One woman built a local food pantry program from her kitchen table to eventually serve 81,000 families.
Another woman’s passion, vision and hard work created a model recycling program recognized throughout Michigan and beyond.
A third honoree is a woman whose commitment to our senior population has ensured they have a place to feel welcome and needed.
One honoree is a man who has worked, volunteered and become a role model for taking action and speaking out to end violence against women and girls.
Another woman has dedicated her life to ensuring community members have access to education, health, culture and economic self-sufficiency.
In all, four women and one man will be honored for their achievements at the Tribute awards reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m on Thursday Oct. 29 at Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey.
The reception is hosted by the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM).
Entry to the Tribute reception is $25 per person and may be reserved by calling the WRCNM main office at (231) 347-0067.
Here is a look at the honorees and a few of their accomplishments as noted in nomination submissions.
Mary Peterson, Director of Good Samaritan Family Services, food pantry and resale store
Nominators said Mary Peterson began speaking out for the needs of people in the Ellsworth area more than 25 years ago.
In 1990, she started the Good Samaritan on her kitchen table. Through her dedication and leadership the food pantry is currently visited by more than 700 families a month.
The impact of Good Samaritan has been direct and meaningful to many communities.
Since its inception, the pantry has had 81,000 family visits and touched the lives of individuals and families from Charlevoix to Mancelona and Boyne City to Eastport.
Mary’s efforts reach into other counties through her cooperative efforts with Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Salvation Army, TrueNorth and the Father Fred Foundation. Mary serves on the Board of Manna Food Project and was instrumental in founding the Front Porch Restaurant in Ellsworth which provides meals at no charge to those in need, as well as a Thursday senior lunch program.
There have been four natural extensions to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry and Resale Store.
The Moms and Tots Center was started in 2001 to address the unmet needs of pregnant girls and single mothers who were utilizing food pantry services.
This program currently provides services to 450 women and their children.
Secondly, low income seniors in need of weatherizing their homes can find assistance via the weatherization program.
This program provides help with items such as insulation, window winterization and replacement doors–all upgrades are completed by volunteers.
An emergency services program provided thousands of dollars, last winter, to families with desperate heating and utility needs: senior citizens without heat, young moms with an electric shut-off and those with disabilities facing eviction. Mary also started a shoe store for children called Sammy’s Shoes.
This store provides quality, new shoes to children of families utilizing the Bridge Card, or those eligible for their school’s reduced lunch program.
Through her work and volunteerism, Mary Peterson has been and continues to be a leader and an inspiration through her dedication, integrity and kindness.
Elisa Seltzer, Director, Emmet County Recycling
Nominators said Elisa Seltzer was hired as Director of the Emmet County Department of Public Works in 1989 and has created and led the entire 26-year development of this award-winning Emmet County recycling system.
Her passion, vision and hard work have created a model recycling program that is recognized throughout Michigan and beyond.
Emmet County Recycling is used by more than 80 percent of Emmet County households, collects 60 different materials and handles recyclables from four counties.
Under her direction, countless hours have been put into developing awareness and education about the importance and value of recycling.
The effort has not only contributed to the health of our local environment, but also has become an income producer for Emmet County.
Elisa is also recognized as one of the top five leaders in recycling, statewide, and she is constantly sought out as a consultant and speaker. Elisa has served three terms on the Board of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, is the Chairperson of the Networks Northwest Solid Waste Advisory Council and is one of nine members on the Governor’s Recycling Council.
In addition to her recycling and environmental health contributions, Elisa is a skilled and accomplished teacher at Temple B’nai Israel in Petoskey.
Her work with the children at the Temple has been described as “irreplaceable” as she oversees and carries out a one year process with each child training for the Bar Mitzvah for boys and the Bat Mitzvah for girls.
Elisa is an active member and revered leader in the Jewish community and also serves on the Board of the Temple.
Elisa’s deep commitment, friendly demeanor, can-do attitude and infectious passion are qualities that have helped her excel professionally and as a caring and engaged community member.
Penny Huber, an engaged and committed community member
Nominators said Penny Huber is known by many as a person with integrity, caring and a get-it-done attitude described as “awe-inspiring.”
She served on the Friendship Centers of Emmet County (FCEC) Board of Directors from 1995 to 2003.
During the time Penny served as Board President, it became imperative to find a new space for the FCEC.
She handled the challenge by leading discussions, working with project partners and keeping the project on pace.
She negotiated the sale of 25 of the FCEC’s 30 acres on Anderson Road in Petoskey; the current FCEC building stands on the five acres that remain.
As a member of the FCEC Building Committee, Penny developed building plans, collaborated with the general contractor, worked on the community-wide capital campaign, chaired/volunteered on multiple committees and provided financial support to ensure a positive outcome.
Penny retired from the FCEC Board of Directors in 2003, yet she has continued to impact the area’s senior population by establishing the Huber Senior Center in Brutus, made possible through her dedication and financial support.
Seniors have flocked to this location for meals, fitness and other activities.
More recently, Penny has had the Huber Center remodeled with an office, library and sitting area. Currently, she is working on a Memorial Garden outside the center.
Penny’s support of her community is evident as the founding, volunteer editor of the Alanson Village Chronicle, a quarterly newsletter and vital source of information for Alanson residents from 1995 to 2010.
Her can-do attitude helped accomplish improvements to the Village of Alanson playground.
Penny was also instrumental in establishing the Inland Water Route Historical Society/Museum in Alanson.
Penny has demonstrated commitment and caring to area seniors, as well as the community.
Ann Irish, civic-minded community leader
Nominators said Ann Irish has dedicated her life to ensuring community members have access to education, health, culture and economic self-sufficiency.
As a champion of education, Ann served on the Harbor Springs School Board, and as a board member and president of the North Central Michigan College Board.
Ann believes in the importance of cultivating skilled workers at home to strengthen the community.
Because of Ann’s groundwork, many community members have had the option to stay in the area, or return home, to get an education and a job.
Ann also co-founded the North Central Community College Foundation, along with Bob Graham, to ensure funding would be available for future scholarships.
Ann has served as a board member and on the scholarship committee of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation (PHSACF).
She was extremely supportive in the early days of the PHSACF, helping people understand the value of a community foundation and in providing initial financial support; her involvement continues today.
Through the Donor Advised Fund Ann established in 1997, more than $100,000 has been granted to benefit countless organizations in Emmet County.
Ann has also served on the Council of Michigan Foundations, as well as the Northern Michigan Hospital Foundation as a board member, vice-chair and secretary.
In 1970, Ann along with other community members realized women in the area were in need of vital reproductive health and education services.
She was instrumental in establishing the northern Michigan chapter of Planned Parenthood with affiliate offices in Petoskey, Alpena, Cadillac, Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie.
Ann is an active member of her church, supports the arts and participates in several choral groups. Ann is known as being gifted at putting people together to solve and address needs.
She is described by those who know her as generous, caring, witty, brilliant, strong, fun, and thoughtful and an amazing asset to our community.
Ann is said to have the tremendous ability to deliver wisdom to a discussion at just the right time and with just the right tone.
She champions causes she believes in without expectation of fanfare or recognition.
Through Ann’s active leadership in our community, behind the scenes and in the forefront, our community has been made stronger.
Bill Wilson, therapist, volunteer
Nominators said Bill Wilson is truly a man of action; a change-maker. As a founding volunteer member of the Violence Prevention Team, Bill has provided leadership, insight and a depth of understanding about the issue of violence against women.
More importantly, Bill has taken action in a variety of ways to help engage others–primarily men and boys–in the movement to end this violence.
He acquired specific training that helped him conduct local focus groups to gain feedback from area men about their willingness to take a stand to end violence against women.
One outcome was the establishment of the 100 Men Campaign which provides funding for local awareness, educational and prevention initiatives and provides a way for men to take a stand.
Bill actively participates in awareness-raising events such as film screenings, panel discussions and White Ribbon basketball games.
To take a public stand and speak out to end this violence, Bill has also used the power of the pen to write letters to newspapers to call out social injustice or shine a light on local events that are derogatory toward women.
Bill is a well-respected therapist and has worked for Chip Counseling, Lutheran Child and Family Services and in private practice.
As an adept and accomplished professional, Bill has also lead batterers group intervention sessions for men who offend in this manner.
Beyond his professional and volunteer accomplishments, Bill embraces the characteristics of compassion and respect as he supports his daughters in their development as strong, athletic and influential individuals in their own right.
Bill displays the traits that are essential to drive the social change so desperately needed to end violence against women and girls.