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Volunteers make dream of Roseville cruise a reality

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 24, 2013


ROSEVILLE — It’s been a long time coming, but the Roseville Gratiot Cruise is happening this year, and it’s all thanks to the work of volunteers.

No one at the Roseville Heritage Foundation — from the foundation president to the board of directors, committee chairs and event-day workers — gets paid anything.

For many of them, the past three years have been spent working the equivalent of a part-time job.

“I’ve been a proponent for the cruise for more than 15 years,” said Roseville Heritage Foundation Vice President and Roseville Councilman Bill Shoemaker. “We worked hard on it 15 years ago and we’ve worked hard on it again for the last three or four years laying the groundwork to make it work.

“We are probably up to spending 20 hours a week on this, and it’s all volunteers. No one is getting paid. Everyone is doing this just to see a cruise in Roseville.”

Roseville Heritage Foundation members and dozens of local residents have signed up to volunteer with the foundation on cruise day, working in areas such as security, traffic control, crowd control, communications, hospitality and more.

“I’m going to do registration because it sounds like I would like something like that,” said Roseville resident Cheryl Somes. “This cruise is long overdue. I’ll walk around with my husband and see all the cars after I am done at the registration, but I figure I should volunteer for my city. This is my community service for the city I live in.”

“I took a class in (Microsoft) Access and I figured it would give me some more experience to do the database for the cruise,” said Roseville resident Tana Hochberg. “So I’ll enter in everybody’s names and contact information and what committees they are in to keep track of everyone and keep everything organized.”

“I can’t afford to cruise my trike, so I figured I’d volunteer — that way, I’m still involved,” said 71-year-old Roseville resident Bill Henderson.

With about 12 years of experience, Henderson will be working security along the same route he used to cruise in his 1966 Cutlass. “I have a little security background, so I told them I’d do the whole day,” he said. “I’ll be out there watching.”

It’s not just Roseville residents stepping up to volunteer. Folks from all around south Macomb will come forward to volunteer on cruise day.

“I have been a supporter of cruises my whole life, and when I heard Roseville was having one — I’m friends with one of the committee members and he told me — I wanted to come out and volunteer to help so it is a success and we can have another one next year,” said Warren resident Connie Bonkowski.

“They asked me to head (up) the environmental team, so I’ll be the liaison between the cruise committee and DPW,” said 61-year-old St. Clair Shores resident Frank Debinski.

“He brought up the idea of the golf cart and hauling snacks and water around and I said, ‘Hey, I’ll go for that.’ Plus, I am a Lion so I volunteer,” said 66-year-old Warren resident Norman Peraino, pointing to his buddy Dave Ricken.

“I am a Lion and that is what we do — we volunteer,” Ricken said. “Also, I’m a fan of classic cars, but what man isn’t? My buddy has a golf cart, so we are going to volunteer as a team passing out water and snacks to volunteers.”

All told, more than 100 people have signed up to volunteer with the Roseville Heritage Foundation July 28 for the cruise. Without them, the cruise wouldn’t be possible.

“The volunteers were instrumental in being able to have this cruise,” said Roseville Heritage Foundation President Stephan Pawl. “They are going to be monitoring the cruising lane to keep it safe for the individuals that paid to show their cars off in the cruise-only lane. They are going to be at the crosswalks and in the median; running security, the VIP tent and environmental services — our E Team.

“We have over 100 volunteers who have volunteered their time free for the day who are going to be monitoring and helping in everything — security, communications, health, hospitality, ham radio operations — working with DPW, Roseville Police and the fire service. This cruise wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Still, Judith Warren-Wright, a Roseville Heritage Foundation board member and the head of volunteer operations for cruise day, said they’d gladly take more.

“We’re still looking for people to volunteer as spotters, making sure no one is in the median, and for our E Team doing environmental services and cleaning up after the cruise,” Warren-Wright said.

With the promise of a $100-$300 donation, pending the number of volunteers, the foundation is hoping to recruit a local youth group or kids club to volunteer as the E Team.

For more information, call (586) 404-9409 or visit