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m of Travel Plus tea From left, the lik, , Carolyn Kowa re o rm ve Li s ri Ch agner, Sandie owner Carol W olly Fitzgerald. Slusher, and H Lockard) (Photo/Amy K. 2 WEST OAKLAND WOMEN | SCN COMMUNICATIONS GROUP


By Leslie Shepard staff writer

here is no better reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday demands than jet setting off to an oceanic view from the balcony of a Tahitian bungalow, cruising down the Amalfi coast once you've settled into a family-run trattoria, or marauding the plains in search of wild elephants on an African safari. For nearly 40 years now, Travel Plus, Inc., owner Carol Wagner has been making such excursions and dreams a reality for customers. Travel Plus, located at 8101 Commerce Road in Commerce Township, was founded in 1973 and will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in early 2013. "Most of our business is repeat or word-ofmouth referrals," Wagner said. "We always welcome new business and never turn it down. We are a full-service company and do everything from car rental to hotel bookings to round-the-world trips." The company is a franchise of Travel Leaders, the largest travel agency franchiser in North America with over 1,250 systemwide full-service and clientdedicated franchised locations that produce annual sales of over $5 billion. Wagner's office is home to seven employees and contracts with another halfdozen outside agents. "What makes us different from a lot of agencies is our niche markets," Wagner noted. "The original owner was decades ahead and employed agents who specialize." Each of Wagner's agents work as multi-taskers; however, some are OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 3

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considered specialists. For example, one agent books African safaris and customized international tours; another schedules cruises and family travel; one focuses on corporate travel; while Wagner handles the "string of pearls" of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora (French Polynesia) trips. Wagner is also a Barbados and cruise specialist. Her faithful employees have worked along side her for aeons. "There's very little turnover here — almost everyone has been here between 18 and 20 years," Wagner said. "My least experienced agent has 11 years in the business, but most of them have accumulated 20 or more years experience." Wagner lauds her staff as the primary reason for return business. "It's not about me, but my staff — they are second to none and the most valuable asset of Travel Plus," she said. here are definite perks for those on Carol Wagner (above), owner of Travel Plus in Wagner's team. Hours are flexible and ongoing training is encouraged Commerce Township. by traveling to specific foreign and domestic destinations to learn more about the region. Chris Livermore, a travel "If I know of one of us particularly agent for Travel Plus. interested in a place, I try to schedule a visit to get more information," Wagner said. "It's a new place, a new itinerary, so let's go! People ask what's my favorite place and I say probably the next place I haven't been to." Still, Wagner is partial to France, Tahiti, and any cruise. "Tahiti and French Polynesia take your breath away, it's so beautiful," she said. "I attended a training course in these areas and am also a South African wine specialist!" She attended courses at the Stellenbosch Vineyards in South Africa. "There are a huge number of vineyards in that region, so I took seminars and attended a trade show there and have the certificate to prove it," she said. Wagner's career began as a travel agent at Travel World in Grosse Pointe. She eventually was promoted and operated the company's Madison Heights location. She later took a managerial position with Frontier Airlines, Republic Airlines, and Northwest. It was on the last leg of that journey that she decided to purchase Travel Plus. "I took the risk," she said. "Here I do all the marketing, advertising, and business development. I go out and get business through networking like my work with the Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) — I get a lot of contacts through that." Jo Alley, executive director of the LACC, recalls Wagner's vivacity when she came on board in 2010. "She was one of those members who became immediately active," Alley said. Wagner chairs the chamber's Programs Committee that organizes business expos, golf outings, and such summer blockbuster events as Rockin Under the Stars. Formerly the committee sponsored the Heart of the Lakes Gala in


conjunction with DMC that was hailed as the largest fundraiser held annually, but the partnership between the two entities changed. Moreover, people preferred a more casual event, so Rockin Under the Stars was born. "Our first year, in 2012, was a break-even situation, but we hope to raise money for chamber business to continue to help the community," Alley said. The Rockin Under the Stars event featured the popular local band 50 Amp Fuse. The event's success can be measured by the numbers, drawing close to 2,000 attendees. "It was high-energy with a celebrity look-a-like contest and donations for the Open Door Outreach Center," Alley said. Wagner also serves on the chamber's Government Affairs Committee. "Carol is one of those people who gets involved, no matter what she's involved in," Alley said. "She doesn't sit on the sidelines but jumps in and is always a 'goto' person lending a hand." Wagner is renowned for her ambitious persona and her uncanny ability to brainstorm ideas. "She's got great ideas, and the drive and determination to carry out those ideas," Alley said. "She also has a tremendous amount of contacts and is a pleasure to work with. "Carol not only gives time, but she's great at providing sponsorships," Alley said. "She's an all-around executive member — I wish we had more like her." espite her success, there were lean and disconcerting years. When the economy tanked, many travel agencies closed their doors. But fortunately, Wagner's held on thanks to loyal patronage and innovative packages. "The fact that we've been in business 40 years is a milestone on its own because only 25 percent of agencies are left (that were in business) prior to 9/11 and there were dips in the economy," Wagner said. "During the bad times, we weren't as impacted because our client base is upscale and was still traveling, so we're fortunate from that perspective." Wagner doesn't seem fazed by the scores of travel websites popping up on the Internet. She can offer extended service, and quite often matches pricing. "The Internet can be overwhelming — it's like a Chinese menu," Wagner said. "Nine out of 10 times we can meet or beat what's online, and when booking with a travel agent, we're here before, during and after the trip; otherwise good luck talking to someone." Wagner added that her staff is also privy to the deals on the Internet and is constantly comparing prices and speaking with operators who can match or beat those rates. "Another thing to consider is the more complicated the trip, the more important it is to have a travel agent," Wagner said. "Customers who left their travel agents in favor of budget websites such as Travelocity or Kayak are coming back in droves. Fewer than 40 percent of travelers book online these days, down from a high of 53 percent in 2007."





ccording to Wagner, many people believed that online travel sites would wipe out travel agents and agencies, yet that hasn't come to pass. Travel agents booked $146 billion in travel sales in 2011, slightly more than half of all travel sales last year. Some of the challenges she and her staff encounter are the lack of flights and people's reticence to fly after 9/11. "Airlines have cut back on flights and they charge for every little thing now," Wagner said. "It has also taken people a long time to become comfortable with booking ahead. With less availability, it won't be cheaper by waiting." Chris Livermore, Wagner's longest employed travel agent, noted that if you're flying in and out of Detroit, direct flights are typically less expensive and take less time. "Detroit is the hub for Delta Air and most people are looking for direct flights — Delta offers most of these," Livermore said. She added that some of the most popular travel spots include Hawaii, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nassau, and Jamaica. Cruises are always a popular venue, and for several years the agency hosted a "Soap Cruise" that she booked up quickly. "It was a celebrity-filled cruise for four nights with a meet-and-greet, up close and personal with 15 to 17 soap opera stars on each cruise," Livermore said. "We booked 300 people on each cruise and did five cruises overall." The connection who worked with Travel Plus later changed the format to a land-based trip. Livermore also helms the Women's Travel Group one to two times a year. This group, of anywhere between 10 and 16 women, travel all over the map. "It usually consists of widows or women whose husbands have no desire to travel," Livermore said. "One of us from the office escort the group and we go anywhere from New York to France to Ireland." Other faraway lands the group has traversed include Prague, Italy, China, Amsterdam, and England. "We also work with people outside the state," Wagner said. "One client does celebrity bookings and we did the trip bookings." ome of those trips included celebrities from Dancing with the Stars, Disney, and a Desperate Housewives special appearance at a grand opening in Morocco. Wagner said one trend today is destination weddings. The most popular locations are Hawaii, the Bahamas, and any Sandal's resort because it offers free weddings. "Instead of spending $30,000 on a wedding, you can pay for your parents in an all-inclusive trip and put items on a honeymoon registry such as spa packages or scuba driving in lieu of a wedding gift," Wagner said. Pricing is flexible and Wagner's team works hard to partner with clients so they can book that idyllic trip. "We work with people based on a budget to find something they are happy with," Wagner said. Currently Wagner is working on a series of international golf packages such as the Azamara Quest, a 10-night voyage through three countries, beginning in Barcelona, Spain, and stopping at courses in France and Italy. The promotional price is about $6,328 per person sans airfare, and is slated for October. Contact Travel Plus for more information at 248-360-4940. ✿


Health through love Some say happiness, love lower the risk of heart disease


ll you need is love. From the wisdom of the Bible to the new-age advice in the ubiquitous self-help and spiritual books, the underlying theme is love. But who knew that the catchphrase coined by the Beatles could hold the key to happiness and open the door to a healthier life? According to a study of British civil servants in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the happier the participants were, the lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone linked to heart disease, a No. 1 killer in America. The study monitored the blood pressure and heart rate of healthy government employees in London during the workday and Love and happiness are aids to a the workweek. Measurements of blood healthier life. Add happiness by fibrinogen and salvia cortisol, the stress getting more sleep, engaging in hormone linked to diabetes and heart disease, social relationships and doing were taken after a stress test, at which point things that will draw you closer researchers questioned the participants’ to others and put yourself in an happiness level. The higher the happiness level atmosphere of growth. was, the better the test results. The participants with a higher happiness level also tended to stay happy and have lower stress during both work and leisure activities. So how do you start getting happy? Gretchen Rubin, noted author and creator of "The Happiness Project," which is also the title of her book, addressed the complex issues of the simple concept. "First off, part of happiness is genetically determined. Each of us has a different and individual range," Rubin said. "We can be at the top of our range or the bottom, and we can make decisions that pull us up or pull down." According to Rubin, concrete ways to add happiness and pull you to the top of your range are getting more sleep, engaging in social relationships and doing things that will draw you closer to others and put yourself in an atmosphere of growth — whether it's cleaning the closet or learning a language, the idea develops that things are changing for the better. A method Rubin uses to help gauge her happiness is what she describes as "Gretchen's Twelve Commandments" — rules she lives by, and each night she charts her progress on a resolution chart. "My commandments may be different from yours," she said. "But [mine] include: Being Gretchen, no calculation and there is only love... Being Gretchen is really just my way of saying being me, or being authentic. No calculation is from St. Therese of Lisieux, 'When one loves, one does not calculate.' And there is only love refers to having only love in your heart, which is very hard to do." But how does one find authenticity and fill their hearts with love? "Look at the things you are inclined to do," Rubin said. "Part of knowing who you are is knowing what you like. What drives you? What do you think about on the weekends? What do you do in your spare time? You may not be able to make these things your job, but you can use them to figure out who you are and find ways to incorporate them into your life." There are several ways to reach this stage. "First, and this can be hard: Quit keeping score — this is the no calculation part. What you did for me or how much you did for me and vice versa shouldn't be what I base my actions on. Second, if you can force yourself to act in a loving way, you will feel more love. Act the way you want to feel." And after all, all you need is love. ✿ – Creators Syndicate OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 9


By women, for women Essential Bodywear raises money for Pink Daisy Project


simple observation by a couple of Essential Bodywear was named one friends attending a craft show almost of the top Michigan companies to watch a decade ago sparked an idea that has in 2010 by the Edward Lowe Foundation, grown into a national business an honor that was presented by former headquartered in Commerce Township, an Gov. Jennifer Granholm. opportunity for women all over the country When asked what she likes most to earn money, and a way to help make a about the business she helped to create, difference in women's lives. Now, while Cubitt said, "I love that we get to make a they continue to go about the process of difference. We have a great opportunity for growing their business, they're also making women with a great bra and a great an effort to provide financial assistance to opportunity to make money." an organization that serves breast cancer Charlick explained that Essential patients — with a little help from their Bodywear's business model is based on customers. home parties centered around Essential Marcia Cubitt and Carrie Charlick were Bodywear's Certified Bra Fit Specialists. friends before a trip to a scrapbooking expo "Who doesn't love bra shopping in 2003 inspired them to become business when it's at a party? It's like Tupperware partners. Charlick said she noticed at the for your breasts," she said. "We are selling expo that many of the women attending a need and not a want. A woman can go "were sagging and had panty line issues." to work without her lipstick on, but not "Next year I am coming back and I am without a bra, or she might get some selling bras and thongs," she said at the funny looks." time. As part of the business' commitment That idea grew into Essential Bodywear, to serving women, Essential Bodywear a business specializing in women's will once again support October's National bodywear. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From Essential Bodywear continues to grow Oct. 1-30, Essential Bodywear will donate with a strong sense of mission: to support $2 for every Jacqueline Wire-Free Bra sold and uplift women everywhere by to the Pink Daisy Project. The donation revolutionizing the way women shop for will be doubled if the goal of 2,000 bras quality, properly fitting bras through home sold is reached. parties. Many traditional retail outlets don't Essential Bodywear's exclusive pink carry a complete line of sizes or rhinestone Breast Cancer Awareness experienced salespeople, resulting in a high Ribbon adorns every Jacqueline bra percentage of women wearing the wrong during the month of October. Carrie Charlick (left), CEO and co-founder of Essential Bodywear, and Marcia bra size. With bra sizes A-H, Essential The Pink Daisy Project is a nonBodywear not only found a need, but also Cubitt, president and co-founder, started the business in their homes with an initial profit organization dedicated to helping investment of $250 each. It has since grown exponentially. (Photo/Amy K. Lockard) has made great strides to fill a niche the women facing the hardship of breast rest of the bodywear competition has missed with their Certified Bra Fit Specialists cancer treatment by providing housecleaning help, gift cards for necessities such as that bring an entire bra store to your door. groceries and gas, assistance with prescription drug costs, and much more. The Essential Bodywear is a woman-owned, $5 million company with 14 employees organization relies solely on the generosity of individuals to help care for women and currently over 350 independent representatives in 42 states. Featured in many with breast cancer and believes it's time to move beyond just awareness. media outlets including Michigan 50 Companies to Watch as a 2010 Award Charlick and Cubitt were inspired to donate proceeds to The Pink Daisy Project Recipient, Family Circle Magazine, and The Today Show, their Certified Bra Fit after that organization provided support to a high school friend who recently lost Specialists have struck a chord with women throughout the country. Essential her battle with breast cancer. Bodywear revolutionizes the way women shop for bodywear by developing lifelong "Her favorite organization was The Pink Daisy Project. It's an amazing customer relationships, sustaining and preserving women's health and self-esteem, organization," Charlick said. "We sought out a small organization, not unlike and offering an entrepreneurial opportunity that is both profitable and personally ourselves, to support for breast cancer awareness. The Pink Daisy Project helps rewarding. women who are going through treatment with gift cards that they can use to help Cubitt and Charlick started the business in their homes, each investing $250. By pay for things like prescription costs." 2005 their enterprise had grown to the point that it required a larger facility in For more information about Essential Bodywear, shop the business' catalog, host Commerce Township, and in 2012 they moved into their new, even larger location a party or join the Essential Bodywear team, visit the company's website at in the heart of Commerce. For additional information, email Marcia Cubitt at "Since 2008 when the recession hit, we've just kept going," Cubitt said. "We, or call 877-787-6631, ext. 107. You may also really are a woman-owned business based locally in Commerce, but also a company connect with Essential Bodywear on Facebook and Twitter. ✿ — Amy Lockard contributed to this report. throughout the country. We are out making a difference." OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 11


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ccording to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2012, including 7,710 Michigan women. The American Cancer Society offers 24/7 support to those diagnosed with breast cancer and their loved ones. In fact, one out of every two women turn to the Society for help and support following their breast cancer diagnosis. This October, the Society will be using National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to remind women about the importance of breast health. Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. The Society is reminding women 40 and older to have a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam. The American Cancer Society offers a Michigan Mammography Facility Guide that compares services, price, and other information to help local women choose the mammography facility best suited for them. The Michigan Mammography Facility Guide is available for free online at Also, the Society recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam at least once every three years. The five-year survival rate is 99 percent for breast cancer that is diagnosed in the earliest stages. More than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year thanks to early detection and improved treatment. The American Cancer Society is the most effective breast cancer-fighting organization in the world, and is doing the most to help people with breast cancer today and works tirelessly to find cures to end the disease tomorrow. The Society has spent more on breast cancer research than on any other cancer, and has played an important part in many major breast cancer research breakthroughs in the past century, including demonstrating that mammography is an effective screening test for breast cancer, the development of Tamoxifen and Herceptin, and knowledge that genetics, poor diet, lack of exercise, and moderate drinking increase a person's cancer risk. The Society also offers newly diagnosed women and those living with breast cancer a variety of programs and services to help them in their breast cancer experience. • The Reach To Recovery program helps newly diagnosed patients cope with their breast cancer experience. Reach To Recovery volunteers offer the unique understanding, support, and hope from the perspective of someone who has survived breast cancer. • The Look Good Feel Better program helps breast cancer patients manage the physical side effects of treatment. Patients gain beauty techniques to help improve their self-esteem and quality of life, but also a sense of support, confidence, courage and community with other cancer patients in the program. • The Hope Lodge program offers patients and their caregivers free lodging for those receiving treatment far from home. • The Society offers free information to help make treatment decisions and access to its programs 24/7 through 1-800-227-2345 or The American Cancer Society's affiliate advocacy organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), continues to fight back against breast cancer by working to increase funding for the

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) that provides low-income, uninsured and underinsured women access to mammograms and Pap tests. Current funding only enables the program to serve less than one in five eligible women ages 40 to 64 nationwide. ACS CAN encourages anyone touched by this disease to let Congress know that support for the NBCCEDP is important and that an increase in funding for this program is vital to its continuation. To get involved, or to learn more about this effort, please visit Those interested in joining the fight against breast cancer in a meaningful way are invited to participate in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk events taking place throughout Michigan during the month of October. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is an inspiring, non-competitive, family-friendly walk that honors breast cancer survivors, raises awareness about the disease, and helps to save lives. There isn't a fee to participate, but most participants form teams and raise funds leading up to the walk. The Making Strides Oakland event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13 at Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road in Rochester. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., with the 8.6 mile walk beginning at 10:30 a.m. As of press time, those planning to participate in the Making Strides Oakland event had already raised over $13,000. For more information about the event, contact Marie Matuszak at or by calling 248-663-3400. To find other Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events in the southeast Michigan area, visit or call 1-800-227-2345. The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end cancer for good. As a global grassroots force of three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping you stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early, helping you get well by being there for you during and after a diagnosis, by finding cures through groundbreaking discovery and fighting back through public policy. As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.8 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, an estimated 13.7 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit ✿ — American Cancer Society OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 15

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Exercise beneficial in pregnancy Active lifestyle helps during labor, after delivery J

ust as the adage "barefoot and The doctor can give advice on what pregnant" has gone by the wayside, so exercises are good, but as a rule of has the myth that women are supposed thumb, the best are those that don't to avoid exercise during pregnancy. require the body to bear extra weight. "You need to be physically active Low-impact aerobics, cycling and during pregnancy," said Dr. Laura Riley, a walking are what most women find high-risk pregnancy expert and comfortable. Walking is considered to be spokeswoman for the American College of a great choice, as it can be done Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in throughout the pregnancy. an article on WebMD. "It has terrific Yoga has become a popular choice for benefits that are associated with a better moms-to-be for working on relaxation, pregnancy outcome and even shorter stretching and breathing. There are labors. It's a win-win for baby and for many classes that specialize in prenatal mom." yoga and available throughout the Dr. James Clapp, an obstetrician who country. If you cannot find one, a yoga has studied exercise in pregnancy for instructor will be able to help you find more than 10 years, conducted a study of which poses are okay for your and your 500 pregnant women who exercised and baby. found their time in labor was one third Weight training can be added to shorter. He also found that exercise is improve tone, but avoid lifting weights beneficial to the fetus, and the baby is above the head. A woman should also be born with a stronger heart rate. careful to not use weights that strain As well as helping out in labor, lower back muscles. exercising during pregnancy can No matter what exercise you choose, potentially help reduce lower back pain the American Pregnancy Association and fatigue. There is also a decreased risk recommends that women drink plenty of of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. water, AND avoid working out in high There are also postpartum benefits, which altitudes or when the weather is hot. If include a quicker recovery, less weight to the mother gets overheated, so does the lose and reduced muscular discomfort. baby. Before starting any exercise program, a By the second and third trimesters, a woman should always consult her woman should not do any exercises that obstetrician. Every person, as well as require lying flat on her back. This every pregnancy, is different. Some decreases the blood flow to the fetus. women are not even allowed to exercise It's important to remember that due to complications. The level of during pregnancy, you are more likely to exercise also depends on a woman's sustain injury since your joints are more general health and how fit she was before lax, the American Pregnancy Association conceiving. warned. It's best to avoid unstable You might have one on the way, but staying healthy and exercising is terrain if you are doing certain activities However, the fit and fabulous should good for both you and your baby. take heed: A study from Denmark such as cycling. determined that women who exercised heavily during the first months of Some rules expectant mothers should follow include not overstretching pregnancy (either in high-impact activities such as jogging or games and avoiding exercises that require running or jumping. Activities that have involving balls such as basketball or soccer, or exercising more than seven high risks, such as scuba diving, skiing and inline skating, should not be hours a week) were over three times more likely to miscarry. Lighter-impact attempted. exercises, such as swimming, showed to have no effect. However, after 18 Most importantly, pay attention to warning signs during exercise and stop weeks, exercise did not increase risk for a miscarriage. immediately and check with a doctor. If a woman experiences symptoms Once given the green light to exercise by the doctor, a woman should start which include any type of pain, dizziness, fluid leaking from the vagina, an exercise program slowly and not overexert herself, according to the including blood, uterine contractions or chest pain, it's time to call the American Pregnancy Association. The most important thing for a woman to obstetrician. âœż do is listen to her body. If there is any sort of pain, stop exercising — Creators Syndicate immediately. OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 17



ge with Grace Senior Care is proud to say they have “a new best friend” for your loved one. Age with Grace Senior Care provides non-medical home care for seniors so they can live independently in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. Mary Grace Charter is at the heart of her company. Mary Grace meets personally with every client and their families in their own home to evaluate their needs and offer solutions. In addition to friendship, their services include personal care, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation, and light housekeeping. Additionally, there is the added benefit to the families of knowing their loved one is safe when they can’t be there. As one family member mentioned, “Working with Age With Grace has allowed my mom to retain her independence, while providing me with peace of mind”. As a three-time Peoples’ Choice Award winner, Age with Grace is dedicated to providing customized care for every client. Mary Grace leads a team of over 40 compassionate and professional caregivers. Besides the care they provide the seniors, they also serve as a resource for families in Oakland, Livingston, Genesee

and Wayne counties. “We’re a huge resource. We offer timely solutions to resolve family concerns”stated Mary Grace. As one client’s daughter expressed “I wish we would have met you sooner so Mom could have enjoyed the caregivers friendship when she was able to get out of the house more. To our surprise, the companionship is what my Mom looked forward to the most”.


Age with Grace is reaching out to area families by hosting a monthly support group. The support groups are intended to provide emotional, educational and social support for families. Meetings are held the first Monday of each month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at their Highland office, which is located at 2230 East Highland Road, inside the Gennero Chiropractic Health Center

Mary Grace Charter and Cheryl Hinman bring many years of experience as well as compassion and a shared friendship to Age With Grace.

Building. The next meeting will be held on Monday, November 5, 2012. Due to limited seating, please contact Age with Grace at (248) 529-6431 to reserve your spot. For more information about Age with Grace Senior Care, you can call them at (248) 529-6431, or visit, as well as e-mailing them at


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Among the top in the legal field Cunningham is the new county Bar Association president O

akland County Corporation Counsel Judy guess it was 1983 when I became a lawyer. I'm very Cunningham has been named the new president of excited about this new activity in my life. the Oakland County Bar Association, becoming the first Our Oakland County Bar Association is the largest public servant to hold that position in the OCBA’s history. voluntary bar association in Michigan. All Michigan The Waterford native attended what was then known as lawyers, to practice, have to be members of the State Bar Waterford High School before earning her bachelor's and of Michigan, and you have to pay your dues and all that. master's degrees at Central Michigan University. She But the county bars are voluntary. Ours is the largest taught "radical feminist literature" before attending the voluntary bar, and we do continuing legal education Detroit College of Law. She has worked for the county projects, seminars, collaborative efforts with our courts full-time for almost 30 years. She has a daughter who and judges. We try to improve the lives of our lawyers, teaches Spanish at Waterford Kettering High School, a both in terms of their professional lives and networking son who is a lawyer in Oakland County Circuit Court opportunities. It's just a wonderful, wonderful group of Judge Wendy Potts' chambers, and a grand-daughter. lawyers who are dedicated to improving the judicial You have been with the Oakland County system, the legal system, and the role of lawyers in government for more than 25 years. Please tell us society. Our bar association does these clinics where we about your job as the county's corporation counsel. help people who can't get access or can't afford legal What types of cases and issues do you handle? services. We've had them at many different settings Cunningham Please share some of your most memorable cases. throughout Oakland County, and we try to help people JC: It's almost 30 years. This fall, it will be 30 years fullthat can't afford lawyers (or) get access to legal services. time, and I was part-time before that when I was in law school. As the county's Now what I will do in my capacity as president is lead our bar Board of corporation counsel, I manage and direct the operations of our civil legal Directors in hopefully a strategic way so we can continue to improve and move department, and we represent all the county elected officials, all the county forward and serve our members and serve the legal needs of the larger Oakland offices, committees, agencies, boards, authorities, councils, etc. in regard to their County community. So I get to wear my two hats as the county's lawyer and the civil matters... For example, we have a few attorneys that work on contracts from bar's president. They're copacetic. I'm looking forward to leading the bar. I'm the first government lawyer to be the president of the Oakland County Bar the Information Technology Department. I have two full-time litigators on my (Association), and I'm the seventh woman... I probably think that I'm the first staff. We do almost all of our litigation in house to contain costs rather than grandma, too. That's kind of a fun factoid. I was elected on the board three times, sending it out to private law firms. We handle the county's real estate legal and then eventually you move up through the chairs. It's humbling. It's a privilege. matters. We do issues for the airports - out at (the Oakland County International Yu once taught radical feminist literature. When and where was that? Airport), as well as our two other smaller airports. We do full range of civil law What led you to teach that particular topic? Is there any advice or issues, all the municipal law issues for the county. wisdom you would like to impart to women today? I sort of gravitated to (law). I worked for the Circuit Court as a part-time clerk JC: I was a community college teacher — an English teacher — and I started out when I was in law school. And when I was finished law school, I was offered the teaching writing classes. Then I moved into literature by and about women in the job of the deputy court administrator. So I worked with the court as the deputy early 1970s. It's a constant joke between me and Brooks Patterson that he has a court administrator for a few years. Then I became the court administrator, and professor of radical feminism on his staff — or, I should say, former professor of then in the November of 1999 I came to work in Corporation Counsel at the radical feminism on his staff. I was an early feminist in the early 1970s. I got invitation of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. So I started out in the interested in reading Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood and some of the early Circuit Court and then moved toward the Corporation Counsel 12 and a half feminist writers. I had an opportunity to teach those authors as an English years ago. professor, so I jumped on it. We've had some very memorable ones. We have sued Fannie Mae and Freddie I would say have a plan. Even if you don't stick to it, have a plan. Plans Mac, the mortgage giants, in federal court in downtown Detroit. And the judge change, but have a plan in terms of a career. I would also say follow the things assigned to the case, the Honorable Victoria Roberts, granted our motion for that really make you happy. Follow your passion. I know that sounds trite. I summary judgment back in March. We have a considerable claim against Fannie encouraged my daughter, for example, who teaches in the Waterford Schools, to Mae and Freddie Mac for their failure to pay (the) transfer tax on deeds and other take Spanish classes and at one point she wanted to quit Spanish. I think it was property conveyance documents that were filed and recorded, I should say, with when she was in middle school. And I said, "No, you got to stick this one out." our Register of Deeds. So that is one of the cases we have going now. And no And I remember her saying to me when she got done with college, "Mom, I'm so doubt the mortgage giants who are under a conservator will be appealing, or they glad you wouldn't let me quit Spanish." And her passion is to teach Spanish. And are in the process of appealing. But we won the first round, and that is very maybe you need to be nudged a little bit by your moms or other women that you significant for us. can depend on. Listen to your mentors and follow your passion. Get a mentor. We had a contract case with our insurance provider a few years ago. We Ask for help. This is the thing. Ask for help. People, especially people who are prevailed on that one. Generally the county is not the plaintiff in litigation. perhaps a little older than you are or who perhaps have more experience at Generally the county is defending cases. But I am proud to say that our defense something, generally people want to be helpful. They just need to be asked. efforts generally result in no payment of money on the part of the county. We get Women and women's issues have been an important topic in the cases dismissed on motions or dismissals or other non-trial legal proceedings. national news with this year's election fast approaching. What is your You were named the head of the Oakland County Bar Association. opinion on continuing to have a national debate on topics such as Please explain what the Oakland County Bar Association does and what contraception and abortion — especially when panels discussing the your duties will be as the head of that organization. How did it feel to issue sometimes consist exclusively of men? become the OCBA's 80th president and the first public official to serve JC: I think that women's health issues should be issues between women and as one? What type of initiatives do you hope to lead as its president? their physicians. That's my view. ✿ JC: My term started July 1. I have been on the bar of the Oakland County Bar — Angela Niemi Association since 2004, and I have been active in our bar since 1982 or 1983. I OCTOBER 2012 | WEST OAKLAND WOMEN 19


An advocate for women Boyle served on state Supreme Court for 15 years


atricia Boyle's legal career began at a time when it was difficult for women to find work in the profession, and the Wayne State Universityeducated attorney has seen her share of change. A former Michigan Supreme Court justice from 1983 to 1998, the mother of four who lives in White Lake Township has noticed great strides in the level of acceptance women are having in the profession — and others. "I am just thrilled to see how things have changed for women today," said Boyle, who noted that her most taxing time during her tenure on the state's high court was during the infamous "Baby Jessica" case that gripped the nation. "It was dehumanizing for this child. It was a tragedy all the way around," she said. A two-time recipient of the National

Organization for Women Feminist of the Year Award said “one of the best things” she did in her professional life was helping ensure — as a member of the Michigan Women’s Task Force on Rape — that comprehensive reform of the state’s criminal sexual conduct law was enacted. Yet she remains “stunned” about pay disparity between men and women. “There are so many women who are heads of family and, in this economic time, so many women whose families, even with a husband or partner, desperately need financial help,” said Boyle, who is also a member of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. ✿ — Kirk Pinho — Spinal Column Newsweekly photos/ Amy K. Lockard

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