Stories of inspiration, camaraderie at Macomb Habitat for Humanity luncheon – Macomb Daily

Macomb County Habitat for Humanity’s women’s luncheon Wednesday at the Italian American Cultural Society and Banquet Center in Clinton Township was well-attended.

Two reasons were likely responsible: It raised both people’s spirits and money for a good cause.

“I want every lady to be their best selves,” said Anita Diop, who gave an inspiring speech about the gifts that every woman has in their purse.

The power of the purse was the theme and Diop pulled out many examples of how women can succeed in life just by celebrating who they are and what they do.

“I’m a mother. That makes me a good cook,” said Diop, who teaches African American and American history at Hopkinsville Community College and is the founder and executive director for the African Roots and Heritage Foundation. “Self determination, self love and self achievement. Everything you need to succeed is in yourself.”

Joining Diop, who wore a beautiful necklace and headdress fashioned out of beads made from coral was with her mother and sister, Bernadia Reynolds and Sheila Benson-Mackall.

Helen Hicks, left, CEO and president of Macomb County Habitat for Humanity greets Ilene Bischer, who was one of many guests at the women’s luncheon. GINA JOSEPH – THE MACOMB DAILY

Many other guests were accompanied by family members, friends, godmothers, aunts and colleagues from work, who enjoyed the inspiring words of all of the guest speakers including one of Macomb Habitat’s partner family members, Kewanna Shaw.

She and her two sons are living in a small condominium that she rents.

It has no room, no backyard and no privacy.

When she first applied for the Habitat program she was ineligible but through determination and true grit, that included working three jobs, Shaw managed to change her situation.

“I missed the mark just a little bit but I was determined to make my dream come true,” she said.

Now she’s engaged to be married and will soon be moving into a new three-bedroom ranch with plenty of room to grow.

“I am a mom. I am an empowered woman. I am a board member. I am a Habitat partner and today I was a speaker,” she said proudly.

Karen Palka of Washington Township, founder of A Beautiful Me — a nonprofit that provides workshops and programs for young girls that build confidence and friendships — said she always enjoys the event.

Patricia Lopez, left, and her guest Lucia Kempsk settles in during the luncheon. Lopez was also among the guest speakers at the funraiser for Macomb Habitat.

“It’s a wonderful gathering of women and it aligns itself with our mission of empowering girls,” said Palka.

Ilene Bischer of Harsens Island knows all about Habitat for Humanity. When her family owned a large recycling company they gathered up 50 of their employees and went to work helping a family build their home. Since then, Bischer and her husband Greg have become longtime supporters of the nonprofit that works to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope for the future.

“The people here are the eyes and ears of the community,” Bischer said, looking around the room at residents and community leaders, business owners and volunteers making their way into the hall. “This introduces Habitat to those who need it and to others who might know someone in their community that might benefit from it.”

Enjoying themselves at the luncheon, and sharing in the glory of being nominees for the Macomb Foundation’s Athena Award are Kim Meltzer, left, and Vicky Rowinski.

In addition to a wonderful lunch, guests enjoyed the opportunity to visit with old friends, exchange business cards with new ones and support a cause that is helping to support members of their community.

Shaw’s new home will soon be completed thanks her diligence and the others including Dakota High School Construction Trades students, who are in the process of completing the portion of the residence being moved and dropped over the completed basement and foundation; Clinton Township, which donated the land; Macomb County (HOME dollars) and Macomb County Habitat for Humanity.

“When groups work together to wrap their arms around hard-working moms like Kewanna, more affordable housing is made possible and the dream of home ownership becomes a reality,” said Helen Hicks, longtime president and CEO of Macomb Habitat, whose special guests included a childhood friend, who was finally able to see the good work that her friend and her team at Habitat for Humanity have been doing.

That includes the renovations and reselling of 13 tax-reverted homes in Eastpointe and being awarded Macomb County Chamber’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award.


Macomb County Habitat for Humanity will be hosting its annual Home-in-One Golf Classic fundraiser at 10 am June 27.

WHERE: Graystone Golf Club.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at

For sponsorship information contact Catherine LeBar at

Graystone Golf Club is at 6700 Mound Rd., Washington Township. For more information about Macomb County Habitat for Humanity visit

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