Born in Detroit and raised in Birmingham, Dulcie Rosenfeld made a lifetime commitment to community service that earned her plenty of recognition along the way. Her positive impact felt around the region comes from her caring, kindness and can-do spirit.
For her, one of the most significant acknowledgments was the Fred M. Butzel Award, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s top honor, which she received in 1995. This year marked another special moment when she was honored by the Jewish Federation Women’s Philanthropy as the Detroit recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award.
Her latest honor recognizes Women of Valor for their contributions. “It’s a lovely award,” she said.
After helping countless others through many organizations for more than seven decades, Rosenfeld, who lives in Bloomfield Hills, holds Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan especially close to her heart. “It became my main concern in the early ‘90s that came to me because I knew women in corporations,” she said of her networking know-how.
At the time, there were no women on the board and they needed better fundraising efforts. After reading a New York Times article about a breakfast that raised money for a New York City food bank, she decided to give it a try and the Women’s Power Breakfast was born.
“We did it cold,” said Rosenfeld. “We took out our rolodexes and worked together with everyone’s telephone lists and address books and it was held at The Detroit Club.”
For the first event, 120 women showed up for an early morning breakfast. “We made sure they could be out by 9:00 to get to the office or wherever they had to go,” she said. The event raised $1,500 with generous patron Irma Elder rounding up the amount for the final tally.
Raising awareness is part of the process. “If you make people aware, they help. It’s as simple as that.”
Back then, the event was nothing fancy. “You could mingle with fellow givers and we had a very nothing breakfast,” she recalled. “Over the years it became more elaborate. There have been so many iterations and variations.”
Now in its 28th year, the breakfast has raised more than $3.5 million for Gleaners’ mission to end childhood hunger.
Rosenfeld’s many other roles include her involvement with the Wayne State Theatre, the Detroit Historical Society and numerous Jewish agencies, like the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Vocational Services.
She was introduced to the world of giving early on. “My father was a pharmacist and the Jewish pharmacists had a social organization that was charitable. They wanted to raise money for causes.”
Rosenfeld also credits her late husband Norman for his support and his ties to the Motor City. “My husband was a very wonderful man. He had a great business, Sibley’s Shoes, and they had a very close connection to the city of Detroit and so did I,” she explained. “We moved to the Riverfront Apartments when they opened in the ‘80s, and we lived there until he retired. I felt a very strong loyalty to the city. I love the historical society and the DIA, and I am enamored of other neighborhood groups.
“One of the best things that ever happened to me was meeting my husband,” said Rosenfeld.
Three of their four children live in California, where she spends part of the year. Of all her achievements, her kids top the list. “They are all healthy and contributing outstanding citizens. They are loving and they love each other.”
She also adores her four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Though she never pursued a professional career, her successes are many. “I never made a buck, but I sure gave a lot away,” she said.
Story: Jeanine Matlow
Photo: Laurie Tennent