Presidents over the years



Elwood Batdorf



Jean Mcdonald



Jerry Lawler



Karen Gierman

Karen’s upbeat personality, infectious energy, and sense of humor brighten the lives of the people she touches.  She has fun getting people involved and is a role model of how to get things done and is responsible for many of the traditions that the Eastside Neighborhood Organization (ENO) cherishes. Karen is famous for her great cooking and many people have had the chance to sample it.  The most fortunate have received one of her famous birthday cakes.  Others have sampled her soups and desserts at ENO’s Spring Souper and Holiday Party.  Finally, there was the road crew of the U.S. Army Band, “Patton’s Own”, which played in Lansing in the summer of 1989.  They were very touched when Karen and Brenda Hull, remembered to thank these “forgotten men” by preparing a meal for them. Karen became involved in community affairs in 1971, when a community center was proposed for Hunter Park. The proposal was eventually abandoned, but Karen remained involved with the park, the concept of a community center, and the community at large.



Robert Hull




Kate Young



Mary Margaret Murphy Woll

After attending Michigan State University, Mary Margaret Murphy Woll moved to Chicago where she worked as an elementary teacher and principal. She returned to Lansing in 1972 to care for her ill mother and remained in the family’s Ferguson Street home until her death on October 8, 1997.   Upon returning to Lansing, Mary Margaret looked around the city and saw changes that she didn’t like. She was not the type of person to see a problem and ignore it. Mary Margaret rolled up her sleeves and went to work. She spearheaded a successful park millage in 1990 that generated money to replace aging playground equipment and worked diligently on Project Play, an effort to insure new playground equipment at all the parks and schoolyards in the City.Mary Margaret worked very closely with Sparrow Hospital on several programs and made sure Sparrow understood where ENO stood on many issues. She was a member of the Parks Board, on the Executive Board of the Lansing Neighborhood Council and was working with a group to establish a local Ronald McDonald House.Many remember Mary Margaret with a rough and tough exterior but many also remember the joy she brought to children each Christmas morning when she would dress up in her Mrs. Santa Claus outfit and visit the children in Sparrow Hospital.  Mary Margaret always said that when your trying to set a goal that you should “shoot for the moon and you might at least get a star”.   


John Ruge

John Ruge is a young, energetic, devoted community member. When many young people invest their time in career and family matters, John is investing his time and energy in his neighborhood.  John’s concern for people and his desire to improve the quality of life in the city of Lansing drew him to the Eastside Neighborhood Organization (ENO) ten years ago.  He wanted to find a way to work with the system to build a better community.  Both then and now his primary interest concerns housing.  John was one of the original members of the ENO housing task force which worked to make landlords more accountable to the city.  He is also one of the original members, and chair, of the Boys Training School (BTS) development committee that is working with the city to develop a parcel of property on the eastside for residential use.  John has also represented ENO on the Lansing Neighborhood Council Housing Committee.  This past summer, John and some neighbors around Lathrop Street started a new neighborhood organization (PLACE).  Their first project will be a neighborhood cleanup this spring. He has a tendency to avoid the lime light, and has a quiet, unassuming, humility.  Perhaps what is most admirable about John is the fact that he brings the same intelligence, commitment, and dedication to a task, be it chairing a committee or washing dishes on a cleanup crew.



Rick Kibbey

Rick is an exceptionally thoughtful person, and a good neighbor on both a personal and institutional level.  Over the last three decades he has volunteered thousands of hours rototilling gardens, shoveling sidewalks, leading yard clean-ups, counseling neighbors on how to access home improvement loans, and developing projects for neighborhood kids.  In addition, Rick has worked diligently with many institutions to resolve a wide range of neighborhood problems and challenges.  We feel that public recognition of Rick’s enormous contributions to this quadrant of the City, and indeed, to all of Lansing are long past due.



Nancy Mahlow

Nancy works to promote her own neighborhood by creating information packets that contain our organization’s newspaper and brochure.  She includes lists of ads for local businesses, as well as adds information on the local community center and other areas of interest.  These packets are given to realtors, new neighbors and landlords.  The packets work well, not just for promotion, but they show neighborhood pride and a welcoming attitude. Nancy has also volunteered for the city’s annual Paint Blitz and the Michigan Run, and is a member of our Neighborhood Watch. Neighbors know her as a “mowing machine” because she loves to help others neighbos such as the elderly and handicap mow their lawn. During the winter months you will find her with a shovel ready to plow out the snow in driveways and sidewalks.  Nancy not only helps out all the neighbors young and old; but has become our neighborhood voice. Thank you Nancy for all the hard work that you do for our neighborhood. You are truly appreciated.

Meet other Neighborhood Volunteers

Bea Christy

Bea Christy


Bea created community traditions that have established time-honored memories to many neighborhoods in Lansing.  She lived within the Eastside Neighborhood Organization and became known for her soup making, care giving, and fundraising activities.  Bea would go out of her way to take a senior citizen to the doctor, read to the blind, or welcome a new neighbor the “Bea Christy Way.”  When someone was sick, Bea knew just the thing to make them feel better…some homemade soup.  Family members say Bea’s soup was unique and chuckle and tell the tale that no part of the vegetable was left out. Leaves, skins, roots, and seeds as well as her love went into every pot.  Bea attended Pilgrim Congregational Church since 1955 and was the chief cook for a homemade soup lunch program for senior citizens since 1981.  Her favorite project was the Crop Walk which Bea faithfully participated in with her husband, children and grandchildren to help raise the much needed funds to support the Greater Lansing Food Bank. After her death the family proudly carried on the tradition.

Harold (Hap) B. Wright



Every neighborhood organization has members who can be expected to never do what they promise to do, members who sometimes do what they promise to do, and members who always do what they promise.  But, there are always too few volunteers, such as this nominee, who seem to always give his all, his extra and beyond.  Every project he works on becomes more successful than expected because of his hard work, his intelligent input, creativity, and dedication to excellence. Harold’s additional efforts include a wide variety of fundraising events (rummage sales, bake sales, Spring soupers, etc.), and a commitment to Eastside Neighborhood Organization projects.  His 17 year record of accomplishments distinguishes him as a dedicated neighborhood activist who puts his neighbor’s needs before his own comfort.

Kathy Kapalla



Bea Christy, recruited Kathy and her husband to become involved in the Eastside Neighborhood Organization (ENO) more than 10 years ago.  As an ENO member, Kathy served as recording secretary for more than eight years and has also been a mainstay of our newspaper, history committee, fund-raisers, and flower beds. Every neighborhood organization has members who sometimes do what they promise to do, and members who always do what they promise.  But, there are always too few volunteers who goes the extra mile.  Most important she loves the neighborhood.  Kathy has been a mainstay of the organization for more than ten years.  Her contributions are both concrete and intangible.  Kathy is special because her contribution must be counted both in terms of what was accomplished, but also how the task was done. All of these contributions have been important and have helped sustain our organization and have made our neighborhood a better place to live.

Rita Cook

Rita Cook


Rita has been a stalwart member of Eastside Neighborhood Organization for more than 22 years. She’s the kind of person who is the lifeblood of any effective neighborhood organization. First, she knows what’s going on in her corner of the neighborhood. She’s a careful observer, she listens and she keeps in touch with folks. She can  point out the house with the newly repaired porch steps, introduce you to the young family that moved in down the block just last month, tell you what’s new with the oldest resident in the neighborhood, and point out where the sidewalk is cracked, etc.  Of course, it’s in this careful way that most neighborhood problems are identified. She’s established an excellent relationship with our housing code compliance officer and meets with him on a regular basis to exchange information. She took the lead in organizing our participation in the Paint Blitz; she walked the neighborhood identifying candidate houses; she qualified several houses for the Paint Blitz; she recruited a family new to the neighborhood to be part of the paint crew; and generally inspired our participation through sheer enthusiasm.  Currently, she represents the ENO on the Board of Lansing Neighborhood Council and on their Housing Task Force. All of these contributions are important, have helped sustain our organization and made our neighborhood a better place to live.  But most important, our nominee cares deeply about her neighbors and our organization.  And that caring reminds us that it’s the people who are our wonderful eastside neighborhood and the reason for keeping on.

Florence Estes

Flo Estes


Flo has been an active Eastside Neighborhood Organization(ENO) member since 1982.  She can be counted on to freely commit to a project voluntarily; or if asked, her quick reply is “Sure, I’ll try.”  She never indicates in any way that the project or committee she is working on might fail – she is always confident that all will turn out well. Her first ENO project was a self-help one.  New in the area, her neighbors told her they had not been able to get the problems caused by the many dogs in two residences resolved through township or county officials.  With encouragement from ENO and neighbors, in a few months she was able to report the dogs had been removed and the nearby residents were pleased. Through the years she has been active in our eastside in many ways.  When it is time for 5,000 ENO newspapers to be delivered to eastside homes, she’s the person who starts the process by getting the bundles of papers to all the other volunteers who then distribute them. She has served well as ENO vice-president for three years and corresponding secretary for one year. She has been active in helping start and maintains the Bea Christy flower bed on East Michigan Avenue.  She is there among those who plant, weed, water and do fall cleanup.

Edward Kapalla

Ed Kapalla


In April of 1975, a large portion of the Eastside, an area known as Urbandale, was under water.  This disaster has since, been referred to as “The ’75 Flood.”  At that time, Ed joined with Eastside Neighborhood Organization (ENO) volunteers in cleanup efforts.  He rolled up his sleeves, donned his boots and dug in. He spent days, shoveling debris and mud, carrying trash, hosing down walls, disinfecting homes and any other tasks that would help the flood victims.  That was the beginning of what has been his 19 year involvement in the Eastside Neighborhood Organization.  Ed’s endless contributions have improved his neighborhood, benefited the whole eastside and made Lansing a better place to live. During the past 19 years, Ed has been a tenacious worker on any project that needed his help.  With the same determination he showed during the flood cleanup, he gets the job done.  Ed never asks if it is a fun job, or an easy one or one of the dirty jobs.  In his willing way, he just does it. Several years ago, ENO created the Eastside Flower Garden.  Every year, Ed helps with the planting and spends many summer hours watering and weeding the plot. He encourages and convinces the children around his block to pick up trash on the street, sidewalks and in the alley.  There is one of Ed’s acts of kindness that he wouldn’t want made public but we would like you to know about it.  On the sly, he often sneaks groceries to neighbors with kids who don’t have enough to eat.  Sometimes it’s a bag of potatoes, sometimes fresh fruit, just “a little something” to help out.

Gerald Estes

Gearld Estes


We happen to think Gerald is “a treasure”.  With an easy going manner and a great sense of humor, he quietly gets the job done.  It is impossible to tell about all of his contributions on one sheet of paper but we’ll make a good start. You never have to check a volunteer sign-up sheet for his name, because there or not, he always shows up to do the work.  It doesn’t matter what the job, “our hero” does more than his share. Our organization has created a flower garden in our neighborhood.  For many years, Gerald has been creator, planter, weeder, and waterer for that garden.  Often times he ends up working alone there in sunshine or rain, hot weather or cold to keep it looking good.  He spent many hours with another member of our organization creating a memorial for that garden to honor deceased members.

Melissa (Missy) Austin



Missy is serving her fourth year as president to an active neighborhood organization, is president of Eastern High School Band Booster group while in charge of school uniforms for another school’s band, is a board member to two other neighborhood groups, and volunteers consistently for events and projects.  This sounds like a lot for any person to accomplish but Missy has a positive outlook on life. No matter what is going on, despite the health problems and deaths in the family, Missy has always been there to help in any way she can.  When talking to her she said, “We are the type of family that makes lemonade out of the lemons we are sometimes handed.”

Julee Furlong



Julee has been a member of ENO for over five years, but grew up helping “behind the scenes” when needed. She spends her days helping those in need and will help anyone at any given minute. Even though Julee has a serious health condition, it does not stop her from doing her daily activities when it comes to helping others. She has taken the time to drive seniors five days a week so they can participate in weekly programs instead of sitting at home; she has even taken seniors to look at holiday lights. Julee has a big heart when it comes to children.  During the school year she will take a car load of kids to school and take them home. She has also been known to drive across town to take kids so they can participate in sport activities.  Julee enjoys living on the eastside and states “I feel safe knowing this area and having a wonderful group of families living here.

Andy Linderman

Any Linderman


Andy  has been a dedicated neighborhood individual for many years, and has attended well over 1000 meetings over the last ten years where he interact with other neighbors, bringing problems and solutions to the forefront so they could be resolved faster.  This has built a strong communication link between neighbors, old and new.  Andy takes on the responsibility of handling many of the problems to make sure they are solved or at least an answer is received. He keeps everyone updated, either with a phone call or an e-mail, so that everyone is on the same page for information dealing with an issue.

Julann Vittone



Julann has been involved with the Eastside Neighborhood Organization for several years and a Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for the Green Oaks area and has devoted a lot of time in making sure her neighborhood safe and secure not only for the adults but kids as well.  She is extremely vocal when it came to voicing their concerns about the number of drug activities within their area, helped to identify illegal properties, and worked with local police to rid their area of high crime.  Julann takes the time to communicate daily with their neighbors and encourages everyone to look out for each other. She is the first one to open their heart to help those individuals in need.  This is why we believe she should be the next Bea Christy Winner.

Marti Wheeler



Marti works a full time job and yet finds the time to help others.  She decided that their street needed to be involved with the Neighborhood Watch so she searched out the information, walked their area and obtained the needed information from all the residents within that area, created a “phone tree” and began the necessary work to provide insight to a watch and a neighborhood organization.  Marti decided to be a part of the neighborhood watch board and began their journey supporting our officers and helping in any way they can.


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