green card, families have to wait four years and seven months before applying for U.S. citizenship. After applying for citizenship, they are then fingerprinted and wait patiently to take their 100-question citizenship test. After passing the test, families then wait for their citizenship ceremony before officially becoming citizens.

“Becoming a citizen is a long process that I feel, as a natural-born citizen, is often taken for granted,” Schroder said. “It is wonderful to have these families join the community as U.S. citizens.”

Schroder has also helped the Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade and Madison Heights Little League Baseball, as well as the local Chamber of Commerce with poker fundraisers. She has also volunteered with Lamphere’s food distribution program, as well as the Pinwheels for Prevention initiative by the Madison Heights Women’s Club, which helped raise awareness for child abuse and raised funds for MHYA.

She said she was surprised and deeply humbled by the MHCRT’s award.

“I do what I do to make a difference in the lives of those around me, not to be recognized,” Schroder said. “Although it’s an honor to be recognized, it really wouldn’t be possible without all the wonderful support of the others who volunteer selflessly.”

She gave special thanks to her parents for teaching her the importance of community service from a young age, and to her husband, Josh, who supports her in her volunteer work.

“Volunteering for us is a family affair,” Schroder said.

The city of Madison Heights, itself, recognized a group and an individual for their work as well.

The Madison Heights Arts Board was named Outstanding Group of the Year by the city, and Vita Palazzolo was named Madison Heights Individual Volunteer of the Year.

Mayor Brian Hartwell said the Arts Board has been “producing unlike any other city commission in recent history,” from a makers exhibit and karaoke night to a calendar photo contest and the recent mural contest — the winning design of which is currently being painted across all four walls of the Jaycee shelter building at Civic Center Park.

“The volunteer members of the Madison Heights Arts Board are the city’s advocates for arts and culture, making our city nice, expressive and a great place to call home,” Hartwell said. “In 2019, the City Council recognizes this board as the organization of the year.”

The board’s chairperson, Kymm Clark, accepted the honor on behalf of the group.

As for Palazzolo — the city’s choice for Volunteer of the Year — Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss said that she was “an obvious choice,” and that he was honored to present the award to her.

“Her passion and enthusiasm for arts in the city was evident since the first day of the board when she spoke at the council meeting, urging council to adopt the board resolution and urging people to join,” Bliss said. “She started as an alternate but contributed so much that she became the example that led council to change the rules so alternates can participate procedurally at meetings.

“Vita is nothing short of amazing,” he said, noting that she was the driving force behind the Arts Board’s fundraising efforts, personally helping to raise thousands of dollars. “She inspires everyone she came in contact with — including me — to do more, to do better, and to always do it with a smile.”

 


Madison Heights Community Round Table 33rd Annual Awards

The following is the full list of honorees recognized by the Madison Heights Community Round Table during its awards luncheon at the Club Venetian May 15.

Madison Heights Active Adult Center Volunteers of the Year
Carol Leuffgen and Mike Salley

Madison Heights Lions Corporate Service Partner of the Year
Madison Heights Hollywood Market

Lamphere Supporter of the Year
Rickey Busler

Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber Member of the Year
Mike VanBuren

Madison Heights Historical Commission Historian of the Year
Jennifer Ballantine

Madison Heights Outstanding Group of the Year
Madison Heights Arts Board

Madison Heights Individual Volunteer of the Year
Vita Palazzolo

Madison Heights Women’s Club Women of the Year
Tammy Bridges and Lesa Eickholt

Madison Schools Volunteer of the Year
Mark Kimble

Madison Heights Youth Assistance Volunteer of the Year
Amy Schroder

Rickey Busler Community Service Award
Keri Valmassei

Madison Heights Women’s Club Unsung Hero Award
Brian Hartwell

Madison Heights Community Round Table Corporation of the Year
Green Lantern

Madison Heights Community Round Table Volunteer of the Year
Amy Schroder