Blue Water Woman--Spring 2020--ONLINE

Blue Water Woman of the Year issue for Spring 2020 featuring Marcy Kuehn,Ila Shoulders, Marcia Haynes, Julianne Ankley, Laura Scaccia, and Kelly Strilcov.

Blue Water Woman of the Year issue for Spring 2020 featuring Marcy Kuehn,Ila Shoulders, Marcia Haynes, Julianne Ankley, Laura Scaccia, and Kelly Strilcov.


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blue water woman of the year



Jessica McLarty, VP, Business Loan Officer; Jennifer Briolat, Branch Manager, Lakeport; Amanda Rose, Branch Manager, Marysville;

Emily Dehring, Branch Manager, Fort Gratiot; Kim Bowman, VP, Retail Banking Manager;

Christi Agostino-Erd, Mortgage Loan Officer; Kathy Wurmlinger, VP, Mortgage Manager


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• 85% of our staff are women

• 67% of our bank officers are women

• 50% of our senior management are women

• 4 of our 9 directors are women



Fort Gratiot - 810.966.2281

Lakeport - 810.385.3211

Marysville - 810.364.4854

Port Huron - 810.987.9777


At Blue Water Developmental Housing,

Inc., we believe in empowering the people

we serve to follow their dreams

and live their very best lives.

We have successfully accomplished

that mission for more than 40 years,

thanks to the auspices

of a strong board of directors,

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To learn more about volunteer or donor

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Kathy Swantek

Executive Director

2016 Blue Water Woman

Nonprofit Executive

of the Year

Photo of individual we serve, Dacey Pritchett, in flight

Blue Water Developmental Housing, Inc.

1600 Gratiot Blvd., Suite 1 Marysville MI 48040

(810) 388-1200 www.bwdh.org




Blue Water Woman

of the Year

in our office

Barbara Crawford is

a valued member of our team.

She has more than

25 years of experience

in the insurance industry,

and she knocks it out

of the park for us every

single day. Thank you

for all you do, Barb!

Barbara Crawford

Tammy Hutchinson


Kim Judge




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

people ask.

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





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.













The ad deadline for the next issue

of Blue Water Woman is May 1, 2020.

Prices start at just $125 for a business card sized ad!

Our most popular ad size is a quarter page at just $250;

sign a one-year contract and it becomes just $225 a quarter!

For more information, contact Patti Samar

at 810-300-2176 or email her at pjsamar@aol.com


Blue Water Woman is published quarterly by The Write Company,

511 La Salle Blvd., Port Huron, MI 48060. Circulation 5,000.

Editor & Publisher:

Patti Samar, owner, The Write Company

Advertising, questions, comments or story ideas:

Email Patti Samar at pjsamar@aol.com


Blue Water Woman is the premiere publication

for women living, working and playing

in the Blue Water Area of Michigan.

Its stories and features are written and designed

to be inspriational, motivational and encouraging.


© Blue Water Woman is the property

of Patti Samar of The Write Company

The Write Company is a writing, graphic design

and marketing consultation firm.

View our online portfolio at: www.TheWriteCompany.net

Patti Samar

Editor & Publisher

Blue Water Woman


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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

Year awards.

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:

Marcy Kuehn

Blue Water Woman of the Year

Ila Shoulders

Blue Water Woman Civic Leader of the Year

Marcia Haynes

Blue Water Woman Community Activist of the Year

Julianne Ankley

Blue Water Woman Musician of the Year

Laura Scaccia

Blue Water Woman Community Developer of the Year

Kelly Strilcov

Blue Water Woman Volunteer of the Year




Slow but steady wins the race.

That cliché sums up the career of Port Huron Police Department Captain

Marcy Kuehn.

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

police chief.

She is the first woman in the

history of the department, which

was established in 1880, to achieve

that rank.

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

Pauline Repp.

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


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

helped, too.”

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

Jessica Syzak.

“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.”



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

community better.

“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




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

of 1964.

“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

spoiled me.”

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

our culture.”

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

Community Church.

“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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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

to come.

“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

the Year.

“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.




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

any money.”

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

federal government.

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

been reached.

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.”





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

(DMA) awards.

Along with her band, The Rogues,

she is the 2019 DMA Outstanding

Country Artist/Group.

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.”





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

never could.”

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,”

she said.

To open the doors of the

center, funding came from the

Community Foundation of

St. Clair County; the Michigan

Economic Development

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




a difference


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

Boat Week.

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

championed, however.

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.”


“We are your out-sourced Marketing Department.”




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