Faces in the Crowd: Carol Santini

April 13, 2018

By Gene Bodnar

Many readers of this newspaper already recognize Carol Santini from the photo posted here, since she is a highly active member of the Clare County community.

Carol Santini

Carol Santini

She has been married for 37 years and has three children, a son and two daughters, and she has three grandchildren.

Originally from the Lansing area, she moved to Clare and was hired by the Michigan Works!, an organization that provides valuable and accessible resources for people seeking employment.  Soon thereafter, she was hired by Mid-Michigan Community College in Harrison as a Counselor, where she helped students with their educational goals, including offering them solutions and strategies for success as well as providing them one-on-one encouragement and guidance during their entire experience at college.

Carol retired from MMCC after 27 productive years.

For the past seven years, Carol has been President of the Clare County Arts Council.  The CCAC encourages and supports the arts by sponsoring exhibitions and demonstrations as well as by producing musical performances on many occasions throughout each year.  A couple of years ago, it sponsored events at the Doherty Hotel, giving tours as well as organizing people to portray members of the Purple Gang.  The council continues to offer various art classes for youth and adults.  It also encourages public support for local artists and art projects and, of course, raises funds needed to support all these functions.

The CCAC was founded back in the 1970s by Renie Doherty and Barbara Richards.  Their first successful objective was to bring the Art Train to Clare.

However, it remained dormant for the next couple of decades.  Eventually, it was revitalized in 2001 by a grant from the Enterprise Zone.  Today, the CCAC boasts 85 members, and it contributes time and money to so many events and artistic endeavors that they take up an entire page on their website.

To name a few:  They raised funds for the recently completed restoration of the “Pioneer Mother” statue located at Clare Middle School; they donate to the annual “Concert in the Park” weekly series held each summer; they hold the Quilt Show, which attracts more than 300 people; they hold garden tours every year; they assist in the restoration of the Railroad Depot; and the list literally goes on and on.  Take a look at their website when you get the chance.

The headquarters of the CCAC will be located permanently in the new Railroad Depot on 4th Street as soon the ongoing restoration is completed within the next couple of months.  If you wish in any way to support art, membership dues are $10 for the year, and it will open your eyes to a whole new world.

The Quilt Block Trail, incidentally, keeps on growing.  Each quilt block promotes the natural beauty of rural Clare County, linking together artists, small businesses, farms, and the community.  The first five blocks were put up in 2013, but the trail today contains 60 quilt blocks.  Each of the blocks is constructed of vinyl and aluminum by Hoggers Custom Signs, located in Harrison.  A map that designates the location of each of the blocks is available from the CCAC for the asking.

Quilt Block Trail piece at the Nevil household on Beaverton Road.

Quilt Block Trail piece at the Nevil household on Beaverton Road.

I asked Carol how she got started in all these artistic activities.  She answered that, other than scrapbooking and cross-stitching, she has little artistic talent.  In her younger years, she took an art class, where she painted a sunflower that cost her about $40 in materials.  When she brought the painting home, she had to explain what it was:  a sunflower.  Apparently, nobody else who viewed the painting could see it.  Eventually, she sold the sunflower at a garage sale, where a kind soul paid 50 cents for it.  Thus, Carol can rightfully claim to be a professional artist.  After all, she was paid for her work of art, right?

Carol’s real love of art began when she took an art appreciation class in college.  From there, it blossomed until she now appreciates art in its many forms.  Of course, she is willing to support and encourage art in those who have talent.  What better way to accomplish this than to be President of the Arts Council?

In addition to all the responsibilities mentioned, Carol also publishes and distributes a weekly newsletter of events in Clare County and surrounding areas.  The scope of the newsletter includes just about every event of any interest to anyone, not only artistic events.  For example, in a single newsletter, you will learn that the Clare Jazz Band will perform at The Venue on April 13; that the “Wizard of Oz” will be performed on April 20-21 at the Farwell school; that the Pere Marquette Library has ongoing craft projects, book discussion groups, and a Chess Club; that the Harrison Library is offering similar activities; that the Harrison City Market will hold a crafts show on April 24th; that you can see the Jersey Boys at the Midland Center for the Arts on May 3-5; and many more events.  You, too, can receive this newsletter by merely asking for it.  Just send your request to Carol at cjsantini72@gmail.com  Furthermore, if you personally know of an upcoming event in the area, please notify Carol.  There are indeed a few events that would be of interest to many people that somehow never get the publicity they deserve.

Carol Santini is also the President of the Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club.  Of course, this club is a worldwide organization of 1.2 million professional and community leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.

Carol is also Chairperson of Clare City Parks & Recreation.  As you probably know, the department provides and maintains parks, trails, and recreational facilities in Clare.  Their purpose, in turn, is to encourage health, fitness, cultural, recreational, educational and social opportunities in our community.

In addition to all these duties, Carol is also a member of the Clare County Community Foundation, which promotes and enables philanthropic giving to enrich and improve the lives of people in our county.  This organization funds a wide variety of community programs, not only those related to arts and culture but also those that promote civic improvement, education, environment, health, human services, recreation and youth.

Last but not least, Carol is a volunteer for the Clare County Baby Pantry.  This is a non-profit organization located in Harrison that was created to provide assistance to needy families of Clare County who have children under the age of five years who are in need of disposable diapers, formula, food, and new or used furniture and clothing.

In conclusion, I found a highly relevant quotation by George Bernard Shaw, the great playwright, critic, and political activist.  He once said, “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”  During my interview with Carol, I felt the distinct impression that this is precisely the way Carol feels about our community, and she could have uttered those very words herself.  Thank you, Carol Santini.

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