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February 2024

“May the love and affection we share with each other, always come from a sense of care and respect.” - St. Valentine Blessing


On January 1, 2018, The Community House Association’s Board of Directors announced the creation of a new and separate entity – The Community House Foundation – to act as a supporting organization to The Community House Association. This was a transformational announcement.


With that historic announcement we learned that the mission of the new Community House Foundation was to generate, and secure supplemental philanthropic funds needed to fulfill our promise – to families and to the Community – who depend on us to deliver a variety of quality programs and services throughout the region. Robust philanthropy supports a wide range of programs and services that benefit the community, and each other.


Not only by words, but by our actions, we double-downed and privately recognized and supported others – via our own time, talent, and treasure –- other essential and critical institutions like the Baldwin Public Library, the Birmingham Shopping District, the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber, the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, our hometown publications, and during COVID, local health care organizations, restaurants in distress, local health care institutions and workers fabricating health care products and protection – to name a few.


Setting the record straight, on multiple occasions over the last two-three years, we invited back every nonprofit or supported group that also called The Community House “home” pre-COVID including: the Senior Men’s Club of Birmingham; Birmingham Rotary; Optimist Club; Lion’s Club; The Women’s Club; Project 2; Storyteller’s Guild; Race Relations & Diversity Task Force; Youth Advisory Council; the Junior League of Birmingham; FAR Therapeutic; the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber; and the Birmingham Shopping District.


Most returned and were delighted and remain so grateful to pick up where they left off, others lost their membership post-COVID and remain in limbo. And two, the Senior Men’s Club (SMC) and the Birmingham Rotary have rebuffed our many, many offers and outreach to return to The Community House – no matter how generous the terms, and no matter how genuine the invitation, to meet, to discuss and/or to search for common ground. Even as recently as July 2023, The Community House offered to draft and did indeed submit an RFP to SMC leadership ahead of schedule to host The Senior Men’s Club again (a new day) at the Community House in 2023-2024 to deaf ears. While we verified receipt by the SMC, no response, courteously or otherwise, to our RFP was ever responded to. Sad.


Our goal in 2023 was to unite all our former nonprofit or supported groups under one proverbial roof for our Centennial Anniversary – sadly, instead some chose (and continue to choose) to perpetuate their own narrative, mislead others (even their own membership) at the expense of the greater good. Absent maturity and compassion, some angry folks pre- and post-COVID, continue to do everything in their power to hurt and retaliate against a “really good and decent” charity, right in their own backyard. Thank goodness that The Community House is blessed with so many true and genuine friends, that appreciate, admire, and support our ten decades of selfless, compassionate, and dedicated service to others – with no strings attached. Enough said. We shall continue to take the high road – that’s what Ruth Shain would’ve expected from us. In the spirit of forgiveness and in good business, I shall consider this matter closed.


In addition to securing supplemental funding to maintain quality programming and services at TCH, The Community House Association’s leadership also mandated that The Community House Foundation dedicate itself to raising funds and awareness for the preservation and perpetual care of The Community House Association’s historic building and nearly century-old plant.


In setting up the new foundation we were reminded that historic preservation is a critical movement in planning – designed to conserve old buildings and areas in order to permanently tie a place’s history to its population and culture.m In other words, we are and will remain nonprofit stewards of this city-designated historic building.

With these goals in mind, much of The Community House Foundation’s initial efforts have focused on assessing, educating, and carefully pairing passionate and caring donors with the immediate and emerging needs of The Community House Association – critical needs over and above its normal day-to-day operations.


Our largest gathering and celebration each year is the annual Bates Street Society Dinner and Awards Ceremony. It is the time of year, where we set aside our daily efforts to raise funds and support of TCH, and instead recognize ordinary men and women throughout our region doing extraordinary things for others. Selfless compassion, dedication and service to others in need. Now in its seventh year, The Bates Street Society Dinner and Awards Ceremony will take place on Saturday, February 10, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. in the Wallace Ballroom of The Community House. To help lead this extraordinary gathering, Mr. Huel Perkins will assume the role of Master of Ceremonies. The Bates Street Society Dinner will recognize The Community House Foundation’s Annual Pillars of Vibrancy in Business, Education, Culture, Health & Wellness and Philanthropy.


2024 Pillars of Vibrancy Honorees include:

• Ms. Florine Mark (posthumously) – Business, Culture, Education,

Health & Wellness & Philanthropy

• Dr. Lewis H. Rosenbaum, MD – Health & Wellness and Education

• Ms. Diana Lewis – Culture & Philanthropy

• Ms. Michelle Saroki – Business & Philanthropy

• Ms. Glenda Lewis – Culture & Philanthropy

• Mr. Michael Bickers – Business & Philanthropy

• Mr. Salvador Salort-Pons – Business & Culture

• Mr. Paul Gross – Business & Philanthropy


The Bates Street Society giving circle was created to help recognize donors who make significant charitable contributions to support the work and mission of The Community House. New members are acknowledged annually at The Bates Street Society Dinner, an extraordinary evening hosted by The Community House Association and Foundation Board of Directors. These new society member inductees will be gifted a crystal award as well as have their names installed on The Community House Foundation’s new donor wall.


2024 Bates Street Society Inductees include:

• Lois and Mark Shaevsky

• Edward C and Linda Dresner Levy Foundation

• Oakland University


Our gratitude and special thanks go out to Presenting-Founding Sponsor, PNC Bank, Title-Founding Sponsor, Corewell Health, and to Blue Cross Blue Shield, DeRoy & Devereaux, Oakland University, The Agency Hall & Hunter, Emerson-Prew and Metalbuilt for their lead sponsorship of the 2024 Bates Street Society Dinner. For more information about sponsorships or ad buys, please contact Christopher Smude, SVP, CMO, The Community House Foundation at csmude@communityhousefoundation.org.

The Bates Street Society Dinner and Awards Ceremony is a ticketless event. It is a sell-out event. Purchase online reservations now.


A NEW CENTURY OF GIVING AND RECEIVING – THE COMMUNITY HOUSE ANNUAL FUND

The 2024 TCH Annual Fund Appeal is here. Given the effects of a post-COVID world and the faltering economy, it is hard to overestimate how important the 2024 Annual Fund Appeal is to the historic Community House. For the last three years (and counting) we have found ourselves, like so many, continuing to navigate through a perfect storm – COVID, supply chain issues, inflation, wage pressures, the economy, and ongoing repairs to an aging building. We need help. Will you help us?


By making a 2024 tax-deductible gift now to The Community House, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization, your gift will ensure that we continue to navigate through these challenges so that we remain the important educational, philanthropic and community resource that thousands of individuals have relied upon for more than a century. To make a gift now, you can send your donation in by mail at: TCH, 380 S. Bates Street, Birmingham, Michigan 48009, give online at communityhouse.com/donate or by calling The Community House Foundation at 248-594-6417. Perhaps some of you might consider placing TCH in their estate plans. It is simple, and painless. For more information, please contact Christopher Smude, SVP, CMO, TCH Foundation at csmude@communityhousefoundation.org.


William D. Seklar is President & CEO of the Community House Association and Board Chair, President & CEO of the Community House Foundation in Birmingham.

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