2016-cea-winner-beaverton-300x225The small community of Beaverton was honored with the Michigan Municipal League’s 2016 Community Excellence Award on Sept. 16 during the League’s Annual Convention on Mackinac Island.

The peer-nominated Community Excellence Award (CEA), affectionately called “The Race for the Cup,” was started by the League in 2007 to recognize innovative solutions taking place in Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships. It’s the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by the statewide League. The winning community receives a large cup trophy that they get to have on display for the next year. Last year’s winner was the City of Westland.

Beaverton, located in northern Michigan’s Gladwin County north of Clare and Midland with a population of just under 1,100, won for its innovative, volunteer-driven effort to save a vacated two-story old school building and turn it into the now vibrant Beaverton Activity Center.

“There were literally thousands and thousands and thousands of volunteer hours to put this whole project together,” Scott Govitz, former Beaverton mayor and current president of the Beaverton Activity Center. “So for all of us who were instrumental in putting this project together with a whole lot of other community members, this is a great source of pride. So not only do we have a new center for the community now we have recognition by winning the Community Excellence Award.”

Govitz particularly thanked the “red vests,” which is the affectionate nick-name for the red-vest wearing volunteers who serve the center and helped get it opened. A group of red vests attended the Convention to explain the project to Convention attendees.

“I have to give credit to the red vests, they are the heart and soul of what we do. They are our volunteers day in and day out and they were here to take care of business. I also think our story is compelling. We’re a small community and what we were able to accomplish from the stand point of bringing an entire project to fruition using all volunteers and making it happen is an inspiring story and also something other communities can replicate.”

The project breathed new life into the former school building and quickly became a focal point and hub of activities in the community. It has brought about new and first-ever cultural events and sporting activities for youth and adults. It created meeting rooms that were nonexistent, a place to exercise, and hold programs and classes. It’s also a library, fitness center, health center coffee shop, heritage center, pre-school, after-school gathering place, summer recreation location, place for worship, kids programming, adult programming, historical society and more.

“In short, it’s been everything and more that took four solid years and thousands of volunteer hours to plan, fundraise and over another year to reconstruct,” Govitz said.

Beaverton, which competed in the strength and structure category, was one of four finalists in the statewide Community Excellence Awards (CEA) competition. View their entry here.