2012 Polar Plunge Street Team Night

The 2012 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics held its first Street Team Night at Buffalo Wild Wings at Knapps Corner on Wednesday night, and about a dozen volunteers came out to see how they could help spread the word about this very cool (pun intended) event.

The 7th Annual Polar Plunge on February 25, 2012 benefits the Area 11 Special Olympians, which includes an average of 1,000 athletes from Kent and Barry Counties. Fifty percent of the money raised is given directly to Area 11 Special Olympics. The remaining half is designated to the State of Michigan Special Olympics and is used to help Area 11 athletes participate in statewide events. The goal for this year’s plunge is 300 participants and $75,000. Last year’s event brought 212 plungers to Reeds Lake who raised $62,000.

This evening was also a chance to sign up for the event that features a plunge into icy cold Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids. If you are interested in getting a team together to take the plunge on February 25, you can register online at www.somi.org, or check out the Fans of Special Olympics Michigan Area 11 Facebook page.

Once you are registered, start collecting pledges from family, friends, and co-workers. It’s a great cause, so many will want to help in any way they can. On the day of the plunge, participants are treated to a Pre Plunge Lunch, admission to the Post Plunge Party and Award Ceremony, and an opportunity to earn great prizes—but most of all it is the amazing feeling you get, knowing that you are helping a terrific group of athletes.

Don’t want to take the plunge? You can still support the effort by donating to theStellafly Team! We raised nearly $1,500 last year. Help us reach that goal in 2012! It’s such a great organization. To donate: http://www.firstgiving.com.

Danielle Josephine DeWitt, contributing writer : Photography: Terry Johnston

Design 1 Fashion Event Benefiting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

Hundreds of fashion enthusiasts were at the JW Marriott on Tuesday night for the third annual Design 1 Fashion Event, benefiting the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. If you live in West Michigan and have young kids in your life—whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or friend—you probably realize what a blessing it is to have this amazing hospital right here in Grand Rapids.

The night began with a hors d’ oeuvres and cocktail reception that included a silent auction. There were many amazing auction items donated by dozens of local businesses including Design 1 Salon Spa, Jen Kroll Photography, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and Thousand Oaks Golf Club. While guests mingled in the ballroom performers from the Daredevil Circus entertained with acrobatics, juggling acts, and a very talented stilts walker.

This year’s event was themed A Fashionable Journey Around the World, and during the runway show the audience was taken to New York City, Hollywood, Paris, Tokyo, and Dubai. But before jetting off to the first destination, the youngest of the models took to the runway. These kids have all been patients at DeVos Children’s Hospital and each of them was dressed in fabulous fashions from K. Bella Bambino.

What followed was a spectacular display of fashion from A.K. Rikk’s, hair by Design 1, and makeup by Aura Skincare & Cosmetics all put together in a remarkable show produced by The Matthew Agency. Each segment of the show took the audience to a new destination, and each destination featured its own unique styles. Every look was amazing from head to toe.

As the night came to a close and the models took one last walk down the runway, there was a buzz in the room about how fantastic the entire event was, and everyone seemed to agree that this year’s show was the best one yet. Congratulations to all involved in making this happen, especially Design 1 Salon Spa, and a huge thanks to everyone at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for all that you do!

By Danielle Josephine DeWitt, contributing writer : Photography: Tim Motley

First Annual Brookby Christmas Ball

Last evening, we attended a Christmas party that will surely go down as the event of the Holiday Season. A party designed to celebrate the history of Brookby and its new future with Aquinas College. 

The formal affair was hosted by Sam and Janene Cummings and Dan and Pam DeVos. Attendance was by invitation only and limited to 125 guests.

The home was its most elegant, spectacularly adorned with holiday decorations in the spirit of the season. Tickets were priced as an effort to raise money for the ongoing maintenance and support of Brookby and its important part of Grand Rapids history.

Guests were treated to sumptuous food and desserts. The Grand Rapids Boys’ Choirperformed seasonal favorites and later Those Delta Rhythm Kings filled the ballroom.

Many thanks to our friends Sam and Janene Cummings for having Stellafly capture this special historical event.

Sam and Janene donated the property to Aquinas after residing there for 14 years. They plan to co-chair a committee at the college to overlook Brookby and all the historical sites on campus.

Read about the history of the Brookby House on the Aquinas College: website: http://www.aquinas.edu/marketing/display.html?id=569

More interesting history: http://www.historygrandrapids.org/explore.php?cat=&essay=18


Each year in December, talented local artists and craftspeople gather together closely in accessible downtown locations along the South Division corridor in Grand Rapids.

The annual event is put together by Avenue for the Arts. It includes the businesses and the residential community along the South Division corridor between Wealthyand Fulton. The Galleries lining the Avenue for the Arts feature artwork by local and nationally recognized artists.

Go to their website to find out more info about Avenue for the Arts: avenueforthearts.com
Avenue for the Arts Market:




Lott3Metz / Highland Group Christmas Party

Tis the Season for Holiday Parties and some of our favorite people throw a great one every year — complete with Yesterdogs!

Ted Lott and Greg Metz are the principles of Lott3Metz, created Lott3Metz Architecture and have designed the Oasis at Steelcase Global Headquarters, several projects at GVSU, expansion planning for New Branches School. In addition to those he has worked on numerous renovation and historic preservation projects. He brought his experience in green design principles and the firm applies as many as possible to every project. Greg and Ted co-authored the green design guidelines for affordable housing.

Thanks for the invite, Ted! We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

The Great Me – Book Release Party

“Life has a way of just happening. It seems, at times, that there is something that is in control of our lives, something behind the curtain; yet at other times nothing seems to be in control; no levers, whatsoever, are being pulled. Especially when it comes to love. I was in love once – maybe twice (I’m actually the kind of guy that could fall in love every day, but I’ve only told two people, and meant it with my very being, that I loved them). She, though, was the cutest thing I have ever seen. I really want you to know that.” – The Great Me
Katy Batdorff stopped by Bar Divani to celebrate the release of Caton Jay-William Vance‘s new book. The Great Me in the backroom at Bar Divani.

There were drinks — and music.

The price is $22.00 for the book. To purchase the book, contact the author directly at listentospeak@gmail.com.

Jeff Lambert Defines “Professional Cool”

A mere five and a half years after graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree, Jeff Lambert founded a public relations firm in his Grand Rapids basement with Brian Edwards.

That was 1998.

In 2011, Lambert, Edwards, & Associates is Michigan’s largest full service public relations firm. With 100 clients in 20 states and 5 countries, the PR firm employs 40 professionals in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit. Clients include Jamba Juice, Brillo, 5-Hour Energy, Wolverine World Wide, Blue Cross, and many other well-known brands. The company board room is lined with industry awards.

How did someone with so little experience accomplish so much, so quickly?

“I was young and dumb,” answered Jeff Lambert modestly. “Not a lot to lose.”

Lambert also mentioned that in 1998, he was newly married with an infant daughter. “That added a bit of risk for extra motivation,” he said with a smile. “If you believe in yourself…”

Lambert, Edwards, & Associates lasted about four months in Lambert’s basement. Shortly after gaining their first associate, the firm moved into more conventional office space at the PNC building on the corner of Monroe and Pearl in downtown Grand Rapids.

Today, Lambert is the President and Managing Partner of the growing public relations firm. Last summer, the company moved its offices to 47 Commerce Street. The acronym “LE&A” is elegantly etched into the frosted glass windows of the old and understated brick building. Recently winning three renovation awards, the LEED-certified building’s high ceilings, roof deck, and loft styling indicate a hip and creative professional environment.

Initially, Lambert felt concerned about moving from a corporate setting to a trendier creative atmosphere. It didn’t take long for him to admit his trepidation was invalid. The new surroundings have had a positive and re-energizing impact on the firm.

“We’re not a Foosball-wacky type ad agency,” Lambert was quick to note. Instead, he casually dropped the phrase “professional cool” to describe the LE&A office space and approach to business.

The “professional cool” term seems to fit Jeff Lambert, as well. A self-described wordsmith, it is clear that he is in love with the power of written language. Beyond the award-lined board room, a huge painting of a whimsical word cloud dominates almost the entire wall of a busy office area. To the left of the swirling words, a giant Scrabble matrix — much larger than a Twister mat — makes up a considerable portion of what resembles a disco dance floor. Directly across this over-sized Scrabble area, executives can prepare and practice for press interviews in a more serious-looking media room.

No, this definitely isn’t a Foosball-wacky agency. A strong respect for words, creativity, and communication seem to flow abundantly through the atmosphere at LE&A.

Lambert emphatically stated that culture is important — and communication strongly impacts culture. In particular, he appeared passionate about elevating the quality of everyday conversations to reflect a more positive attitude about his home state of Michigan.

“When people say, ‘man, it’s tough in Michigan,’ do you say ‘yes’ or do you say, ‘hey, we’ve got good things going on?’” he said. “What you say is important. Your words are important.”

Lambert advises Michigan residents to get educated — read more — so that they can help positively change the culture.

“Misinformation is killing us,” he said. According to Lambert, questions like “what’s going on?” and “what’s the opportunity?” can do more to generate better PR for Michigan by uplifting the conversation.

“PR isn’t about manipulation,” he said. “It’s about identifying the interesting, whether it’s PVC pipes or chassis. It’s about finding the angle. Finding the story.”

Lambert shared his company’s own opportunity and growth mantra, “Organic, Acquisition, and New Product Lines.” In addition to growing the firm organically, LE&A recently acquired an Atlanta, Georgia based investor relations firm. The firm also acquired a Troy, Michigan based firm in 2009. As a result, LE&A is one of the top 20 investor relations firms in the country.

As for new product lines, Lambert said that online and social media will play an even bigger part at LE&A. While there is still an audience for conventional news formats, Lambert is preparing to deal with less traditional media in the next five years. Listening and monitoring the social media landscape is key.

“Actually, within the next six months, we’ll be more aggressive in social media, hiring those with more depth and national level expertise,” he said.

Lambert expressed confidence that LE&A can continue to grow and attract quality talent from within and beyond Michigan. He stated that he is a strong advocate of networking for business. He advises students and professionals to “…network wherever they find themselves —  with their parents and friends, at a basketball game, at college — never stop networking and connecting.”

Initially accepted into MSU as a pre-vet major, Lambert spent his first two years on the swim team. However, he dropped swimming to focus on improving his grades — and switched his major to public relations.

As a Michigan State alumnus, he said that he tends to give networking preference to MSU students. “State students: call me,” he said cheerfully.

Lambert is also a recent alum of PR Week’s “40 Under 40” report. In addition, he has received this honor numerous times from the Grand Rapids Business Journal. However, he noted that his “40 Under 40” days are officially over.

Lambert’s wife threw him a surprise 40th birthday party at the office on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. They had a live band. They danced.

“We throw a heckuva party,” he said.

The twenty-something MSU grad who launched a PR business in his basement is now a forty year-old father of three who sports grey hair, runs a growing business, and feels positive about future growth and opportunities.

Work, family, and recreation seem inextricably entwined in Lambert’s “professional cool” lifestyle.

To learn more about Lambert, Edwards, & Associates, visit them on the web: lambert-edwards.com

— Laura Bergells, contributing writer : photography: Terry Johnston

G-Rap Swappers Holiday Food Barter & Exchange

Today stellafly‘s Terry Johnston headed over to the Urban Ranch to the G-Rap Swappers Holiday Food Barter & Exchange, just in time for the holidays! An event headed up Foodist, Urban Farmer, Herbalist & Forager, Lisa Rosa Starner, G-Rap Swappers is an underground Grand Rapids forum for the barter of all homemade and handmade edibles.

This month a group of 20+ came together and shared goods with other food artisans to fill their own pantries and share with others as gifts. Donations of their homemade goods were collected to be shared with families in need.

There was a large variety to barter. Yummy spiced (spiked) cider. There was a huge range of goods too.

Honey from a real beekeeper, beer from a real home brewer, organic dog treats, cookies, muffins, rhubarb compote … everything imaginable. All homemade.

We also bumped into last week’s winner of the 5×5 Night prize, Silver Spork Food Truck owner, Molly Clauhs. Molley won with her idea to start a series of monthly low cost urban homesteading classes for the home chef to learn culinary and gardening skills—  Grand Rapids Skillshare.

Each Swapper had a chance to talk about their goods having a chance to explain everything from the ingredients to how it was made. Participants brought several of each sort of their goods to swap and time was given at the beginning on the event to socialize, sample goods and “bid” on each offering — making a note what you are willing to trade.

We left with an armload of homemade goodness and a few new friends.

photography: Terry Johnston

Bikes For Kids. The Assembly Party.

Last weekend, we stopped out at the Bruggink’s Barn to check in a top secret undercover bike scene. What we came upon was a handful of friends spending a Sunday afternoon with each other, doing something for others and assembling bikes that will be given to underprivileged children in our community.

On Monday, December 19th, More-Self-Less, Inc.(MSL) will host the 2011, “I Dream Beautiful” Christmas party at 25 Kitchen & Bar. There will be the traditional Santa Claus, sleigh and live reindeer but what makes this night special are the 18 families that will have an evening of receiving and love. They will receive valet parking, a family dinner, family photos, sleeping bags, sleds, toys, personalized Bibles, food, clothing, ministry support, among many other necessities that many of us normally take for granted. 

Several area businesses have collaborated with MSL this year to help facilitate the event financially.

“Due to overwhelming response last year, we decided to start planning early in 2011 allowing for the opportunity to engage more families – the growth is infectious,” says founder Brady Schmitz.

“I Dream Beautiful” Christmas party  starts at 6pm with dinner, a praise and worship band, and a short message on perseverance. Then the families will head to the “South Pole”, the basement of Kitchen 25, where they will receive gifts in their own intimate setting, complete with a Christmas tree.

Toward the end of the evening, the children will be lead upstairs to the atrium of the building for a final surprise. The street will be closed off staged with lights ready illuminate the road on with 47 sparkling new bikes complete with name tag, helmet, and bow! (on the street between West of Van Andel Arena)

More-Self-Less, Inc. would love to invite the local community to come down at 8 pm to stand on the outside of the stanchions, surrounding the bikes to join in singing Christmas carols just before the unveiling.

Visit www.moreseflless.org or call 616-613-MORE to learn more about More-Self-Less, inc.