Candice Fortman is one of the busiest people in Detroit, but just about everything that she is involved in involves community. Candice regards her role as the emcee for GRDC’s Community Connections Breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 am as another way that she can strengthen not just the Grandmont Rosedale community, but the wider community of Metro Detroit: “I’m excited to do it!” she says. “I love being in a true neighborhood, and this is an opportunity to serve the community in a deeper way.” Candice also contributes to the Grandmont Rosedale community by serving as the president of the Grandmont Community Association. As president, Candice has the future of the Grandmont community in mind: “Having younger people sitting on boards in the community attracts younger families.” Of course, the challenge of serving in such a position at a younger age is that balancing service as a board member with full-time work and young families can be quite a challenge. Just as Candice supports her community, her community understands that being president of her community association is just one of the many ways she is a community advocate, and Candice “appreciates her community for understanding that. The residents of Grandmont are passionate about their neighborhood, sometimes with a little bit of fire, and fire is good.”
A FAMILY LEGACY OF COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY
Candice has been the Marketing Engagement Director at the Detroit public radio station WDET for three years and so, through her daily work, regularly engages with the wider metro Detroit community. Understanding that creating community takes work is something Candice learned from her parents as a kid. Candice grew up not far from Grandmont Rosedale. Her mother was the president of the block club, her grandmother was the secretary, and her grandfather was the treasurer. It wasn’t until she went away to Ferris State University though, that she realized just how fortunate she was to have these examples, and to live in a strong community. When she told classmates where she was from, they had trouble believing that her neighborhood was a great place to grow up, but according to Candice, “everyone on my block was my aunt or uncle. They were responsible for me, and I felt that support.” Candice taught her classmates something about making assumptions, and she learned that not everyone, no matter where they’re from, is so fortunate to have such a community as she had growing up. When it came time for her to find a home as an adult, community was what she was looking for.
CHOOSING TO CALL GRANDMONT ROSEDALE HOME
As a kid, Candice visited a friend who lived in Grandmont Rosedale and thought “I would love to live in this neighborhood one day.” About 10 years ago, Candice was able to buy a home in Grandmont. After her grandmother’s passing, Candice’s grandfather came to live with Candice. When Candice got the keys to her home and she left the title office with her grandfather, he told her that when he was younger, “I couldn’t have come to this neighborhood unless I was working here, and now we own a piece of it.” Soon, Candice’s grandfather became Grandmont’s favorite neighbor. “My grandfather was my plumber, my gardener, my fix-it man.” That was just about 10 years ago. Candice’s grandfather has since passed away, but his dedication to community is evident in Candice’s commitment to her neighborhood.
Creating community is not glamorous or easy. It involves a lot of people who are committed to working together even when they are tired, even when they disagree, and even after a project doesn’t go the way they hoped. It’s not always pretty, but when people grow up in a community, they seek community as adults and carry on the dedication that transforms a block of houses into a community of homes where neighbors look out for each other, rely on each other, and come together to celebrate what they have created together. Candice knows that she is just one member of the Grandmont community: “I appreciate each piece of what makes a neighborhood great – the newsletter, radio patrols, the Harvest Festival – with everyone volunteering, professionals, retirees, kids, everyone coming together because they care about their neighborhood.” When Candice was looking for her home, she wanted “a true sense of neighborliness. And that’s exactly what I got.”
Come to GRDC’s Community Connections Breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 am at the North Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale, and be a part of supporting GRDC, a hard-working community organization. You can get your tickets at www.grandmontrosedale.com.