Michiana Life has reached a milestone! To celebrate, we took a look back at five of our favorite stories — one cover story for each year we have been publishing Michiana’s premier lifestyle magazine. Turn the page to find out what these outstanding individuals have been up to since their cover debut — and then look forward to many stories to come.
“The center is a safe place. … It is this sense of security that fosters personal growth through positive and respectful interaction.” — Anna Russo Seiber, Michiana Life Issue 1, October 2014
“When I tell you that I love what I do, I mean it,” she says, standing inside of a gallery filled with colorful, abstract paintings. “Our marketing hashtag is ‘#welovewhatwedo.’ It’s true. I like the people.”
Anna was featured in Michiana Life’s very first issue in fall 2014 as the owner of ARS Gallery in the Benton Harbor Arts District. Opened in 2010, ARS is a nonprofit community arts center with a focus on arts education, cultural education and community and social development of under-served youth through fine arts, applied arts, language and cultural programs.
Since her first interview, during which she had just recently achieved her nonprofit status, Anna says the programs she runs at ARS have grown in size, number and variety.
“So much has happened in the last five years,” she says. “It’s hard to even put it into words. … We have everything from Italian classes to cooking classes and art classes.”
Deploying a method she describes as “throwing everything at the wall and seeing if it sticks,” Anna said allowing the community, instructors and participants to shape the types of classes taught has helped the art center meet the needs of the community over the past decade.
“I’m a big believer in the need for culture in a community,” she says. “When I started, there was nothing like this here. … I’ve seen the community grow around us, and it’s been great to be a part of that.”
In addition to her other programs, ARS still hosts the I Am the Greatest Program, which includes public art and arts education for at-risk youth. Named for Muhammad Ali, who was the inspiration for sculptures installed throughout Benton Harbor by artist John Sauvé, the IATG workshops are designed to teach and assist youth in assessing their strengths and determining their goals through lessons about community, public art and the history of Muhammad Ali.
Since her last feature in Michiana Life, Anna says the IATG program has grown and reached more children than she thought possible.
For the next five years of ARS, Anna hopes to see the trend of growth from the past five years continue.
As the gallery nears its 10th anniversary, Anna is looking to expand her space sometime in the near future and hopes to continue serving the Benton Harbor community for years to come.
“Anything is possible,” she said of the future.
“We’re not fine dining. Feel free to make a mess — and enjoy your food!” — Sean Kelley, Michiana Life Issue 6, January 2016
“Every day is still a rollercoaster. No day is like the other,” Sean says, standing behind his bar, which is covered in wine corks. “It feels good to have made it this far.”
Opened in 2010, Temper Grille is a tapas restaurant and wine bar that does not skimp on flavor in its dishes — from its most popular mac and cheese to its unique lobster bites.
Since being featured on the cover of Michiana Life’s winter 2016 issue, Sean says he has been working on growing his business and is excited every time he sees a new customer walk inside his restaurant.
“Even though we have been here 10 years, we still get people come in who have never heard of us before,” Sean says. “A lot of the time, they really enjoy the experience and come back. That always makes me smile.”
During his initial interview, Sean said he was one of the first tapas restaurants to open in the Michiana region. Now, the tapas trend has boomed in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, but Sean says he is happy to see other restaurant models like his in the area. However, he did say he is continuously retooling his menu to stay ahead of the curve.
“We get to see what does and doesn’t work,” he says. “I always want to be creative and try new things, but it can be scary. I always like to go for bold, layered flavors, so I think that helps set me apart.”
Just as he is always looking ahead at future trends, Sean already has big plans for his next five years. He has started a barbecue catering business and eventual restaurant, Frick N Frack’s Smokin’ Barbeque, and is currently working on opening a new tequila, whiskey and tacos-themed restaurant in South Bend. He has also purchased a truck so he can begin a food truck business during the summer months.
As he expands his business, Sean understands additional stress will come with his work, which is why he plans to continue to rely on the love and support of his wife, Nicole, and two young daughters.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” he says. “Owning a business, being a chef, is one of the hardest things you can do. You have to have a passion for it. … I’m lucky because I have [the passion] and support behind me.”
Girls Pint Out
“It’s always funny when I’m out for beers and a random man at the bar tries to ‘educate me’ on beer or coach me through what I might want to drink.” — Darcy Hoffman, Michiana Life Issue 9, September 2016
Over a casual beer at South Bend Brew Werks, they trade notes on the beers they are drinking, debate the merits of summer lagers versus winter stouts and discuss their plans for their next boozy outing through their organization, Girls Pint Out.
“We do a lot of really cool events,” Meghan says, sipping from a New England IPA. “We are all about community.”
Originally featured in the fall 2016 issue of Michiana Life, Girls Pint Out, a national craft beer nonprofit organization for women, has a mission to build a community of women who enjoy and contribute to craft beer. The South Bend chapter was started by Meghan and Darcy, who organize networking and charity events for the women of Michiana to attend and share their love of craft beer. In the years since their last feature, the beer-loving pair says their group has changed in many ways.
“We’ve met some of the coolest people through this,” Darcy says. “It’s amazing. There are people you would never have crossed paths with, but [Girls Pint Out] brings us together.”
Though they are currently not organizing as many events as they hoped to when they started in early 2016, Meghan and Darcy said their group has grown in numbers. Most notably, they have added co-lead organizer Stephanie Banik, who Meghan and Darcy met through Girls Pint Out.
“I love beer, and I have grown to love these women,” Stephanie says as to why she decided to take a leadership role in the group. “I want to help other women love beer more because there is something about beer that brings so many different people together. The diversity of the beer that we love is as diverse as the women who come to our events.”
With Stephanie’s help, Girls Pint Out is hoping to start organizing events once a month. The group currently hosts events once every three months. In addition to hosting more frequent outings, the group is hoping to host more charity-focused and fundraising events, according to Meghan.
No matter what other changes may come for South Bend’s chapter of Girls Pint Out, the leaders say the goal of the group will remain the same: to bring women together through a shared love of beer. Darcy, Meghan and Stephanie said their plans for the next five years of Girls Pint Out are simple: to keep it active in the Michiana region and to continue to share the group’s mission.
“I hope this gets bigger and more ladies become friends, and we can all work towards something that is beneficial to the community,” Darcy says.
“I want this to be something women look forward to every month,” Stephanie adds.
Dave and Hannah Heyn
“The economic climate has changed in this area. I strongly believe that we are a lifeline to keeping as many locals here as possible.” — Dave Heyn, Michiana Life Issue 17, May 2018
As Dave and Hannah Heyn walk through their crowded Harbor Country Mission Warehouse on Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman, the couple can barely go two steps without getting interrupted with a “Hello,” a “Dave, so great to see you!” or simple pat on the back.
The couple greets every person with a smile, and excitedly points out others in the facility that they think deserve recognition.
“Everyone here is a volunteer,” Dave says as he introduces a front desk worker. “Everyone here does a great job. They are crazy awesome, and we are always looking for more volunteers.”
Dave and Hannah were first introduced to Michiana Life as the May/June 2018 Difference Maker feature. The couple leads Harbor Country Mission, a nonprofit organization geared toward helping those in and bordering on financial poverty in Harbor Country.
Through its warehouse, HCM gives away items and appliances to those in need. Additionally, through the warehouse and its antique store, Vintage Finds, the mission sells items to help fund its programs, which include home repairs, job and life coaching, grocery shopping, rides to interviews and more — all to benefit those who need them.
“We help get people the things they need to fight for independence,” Dave says. “We help fill in the gaps.”
“There is a need to extend care,” Hannah adds. “We want people to succeed. We want the best for them.”
Though it has only been a little more than a year since their last interview, Dave and Hannah said things have grown for Harbor Country Mission.
When the initial story published, it had only just gotten its 5,000-square-foot warehouse where it now does the bulk of its business. Dave said the organization was still primarily operating out of storage units at the time. The organization has also begun to service a larger area, which Dave and Hannah say lets them help more people.
“We used to help maybe four to five people a week. Now, we see 10 to 20 clients a day,” Dave says.
In addition to growing their other programs, Harbor Country Mission also recently began working with I CAN Cafe and Lake Street Community Church in Bridgman to partner with RIP Medical Relief to help abolish $3 million worth of medical debt for families in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.
In the next five years to come, Dave and Hannah hope to continue to impact the Harbor Country area and serve the working poor. They hope to do so by expanding services, partnering with like-minded organizations and maybe even opening additional locations.
“There is so much we can do to help people in this area,” Hannah says. “We know that what we are doing — Harbor Country Mission — is bigger than us.”
Allison Hayes Freeze Shelton
“Honestly, it’s a dream job, because I get to do everything that I want to do. I’m telling five-minute-long in-depth features on your favorite players or favorite coaches. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.” — Allison Hayes Freeze Shelton, Michiana Life Issue 19, September 2018
Inside of the ABC 57 newsroom on an August afternoon, Allison Hayes Freeze Shelton isn’t preparing a sportscast, though that is something she has done hundreds of times. Instead, surrounded by studio lights, she bounces a baby in her arms.
“I bet you can guess the biggest change in my life lately,” she says with a laugh. “It’s this guy for sure.”
In her September 2018 Michiana Life cover story, the Niles journalist, ABC 57 Saturday Kickoff host, Big Ten Network reporter and IHSAA sideline reporter described her love of sports, her charity work with One Good Deed Michiana and the changes her career has gone through over the years.
However, in the time since her last interview, Allison said the most significant changes were personal.
On St. Patrick’s Day this year, Allison and her husband, Niles mayor Nick Shelton, welcomed their son, Rock, into the family. He joins his sister, Emery, 10, who was born to Allison and her late husband, Robert Freeze.
“I think I actually just found out I was pregnant when we did our last [Michiana Life] photoshoot, but we hadn’t told anyone yet,” Allison recalls with a smile. “I was holding a football, trying to hide my stomach a little bit.”
Now, Allison says life is a balancing act. She is always running late, rushing from appointment to appointment and learning how to juggle her passion for her work — which she calls her “dream job” — with her love of being a mother of two young children.
Despite all of the hustle and the changes, Allison says she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’m really happy,” she says. “It’s been crazy, but great.”
No matter what changes come to her life, two things will remain constant for Allison: her love of sports and Michiana.
“We love Michiana. It is home. It’s where my favorite team is. It’s where my family is,” she said. “Here, I have the best of both worlds. I love everything about my job, and I have everything I need.”
As she looks at the next five years of her life, Allison sees a blank space, though she said she is open to whatever comes her way.
“I really have no idea what is going to happen,” Allison says. “We will take every day as it comes and be grateful to have the day. We don’t take days for granted. No day is promised, so we just try to take advantage of the time we have with each other and be grateful for it.”