Madison Heights accepts nominations for service awards

Deadline for submissions is Aug. 25

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published August 5, 2023


MADISON HEIGHTS — Those who volunteer know it can be thankless work, but they aren’t in it for the glory. They do it because they want to help others — a fact not lost on city officials.

Now, Madison Heights is accepting nominations for its first annual ‘At Your Services’ Awards. It’s a way to give thanks to those who have given so much.

Categories include “Volunteer of the Year,” which recognizes a resident who worked on issues important to the community; “Outstanding Neighbor,” for those who went above and beyond to make their community a more livable place; and the “Madison Heights Spirit Award,” for persons or groups who consistently promote the city, and make efforts to improve it.

There is also a category for “Business of the Year,” for any local businesses or nonprofits that show core values such as innovation, resilience, collaboration, resourcefulness, diversity, equity, inclusion, environmental sustainability or community support.

Submissions are being accepted online until Aug. 25. The nomination form can be found online at

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem, proposed the awards several months ago. But he is quick to note that it’s not an entirely new concept.

For years, the city would participate in the Community Round Table, a network of community groups, charities, schools and churches in the area. Each year, members would award their most dedicated volunteers at a lavish luncheon. The aim was not only to boost morale, but to inspire others to volunteer, as well.

Then, the pandemic happened, and that tradition came to an end.

“With all that shutting down, I requested staff look into a way where we would have a method of congratulating and awarding all those great volunteers throughout the city,” Bliss said. “Originally, we thought of the people on our boards and commissions, like our Arts Board, our library board, etcetera. But then staff had a great idea to extend it to any and all volunteers, and to allow our residents to make the submissions themselves.

“Before, it was just City Council making submissions,” he said. “We will still select the winners, but now we’re really empowering the community to share their ideas about who’s making a big difference in the city of Madison Heights.”    

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, agreed it’s a good idea.

“With COVID, the Community Round Table stopped meeting as much, and there were so many groups out there who made the decision to disband. But then Mark suggested that we, as a city, should do something. We had always nominated a city volunteer, but there are just so many people in the city who do volunteer work,” Grafstein said.

“I don’t think anyone does it for the recognition, but it’s still nice to be able to recognize when people are doing good things,” she said. “We have residents who serve on multiple boards in the city, and who are involved with active charitable organizations in the area. Again, it’s just nice to be able to recognize them.”

The council has also continued to recognize individuals at council meetings. Earlier this year, the council honored the family of Holly and Michael Hayter, who had maintained a display of skeletons at their home on West Gardenia Avenue, the scene changing with the seasons to delight neighbors and motorists alike. Separately, the council recognized Jennifer Ramirez, the hometown artist responsible for many of the large-scale outdoor murals found in parks around town.

Bliss said these are just two examples of people that the council has formally recognized in the pandemic era. He wants to see even more.

“Having been a volunteer in the city before I was ever elected to public office, I think most volunteers would agree it’s not about recognition. But programs like this bring awareness to volunteer opportunities and inspire others to volunteer. That’s the important thing,” Bliss said.

“People move, life circumstances change. Luckily, we have groups like the Arts Board that are always full, and never have trouble finding people to serve. And I’d like to keep it this way across all our boards and commissions and community service groups,” he said. “If this helps inspire more people to get involved, then we can say it’s having an impact.”