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Open Doors offers more affordable housing

Fifteen working families will have the opportunity to avoid or overcome homelessness as Open Doors Kalamazoo expands its affordable housing program through the purchase of a 15-unit apartment building.
The property at 3611 Duke Street in Kalamazoo has eight two-bedroom apartments, three two-bedroom apartments, and four one-bedroom apartments.
Open Doors Kalamazoo purchased the new property for $320,000. The organization says that "a remarkable deal when you consider that it will provide homes to 15 households."
An additional $52,000 worth of upgrades to the buildings are expected to be made, including new roofs.  
The purchase and upgrading of these apartments was made possible by a grant from the Van Domelen Foundation.
Open Doors Kalamazoo partners with low-wage working men and women to give them the power to support themselves and their families and overcome or avoid homelessness. Through housing, partnerships, and advocacy, Open Doors Kalamazoo has been helping individuals and families overcome homelessness since 1970.
Open Doors Kalamazoo now provides 95 units of housing to help low-wage workers avoid or overcome homelessness. Those units range from single rooms to studio apartments to one- to three-bedroom apartments across Kalamazoo. 
"We recently were able to provide a two-bedroom apartment to a mom with two children who has held a steady job for two years," says  Rick Stravers, Executive Director of Open Doors Kalamazoo. "She takes home about $1,000 a month and was paying $580 monthly for rent, leaving only $420 for all the other expenses for her family. In Open Doors’ housing she will now pay $350 monthly for a two-bedroom unit."
Residents in Open Doors Kalamazoo’s affordable housing program enjoy affordable homes coupled with personal support for maintaining employment and stability. The cost is affordable to workers earning minimum wage. 
“The need for lower cost housing for working families facing homelessness is intense,” Stravers says.
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Joanna Randazzo, Open Doors Kalamazoo

Decorating roots run deep for Hite family

One of the newest stores on the Kalamazoo Mall, Hite House Couture, comes with a history that goes back to a coal mining town in the early 1900s.

In rural West Virginia, Edna Lilly wanted her house to be beautiful. She was married, raising eight children with her coal miner husband, and taking in laundry to keep food on the table. 
With unfailing resourcefulness she stained her walls with crushed red berries for a blush of color. With her pedal driven Singer sewing machine she took old seed sacks and made charming curtains for her windows. She altered clothes and old linens donated from church into something new. For Edna, financial circumstances became her creative inspiration. 
Edna passed that creativity and industrious nature on to her youngest daughter, Ellie. She not only learned to sew by age 12, she took tailoring classes paid for by working odd jobs and began designing the high-end fashions she longed for and otherwise could not afford. 
Ellie never stopped designing and creating through the years as she began her own family, cared for her aging parents and nursed her husband dying of pancreatic cancer. In 2006 she was able to turn her attention to her creative endeavors and was joined by her two daughters, Vicki and Julie. They made their designs for the home in Kalamazoo and opened a retail showroom in New Buffalo, primarily providing custom design services for homeowners in the Greater Chicago Areas and Southwest Michigan.  
Now, in addition to custom design, they are making ready-made styles for the home in their workroom in Kalamazoo.   
Through the years they have developed a loyal following among realtors in the Chicago area, as they work with them to stage homes for sale. Through word of mouth they also have built clientele among home owners decorating their second homes in communities along Lake Michigan. Customers often start out asking for designs for one room and "they come back asking for each room of the house to be decorated," says Julie Hite. A four-story town house on Navy Pier in Chicago is one example.
The decision to open a store on the Kalamazoo mall in early December came about as the three women decided logistics of making their creations in Kalamazoo and taking them to New Buffalo to sell was becoming more difficult. They also were looking for a spot less dependent on seasonal traffic. A feasibility study conducted for Hite House Couture by WMU and the culture of downtown Kalamazoo convinced them to move to the vacant storefront between V&A and Gazelle Sports, which used to be a favorite lunch spot. 
"We’ve always love the culture of downtown, with the art hops and festivals. It’s a very nice fit," Julie Hite says. "We wanted to be in the middle of the hustle and bustel and now we are smack in the middle of it."
Pillows, draperies, table runners, bed linens, all the accoutrements of a well-dress house, are offered at Hite House Couture. Items that are not made by the family but that are ordered through the store can be customized. For example, drapes can be hemmed.
The three women also are working to get their inventory online.
The 1,750-square-foot store, with workroom in back, offers room for expansion. The shop employs Ellie and Julie Hite. Vicky has a second job but also helps with the home design store. 
The woman-owned business that features their own made-in-Michigan goods will participate in the Jan. 10 art hop.

The family's roots in Kalamazoo also are strong ones. Hite says she grew up visiting Jacobson's Store for the Home on the mall with her mother. Now from her shop, Hite can look across the mall and see the same doors that opened onto the store that sparked her future.
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Julie Hite, Hite House Couture

The Station adds shop for dance wear and more

The Station in downtown Kalamazoo is right on track for where the business had hoped to be at this point. As part of the plan, a new dance wear shop has opened in part of the space that once was home to regional streetcars and has been completely renovated into an hourly studio rental business.

The dancewear store opened right before Christmas; the retail component had been envisioned as the second part of the business since The Station opened in 2012. It fits naturally with the studio rental portion of the business, that caters largely to dance instruction but also offers space for many other uses.

Two studio spaces and its Market Studio, an outdoor covered alcove where renters can sell produce and wares, hold a performance, or accommodate overflow to their indoor event, are available.

Fitted with professionally installed mirrors, sprung dance floors, and barres the studios have attracted dance instruction.  Pilates classes, martial arts, ballroom dancing and body works classes all are currently taught there.

"We have classes five to six days a week," says Jennifer Ward, owner of The Station. And there still is capacity for others to rent the space.

Group instruction of any kind, meetings, rehearsals and other activities all are welcome, says Ward. The studios measure 17 by 35 square feet and 20 by 40 square feet.

The very tall design of the building has led Ward to get creative in setting up the retail portion of the business, using the vertical space to create a haberdashery type feel to the store.

When selecting her merchandise, Ward made a point of carefully seeking out companies that either make their goods in the United States or those that have high standards in terms of working conditions and wages for their workers. She carries dance wear by Motionwear (made in Indianapolis), Mondor, Sansha, Freed (made in England), and Eurotard.

The shop was one needed in local marketplace, as dancers previously either traveled to Grand Rapids or purchased their dance attire online, says Ward. Online purchases of dancewear can be challenging as it is difficult to tell the type of fabric being used and how the apparel will look once it is on.

In addition to dancewear, the shop will carry apparel that is dance inspired. "You don't have to be a dancer to come in," Ward says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Jennifer Ward, The Station

Adult Literacy group receives $125,000 grant

The first of a number of grants to promote literacy and learning in the greater Kalamazoo area has been awarded to the Adult Literacy Action Network.

The grant is part of  the Learning Network's mission to create a culture of learning at home, in school, at work and throughout the community. The intent is to ensure that all children in Kalamazoo County will be ready for school, post-secondary education, a career, and the world.

The grant of $125,000 to the Adult Literacy Action Network will provide funds for existing adult literacy work being done in the community.

"It also gives us an opportunity to impact other aspects of the continuum, including K-12," says Michael D. Evans, executive director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. "Directly at the adult level and indirectly across the continuum, this funding will greatly enhance our collective effectiveness."

Action networks are groups of parents, students and educators who use data and a process of continuous improvement to identify and adopt practices that will move the community toward its goal and collect the data that demonstrates goals are being met as part of a collective impact process that is working to make learning a greater part of the community's culture.

The grant will pay for staffing and support to programs established through previous grants to the Literacy Council to support the Adult Literacy Collaborative, which now serves as the Adult Learning Action Network of The Learning Network.

A community literacy center, parent literacy program, computer class and initial development of a writing curriculum have been previously funded. The most recent grant will allow for the hiring of a person who will coordinate the adult learner's activity between the programs.

"This navigation capability gives us greater ability to serve our adult learners and make a better connection between the adult learning service providers: to better assess what type of needs we have in the community, identify gaps, and to identify resources to fill those gaps," says Evans.

Funding grants for action networks working on kindergarten readiness and for college and career readiness are expected to be forthcoming.

The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo is funded by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Tom Vance, Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Lakeland HealthCare names new vice president

David Burghart has been named Executive President of Philanthropy for Lakeland HealthCare.

Burghart has served as Executive Director and President of the Lakeland Health Foundations since October 2009 and has been a member of Lakeland’s Senior Leadership Team since 2010. He will retain the title of President of the Lakeland Health Foundations.

Burghart is responsible for overseeing the fundraising and development activities for Lakeland HealthCare and its affiliates, including planned giving, donor relations, and capital campaigns.

He also oversees the activities of the health system’s volunteers and auxiliaries, which includes the operation of two cafes in St. Joseph and the gift shops in St. Joseph, Niles, and Berrien Center.

Over the last four years at Lakeland, Burghart has helped to raise more than $14 million in community support for capital projects such as the Marie Yeager Cancer Center, the expansion of the Emergency Departments at the Niles and Watervliet hospitals, as well as the Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center.

Prior to joining Lakeland, Burghart held management positions in the foundation operations, fundraising, and professional development field for more than 27 years.

As Foundation President at the 515-bed Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Los Angeles, Burghart led a $10 million fundraising campaign in support of a new patient care tower. Earlier in his career, he served as Director of Development for Andrews University.

Burghart graduated from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a degree in music education, and later earned a master’s degree in music education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. He has extensive experience in music education as a teacher and department chairman.

Writer: Second Wave staff
Source: Lakeland HealthCare

Literacy program gets financial support for second year

Kalamazoo is one of 23 cities in the United States to be awarded a grant through the Cities of Impact Volunteering Fund. The $25,000 will go toward an initiative to deal with adult literacy, Kalamazoo Reads.

The $25,000 will assist the Kalamazoo Literacy Council in opening three new adult literacy centers in the city and recruiting new volunteers to assist 150 adults to learn to read or to improve their reading skills.

In 2012 Kalamazoo received its first Cities of Service grant of $25,000 which was also used for adult literacy programs. Three new learning centers were opened in Kalamazoo’s neighborhoods in 2013 and more than 100 new learners were helped by nearly 100 volunteers.

"Kalamazoo Reads will help further two very important goals in Kalamazoo: adult literacy, which is critically needed to help individuals lead full lives in today’s society and to secure employment; and volunteerism in our community," says Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell. "This grant brings together volunteer tutors and adult students from throughout Kalamazoo, building stronger families and successful neighborhoods."

Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund is a multi-million dollar fund. Nearly $1 million was awarded through the first round of grants in October 2012, with an additional $1 million awarded through the second round. More than 60 mayors applied for Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grants to support the implementation of nearly 90 initiatives. Grants ranged from $25,000 to $100,000.

Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Jeff Chamberlain, City of Kalamazoo

What do you want to know about East Hall redevelopment?

The community will have its second opportunity to offer input and learn about progress of the plans to turn Western Michigan University's East Hall into an alumni Center. The second of three such meetings will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9 in the Little Theater at the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Lane.

Renovation of East Hall is expected to begin in spring 2014. The Jan. 9 session is intended to show how the building will be configured tand the progress made toward a final design. 

The mid-design session will feature professionals from TowerPinkster, the Kalamazoo architectural and engineering firm WMU chose  earlier this year to lead the renovation, and Hopkins Burns Design Studio, an Ann Arbor firm that specializes in historic preservation.

Previously WMU indicated interior spaces will be designed for use as an alumni center and office space for alumni relations officials and feature large gathering spaces for alumni functions as well as such campus and community events as receptions and banquets.

The design elements will be focus on features that can showcase the significance of WMU to its community, state, and the nation.

The 34,000-square-foot core of East Hall was completed in 1905 and is considered the birthplace of WMU.

WMU has borrowed $15 million to transform the 34,000-square-foot core of the building, and has said any amount spent above that figure must come from other sources, such as private donors. The Western Michigan University Alumni Association board has committed $1 million to the project and board members have made personal commitments.

Details of the project are here.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University


Local authors in the holiday spotlight at Kazoo Books

Those who like to buy local will have an opportunity to extend their priorities to their book buying at an upcoming event at Kazoo Books.
Local Authors Day takes place at the independent bookseller's 2413 Parkview Ave. store on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The event got its beginnings four years ago when an author called Kazoo Books owner Gloria Tiller during the holiday season and said she would be available for a booksigning. Tiller was skeptical that anyone would take time out of Christmas shopping to go to a booksigning, but it turned out to be a big success. So Tiller scheduled a second event the following year and it was an even bigger success. That encouraged her to set up the subsequent annual authors' days.
Part of what makes the event successful is that authors come out during the day to support their friends. So shoppers may come to see one author and run into another author whose works they like to read.
A festive atmosphere takes over the shop with all kinds of refreshments, and all the Christmas titles in the store are on sale, too. 
Artisans will be found throughout the shop, including bead jewelry by mentored youth from Beadventure, Ministry with Community's soaps and candles, Linda Kekic's  fused glass jewelry and woodblock prints by Mary Brodbeck.
The signings begin at 11 a.m. with author Ruth McNally Barshaw, creator of the Ellie McDoodle series, an intermediate chapter book. Leslie Helakoski, author and illustrator of Dog Gone Feet and Fair Cow, and author of the Big Chicken series as well as Woolbur also will be available to sign books.  Janet Ruth Heller autor of How the Moon Regained Her Shape, a story about bullying for children of all ages, rounds out the 11 a.m. group.
From noon to 1:30 p.m. catch the latest by Grace Tiffany, author of several books set in the time of Shakespeare, My Father Had a Daughter and Will. Her new book is called Paint and takes readers back to Elizabethan court. Joan Donaldson, an organic farmer who has written a book about the life of growing and farming in Michigan, Wedded to the Land; Tom Small‘s, whose Using Native Plants to Restore Community has become a regional handbook for protecting the native landscape. and local poet Hedy Habra, author of Tea in Heliopolis and Flying Carpets all will be available. 
New Issues Press is at Western Michigan University has recently produced a gift book of regional poetry and art called Poetry in Michigan and several of the authors represented in the book will be available at 1 p.m. Mary Brodbeck, one of the artists in the book also will be here with some of her  art. Judi Rypma  author of Amber Room and Rapunzel’s Hair also will be at the bookstore at 1 p.m.
At 2 p.m. meet Jacqueline Carey, local author of the historical fantasy series, Kushiel’s Legacy, The Sundering epic and the new Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series, Autumn Bones. Sarah Zettel is author of a vampire chef mystery series, the Isavalta fantasy series, and is now writing for young adults. The latest historical novel from the author from the east side of the state is a mystery called Palace of Spies.
Joe Heywood is back from the north country to sign books at 3 p.m. His latest is Killing a Cold One and he can talk about his next book, soon to be out. Also on hand will be: D. E. Johnson with his latest mystery, Detroit Shuffle; Mel Starr who continues his medieval mystery adventures with Rest Not in Peace, just released; and Albert Bell, from Grand Rapids whose latest historical mystery is set in Italy shortly after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
For a complete list of authors and other events, visit here.
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Gloria Tiller, Kazoo Books

Update: Down Dog Yoga Center open in downtown Kalamazoo

Named for a pose that offers a vast number of benefits to the body, Down Dog Yoga Center has now opened in downtown Kalamazoo.

The yoga center in the Peregrine Plaza at the corner of Lovell and the Kalamazoo Mall will be a space for yoga practitioners of all levels.

Owner Kristin Fiore says the 4,000 square feet of space is being divided into two spaces to allow more than one class to be taught simultaneously. For example, a class specializing in yoga for pregnant women could be taught in one space as a class for a more general group of students takes place in another part of the studio.

There will be four treatment rooms for massage and other healing arts. An office space is being created as well. There also will be showers that will allow downtown workers to freshen up after a noontime class or other times during the day before returning to work or heading out for shopping.

In a recent announcement of the center's opening Fiore says: "The vision for Down Dog is based on a commitment to community: creating an inviting community center where we can connect to ourselves and to each other through the practice of yoga and the healing arts.  Where we can get in touch with our beauty, strength, breath, and the flow of prana and energy within all, sharing our experiences in a nurturing and empowering atmosphere.  

"Down Dog Yoga Center is inclusive to all, without bias or discrimination, with a desire to give back to those in need and care for that which sustains us.  It is a place where we gather to foster well-being, healthy living, creativity and love.  Where we can accept what is but not be limited by that; where we are free to learn and grow, dream big, love fully, and reach our highest potential."

Chris Lampen-Crowell, of Gazelle Sports, is a partner in the business and Fiore says his business experience has proven invaluable in getting the yoga center up and running. She currently is in the middle of what she jokingly refers to as the puzzle of creating the schedule of classes. A group of 9 to 10 teachers will be offering classes from the space.  

"We want to offer a nice, well-rounded schedule," Fiore says. Whether someone is interested in daily classes or simply wants to drop in several times a week, Fiore plans to have classes for both.

Among those coming to Down Dog Yoga Center to teach are Judy Huxmann and Cynthia Hoss, who have run Awake and Aware for the past 10 years at the Parkview Hills shopping center. Some of those who worked with Huxman and Huff, such as sound treatment classes with Julie Chase, also plan to make the move downtown.

Fiore is excited that teachers with so much experience will be offering classes at the center.

"The mission of Down Dog Yoga Center is connecting people to healthy living, creativity and community through yoga," Fiore says. Her vision is that Down Dog Yoga Center will be a place for all people and one where they can connect with others who share their interests in a supportive environment.

Source: Kristin Fiore, Down Dog Yoga Center

Tolera names Ashleigh Palmer as President, CEO

Tolera Therapeutics, Inc., has named Ashleigh Palmer as President, CEO and Board Director.
Palmer had a track record in developing and commercializing biopharma products and working with pioneering therapeutic platforms.
He is president of Creative BioVentures, a strategic advisory company serving the biopharma industry. He will continue as president of the company he founded, Creative BioVentures, as he works as CEO of Tolera. 
Palmer has undertaken several challenging development-stage and turnaround assignments, including CEO and Chairman of Restoragen, Inc.; CEO of Canfite Biopharma, Ltd.; and CEO of Unigene Laboratories, Inc.
Previously, Palmer was Vice President of Business Development at Ohmeda, Inc., where he played an instrumental role in its $1.2 billion sale to a Baxter-led consortium by spinning out Ohmeda's inhaled nitric oxide assets to found INO Therapeutics, Inc.  Under Palmer's leadership, as founding President and CEO, INO Therapeutics developed and commercialized the world's first selective pulmonary vasodilator, INOmax, establishing an orphan drug franchise subsequently acquired by Ikaria for $670 million. 
Palmer says Tolera is "now poised to carefully consider its strategic options, evaluate the needs of prospective partners, and advance this novel therapeutic approach towards a market that appears ripe for the entry of an advantageous induction agent. Tolera also has a significant opportunity to advance its broader T-cell targeting therapeutic platform, especially with respect to autoimmune disease and cancer.  Effective partnering will be the key to this endeavor."
Tolera is developing a drug that safely suppresses the immune system.
The drug is designed for patients who have received organ transplants. The company’s work could also have implications for therapies for autoimmune conditions, diabetes and some cancers. 
Tolera has successfully completed clinical testing through Phase 2  and is ready to commence advanced stage clinical testing. The company has received approval through  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a Phase 3 clinical trial comparing TOL101 to Thymoglobulin. 

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Tolera Therapeutics, Inc.

Borgess welcomes William Davis and Stacy Zolp

Borgess recently welcomed two to various parts of the hospital system.

Stacy Zolp, certified physician assistant (PA-C), has joined the staff of Borgess Orthopedics, part of the Borgess Bone & Joint Institute.

Zolp previously was a physician assistant in the Immediate Care Clinic at Borgess at Woodbridge Hills in Portage. There she assisted attending physicians in the care  patients. Stacy also served as a physician assistant in the Emergency and Trauma Center at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.

She also has been a physician assistant in the Emergency Department at Henry Ford Health System in West Bloomfield, a patient care assistant in Medical Telemetry at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Clinton Township, and a nursing assistant on the Nursing Resource Team at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Zolp earned a Master of Science in Medicine degree from Wayne State University, with a concentration in physician assistant studies in May 2009. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2006, with a concentration in medical technology, from Michigan State University.

Zolp is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants. She presently serves as an adjunct faculty member in Physician Assistant Studies at Grand Valley State University.

To learn more about Borgess Orthopedics, please visit here

William Davis, nurse practitioner (NP), has joined DeLano Outpatient Clinic, part of Borgess Behavioral Health, and its team of dedicated health professionals.

Davis has extensive experience in the mental health field, and most recently was a psychiatric nurse practitioner with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health.

He holds a Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, and a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. Davis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs. He is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners.

For more information on Borgess Behavioral Health, please visit here

Writer: Second Wave Media staff
Source: Michael Smith, Borgess Health

United Way and local corporations to work on social change together

What if instead of donating money to address such social ills as lack of access to good schools corporations tried to find solutions to such problems?

A multi-group effort that includes the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region is one of only 21 United Way organizations nationwide chosen to participate in a collaboration with Fortune 500 companies to promote corporate responsibility roles in addressing social ills.  

Capital Area United Way, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, United Way of Jackson County, and United Way of Southwest Michigan will all be working together in the Corporate Engagement Partnership, a two-year initiative to explore broad-based strategies that tackle social needs.

Consumers Energy, Kellogg Company and Whirlpool Corporation, all Michigan-based, will be working to accelerate strategies that promote corporate social responsibility,  volunteerism by employees, and donor stewardship.

"As state and national economic and social dynamics evolve, our United Ways and these corporate partners have discussed our mutual desire to create deeper engagement--going beyond fundraising to mobilize human and financial resources strategically, consistently and effectively for meaningful, lasting change," says  Ken Toll, President and CEO, United Way of Jackson County.

Michael Larson, President & CEO, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region points out the needs around education, income and health are not bound by municipal borders, and are in fact intertwined with the interests of our communities and our corporate partners. "We see the potential for our United Way organizations to serve as the primary conduit for these companies to drive their corporate social responsibility strategies through active partnership," Larson says.

"If we do our job well,"  says Teresa Kmetz, President, Capital Area United Way, "all involved will benefit--meaning all children will thrive in the educational setting, all families and individuals will have the means to achieve financial security, and all people will have access to quality health care. Those are real, meaningful measures that demonstrate how United Way and our corporate partners, working together, can advance the common good for all."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers Associates

Children create memories at Santa's Workshop

Children living at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, Eleanor House and those who participate with the Peace House on Kalamazoo's Eastside, will have an opportunity to make some Christmas memories along with their crafts on Dec. 14.

The City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department will have a free holiday workshop for the youngsters.

Workshops will take place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and youngsters who have been invited are expected to visit the Youth Development Center on Crosstown in two groups so that more youngsters can attend. About 40 are expected all together.

They will take decorate cookies, create snowmen from marshmallows and sip hot chocolate. As a craft activity they may decided to make wrapping paper. Or they may create a gift to take home. Youngsters will have their choice of a number of activities.

They will be able to take home all the things they create in Santa's Workshop.

About eight to 10 volunteers from Jeter's Leaders will be at the event Saturday to assist.

"It's a really great partnership," says Erin Zukis, program assistant for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Some youngsters are coming from Eleanor House, a homelike setting for homeless families that provides a safe haven for them as they prepare to move to independent housing. More than 60 percent of the guests there are children who average nine years of age.

Others are from the Gospel Mission, which also provides temporary housing for the homeless. It reports it has seen the number of children it is serving rise over the past year and often sees as many as 100 children each night.

The Parks and Recreation Department has offered the craft workshop for these children in past years and hopes to spread the holiday spirit to children participating again this year.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Erin Zukis, Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation

Digital marketing powerhouses join forces

For several years Biggs|Gilmore and VML have worked together, sharing clients like Kellogg and Kimberly-Clark. Now the two digital marketing companies are making that relationship formal.

VML has acquired Biggs|Gilmore, which now has offices in Kalamazoo and Chicago.

With 140 employees across its two locations, Biggs|Gilmore’s key clients include Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark, Foster Farms and Stryker. Biggs Gilmore’s unaudited revenue for the previous 12 months ending September 2013 was $21 million.

Biggs|Gilmore is currently led by Jane Tamraz, CEO, and Mike Gerfen, president. Both will assume roles on the executive leadership team as executive directors of VML in Chicago and Kalamazoo, respectively.

"We have a tremendous respect for VML’s work, its people, integrity and culture. That’s what sets VML apart and attracted us to become part of VML," Tamraz said. "It’s a unique opportunity to become part of such a compatible and truly distinct global agency network."

Biggs|Gilmore, a digital creative agency, was named Top Agency in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 in the Internet Advertising Competition; Top Agency in the 2011 and 2012 WebAwards; and an AdAge Agency of the Year in 2010.

"It’s been a natural connection since the beginning," says Jon Cook, CEO and president at VML.

"This is a unique acquisition that joins two long-tenured companies that are both experiencing major momentum as brands. We’ve been working together for several years on shared clients Kellogg and Kimberly-Clark. It’s been a natural connection since the beginning. It became clear to both VML and Biggs|Gilmore that we could provide an even deeper offering by joining forces," said Jon Cook, CEO and president at VML.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source:Cathy Staples, VML 

NSF grants to WMU to boost teaching of science

To enhance teaching and help keep students in classes where they learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the National Science Foundation has awarded $529,000 Western Michigan University's Science and Mathematics Program Improvement center.

WMU is part of a team of faculty from six universities--Michigan State University is the lead institution--across the country carrying out research intended to assist science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty so they can better understand and respond to student thinking and misconceptions regarding major concepts covered in their undergraduate coursework.

"A huge percentage of students drop out of science majors after their first year," says Dr. Mary Anne Sydlik, Science and Mathematics Program Improvement director and head of WMU's evaluation team. "STEM undergrads struggle, for a number of reasons, which in turn can lead to low grades and the impulse to transfer into non-STEM majors."

The project has two main goals. One is to continue creating and validating questions for use in introductory biology, chemistry, chemical engineering and statistics courses and to develop a web portal to analyze students' written answers to homework, quizzes and test questions.

Part of the problem is that the multiple-choice tests used in large classes do not always reflect whether a student fully understands the underlying concepts represented in individual questions. Faculty using multiple-choice questions do not get the feedback on student thinking, particularly misconceptions, needed to support students' mastery of the subject.

The NSF-funded initiative is designed to allow faculty to use an automated system that analyzes students' written answers to questions and then provides a report documenting where the class as a whole needs more assistance with difficult topics or concepts.

The second goal is to form discipline-based learning communities for biology, chemistry, statistics and engineering faculty interested in new methods of assessment and using automated analysis to inform their teaching.

The research team will determine the extent to which participation in a faculty learning community brings about a sustained use of the new assessment tools and changes in the way participating faculty address student difficulties and misconceptions.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Mark Schwerin, Western Michigan University

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