Represented in West Bloomfield
While running for Township Supervisor, Steve Kaplan was also on a mission to help Chaldeans find representation in the township. “He tirelessly helped me while I was running for the board of Trustees,” said Jim Manna who is the first Chaldean ever elected in the township.
Since taking office in November of 2016, he set out to make sure the Chaldeans who make up about 20 percent of the population were hired for open positions and appointed to various commissions.
Kaplan has been in public office for more than 20 years and was also prosecuting attorney and a professor of law. The most recent appointment was Wendy Acho who, by a vote of 6-0 competing against three other candidates, won a seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals. “Every board committee has at least one Chaldean person on it,” said Manna. “This is truly significant. People care that their city or township represents their community.”
“It is extremely important that our employees and commission members reflect the members of the community,” said Kaplan.
It is the first time the city has had such representation. “It is important to note in recruiting and selecting Chaldeans for employment and boards, it is not about affirmative action, it is about equal opportunity, explained Kaplan. “It is based on merit and competence.”
“And based on the supervisor’s knowledge of our hard work ethnic and it is something that I truly respect him for because he understands our community,” said Manna.
The representation is something Kaplan and Manna want the community to know. “And, Mr. Kaplan is setting the bar for the entire state of Michigan,” said Manna, “because it is the first township of its kind and an affluent one that is adding Chaldeans and no other city or township is doing that yet there are high Chaldean populations in various cities.”
West Bloomfield has the second largest Chaldean population in Michigan. Sterling Heights has the largest Chaldean population.
Originally from Malta, Anabelle Karana is married to a Chaldean. She speaks Maltese, Aramaic (Sourath), English and Italian. “We do have Chaldeans who come to city hall and I am able to translate for those who don’t speak English,” said Karana who learned Sourath from her in-laws.
She works in the assessing department where she processes paperwork for new homeowners. “It is so important that the townships represent all aspects of the community.”
“Anabelle generates goodwill for the township because she always speaks so highly of us,” said Kaplan. “We want our residents to know that we have an open-door policy. We are here for them.”
“I can honestly say the employees here truly go out of their way to help the residents,” said Karana. “We really want them to feel welcome here.”
There are also four Chaldean police officers in the West Bloomfield Police Department.
Corbin Yaldoo is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and was recently appointed as ICSC’s Michigan Next Generation State Chair. As the Next Generation State Chair, Yaldoo provides vision, leadership and support for the next cohort of industry leaders. Through a variety of programs, the Next Generation Chair works with the ICSC Team to create the forum in which the young professionals network. Yaldoo is also a member of ChainLinks Retail Advisors and on the board of several local organizations.
Yaldoo specializes in landlord representation and placement of retailers in regional and neighborhood shopping centers. His area of expertise also includes the leasing of new developments and land/asset acquisition and disposition.
The Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers (AFPD) hosted their annual scholarship luncheon on Tuesday, June 19. Each year, students across the Midwest are selected to receive scholarships from the association’s foundation. Thirty-eight students were selected to receive the scholarship award of $1,500, bringing the total amount given away $57,000. Eleven of these students were Chaldean. The following recipients are Chaldean: Anne Elizabeth Acho
Tartoni, Tristan Attisha, Spencer Haisha, Emily Kado, Miranda Kajy, Zena Kashat, Ryan Kizy, Celeste Nafso, Lauren Zaitouna, and Christopher Hamama.
Country Fresh Closes Livonia Location
Country Fresh announced last month that they will close their operations in Livonia. Michael George sold Melody Farms to Dean Foods and Country Fresh is a subsidiary of Dean Foods. “This is one of several facilities across the nation that Country Fresh plans to close as part of cost-efficiency efforts for the company,” said Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber.
“It is never fun to see any company close an operation and 100 people lose their jobs, but it is really tough to see a company like Country Fresh leave because it had so many connections to Livonia. Tom and Michael George, revered leaders in the metro Detroit Chaldean community, founded Melody Farms in 1950 when some dairy products were produced out of Wilson Farms, now a historical barn in Livonia.
Melody Farms was headquartered in Livonia until the George family sold the operation to Dean Foods in 2003. The City, Livonia Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Works are already discussing plans to connect the displaced workers with new job opportunities locally after the Livonia Country Fresh plant closes later this year.”
Company representatives stated their “commitment to the Chaldean community and independent grocers won’t change.