By Cortney Casey C & G Staff Writer STERLING HEIGHTS — They arrive by plane, not by reindeer-drawn sleighs, but their mission is the same: to deliver holiday gifts to deserving children. They’re the more than 100 pilots who volunteer their time, skills and aircraft through Operation Good Cheer, founded in 1971 and run by Child & Family Services of Michigan.
On the first Saturday of December, a highly coordinated fleet of small planes leaves Pontiac International Airport to distribute donated gifts to agencies statewide that, in turn, pass the presents on to youngsters in foster care. “They range in age from newborns all the way up to age 18,” said Sharon Vichcales, director of Child and Family Services of Michigan. “The children are either in individual foster homes or they are in residential treatment-type settings.” The situations many of the kids endured before entering foster care are unspeakably horrible, said Vichcales. Some have never attended school or never interacted with children their own age, were locked up in their homes or lived where drugs were rampant. Others suffered extensive physical or sexual abuse. Some have told social workers they were never even aware the holiday existed, she said, and one little boy reported that he’d been told Santa Claus was dead. For these forgotten children, a pair of jeans without holes or a brand-new toy is priceless, and the kindness of strangers is beyond comprehension. “They are just thrilled,” said Vichcales. “Some of them have never even had a Christmas, depending on the situation at the home they were removed from. Some are children that have been in care, year after year … they can’t believe people who don’t know them would care about them.” Participating nonprofit agencies submit wish lists of up to six items per child, with at least one “wish” representing clothing. They include the child’s first name and last initial, height, weight, background and details about his or her personality. Child and Family Services codes the beneficiaries to maintain their privacy, said Vichcales.
In 2009 alone, Operation Good Cheer reportedly served more than 4,320 infants, children, teenagers and adults with disabilities associated with 41 different agencies. The campaign involved more than 300 donor groups, organizations and individuals, 19 transport companies, 17 airports and in excess of 300 volunteers lending a hand at airports. This year, at least 4,600 children affiliated with 44 agencies across all 83 Michigan counties are set to receive gifts, said Vichcales. Organizations, businesses and individuals throughout the state conduct fundraising and gift drives to support the cause — including Studio 9 Salon in Sterling Heights. Mike Borsuck, who owns Studio 9 with his wife, Verna, said they got involved personally around five years ago and brought the salon on board four years ago. “It grew into a pretty big endeavor for us, the biggest thing we do all year,” he said. Studio 9 is adopting at least 24 families this year, and its clients have responded enthusiastically, with one offering to take on four children’s wishes and another donating $1,000. Verna Borsuck and staff members often shop for presents and wrap them. The facility is accepting donations through Friday, Dec. 3.
“Every year, kids are left out of the program,” said Mike Borsuck. “What touches us the most is when the kids are around 17 that ask for dishes, towels and such. The reason for that is that they are out of the programs that Michigan has to offer at 18. They ask for household items as they will be on their own.” The younger kids rarely ask for big-ticket items like video games, said Borsuck. Their requests are simpler: a football, a basketball.
The salon acts as a collection point for other Operation Good Cheer donors who are unable to drop items off at Pontiac International Airport, where the volunteer pilots, like Borsuck, gather with their own planes for gift dissemination. “I cannot carry much, but it’s my best flying day of the year,” said Borsuck, who owns a small Cessna. On delivery day, pilots check in at the airport, receive destination assignments and taxi to a designated area, where volunteers load the aircraft with agency-coded gifts. The planes then take off for their respective drop-off sites.
Small crowds gather at the receiving airports to watch and assist, and pilots are always rewarded with hot coffee and cookies upon arrival, said Borsuck. Luck plays into how many planes get to liftoff. Two years ago, he said, conditions were so inclement that few could get off the ground; last year, it was the opposite. “The weather was beautiful,” he said. “So many planes showed up at Pontiac that it temporarily overloaded the air traffic control system in and around Michigan. It slowed us down, but they got it done.” Borsuck said it’s bad enough imagining any child being giftless on Christmas, but it’s even more devastating to think about kids without parents, without a home and — if not for Operation Good Cheer — without a holiday. Vichcales said the program does wonders for lifting the recipients’ spirits and self-esteem. “It’s very enlightening and very rewarding that we can bring just a little joy to these kids,” she said, “because their lives have been filled with everything but joy.”
Studio 9 Salon is located at 37717 Mound, near Metropolitan Parkway, in Sterling Heights. For more information on contributing to the salon’s efforts, call (586) 274-9996. A video explaining the program is available at www.studio9salon.com. For more information on Operation Good Cheer, visit http://www.cfsm.org/OperationGoodCheer.htm.
You can reach Staff Writer Cortney Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (586) 498-1046.
Going green isn’t usually something you want to hear at a hair salon.
At Studio 9 in Sterling Heights, however, the opposite is true. The salon, which opened about a year ago on Mound Road north of Metropolitan Parkway, has become one of six recognized charging stations for electric cars in metropolitan Detroit. This is a distinction that is not lost on the proprietors of the business. “We’re proud to have gotten in on the ground floor of this,” said Mike Borsuck, owner of the salon with his wife, Verna. “I would say we’re definitely interested in the environment and doing anything we can for it and we were definitely interested in how the electric car is going to affect the area.”
The idea came to the Borsucks while they were building their salon, and it was something they quickly jumped at the chance to be a part of it. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the beginning,” Mike Borsuck said. “When we went into it, we went into it knowing this is something we wanted to seriously consider.” With that in mind, Borsuck said they built the facility with the correct wiring and technology in place —at their own cost —so this would be a feature they could offer right away. “We understand that no one has their (electric cars) yet,” he said. “But we’re excited to think that when they do this might be some place they would purposely come to because we offer this.” The commercially made charger was made partially possible by a federal grant, which Mike Borsuck said he found on the Internet.
It works at a level of 220 volts, which is about double what the normal person would have at home, so it will charge vehicles that much quicker. Because of the technology associated with the vehicles, Studio 9 will actually show up on the GPS software offered in the cars as a possible charging station. “People will be able to find us very easily,” Mike Borsuck said. “I think we’re both excited by everything this could mean. It’s just really cool all around.” For now, Mr. Borsuck says they will offer the charging to customers and anyone else that stops in needing a charge. It’s not necessarily earmarked just for customers. “I mean, if it starts costing me hundreds of dollars a month then things might be different,” he said. “But for now we’re offering it to everybody.”
Currently, electric cars hold a charge for about 50 miles. Many analysts, however, have expressed surprise that the current regime of electric cars actually appear to be lasting a little longer. “Our charging station is just one spoke in the wheel,” said Verna Borsuck. “I hope that our charging station will one day become obsolete. I would like to see batteries charged once a week opposed to every 50 miles.”
Staffers from Studio 9 Salon surround the electric vehicle charging station the facility installed late last year. Sterling Heights salon gets electrified
By Cortney Casey C & G Staff Writer STERLING HEIGHTS — Everyone was abuzz about General Motors’ Chevy Volt around the same time Mike and Verna Borsuck were planning the new structure for their Sterling Heights-based Studio 9 Salon. Inspired, Mike Borsuck added infrastructure for an electric vehicle charging station into the blueprints and applied online to receive a unit for free.
Time passed with no word, and he was unsure whether anything would come of it. But late last year, the charger arrived, just in time for the Volt’s release. “I feel like I have the most brilliant husband in the world,” laughed Verna Borsuck. “He’s always ahead of his time.” The Borsucks received the approximately $3,000 ChargePoint America unit at no cost from Coulomb Technologies, its manufacturer, as part of the company’s ChargePoint America program, a $37 million initiative that’s partially funded by a $15 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. The installation and wiring added another $3,500 to the bill, said Mike Borsuck.
The charger, a thin metallic tower, is located near the front door, alongside a parking space delineated, fittingly, with a green line. It includes both 110-volt and 220-volt capabilities; the lesser voltage uses an outlet obscured behind a door, while the higher one is transmitted using a nozzle-like device. A system card, like one Mike Borsuck carries, or a swipe-free credit card is required to unlock the nozzle and activate the system, to prevent tampering from passersby, he said. Coulomb allows charger owners to set their own price for consumers using the device. Mike Borsuck said the public is welcome to charge up at no cost, and he doesn’t plan to assess a fee from patrons unless it becomes cost-prohibitive for Studio 9. He estimated the electrical cost of a four-hour charge — the time required to completely restore a depleted battery with the 220-volt charger — at around $1.20.
As of early January, the charger had been used only once: by GM employees who brought over a Volt to give the device a whirl. But Borsuck anticipates usage will begin to climb as the vehicles become increasingly available to the general public, especially considering the Volt’s recent designation as Car of the Year at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “I just hope that it takes off,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to get rid of our oil dependency.” Even if they don’t have electric vehicles, patrons are constantly inquiring about it, said Verna Borsuck. “What a conservation piece,” she said. “It motivates people. It gets them thinking.”
City Planner Don Mende said such chargers don’t require Planning Commission approval, but do necessitate an electrical permit, acquired via the Building Department. Mende said Studio 9’s charger is the only one he’s aware of within city limits.
An interactive map on Coulomb’s website indicates additional ChargePoint America units are operational in Rochester, Troy and Warren. City Manager Mark Vanderpool, who highlighted Studio 9’s charger in a recent report to City Council, commended the Borsucks on their “entrepreneurial spirit.” “The cutting-edge technology represents a glimpse of what the vehicular future may look like,” he said, “and we are proud to say Sterling Heights is one of the first communities to have a business construct a vehicle charging station.”
The first ChargePoint America charger in the state was installed last September near NextEnergy Headquarters in downtown Detroit. The program reportedly will supply nearly 5,000 such stations across nine distinct regions nationwide, including southern Michigan. Businesses can apply for free public stations; individuals who purchase a qualifying electric vehicle can request free home chargers.
In conjunction with the 2011 North American International Auto Show earlier this month, Center Parking Associates and Miller Parking Services LLC also announced the grand opening of a public charging station at the Center Garage on Renaissance Drive West in Detroit. The station reportedly allows users to swipe a credit card to pay the $2 fee, plus the cost of electricity, though free charging was offered during the week of the Auto Show. According to the parking companies, an estimated 40 million plug-in electric vehicles will be in use by 2030.
Studio 9 Salon is located 37717 Mound, north of Metropolitan Parkway, in Sterling Heights. For more information on ChargePoint America, visit www.chargepointamerica.com. You can reach Staff Writer Cortney Casey at email@example.com or at (586) 498-1046.
CORTNEY CASEY C & G Staff Writer Published: May 19, 2010 Judy Tory never gave much thought to what happened to the wayward locks that fell to the floor during her haircuts. But the Sterling Heights resident became fascinated by her discarded hair's fate after watching a video in the lobby of Studio 9 Salon on Mound, detailing the facility's ongoing partnership with Matter of Trust. The nonprofit organization, based in San Francisco, helms a number of eco-educational programs and projects, including one that tackles oil spills by weaving hair into oil-attracting mats and stuffing it into women's pantyhose to create containment booms. "I watched that video, and I was really interested about that," said Tory. "I guess you don't stop and think of those things, that hair soaks up oil." Mike Borsuck, who owns Studio 9 with his wife, Verna, said they've been working with Matter of Trust for about three years, but recently ramped up efforts in light of the devastating oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. "I read something on the Internet or somewhere, and thought it was a really great idea," said Borsuck.
Previously, the Borsucks footed the $12-$15 bill to send hair clippings from the salon's floor to the organization quarterly, a fact Tory said she found particularly impressive. Now, they're shuttling shipments out weekly, said Borsuck, and plan to continue to do so for a few months, as efforts to address the Gulf of Mexico spill continue. Studio 9's central vacuum system places the salon "in a unique situation where we can give them really nice, clean hair," said Borsuck. Stylists sweep piles of leftover hair in front of floor-level intake vents, which suck the clippings into a main holding tank. The tank's contents are later emptied into a plastic bag and compressed into a box for shipping.
Besides the video playing in the lobby and posted on Studio 9's website, small signs at each stylist's station - "We are collecting your hair clippings for the oil spill in the Gulf "- inform customers of the salon's practice. "The clients think it's really cool," said hair stylist Sherri Pickford. "I think anything that we can do to help just a little bit is worthwhile." On Matter of Trust's website, Phil McCrory, a barber and inventor of the oil-trapping hair mats, explains, "You shampoo your hair because it gets greasy. Hair is very efficient at collecting oil out of the air, off surfaces like your skin and out of the water, even petroleum oil. Hair is adsorbent, as in 'clings to, 'unlike absorbent, which is to 'soak up.'" According to McCrory, there are more than 320,000 hair salons in the United States, each of which generates about 1 pound of hair clippings a day. "Right now, most of that goes into the waste stream," he said, "but it should all be made into hair mats." To support its efforts, Matter of Trust continues to seek monetary donations, in-kind contributions of office furniture and other supplies, hair clippings, fur and wool scraps, and used nylons. The organization has 15 locations - in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida - currently accepting hair donations from the United States, Canada and beyond.
Thousands of volunteers reportedly have signed up to have "Stocking Stuffer" and "Boom-B-Q" parties to create the hair-stuffed nylon booms. Even more than helping clean up the spills, Borsuck believes the hair donations are generating pollution awareness among salons and their customers. On average, around 2, 600 oil spills involving 726 million gallons of oil occur annually, according to Matter of Trust. One quart of oil, the organization asserts, can contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water. Each year, 363 million gallons of motor oil alone reportedly are washed into the ocean, and half of the oil in the waterways stems from households 'illegal dumping of used motor oil. Borsuck said unwanted hair from Studio 9 also is furthering eco-friendly practices closer to home, as customers often ask for some to strew about their gardens as a chemical-free method of deterring creatures from feasting on their plants - a request he fulfills for free. "Supposedly, it keeps rabbits and such out of the garden," he laughed.
For more information, visit www.studio9salon.com or www.matteroftrust. org. You can reach Staff Writer Cortney Casey at ccasey@candg news.com or at (586) 498-1046. Copyright, 2010, Shelby-Utica News (MI), All Rights Reserved.
A very merry mission Operation Good Cheer
Serving Macomb County, Michigan — Sunday, January 09, 2011
Salon among first in nation to offer charging station for electric cars
Serving Oakland County
Sterling Heights hair salon offers free charging for electric cars
Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010 By Amanda Lee For The Oakland Press
Shelby-Utica News (MI)
Clippings aid cleanups Hair from local salon gets renewed purpose: combating oil spills
Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010 By SEAN DELANEY
A Sterling Heights hair salon is now one of only six locations in Metro Detroit to offer a charging station for electric vehicles like the 2011 Chevy Volt. "When we were in the planning stages of our new building, General Motors announced production of the Volt," said Verna Borsuck, owner of Studio 9 Salon.
GM officially launched the all-electric, battery-powered vehicle Nov. 30, just days after the salon unveiled its new charging station. The technology was paid for with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and installed during construction of the 5,000-square-foot building. According to the salon's website, it will take approximately four hours to charge an electric car.
"Our charger would be classed as a heavy duty charger," the website states. "It has two voltage options. The lower option is like found in your home (110 volts). Our charger has a higher power (220 volts). The 220 voltage charges the battery in about 25 percent of the time it would take if you were to plug your car in at home." After the Volt battery is depleted, a small 4-cylider internal combustion engine burns premium gasoline to power a generator to extend the vehicle's range. "Our oil dependency has a definite impact on the economy," Borsuck said. "More recently with the environmental impact that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the move to electric vehicles is long overdue."
Borsuck said she feels the new battery technology will also benefit the local economy. "We are in an automotive area that has been severely impacted," she said. "Many of our clients are tied directly to the automotive industry."
The salon is currently offering free charges for anyone with an electric vehicle. It is located at 37717 Mound Road in Sterling Heights. "Our charging station is just one spoke in the wheel," Borsuck said. "I hope that our charging station will one day become obsolete. I would like to see batteries charged once a week opposed to every 50 miles."