The Sterling Heights Ethnic Community Committee chose six honorees for its ninth annual Diversity Distinction Awards, presented at City Council’s Dec. 6 meeting.
The Ethnic Committee is proud to partner with the City Council in presenting the award trophies, provided through the generosity of Comcast, to deserving individuals and organizations that make a difference in our community.
The committee honored two businesses, one organization andthree individuals. They included:
Antonio's Italian Market, located in Sterling Heights and owned by Tony Nofar, hasbeen serving the community since 1985. The Antonio's family that started thebusiness still works there daily and continues to have a strong commitment toits customers.
This gourmet market caters toa variety of ethnic backgrounds with its vast array or food and produce thatsatisfy a wide spectrum of cultures. Antonio's also employs individuals withvarious diverse backgrounds. Thesededicated employees go above and beyond to fill special orders for all customers.
The owners of Antonio's areconstant supporters of community events, including donating food items to theSterling Heights Cultural Exchange, sponsored by the Ethnic CommitteeCommunity, and contributing to school fundraising efforts, most recently atStevenson High School.
The Michigan chapter of the United States Pinoys forGood Governance is non-profit organizationwith a mission of educating the community members about the principals andvalues of good governance; and promoting the history, culture and values ofFilipino Americans for better understanding. This organization also worksdiligently to encourage Filipinos to register and vote during all elections.USP4GG also promotes participation on a variety of projects and events thatbenefit the common good of the residents of Sterling Heights while providingthem with a taste of the history and culture of their Filipino neighbors.
These projects and eventsinclude the group's participation in the Sterling Heights Memorial Day Paradewith their "Philippine Float" and continued participation and supportof the city's Cultural Exchange. Other events supported by the USP4GG includeFilipino American Friendship Day and the Taste of Philippine Cuisine event heldin October in celebration of Filipino American History Month.
Members of this organizationcontinue to take part in many activities that help to eliminate prejudices andstereotypes in the city of Sterling Heights and promote the rich history,culture and traditional family values of the Filipino American community.
Houda Diaconescu, aresident of Sterling Heights, is an immigrant from Algeria who came to theUnited States only 12 years ago. At the time, she spoke three languages,although English was not one of them. She turned to the Macomb LiteracyPartners for help, and quickly picked up on the English language; so much sothat she now volunteers with Macomb Literacy as a tutor.
Houda also volunteers her timewith Welcoming Michigan, participating in the ESL Conversation Program andcoached a girls' soccer team during the Friendship Games soccer tournament atDelia Park this past summer. At the event, Houda met a local refugee family,headed by a single mom who was disabled. Houda didn't hesitate to help out thisfamily and donated $1,200 to help them, along with many bags of clothing andsoccer gear for the children. Despitebeing a busy, working mom, Houda always goes above and beyond with hergenerosity. Being an immigrant, she knows what newcomers have experienced andworks very hard to help the next generation feel welcomed and succeed in theirnew life here.
Susan Kozloff faces diversity every day inher line of work. Susan is a counselor at Sterling Heights High School, themost diverse school in Macomb County, with over 55 languages spoken by thestudents. Susan goes above and beyond to make sure that all of her students areon the right path for a successful future. Many times students come to the highschool with a several-year lapse in their education; Susan works diligently toassure that they will stay on track to receive their high school diploma andwill further consult and direct them towards college and future studies,leading them to a successful future. Susan is currently taking classes to learnthe Arabic language, so that she could gain better insight and understanding ofher students.
In 2015, Ms. Kozloff assisteda female refugee student and her guidance helped the student receive herdiploma in 2 1/2 years and graduate with a 4.2 GPA. Craig Miller, principal atthe high school, stated that Ms. Kozloff attends several cultural events withthe students and was even a guest at a student's Bengali wedding over thesummer. In addition, Mr. Miller stated that she always networking with variousoutside agencies to help provide additional support for the students.
Susan demonstrates a truechampion of diversity and sees beyond the limitations and diversity of herstudents and believes that each and every student is capable of beingsuccessful. Susan has also contributed to Sterling Heights High School becomingone of the top high schools in Macomb County.
Mihaela Mitrofan isa Resettlement Program Manager with Samaritas Resettlement Agency, formerlyLutheran Social Services of Michigan. Mihaela's role is to oversee the wellnessof the resettled refugees and she is always takes her role outside of theoffice. She has been serving refugees since 1996, helping newcomers from Bosniaand Serbia in the 90s, followed by refugees from Iraq, and more recently fromSyria, Congo, Sudan and more. Mihaela has attended many immigrant and refugeerelated events. She is bold enough to speak out on their behalf and caringenough to walk into their homes to ensure that they have food and that theirneeds are met.
Ms. Mitrofan is a role modelfor her colleagues and a well-known name in the community. Although she worksmany hours in the office, you can also find Mihaela bringing doughnuts tofamilies in hotels on the weekends, or helping move a family from one residenceto another so that the kids are closer to their school.
Mihaela is also setting agreat example for her daughters, who volunteer as tutors for refugee childrenand are involved in the World Refugee Day events.
Bozek's Market,owned by Mike and Gabriela Bozek, has been a successful Sterling Heightsbusiness for almost 10 years. . Immigrants from Poland, they have integratednicely into the Sterling Heights community and pride themselves in offering awide variety of imported delicacies to their customers of all ethnicities.Bozek's specializes in Central and Eastern European foods, and enjoy bringingthe foods and culture of their Polish heritage to all of their customers. Theowners at Bozek's Market continue to give back to the community by supportinglocal events; they have been continuous sponsors of the Sterling HeightsCultural Exchange for the past ten years, gladly donating food to the EthnicCommunity Committee's signature event.
SterlingHeights Ethnic Community Committee Chair Shawn Taylor said the committee takesgreat pride in selecting and honoring individuals, organizations and businessesfor their efforts in promoting diversity throughout the city