Blue Water Woman -- Winter 2019

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a passion for people



who will be named...

Blue Water Woman




of the Year?

Nominations now being accepted

for Blue Water Woman of the Year!

The Blue Water Woman of the Year Awards will honor women who reside in the

Blue Water Area of Michigan who demonstrate excellence and achievement

in one or more of the following areas:


• Volunteerism

• Mentoring other women

• Professional achievement

• Overall Honor: Blue Water Woman of the Year

Award Process:

Nominators MUST complete the nomination form and rules available at


A distinguished panel of judges from the Upper Peninsula selects award recipients.

Honoring the Award Recipients:

Those selected for awards will be notified at the end of January/early February 2020.

All will be featured in a story in the Spring (February/March) 2020 issue of the magazine.

All will be honored at a public reception (open to men and women) on February 7, 2020.

Nominator Requirements:

Nominators must be committed to selling a minimum of 20 adult tickets to the awards reception.

Receiving an award is no fun without a cheering section!

Award recipients MUST be available to attend awards ceremony; “must be present to win.”

Deadline for Submissions:

Submissions must be received by email or snail mail no later than Friday, January 3, 2020.

Submissions must be emailed in one zipped file to: pjsamar@aol.com.

Sponsored by:

Blue Water Woman reserves the right to refuse nominations for consideration without cause. All decisions are final and subject

to approval by Blue Water Woman. Why? Because we said so. ;)









The ad deadline for the next issue

of Blue Water Woman is January 10, 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



Thanksgiving is exactly one week from the day I am sitting and writing this column, so it

feels like a good time to reflect on the past year and all of the blessings that are ever present in

my life.

I scrolled through the photos on my phone and found plenty of inspiration for

thankfulness there, as reflected in a few of my favorite photos from 2019, shown above:

the gift of health and wellness; a roof over my head; an abundance of food on the table; the

opportunity to engage in adventures all over the world; the richness that comes from laughter

and silliness as a result of time spent with good friends; the opportunity to live on the Great

Lakes and to enjoy them, on both the beach, and while on the deck of a sailboat; and the

opportunity to spend time with family, be they blood or chosen.

I’m really looking forward to 2020. New years equate to new beginnings, and all of the

possibilities of a clean slate. I can’t wait to discover what new adventures will come my way

during the coming year.

Thank you, dear reader, for all of your support for Blue Water Woman over the past eight

years. I’m especially thankful for the advertisers who continue to support this endeavor. Their

belief in the importance of sharing women’s stories -- Blue Water history in the making --

allows me to share just a few of the stories of the incredible women in our community.

Happy holidays and a very happy new year to all!

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


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

and is proudly an inclusive, LGBTQ-friendly publication.

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for people


For six years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Alice Rieves owned a

restaurant in St. Clair called, appropriately, “Alice’s Restaurant.”

After retiring as the executive director of the Mid City Nutrition Program

in 2016, Rieves has once again joined the organization and has been named

interim executive director of Mid City Nutrition, as the organization moves

forward with its plans to construct a new home for its soup kitchen on the

south side of Port Huron.

Aptly, the new building could also be called “Alice’s Restaurant” because

if anyone knows the recipe for success when working with donors and the

population that Mid City Nutrition serves, it is Rieves.

After a long-term career in the food service industry that saw her owning,

managing and waitressing, Rieves was named the first paid director at Mid

City Nutrition in 1993.

“I was working at Manis’s Restaurant and I remember looking out the

window at all of these lost people,” she said. “I saw the sadness and despair in

their faces.”

She began volunteering at the Mid City Nutrition soup kitchen several

days a week, which eventually led to her employment there.

“We had no money,” she said of her early days there. “The church (where

the soup kitchen is located) had never, ever charged rent, and a few times, we

had to borrow money from the church.

“We prayed and said, ‘If God wants this to continue, he will show us the


Apparently God did, indeed, want the soup kitchen to continue.

“I got a call from a woman who said, ‘I heard you don’t have any

money…’” Rieves went to meet with the woman, who offered a donation.

She was shocked when she was handed a check for $20,000.

“Money just started to come in the door,” Rieves said. “I said, ‘I guess God

wants us here, so we’re going to continue.’”

A native of Georgia, Rieves moved around to several different states while

she was growing up, and eventually landed in Michigan in the late 1970s.

She raised her children in St. Clair County and has called this community

home ever since.

“I think that in life, God has a plan, and that was His plan to get me here

to do what I’m doing, working with the soup kitchen.”

After her retirement in 2016, Rieves worked part time for a while, but soon

felt the call back to Mid City Nutrition.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed my peeps and the whole organization,”

she said. “It’s my passion. It’s something that I strongly believe in.

“Hunger is a basic need, and we have all experienced hunger to a certain

degree…that little growling in our bellies that says ‘I need food.’

“But there’s more to being hungry than that growling. People are

important. There’s spiritual hunger, there’s emotional and mental hunger.

“If you see each one of those people at the soup kitchen as a person, then

that makes a difference. Give them a firm handshake and look them in the

eye. That gives them validation.”

Rieves is looking forward to working with the community, moving

forward with raising funds and constructing the new building.

“We can get that building built and add some stability to the organization,”

she said. “I’ve worked very hard to be a good fiduciary steward of the donor


“There are a lot of people in this community who care. There is not

another community in the state that is as giving as St. Clair County.”



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the change


B“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -- Mahatma Gandhi

Patti Manley of St. Clair lives by those words.

Manley, a native of Port Huron, is a certified public accountant who

has given tirelessly – and quietly – to the Blue Water Area through her

professional, volunteer, and philanthropic efforts.

A partner in McBride-Manley & Co., P.C., Manley has worked with the

firm her entire career. “I’ve been here since I got out of college in 1982,” she

said. “In 1989, I became a partner. Glen McBride was a great guy; he taught

me everything. I have him to thank for that.” McBride died in 2013, but

Manley carried on.

“I love what I do,” she said. “I had an accounting class when I was a senior

in high school, but I was thinking maybe medicine. Then I took a chemistry

class in college and thought, ‘Oh, dear God, no!’” she said with a laugh.

“That was so not me. I took an accounting class and never looked back.”

Manley earned her associate degree from St. Clair County Community

College before moving on and obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Walsh


Throughout her career, Manley has dedicated much of her free time to

volunteering for numerous nonprofit organizations, where she has provided

professional guidance with regard to financial matters.

She currently serves as the secretary of the board of trustees for the

Community Foundation of St. Clair County. She also currently serves as the

treasurer of the board of trustees, and as chair of the finance committee, for

the United Way of St. Clair County.

She also served for many years on the board of St. John-Providence River

District Hospital, as well as on the health system’s regional board.

Manley’s commitment to the community has not gone unnoticed. She has

received a number of awards over the years, including recognition from the

National Association of Career Women as Career Woman of the Year; from

St. John-Providence River District Hospital as Community Leader of the

Year; from the United Way of St. Clair County as Volunteer of the Year; and

from the State of Michigan as a Small Business Advocate in Accounting.

“I love working with small business owners,” Manley said. “They are gutsy.”

Cancer survivors are also gutsy, and Manley would know. She is an eight

year survivor of breast cancer.

“Early detection is important,” she said. “The whole ‘pay attention to your

health’ thing is important.” Two weeks following major breast cancer surgery,

Manley was on the golf course.

“I wanted to get on with life,” she said. “This is not going to define who I


Manley noted that her family and friends helped her through her cancer

crisis and she will never forget their generosity.

“People want to help and you need to let them,” she said. “I’m very blessed

in many, many ways. I have been very blessed in my life. I have a very

supportive family and a great group of friends.”

If anything, that experience just instilled in her an even greater desire to

give back to others.

“I love our little corner of the world here in St. Clair County,” she said. “It’s

important to me to make our community a great place to live and work,

and, as a result, hopefully, it is a better place when you leave it.

“It’s empowering to be a part of these organizations that help make change.

There never will be change if you don’t get involved and try to change it.”

It’s important to me

to make our community a great place

to live and work, and, hopefully,

it is better when you leave it.

It’s empowering to be a part

of these organizations

that help make change.

There never will be change

if you don’t get involved


and try to change it.

~ Patti Manley


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

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Blue Water Woman

The Write Company


really big deal



Port Huron native Jazmyn Thomas is going to be a Really Big Deal.

Trust us on this one.

Thomas, 27, is a young professional who is making a positive impact on life

in the Blue Water Area and beyond. And, as her personal light burns brightly,

there is no stopping this energetic, self-proclaimed Type A personality, from

continuing to grow and prosper as a “young woman to watch” in the Blue

Water Area.

The 2010 graduate of Port Huron High School received a bachelor’s

degree in social relations and policy in 2014 and a master’s degree in public

administration from Oakland University in 2017. She currently works as

an associate planner for Macomb Community Action of Macomb County,

where she administers Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants for

21 municipalities county-wide.

“I administer grants and make sure that compliance is met,” she said of her

professional role. “I do housing rehab and bricks and mortar capital projects. I

like dipping my hand in lots of different things.”

Prior to accepting a position in Macomb County, she worked in the

planning department for the city of Port Huron for four years. She began that

position as an intern in college, which led to part-time and then full-time work

with the city.

“The opportunities in Port Huron provided me with the skills to move on

to Macomb County,” she said. “It afforded me more opportunities.”

Since high school, Thomas has been an involved citizen.

“My mom is really big on volunteering,” she said. “She really ingrained that

in me…the importance of giving back to your community.”

As a high school student, she was a member of the yearbook staff and

National Honor Society, and was involved in other extracurricular activities, as

well. She spent two years as a member of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC)

of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. Her participation in that

organization had a direct impact on her working life today.

“My involvement with YAC was definitely my introduction to grant

making,” she said. “YAC definitely contributed to where I’m at now.” YAC

members are high school students from across the county who, as a group,

delegate grant dollars to youth-oriented activities in St. Clair County.

“YAC exposed me to people outside of Port Huron…kids from Marysville,

Algonac and all over St. Clair County,” she said. “You sit down together and

you work together and do team building. I ran for parliamentarian and that

was my first leadership role.”

Thomas was recently invited back to YAC, but this time as an advisor to the

group. It is a role she is looking forward to undertaking.

“I like what the Community Foundation does,” she said. “I support their


Thomas is also a volunteer member of the city of Port Huron Planning

Commission, and she has been actively involved in the Port Huron Chapter

of the NAACP, having served as a member of its executive committee. She

more recently became a member of a diversity committee spearheaded by

former Marysville Mayor Dan Damman after a recent racial incident in the


In her spare time, Thomas likes to travel. She recently spent time on a

Caribbean cruise, and in 2018 visited several countries in Europe.

Family is of utmost importance, as well.

“I’m really close to my family,” she said. “My family is a big reason I am still

living in the area.”

And the Blue Water Area is all the better for her presence.



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