Marshall County Neighborhood Center’s Dancing with the Stars 2023 raised over $120,000; this was the 15th year for the event. The event was sold out with a total of 498 seats.

The Farmers Daughters, choreographed by Elizabeth Wickens, took first place with their country line dance routine. Cassidy Riddle, Morgan Langfeldt, Marisa Langfeldt, Brooke Kitch, Cheyanne Hawley, and Sierra Hawley danced to “Bringing Back the Good Times.”

Melanie Strain & Melinda South

Melanie Strain and Melinda South, self choreographed, took second place for their Hip-Hop duo to “Dance with Somebody / Yeah”.

Mike Burroughs and Ali Garman

Mike Burroughs and Ali Garman, choreographed by Matt Smith, took third place for their father / daughter duo to a mash up of several songs. Burroughs and Garman’s routine incorporated several genres including Rhumba, the Hustle and the Cha-Cha.

The Expressions Dance Studio (EDS) Encore team, choreographed by Nikki Pittman and Elizabeth Wickens, won Crowd Favorite for their Contemporary routine to “Let Her Cry”. Dancers included Lainey Leslie, Sophia Jones, Hannah Peacock, and Casen Norris.

Supporters for the event included but were not limited to Professional Photography by Jayme Goetz of “Photography by Jayme”, Emcee Doug Gehrke, Pastor Kayla Grehl of Trinity United Methodist Church who offered the invocation, twelve dancing routines including dancing entertainment pieces by Core Center Dance and EDS, DJ Tim Presscott, Auctioneer Mark Lee of AMP Auctions, Videography by Caleb Bowlilng and Sophie Miller, table sponsors, and additional support from Bowen Printing, EDS, Core Center Dance at The Zone, Swan Lake Resort, Fernbaugh’s Jewelry, and ASK for Flowers.

Additional professional choreographers included Mewsette Cartwright, Marcia Heintzberger, and Leanne Senter.

The Board of Directors for the Marshall County Neighborhood Center are President Tammy Bowling, Vice President Dan Schmelter, Co-Secretaries Susie Cook and Amy Jessen, Treasurer Eileen Burgess, and members Marc Read, Mark Gidley, Russ Kietzman, Michael Cox, Bianka Teeters, Kayla Gidley, Jessica Sills, and Sherri Maxwell.

Marshall County Neighborhood Center staff members are Director Christine “Chris” Garner, Client Services – Aleshcha DeWitt, and Outreach Coordinator Racheal Filley.

Serving on the Dancing with the Stars Committee for 2023 were Garner, Bowling, Carol Brown, Gennifer Schaefer, Allison Stone, and Lindsey Emenheiser.

Special thanks were given to Chloe Garner, Chuck DeWitt, Jessica Sills, Darek Hoffer, Mickey Hoffer, Emily Hoffer, Teeters and Maxwell who also volunteered time to work during the event.

The Center offers a food and clothing pantry, utility assistance and a household development program to individuals and families in need. Garner started her work at the Center five years ago this year. “I was eager, excited and honestly clueless as to how much this role, this place, and the people would change and enrich my life.”

Though she wasn’t sure what to expect, she knew the Center had potential to grow and have a significant impact on Marshall County.

Facing local disasters including floods, a global pandemic, and a remodel of the building inspired staff and the board to innovate in order to continue to serve the community.

Garner thanked supporters for their collaboration to connect clients with hope, healing, employment, joy, insurance and housing. “We have some of the best people here in Marshall County.”

She noted that working alongside the community has strengthened her own leadership and advocacy. “None of us are an island and for that I am thankful.”

Garner described the Center as a place where people are made to feel welcome and loved; where “stories are shared, tears are shed, and the sacred is seen.”

She added, “These clients of ours are absolutely amazing. They strive to overcome obstacles that loom large. Our staff and volunteers walk alongside them to set goals and encourage them on their journey.”

“If there is one thing the past five years have taught me, and probably all of us, it is that we must be wiling to be an ever growing, ever adapting, ever changing organization.”

Recent triumphs at the Center include the purchase of a walk-in cooler and freezer combo-unit; made possible by the Marshall County Community Foundation and the Marshall County Commissioners. “The addition of this unit will provide us with the space needed to expand our pantry and provide a wider variety of food with plans to hopefully expand our allergy friendly items. This was truly a community effort but definitely a dream come true for us. Thank you.”

Not only will the unit help increase offerings at the food pantry, but allowed for reorganization that allows staff and volunteers to better meet client needs including more room for the clothing pantry and facilitating a private meeting space. “We are excited about these changes and how it will impact our clients. It helps spur us on and reminds us to keep dreaming.”

Over 300 families applied for and received Christmas basket assistance. “These numbers can seem daunting, but behind these numbers are the people of Marshall County – our friends, our neighbors, our grandparents, our children. They deserve our fight. They deserve our attention. They deserve better. They deserve hope.”

She expressed awe for the donors, the clients, and the community. “Tonight’s event helps put the dance in our step as we look forward to the years ahead. Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for listening to our advocacy. Thank you for being part of someone’s story of hope. Thank you for being a neighbor. Now – let’s make tonight another beautiful night in our neighborhood.”

Donations to the Marshall County Neighborhood Center can still be made at the center located at 402 W. Garro St. in Plymouth or online at Follow the Center on Facebook @ Marshall County Neighborhood Center.

Article and Story Provides by our news partners at the Pilot News

By Jamie Fleury Staff Writer