Blue Water Woman--Fall 2019

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I feel like such a fraud.

As editor and publisher of women’s magazine, I try to encourage women to just be themselves.

Ignore media hype. No body shaming allowed! Just be yourself and it is, indeed, enough.

All of that is absolutely true. It is.

But I didn’t believe it about myself.

The long story short is that over the past five years, I slowly but surely gained a rather sizable

pile of weight.

Remember Oprah pulling the little red wagon full of almost 70 pounds of fat? Yeah, I gained

almost half that.

The first 10 to 15 pounds weren’t so bad. Most (most!) of my clothes still fit (suck it in!!!). “I’m

more than 50 years old…this is just destiny, right?” I lied to myself.

Sure it is destiny if you eat a lot of ice cream and nachos and drink a lot of (okay, probably way

too much!) wine. And your exercise habits aren’t what they used to be.

In the end, I stepped on the scale and discovered I had gained 30 pounds. Ouch.

That is like three 10 pound babies. It was as if I was pregnant with triplets. (“Belly? Oh yeah!

This belly! I’m pregnant with triplets!” says no 55-year-old menopausal woman ever.)

Seriously, Patti.

Remember when, on “Friends,” there was a

flashback to when Monica was really heavy in

high school? And Courtney Cox wore a “fat suit”

to play her younger self?

Yeah. That’s how I felt. I was walking around

feeling like I was wearing a fat suit…but where

was the zipper to take it off?

And the thing is, I felt really, really terrible. Not

just physically, but emotionally. I beat myself up,

inside of my head, every single day.

I read a ton of magazine articles that told me,

“Be comfortable in your skin no matter what

your weight!” It didn’t work. I continued to feel

miserable on a daily basis.

Almost a year ago, I began a serious quest to

find fitness, and my “old self.”

First, I joined the YMCA of the Blue Water

Area. Second, I hired a personal trainer. Mary


Patti Samar

Editor & Publisher

Blue Water Woman


McKay has been more patient than a saint as she

has listened to me whine and complain about

every ache and pain known to womankind. She

listens, and then she hands me a heavier weight and says, “Do it again.”

Ouch. Nothing like tough love.

But weight lifting and running and working out, in general, alone will not help you lose

weight. Weight loss is very simple: calories in versus calories out.

Over the past year, I experimented with food and calorie intake before finally finding a way of

eating that works for me and a) is full of good, fresh, tasty, healthy food; b) taught me when you

pay attention to your portions (What??? You mean you can’t eat the whole box in one sitting???)

it really makes a difference, and c) taught me that a kitchen food scale is actually a tool you can

use and not just shuffle out of the way when reaching for a box of cookies. Result? I am seeing

the numbers on the scale slowly go down.

I have more weight to lose before I feel like I am in my personal “comfort zone,” but it amazes

me how much more comfortable I am in my skin at my current weight than I was a couple of

months ago before my slow-but-steady weight loss journey began.

Yes, I know my value is more than a number on a scale. But the moral of the story is this: If at

first, you don’t succeed in feeling comfortable in your skin – whether that means your weight,

your relationships with other people, your work life, or something else – keep searching until you

find a path that leads to success and self-comfort.

We all deserve that. Yes, even you. Most especially you.










The ad deadline for the next issue

of Blue Water Woman is November 1, 2019.

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

Blue Water Woman is a proud sponsor of the nonprofit SheShip,

and is proudly an inclusive, LGBTQ-friendly publication.

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for others




As the oldest of six children, Christine Newberry has spent her entire life

helping care for others.

In her role as a certified trust and financial advisor at Chemical Bank, she

helps care for 100 clients and their various needs.

As an influential and involved resident of the Blue Water Area, she helps

care for the entire community through a wide variety of volunteer efforts.

As a mother and grandmother, she dotes on her children and


But six and a half years ago, when she was not even 50 years old, Newberry

lost her husband of 26 years when he died suddenly as the result of a medical


For the first time in her life, she had to allow others to help take care of her.

“At first, it was paralyzing,” she said of losing her husband so suddenly at

such a young age. “You don’t see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

But a cadre of family, friends and coworkers reached out and helped her

through the most difficult of times, and she is grateful for their compassion.

Now, Newberry works hard to use her experience to continue doing what

she does best: helping others going through difficult experiences.

“It made me more compassionate toward others experiencing loss,” she

said. “I try to make sure I’m saying the right things and really listening. My

battle scars have helped me be a better nurturer with my family and my


“I also find that this experience has also translated to me being an even

better caregiver at work,” she said. “I’m helping my clients navigate through

financial issues. There can be a lot of hand-holding to help them plan for

their kids’ college education, or their retirement planning.”

Newberry has worked hard throughout her entire career, all of which has

been spent in the banking industry. “I’ve been at the bank since I was 17,”

she said. “I’m very blessed to have the job that I have, from an intellectual

standpoint, and from a relationship standpoint.

“I’ve spent 35 years in my career.”

During that time, she got married at age 21, after having met her husband

when she was just 12 years old – “he was my first crush…and our paths just

continued to cross” – and then continued working while raising two sons.

She also pecked away at a college degree while working and raising a family,

and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Walsh College.

Newberry has also dedicated her life to service in the community, and

she has been a positive influence, donating countless hours of time to her

volunteer efforts.

“When I can fit in another opportunity to volunteer, I do, because I have

the ability to impact even more people,” she said. “I have a soft spot in my

heart for people who need help. I think of all of the different ways people

helped me get through difficult times, and it helps me to help others.”

Newberry said her faith also helps guide her in her acts of service.

“We grew up with ‘doing unto others as you would have done to you,’” she

said. “I have a strong faith and it makes me feel really good, and it helps me

sleep at night,” she said.

Newberry carries with her several favorite quotes, which, when

summarized, share the same message: “Don’t wait to live your life.” She

learned that lesson the hard way, but she has not let the loss of her husband

hinder her ability to live and enjoy life.

She has moved forward and spends time with a special person, who has

helped her learn to have fun again.

“Life has not unfolded the way I planned, but it is going on,” she said.

“Each day is a gift.”

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,

and leadership team, many of whom

are strong, empowered women.

The individuals we assist don’t just thrive ... they soar.

To learn more about volunteer or donor

opportunities, contact our office today

at (810) 388 - 1200 or visit our website

at www.bwdh.org.

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

Port Huron & Lake Huron

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Patti Samar

Chief Creative Officer/

Writer/Designer @

43° North Gifts

Blue Water Woman

The Write Company



the world


Sylvie Hurtubise felt deeply for a friend when her friend’s home burned

down in 2018.

So when Hurtubise, 17, decided to join the construction trades electrical

program at the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency

(RESA) TEC center, she understood that electrical work was more than just

an occupation and a career path.

Hurtubise understood her work could

mean life and death or, at the very least, a

significant loss of property.

“I vowed every piece of electrical was going

to be perfect,” she said. “Someone is trusting

their life and their family and their home with


Hurtubise’s efforts at perfecting her craft

paid off big time during the course of the

2018-2019 school year, when the Marysville

High School student entered and won first

place in local and regional competitions for

students studying the construction trades.

She won second place at the state finals, and

moved on to the national championships,

competing against 50 other students from

across the United States and Puerto Rico.

She placed 16th in the nation.

“My goal last year was just to make it to

states,” said Hurtubise. “I ended up doing

significantly better than I had anticipated.”

Hurtubise chose to attend St. Clair County

TEC after attending an informational open

house designed to show potential students all

that was offered. As soon as she saw what was

going on in the construction trades area, she

knew it was the place for her.

“I’ve always been very hands-on and I

always liked building with Legos and doing

Rubik’s Cube,” she said. “I’ve always been

mechanically minded.”

Though a few years ago she had thought

about going to college and perhaps studying

engineering, she didn’t think she would do

well sitting in a classroom for four more years.

Pursuing a trade, where she could be hands-on and learn as she went, had

greater appeal to her.

Electrical work, specifically, appealed to her interest in solving problems.

“I’m good at math, but I can’t sit still, and so I’m not the biggest fan

of school,” she said. “This was a whole new world when I went into the

construction trades. I knew I would be most mentally challenged by electrical


Once she began the program during her junior year of high school, she

realized she had found a passion and began studying on her own.


“I took home one of the code books and started reading it,” she said. “I

taught myself how to build a circuit.” Her TEC instructor and competition

coach, Ken Sygit, sent home challenges for her to work on in her free time.

The competitions she entered were all timed events that each began with

a written test, followed by a hands-on wiring event. For local, regional and

state competitions, Hurtubise found a

competitive edge when she paused between

the written exam and the hands-on event

to study the electrical print and draw out,

on graph paper, exactly how she planned

to complete the assignment with electrical


Her competitors read the print and built

as they went, which sometimes caused them

to have to re-do their work when something

went wrong. Hurtubise was able to follow

her drawing to a tee and didn’t experience

those issues.

During this, her senior year in high school,

Hurtubise is continuing her studies in

electricity at TEC and she is also working at

Russell Electric in St. Clair, working toward

an apprenticeship. After that is completed,

she can work toward a journeyman’s license

and finally, can work toward a master

electrician’s license.

“It is going to take me about six years to

complete, and I will be 22 or 23 years old,”

she said. She is open to exploring the many

directions a career in electrical work could

take her.

Hurtubise noted that she is one of only

a handful of young women enrolled in the

construction trade program at TEC, and

she encourages other students to explore this

avenue if they enjoy hands-on work and

problem solving.

“I’ve always enjoyed solving puzzles,” she

said. “I like being able to think through the

problems I encounter and solve them. You

run into problems on every single job you

go into, and you need to think of another way. You find yourself coming up

with a solution to a problem you had no idea was even going to be there, like

there is literally a wall in your way.

“No two days are the same and you never get bored, and you never know

what is going to happen.”

As for this year’s round of competition? Hurtubise plans to again enter

the local, regional and state competition, hoping for another go-around at


“I plan to go back this year and take the competition,” she said.






mondays better




Five Monday mornings each year, there is a flurry of activity at the McMorran

Place theater.

A team of 23 women scurry throughout the building. It is their “game day.”

All 23 have worked hard, months in advance, and those five Mondays bring to

life the Port Huron Town Hall lecture series.

Port Huron Town Hall brings to the community nationally-known speakers,

ranging from entertainers to authors and more. The lecture series takes place at

10:30 a.m. on various Mondays throughout the fall and winter months, and

is followed by a luncheon, where guests can hear a more intimate conversation

with the speaker.

In 2019, the 65th year of Town Hall, standing in the middle of the bustle

will be Port Huron’s Rosella Mirabelli, as she takes over as Town Hall board

president for this year and next.

“Being that this is my first year as president, I am feeling a little nervous,”

Mirabelli said, as she contemplated the upcoming season’s program. “But I do

have a wonderful group of women who make it easy, knowing that we are all

working together as a team.”

It seems the team and teamwork is what drives Town Hall, and what has

sustained it for its 65 years of existence. That team today, as it has been for

its entire history, is an all-woman organization that plans and promotes each

season, and fills all the roles for every presentation.

“That can range from being a ticket taker, usher, or being at one of our

membership tables answering questions,” Mirabelli said. “We also have a board

member helping with our media, a historian, as well as the board member

who is responsible to pick up our speaker. We have two board members that

will leave a little early to take tickets at the luncheon. For the most part, the day

usually runs quite smoothly, and although it looks like chaos, it is controlled

chaos. As president, I usually make sure all the board members know what their

duties will be for that day.”

However, there is more to Town Hall than just any single performance or

lecture. For Mirabelli, it begins with being true to the vision the founding

mothers had in the 1950s.

“We’re very traditional in how we do things,” she said. “The bylaws and the

rules they put in place 65 years ago have not really changed all that much. The

core decision making and how the board is run is still very much in the vision

and viewpoint these original ladies had.”

In simple terms, that vision is to educate and entertain.

To that end, the lecture series, over the years, has included a wide variety

of presenters from political (President Gerald Ford, Secretary of State Henry

Kissinger) to media (Mitch Albom, Joan Lunden) to entertainment (Tim

Conway, Marie Osmond), and other unique presentations to complete the long

standing mission of bringing quality speakers and diverse content to the Blue

Water Area.

“We fulfill a much-needed need for this community,” Mirabelli said. “If you

look at the history of Town Hall, we’re one of the few left in the country. There’s

not a lot that operate under the same premise, and to have 65 years of history of

this is pretty amazing.

“I think we are very fortunate as a community, and the size that we are,

that we can bring in the type of quality speakers to educate and entertain at

affordable prices. I don’t know how many other communities can boast that

they have this type of an organization that can do this for the community.”

For Mirabelli, who has 13 years of service with Town Hall, the next two years

will bring that experience to bear as she leads the organization as president.

“I’m honored and humbled, but I have to admit it’s a little intimidating,” she

said. “There have been some amazing women who have been president, or even

within the board, and have worked really hard, and it’s been a very humbling

and inspiring experience for me, and I’m very honored that they had enough

faith in me to be at the head of the organization for the next two years.”

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