With Lansing’s own Taylor Taylor playing jazz in the wind, and ScrapFest 2018’s top prize-winner “The Butterfly Effect” clinking along with its silver butterflies at the new Hope Park, Cinnaire’s 25th anniversary was a celebration of community achievement in Lansing.
“Long before I was at Fannie Mae I lived in affordable housing,” said Cinnaire chairman Wendell Johns. “Our CEO Mark McDaniel came to understand that affordable housing needs supportive and healthy communities to fully fulfill its purpose.”
Results seen today are a result of McDaniel’s unfailing commitment, said Johns.
“Mark has led Cinnaire to providing, and depending on how you count it, nearly $4 billion in loans and equity capital for community development — representing over 47,000 homes and 65,000 jobs.”
The story of Debbie Kowalcyk adds a face to McDaniel’s Cinnaire’s accomplishment.
“I grew up in Genesee county. My parents, my husband; myself all worked for General Motors,” said Kowalcyk. “Things fell apart by 1992. I lost my parents, brother and husband. I moved to Grand Rapids in 2005 to find a better life for my children and myself.”
In 2006, Michigan Child Protective Services ruled against Kowalcyk in a case if she was a threat to her daughters. “The charges were false. My attorney proved that and I was still terminated.”
With no way to earn a living, Kowalcyk was homeless on the streets of Grand Rapids.
“I didn't know what to do. I had no family, nor a job, nor money, and had no idea where to go or how to ask for help,” said Kowalcyk. “I wasn’t scared and I wasn't afraid — I was terrified. I knew nothing about social services, food stamps, outreach centers, food pantries thrift stores, nor churches that would help.”
This changed when Kowalcyk heard about a Cinnaire supported program for affordable housing.
“Most of us want a hand up; not a hand down. It was in a homeless shelter that I found out about Genesis — a non profit housing association for low income. Applications started at 9 a.m., I got there at 6:30 a.m. I wanted to be first,” said Kowalcyk. “I ended up fifth in line.”
Kowalcyk said she didn’t think she would have survived within the year without Genesis.
“There are things I would’ve missed if it had not been for Genesis: my children’s graduation from high school, college, my daughter’s wedding and the birth of my three beautiful grandchildren.”
Artist Andrew Sandstedt spoke on behalf of the team that designed “The Butterfly Effect.”
“I’m a strong believer in public art. That a group of artists can come together, be dedicated to an idea, feed off each other and create something beautiful,” said Sandstedt.
“The whole idea came from a quote from, ‘Chaos Theory,’ ‘Even something as small as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can create a typhoon across the world,” said Sandstedt.
Tim Hunnicutt said Cinnaire helped him with his Zero Day project for homeless veterans since Zero Day built the wooden bench beneath “The Butterfly Effect.”
“For me personally and professionally, Cinnaire’s leaders have provided 20 years of friendship, mentorship and a sense of family,” said Hunnicutt. “We’ve had veterans that have been deployed and came back into jobs and permanent housing all because of this partnership.”
For more information on Cinnaire, visit www.cinnaire.com