Living in Kalamazoo… Looking Back at 2016 – the Good & Bad

child-with-balloon-1If you live in the Kalamazoo area, you were probably knocked off your feet more than once this year by the horrific events involving the mass shooting in February, and the tragedy involving the bicyclists this past June. Both incidents drew national news coverage, and painted a dark picture of what people are capable of doing, along with the incredibly sad consequences of their actions.

No one would argue with any of us if we quietly closed out the year, saying “Next year will be better.” But that’s not how we operate here in Kalamazoo. Instead, after getting knocked down, we stood back up as a community, and stood side by side.

While the violence behind the two tragedies does not reflect who we are, how the people of Kalamazoo reacted to the events does define us. We are part of an incredible community – defined by three factors.

The People…

Beyond those who make the headlines regularly, Kalamazoo is built on a foundation of good people who make a difference on a daily basis but without the fanfare. Like the two women highlighted below, who champion a segment of the community without a voice, and are Superheroes to the world of dogs and cats.

Katie Timber works endlessly as the Executive Director of SPCA of SWMI – a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing homeless dogs and cats, and adopting them into responsible homes. You have probably seen Katie with a spunky dog or two on the local news on Channel 3, or at one of the many SPCA events held in the area.

And over at Animal Rescue Project, Amy Geil Susan is also championing cats and dogs by dedicating her time to helping with the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of at-risk pets in pound facilities. You may have encountered Amy with a cat or dog at one of the many fund-raising events she facilitates.


When it comes to unique shops and eateries, the area is exploding with a distinct local flavor that rivals cities twice its size. And to keep us on our toes, the city’s shopping and dining landscape is ever-changing. From crack Fries at the new-to-Kazoo HopCat, Bronco shirts and Plainwell Ice Cream at the newly-located The Spirit of Kalamazoo, to a cappuccino at the new Coffee Bar at Sawall Health Foods, it’s all good! Want to relax? Kalamazoo has you covered, with a multitude of parks, trials and nature preserves.

And Things

While Kalamazoo may sound more like a Dr. Seuss name, the heart of what makes it tick is very real. Like the generous people who providing a large monetary gift to the city which will help in bringing down the city’s debt, and lessening the burden to those living in the city, and the organizations and people who are stepping up in the rebuilding and revitalizing of Bronson Park. This is why I am proud to call Kalamazoo home.

Here’s a thought… As we look back on 2016, let’s remember what makes us Kalamazoo Strong.

Heidi McCrary

Advertising Goddess / Writer