An unforgettable event that celebrates and recognizes the time and effort of those who have aided our students in realizing their full potential.
A beautiful night filled with inspiration and gratitude. Last week, we hosted our 16th annual Champs Celebration. The Arcadia Ballroom at the Radisson Plaza Hotel was filled with over 300 guests joining to honor individuals and community partners who share in the CIS vision— an engaged community where every child fulfills his or her promise—by actively putting forth time, energy, talent and resources to drive this vision to reality.
While Ask Me About My 12,000+ Kids will be featuring interviews with each of the 2023 award recipients in the weeks to come, here’s a little about each of those individuals who were honored at Champs:
TRINITY PREP CENTER was honored with a Champ award that was presented by CIS board member Kimberly Babineaux.
Trinity Prep Center was founded in 2014 by three talented and passionate women: Carmilla Little, Courtney Wrenn, and Adiah Jones.
“Not your ordinary dance studio,” Trinity Prep Center has been working with CIS for the past four years to bring their dynamic “On the Move” program into CIS After School. In addition to enriching students’ lives through dance at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts and Milwood Magnet Middle School, they’ve also served students at four elementary schools: Washington Writers’ Academy, Lincoln International Studies School, El Sol Elementary, and Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts.
KRISTIN ZIMMERMAN was honored with a Champ award that was presented by CIS board member Terry Morrow.
Therapist Kristin Zimmerman is deeply committed to doing all she can to care for the mental health of students. Over the course of working almost ten years with CIS, Kristin has supported literally hundreds of students at Woodward School for Science and Technology, Northglade Montessori Magnet School, Milwood Elementary, and Kalamazoo Central High School. Currently, Kristen is working with more than 20 students at Linden Grove Middle School.
Kristin’s passion for supporting students comes from a place of kindness and genuine interest in their future. Said by Kristin, “Kalamazoo is a wonderful community with character, diversity, and opportunity for growth. The students, their families, and the teachers of KPS contribute to the foundation of this community and thus are its future. The programming and services provided by CIS helps by giving students struggling with emotional and mental health issues the same opportunity for success in education as others and the ability to reach their highest potential.”
MATTHEW CAVALLI was honored with the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award, and presented by CIS board president Steve Powell.
Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University, Matt Cavelli is also a dedicated CIS volunteer. Working closely with CIS site coordinators and site staff and Kalamazoo Central High School and Loy Norrix High School, he has been helping students hone their math skills by providing tutoring support in the form of: one-on-one tutoring, small group, and “push-in” tutoring. And when the pandemic hit, students needing math support could still connect with Matt who continued to make himself available through virtual learning sessions.
In addition to volunteering about 14 hours a month at both high schools, Matt serves on the Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council, helping to strengthen CIS volunteer efforts within the schools. He also carves out time to share his carpentry skills by working on set designs for several drama programs in the Portage Public Schools
Due to a conflict in schedule, Matthew accepted the award during a small reception prior to the Champs Celebration.
PATRICIA CARLIN was honored with the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award presented by the Executive Director of Community Relations at The Kalamazoo Promise, Von Washington, Jr.
For over 40 years, Patricia Carlin, a licensed counselor and social worker, has been an advocate in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and throughout the community. As an educator and counselor, Patricia has generously shared her gift for nurturing collaborations and helping students reintegrate into the school setting. While teaching students at Kalamazoo Central for almost twenty years, she also took on the role of staff advisor for the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance that aims to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Since her official retirement in 2014, Patricia continues to be involved in schools, supporting students and teachers in a variety of ways, including academic achievement and life issues. She also continues her involvement with GSA groups that promote a safe and welcoming environment for all students. In addition to being an active member of the Kalamazoo Public Schools Equity Task Force and Design Team, she has a long history of supporting various community organizations and initiatives, such as Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Partners in Dance at Western Michigan University, OutFront Kalamazoo, Bring a Therapy Dog to School with Dr. Angie Moe, and the “Heartbeat” writing program affiliated with Kalamazoo College’s Civic Engagement and Service-Learning.
ARTRELLA COHN was also honored with the CIS of Kalamazoo Staff Recognition, which was presented by CIS Executive Director, James Devers.
For over 13 years, Artrella Cohn has supported Kalamazoo kids through her work at Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Beginning as a CIS social work intern, to now serving as the Senior Director of Community Engagement and Student Investment, Artrella is driven by seeing positive change in her community by serving our youth.
In addition to her above and beyond dedication to kids in Kalamazoo, Artrella served on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team at CIS National and plays a leadership role on many community boards such as the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Community Advocates for Parents and Students.
Our Champs sponsors allow us to host this beautiful event. Their ongoing support has made our work and this celebration possible. Thank you to our 2023 Champs sponsors:
Our presenting sponsor, Kalsec Inc.
Senior sponsors: Abraxas Worldwide, Chase Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Landscape Forms, Maestro, and PNC Bank.
Junior sponsors: Humphrey Products, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Miller Davis Company, Miller Johnson, and Zoetis.
Sophomore sponsors: Bronson Healthcare, Choices for Change, Comerica Bank, DeMent & Marquardt, FEMA Corporation, First National Bank of Michigan, LKF Marketing, Seelye Auto Group, The Kalamazoo Promise, Unifab Corporation, Warner Norcross + Judd, and The College of Education and Human Development and The Office of Diversity and Inclusion of Western Michigan University.
Freshman sponsors: BDO, CSM Group, Greenleaf Trust, Mercantile Bank, Schupan & Sons, and Welsh & Associates.