CAPTAIN MARCY KUEHN
blue water woman of the year
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2016 Blue Water Woman
of the Year
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Blue Water Woman
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FROM THE EDITOR
This year, more women will likely run for elected public office than ever before.
“What difference does it make whether or not there are women in office?” some
It has been proven that men and women approach problem solving in different
ways. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, but it does mean that a greater
gender balance in elected public office could possibly create an even greater
problem solving ability in capitals across the nation.
One local example:
When Pamela Wall of Algonac was an elected official on the St. Clair County
Board of Commissioners in the 2000s, the county board was busy negotiating
healthcare contracts for its employees. Rising healthcare costs had commissioners
looking for various ways in which to save money.
There was a line item in the contract that specifically outlined the cost of
including birth control pill coverage for female employees and their eligible family
members. At the time, many insurance companies provided that coverage as an
additional rider to the basic healthcare package.
Wall’s counterparts on the county board – all men – discussed eliminating
birth control pill coverage as a cost saving measure. Wall objected, and dug a little
deeper into drug costs as a whole for county employees.
She asked for, and obtained, a list of all of the prescription
drugs, and their associated costs, that had been paid for by
the county in the previous year.
The number one drug cost to St. Clair County?
That’s right. The little blue pill that helps men with
erectile dysfunction. The county was paying more for
Viagra than for birth control pills.
When she brought that information to her next
meeting, the board very readily determined that maybe
keeping the birth control pill coverage was not such a bad
idea after all.
This is why it is important for women to serve in public
EDITOR PATTI SAMAR
& PAMELA WALL
AT THE WOMEN’S MARCH
IN LANSING, 2018
office. As a female, Wall knew how important birth
control pills are to women. She acknowledged that her
male counterparts were not trying to be discriminatory
toward women, but they didn’t think about the birth
control pill issue the way a woman would.
Without Wall’s presence on the board that year, birth control pill coverage for
employees would have ended at that point in time.
People often tease me and ask, “Why celebrate Blue Water Woman of the Year?
Why not celebrate Blue Water Man of the Year, or Blue Water People of the
I take the time to celebrate women’s accomplishments with this issue of
the magazine each year because it is important to call attention to women’s
achievements in order to inspire other women and girls to achieve their own
hopes, dreams and goals.
And it is important to recognize the women, like Pamela Wall, who make a
difference every day of their lives just by calling attention to the details that others
in her position might have overlooked.
It is important to celebrate women. It is important to elect women into office
so we have a seat at the decision-making table. It is important to listen to women’s
voices. They matter. They change the world for the better every single day.
MARCY KUEHN 5
ILA SHOULDERS 6
MARCIA HAYNES 8
JULIANNE ANKLEY 10
LAURA SCACCIA 11
KELLY STRILCOV 12
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VOLUME 9, NUMBER 1 SPRING 2020
Blue Water Woman is published quarterly by The Write Company,
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Editor & Publisher:
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Blue Water Woman is the premiere publication
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Late last year, Blue Water Woman asked the community to nominate very special women who
are deserving of recognition as we prepared to present the ninth annual Blue Water Woman of the
Indeed, we are very fortunate in the Blue Water Area to be surrounded by so many thoughtful,
smart and compassionate women.
We are proud, in this issue, to introduce to you the six women being recognized as the 2020 Blue
Water Woman of the Year Award Recipients:
Blue Water Woman of the Year
Blue Water Woman Civic Leader of the Year
Blue Water Woman Community Activist of the Year
Blue Water Woman Musician of the Year
Blue Water Woman Community Developer of the Year
Blue Water Woman Volunteer of the Year
BY PATTI SAMAR
Slow but steady wins the race.
That cliché sums up the career of Port Huron Police Department Captain
After joining the department in 1989 just a few months following her high
school graduation, Kuehn slowly but
surely completed her education – she
eventually earned a master’s degree –
all while working full time. She then
worked her way up the ranks within
the department, eventually being
named, in May of 2018, captain,
which is second in command to the
She is the first woman in the
history of the department, which
was established in 1880, to achieve
Kuehn was recently notified
that she has been accepted into
the October 2020 class of the FBI
National Academy in Quantico,
Virginia. “I’m super excited,” she
said. “It has been five years since I
Only one percent of law
enforcement officers in the nation
are accepted into the prestigious
As a result of her tireless work
ethic and results-driven track record
of service within the department,
Kuehn has been named the Blue
Water Woman of the Year. She was
nominated by Port Huron Mayor
Kuehn became interested in a
career in law enforcement after
having the opportunity to do a ridealong
with a police officer on duty.
“It was instant,” she said of her
desire to serve the community in the
same capacity. “I would have done
this job for free. I was given this gift
of gifts at 18-years-old to find what I wanted to do.”
At that point, her immediate interest in law enforcement didn’t come as
a complete surprise because a high school aptitude test pointed her in the
direction of police chief or FBI agent.
“That result did surprise me,” she said with a chuckle. “I was a girly-girl.
But my dad was a Marine who served two tours in Vietnam, and he always
wanted to be a cop. My mom was a beautician for 43 years. They were two
crazy hard-working people. So I feel like I’m half Marine and half beautician.”
Shortly after her initial ride-along, Kuehn began her career with
the department as a cadet. Within two years, she was promoted to
communications operator, and three years later became a patrol officer. She
served in that capacity for 11 years.
During her time as a patrol officer, she became trained as a crisis negotiator,
and also became the Community Service Officer responsible for the D.A.R.E.
drug prevention program and the C.A.P.T.U.R.E. program that helps citizens
receive rewards for helping the department locate suspected criminals.
Kuehn’s efforts with the C.A.P.T.U.R.E. program quadrupled the call
volume to the hotline.
When Kuehn began her road patrol service, the city was experiencing a
CAPTAIN MARCY KUEHN
gang crisis. She was instrumental in building relationships with some of the
young gang members.
“There was a zero tolerance policy,” she said of the gang problem. “I was
young and female and I liked some of the same music that they liked, and
that helped me build trust with
them. Plus, I had worked at Kmart
with one of their moms, and that
Kuehn was eventually promoted
to detective and took on the special
victims unit, which handled criminal
sexual conduct and sexual abuse
That work was particularly
difficult, she said. “It just weighs on
However, a highlight during that
time came when she was recognized
by the St. Clair County Child Abuse
and Neglect Council as the Child
Advocate of the Year.
It was after her next promotion to
sergeant that Kuehn was able to solve
a case that had also been weighing
on her mind.
“When I was assigned that case
as a detective, I had so many other
cases that I was juggling at the same
time, I was stressed out,” she said.
The 15-year-old cold-case involved
the death of four-month-old infant
“I kept that case with me during
my promotion to sergeant. While
a patrol sergeant, I had just that
case I could focus on,” she said. By
working with a law enforcement
agency in Indiana where the suspect
– the child’s father – lived, Kuehn
was able to help secure a confession
that led to a conviction.
“I was so relieved we obtained a
conviction for Jessica and her entire
family, who felt this great loss for years, knowing they were lied to, and never
being able to heal or move forward.”
Helping individuals and families is the most rewarding part of her job.
“We’re problem solvers,” she said of law enforcement officers. “We are
always tackling problems and trying to find a solution.”
And even though she has been involved in the most difficult days of
someone’s life while putting them under arrest, that has had its rewards, as well.
“There’s a lady I arrested a whole bunch of times,” she said. “Her kids knew
me by name. Well, she’s sober now and she stops by the department to check
on me and check in, and that’s pretty cool.”
Kuehn said that the road she has traveled within the department was
definitely made easier by the female officers who came before her, like Diana
Tramski, who, prior to Kuehn, was the first female to achieve sergeant status.
And while there are definitely more female officers on staff now than when
she started, Kuehn hopes that, as captain, she is seen as an exemplary officer
regardless of gender.
“They don’t see me as a female,” she said. “They just see me as a kick ass
police officer, and they want to be like me. That’s the icing on the cake for me.”
SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 5
of civic leadership
Ila Shoulders is a woman driven by faith.
Faith in the Lord has helped her through life’s ups and downs. And, over
the past 100 years of her life, Shoulders has had reason to question that faith
– and she’s certainly been given reason to question her faith in humanity
itself – but she did not question that faith. In return, her faith in the Lord not
only comforted her, but led her to a place where she brought comfort to her
community. Shoulders has volunteered
thousands of hours of her time, during
her very long life, to help make the Blue
Water Area a better place to live.
“There is so much I depend on God
for,” said Shoulders. “I depend on Him
for everything. He is my everything.”
Shoulders – who celebrated her 100th
birthday on January 10 of this year – has
been named the recipient of the Blue
Water Woman Civic Leader Award for
her lifelong dedication to making the
“She’s very inspiring,” said Donna
Schwartz of Port Huron, who nominated
Shoulders for this award. “When she
becomes involved, she’s a change-agent for
any organization or cause she believes in.
She is a brilliant woman.”
Shoulders said she got involved in
community events for a simple reason: “I
wanted to see my community become
better, and I wanted to see people become
better, and I wanted to keep busy.”
Born in Letahatchie, Alabama in 1920,
Shoulders moved to Michigan when she
was four years old.
“Our family moved because black
people were being lynched just for being
black, and it was not safe for us in the
south,” she said.
After Shoulders graduated from high
school, she attended Port Huron Junior
College, now known as St. Clair County
Community College. She married Earl
Shoulders Sr. and together they had four
Shoulders worked for the St. Clair
County Economic Opportunity Committee and helped establish the first
Head Start daycare program in St. Clair County. She later worked for the
Michigan Employment Security Commission, and then retired from the
Social Security Administration.
Shoulders is most proud of her volunteer efforts, especially those that helped
establish the Peoples Clinic in Port Huron. The clinic provides free healthcare
to those who cannot afford it.
“I worked at the clinic for 21 years,” she said. “We started it because a group
of people saw that people were not getting the healthcare they needed.”
She noted that it took a while to help spread the news throughout the
neighborhoods that free healthcare was available to people.
“People who don’t have much, don’t expect much, and they feel they don’t
deserve it,” she said.
Shoulders was also instrumental in establishing the Blue Water Citizens
Against Crime neighborhood watch group and the Southside Coalition.
Schwartz noted that due to Shoulders’ involvement, residents on the
6 SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY PATTI SAMAR
south side of Port Huron were able to drive drug trafficking out of their
Shoulders has been recognized for her volunteer community leadership
roles throughout her life. She received a Spirit of Port Huron Lifetime
Achievement Award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award,
and the Distinguished Service Award from the Port Huron Council Parent-
Teacher Association (PTA).
Shoulders was also an active volunteer
with Blue Water Habitat for Humanity
and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
During the course of her life, she’s
been witness to much change in the Blue
Water Area and beyond, particularly the
ways in which people of color are treated,
and the benefits that came to them with
the establishment of the Civil Rights Act
“The Civil Rights Movement was a
great thing for black people,” she said.
“Before that, right here in Port Huron,
we couldn’t live anywhere we wanted to.
Landlords had an unwritten law between
them that they wouldn’t rent to black
“And jobs opened up…before that, we
were refused jobs because of our color. It
made things very hard for people.”
Shoulders recalled a painful medical
“I was pregnant and I had a toothache,
so I went to the dentist downtown here,
and he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t
treat black people.’ So I went to another
dentist and he told me, ‘I don’t treat
pregnant women.’ A friend of mine took
me to Canada. The dentist was a really
nice person. I went to him for years. I
brought my kids to see him. He really
Regarding the state of race relations
in the country today, Shoulders said:
“Things are a little better, but the change
is subtle. It’s not as good as it should be.
“Prejudice is a terrible thing. People
need to not be prejudice. But that’s a hard thing to conquer. It’s taught in the
home. Little kids see no prejudice. It’s taught to them. It’s a sad situation in
Throughout her life, whenever difficult situations arose, Shoulders turned
to her faith for support and comfort. She grew up attending St. Paul’s church
in Port Huron, and as an adult became a founding member of Faith Christian
“All of my friends, we went to the same church,” she said. “We had to go
to church before we could do anything else. Any time the church doors were
open, we had to be there.
“My church means I have a home, and after I leave here, I have a Heavenly
Her favorite hymn also mirrors the way Shoulders views her past century of
life: “I like to think of that song we sing all of the time: ‘He’s been good to me,
He’s been good to me.”
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SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 7
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
there’s a way
Marcia Haynes carries with her a favorite poem called “The Dash.”
The poem explains that it is not the year of birth nor the year of death that tells
the story of one’s life, but rather, the dash in between those years.
Haynes’s dash is a long and productive one.
Haynes has dedicated her life to historic preservation and reclaiming structures.
She sees history and value where others see debris and deterioration.
Since she graduated from college with a degree in history in 1953, she has
volunteered countless hours working for the preservation of buildings and other
historic structures so they are preserved for the
enjoyment and historic value for many generations
“I should have majored in home ec,” she
There is irony in that the biggest and most
valuable project Haynes has undertaken could
not save the object of her inspiration and
affection, but will provide resources for families
finding themselves in the midst of an Alzheimer’s
diagnosis, as she did in 2006 when her late
husband, Fred, was diagnosed.
In 2013, as Fred was entering stage four with
Alzheimer’s, Haynes pulled together a wide
range of community resources to establish the
Alzheimer’s Resource Committee of St. Clair
Since its founding, the Alzheimer’s Resource
Committee has established a partnership with the
University of Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center
in Ann Arbor that has helped bring educational
workshops to St. Clair County; established an
annual fundraising walk that raised more than
$25,000 in its first year; arranged for nationallyknown
speakers to visit St. Clair County to discuss
Alzheimer’s Disease; and numerous other public
relations and marketing initiatives designed to
help community residents – both the patients and
the caregivers – facing this disease learn about the
many resources available to them.
Her lifelong dedication to preserving history in St. Clair County and beyond,
and her hard work in establishing the Alzheimer’s Resource Committee, has
earned Haynes recognition as the Blue Water Woman Community Activist of
“Marcia Haynes is that most remarkable and irreplaceable kind of person:
someone whose passion, empathy, knowledge, energy and flexibility creates
meaningful change, improves the lives of her fellow residents, and inspires others
to become champions for those in need,” said Kathy Swantek, executive director
of Blue Water Developmental Housing, Inc., in her letter of nomination.
Haynes noted that, despite many years of knocking on doors in St. Clair
County, in Lansing and in Washington, D.C. in the name of historic
preservation, putting together the Alzheimer’s Resource Committee was a bit out
of her wheelhouse.
“Working on that project was the first time I went outside my comfort zone
of history and preservation,” she said. “But of everything I’ve been involved with,
I think it is the most lasting. Helping the caregiver and the patient is the most
worthwhile thing I’ve done.”
Born in Bay City, Haynes moved to Port Huron when she was just a year old.
She graduated from Port Huron High School and then Denison University in
Ohio, where she earned a teaching degree. As a young woman, she worked as an
educator and also in newspaper advertising sales.
“Women were not allowed to be reporters,” she said of her work in the media
in the 1950s.
8 SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY PATTI SAMAR
While her three children were young, she was instrumental in establishing the
Port Huron Little Theater, which brought theatrical culture to the city. A decade
later, in 1968, she was one of the founders of the Port Huron Museum.
That same year, Haynes and her husband, along with another couple,
purchased a home on the historic East Bluff of Mackinac Island. She sat on her
front porch there, looking at the dilapidated condition of the iconic Round Island
Lighthouse across the shipping channel from Mackinac Island. The historic
preservationist inside of her kicked in.
“I called and introduced myself to the head
of the Hiawatha National Forest,” she said. “He
wanted to save the lighthouse, but he didn’t have
Haynes asked him if he was game to help her
work through a process that could help him
obtain the funding. He said he was.
She then went to work on getting the
lighthouse named to the National Register of
Historic Places. Once that was accomplished,
Haynes filed a lawsuit of negligence against the
The lawsuit worked. A combination of private
fundraising and federal funds were used to restore
the lighthouse over the course of a decade.
Most of Haynes’ efforts in historic preservation,
however, have taken place much closer to home.
She is especially proud of her efforts that helped
identify the location of the childhood home of
Thomas Edison, which resulted in archeological
digs and eventually the establishment of the
Thomas Edison Depot Museum.
Haynes continues to be involved in historic
preservation efforts and, since the mid-2000s,
has been a vocal proponent of saving the bascule
bridge located at the mouth of the Black River,
and now owned by the Port Huron Yacht Club.
“There are only eight of those in the U.S.,”
said Haynes. “In the train world, it is a very
unique bridge, and trains were very important
to the history of Port Huron.” The yacht club applied, a number of years ago, to
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to remove the bridge, but that
process has been slowed by Haynes’s preservation efforts. “Our whole objective
was there would be no cost to the yacht club.” At press time, a resolution has not
An advocate of education, she served on the board of trustees for St. Clair
County Community College for 24 years. She worked as an insurance agent for
Northwestern Mutual and was the first female agent the company placed in the
Thumb of Michigan.
Haynes often found herself as one of the “first” women involved in many
“Port Huron has been a man’s town, and I never let it stop me that I was a
woman,” she said. “I treated them as men, and they really didn’t know what to do
with me. It’s still that way today. Being a woman never stopped me, and anything
I did, I always included men.”
“I’ve been the first woman on several boards, and I like to think that I have
broken the way for others,” she said. “We’ve come a long way in the last 30 to 40
years. We’re not there yet, but we’re nearly there.”
The driving force in all of her efforts over the years has always been one of
“You have to give back to your community,” she said. “You are your brother’s
keeper, whether you are a woman or a man. If you have ambitions and drives, do
them. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 9
BY DALE HEMMILA
Life, like a good book, sometimes it takes a chapter or two before the real
story -- the good stuff -- really begins.
Just ask award-winning singer and songwriter Julianne Ankley.
The Jeddo-native did not start singing in public until she was in her 30s.
Since that time, she has spent the past decade-plus tearing up the country
music scene from the Blue Water Area to Nashville and back again, racking
up 46 nominations and seven
wins for Detroit Music Association
Along with her band, The Rogues,
she is the 2019 DMA Outstanding
Ankley, a Port Huron singer and
songwriter, has been named Blue
Water Woman Musician of the
Year. She was nominated by Trista
Bourdeau-Kolcz of Port Huron.
Not a bad track record for
someone whose high school band
director told her she wasn’t choir
“I took that to mean I wasn’t any
good,” she said.
She played flute in the high school
band, but she is a self-taught guitar
player and vocalist.
“From the time I was very little, I
had a voice,” she said. “And I could
play the piano, and my parents really
wanted me to go into singing early
on. I couldn’t stand the thought of
being in front of people. I didn’t
want to be the center of attention.
But I would sing everywhere I went:
on the school bus, riding my horses,
at school. I was singing all of the
time. I just did it because I loved it.”
Going through an illness and
recovery in her 30s, however,
changed her point of view about
“I started thinking about everything. About my life: what am I doing?
What do I really want to do, and what’s important to me?”
She loved art when she was younger, so, after a 10-year hiatus, Ankley
began to paint again. Bourdeau-Kolcz began taking her to local karaoke bars
to sing. That led to entering and winning vocal competitions, which led to a
recording session and photo shoot. She joined a Detroit-area band, which led
to some time in Nashville. She decided to start writing her own songs. That
led to cutting a solo demo. She launched herself as a solo artist in 2009.
She has since released three albums of original country music. And country
music is where she feels comfortable.
“I grew up listening to country music,” she said. “It’s where the stories are.”
Ankley has added to those stories with songs and music videos of her own.
There is the story of a single mom living with her kids in her car called, “No
Place for a Lullabye,” and the song she wrote for her sister-in-law about her
nephew leaving for military service
called, “He’s Still My Boy.” Her most
recent video, “Why,” is about leaving
and good-byes. It was recorded at
the Lexington Village Theater.
Currently, she is finishing her
fourth album, which includes a
new song she co-wrote with Caleb
Malooley of the regionally-known
rock group, The Gasoline Gypsies.
While recording sessions in
Nashville with top musicians such
as, “Reba McIntire’s band drummer,
Willie Nelson’s guitar player,” add
high quality to her recordings, it
doesn’t make it any easier to make a
living singing and writing music.
“No one is buying music,” Ankley
said. “The majority of people
listening to music are not purchasing
music; they are streaming.”
Music streaming services such as
Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora
do not pay musical artists very well.
Ankley shared that on her Pandora
account for the fourth quarter of
2019, she had 643 “spins,” which
paid her a grand total of 13 cents.
To counter that, Ankley is signing
sponsors for her next CD, which
she also plans to also release on vinyl
later this year.
Fortunately, Ankley has a day job,
where she works as a pediatric dental
And while making money with her music would be great, it is not the total
“I have several artists who are cutting my music, that I have co-written, or
written solely, and hopefully it will provide an income for me,” she said. “But it’s
more about the journey than anything: when you sit in front of people, and you
play something you wrote from your heart. When you see that you’ve touched
somebody, they send a vibration back to you. It is selfish and selfless at the same
time. When you can make someone feel something, it’s fabulous and there’s
nothing like it.”
10 SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY DALE HEMMILA
For someone who surrounds herself with ships, Laura Scaccia makes
a big deal about bridges.
Scaccia owns The Mariner in downtown Marine City, a converted
historical theater, known for its world- class display of shipping
memorabilia and models, including an 18-foot long, detailed model of
the HMS Titanic, and a recently acquired collection of more than 100
renderings of Great Lakes vessels.
The work Scaccia has done
to help turn The Mariner into
a showcase of shipping history,
and her bridge- building between
community, business and
government, has earned her
recognition as the Blue Water
Woman Community Developer
of the Year.
Scaccia and her-then fiancé,
Gary Kohs, were new to Marine
City when they purchased
The Mariner in 2014. Scaccia
immediately got involved in
community events and remains
involved today as president of
the Marine City Chamber of
Commerce and chairperson of
the Marine City Community and
Economic Development Board.
“I’m very involved in bridging
gaps,” Scaccia said. “I’m kind of
involved in bridging businesses to
work together, and community
to work with government,
working together to get things
done. It’s important that we can
collaborate and come up with
ideas of ways that things can get
done. Sometimes you can achieve
things that you thought you
That means working to put
Marine City on the map as a
special place to visit, and recruiting community members to participate
in that effort.
Scaccia has helped organize fun events such as the Pumpkin Palooza,
which included simultaneous pumpkin carving by more than 1,000
people; the Guinness World Record event of the longest popcorn string,
more than 1,200 feet strung from Marine City across the St. Clair River
to Canada; and the Merrytime Christmas to draw people to “an oldfashioned
small town Christmas.”
But there are serious issues that Scaccia has a passion for, as well.
The most significant is Marine City’s River Rec Teen Zone. After
identifying a community need for a safe place for teens to gather,
she and life partner Kohs decided they wanted to make that type of
sanctuary for kids in Marine City.
“We met with these kids and they pulled at our heart strings,”
Scaccia said. “They became part of this project to try to open a teen
center and this was three and
half years ago.”
They were able to lease space
in the former city hall building
for $1, but it needed a lot of
work to be renovated into a teen
Unfortunately, while working
toward that goal, Kohs passed
away in 2017. Despite that
setback, Scaccia has continued
to work toward opening the rec
center. Her efforts have included
raising the necessary funds to
renovate the space.
“This is where, again, that
connection between community
and government is important,”
To open the doors of the
center, funding came from the
Community Foundation of
St. Clair County; the Michigan
Corporation; a matching funds
grant from community crowdfunder
Patronicity; a number
of other organizations; and a
contribution Scaccia made in
Gary Kohs’s name.
As a result, the teen rec center
is scheduled to open in February.
While building relationships,
building community bridges, and
raising the visibility of Marine
City, Scaccia has proven herself to be an adept community developer,
but she is quick to note the relationship is a two-way street.
“I’ve been accepted into the community,” she said. “I’ve made
wonderful friends and I feel vested, and not just because of the
business, but there’s just something about this place. I have more
friends here than I have ever had in my life. Making a difference
in a small community, there’s an appreciation here, and for me, it’s
SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 11
BY DALE HEMMILA
When you step into Salon PiZazz in downtown Port Huron, you
are greeted by the gleaming chrome, glass, and mirrors that hair salons
feature. But if you look beyond that typical luster, you will find an
owner with a heart as glowing as the salon she owns.
Salon owner Kelly Strilcov stands out as a volunteer who has melded
herself, her business and her team
of employees into a caring model
of giving back, and for that, she has
been named Blue Water Woman
Volunteer of the Year. She was
nominated by Tracy Willard.
Owner of the salon since 2005,
Strilcov has fostered unique
programs that benefit area nonprofits
and other organizations.
It was an incident while working
in a salon early in her career that
illustrated the impact a kindness
can have. She explained:
“There was a flower shop in our
plaza where the salon was, and
if a client came in and she had a
birthday that day, I would send
the receptionist to grab a carnation
and I would give it to them.
“A client came in and she was a
little bit older, and I gave her the
flower and said, ‘Happy Birthday!’
She said thank you and out she
goes. Well, years later she’s sick,
and I’m going to visit her and
doing her hair, and we’re talking,
and in our conversation, she starts
crying and she said: ‘I just want
you to know that the day you gave
me that flower for my birthday, up
to that point no one had ever given
me flowers, and you can’t believe
how that made me feel.’ Something so insignificant to me, but for her,
it was something that stayed with her forever. I think it was the first
time I realized something so insignificant can mean so much.”
So fast forward to her owning Salon PiZazz, which is located in a
high traffic area downtown, and in the middle of the footprint of the
annual Blue Water Fest. Strilcov and her 10-person staff found they
couldn’t do much, if any, business during the week of the festival.
She was brainstorming with her staff about what to do during the
“One of my employees said, ‘Why don’t we dress some people up
and put them in the window?’” Strilcov recalled. “So the first year,
we dressed people up, and put them in the window, and I decided if
we put a little voting box outside, people could put money in it and
vote for their favorite person, and we can give that money to Muscular
Thus began Mannequins Making a Difference, which now takes
place outside the salon on
Thursday and Friday evenings of
During the event, 18 volunteer
“mannequins” are prepared by
Strilcov’s staff. They are dressed in
eccentric costumes with unusual
hairstyles, and they stand outside,
barely moving, for hours. Each
mannequin has business sponsors
and represents a local non-profit.
Passersby vote for their favorite
mannequin or non-profit, and at
the end of the two days, the nonprofit
with the most contributions
receives all the donations made
during the weekend. A typical
year would raise about $3,000 for
the successful non-profit.
“It’s a really fun event, I love
everything about it,” she said.
“The response has been really
good and it has really snowballed
more than I ever thought it
would. It’s really awesome for us
to be able to take the winner their
check and walk through their
facility and find out what they
It is not just one week or
one event that Strilcov has
During the year, the Salon
does pink hair extensions for breast cancer awareness and blue hair
extensions in support of Autism Speaks. The salon also sponsors a
program in March offering specials for clients who come in and donate
items for specific non-profits.
For Strilcov, it’s about making a difference.
“My mom used to say one person may not be able to do a lot by
themselves,” she said, “but together that one person and one more
person and one more person can make a huge difference. When you
make a difference for someone else it makes a big difference for them,
but it makes a big difference in your heart that you can’t really explain.
It makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
12 SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
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SPRING 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 13