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Northwest Michigan art gallery reaches community giving milestone

Dena Sydow
Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan
Pictured (seated from left) are Angelo Santini and Kathy Goodwin, Ward and Eis Gallery; Carrie Klingelsmith, The Manna Food Project; Gail Kloss, Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan; Jama Moffett and David Hornbrook, The Petoskey Club; Lisa Ross and Jennifer Eis, Ward and Eis Gallery; (standing from left) Melissa Hahn, Health Department of Northwest Michigan; Denneen Smith, Friendship Centers of Emmet County; and Brian Peters, The Nehemiah Project.

Ward and Eis Gallery has been a centerpiece of downtown Petoskey since 1978.

They're known for helping budding artists at their store and for raising money for charitable organizations in their community.

Over the course of 40 years, the tiny art gallery recently announced they have raised nearly $599,000 to share with local non-profits in northwest Michigan.

Gallery owner Jennifer Eis said the sales growth all these years was due to the positive outlook of her late husband Don Ward.

"He said if you're only paying attention to the bottom line, you're looking too low. You need to lookout on the horizon. He was right. Every time we tried it, we could do it," Eis said.

She said there is no grand equation to making financial gifts to the community.

"I think its gotta be intuition, being careful and taking care of the business but, also knowing that the business is being taken care of by all the people in the community who support us," she explained.

The art gallery contributes to places like the Manna Food Project, Friendship Centers of Emmet County, The Nehemiah Project, Petoskey Club, Health Department of Northwest Michigan and the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan.

The gallery's contributions represent 3% of annual sales at the gallery, including 20% of Thanksgiving and Christmas benefits, with all proceeds from the sale of the Magpie Papers, authored by the late Don Ward and Jennifer Eis.

Eis said it's a collective effort that is required between the community and her store to build a stable and compassionate connection. She said she will continue to give as long as that partnership will allow her to.

Tina Sawyer is the local host of Morning Edition on WCMU. She joined WCMU in November, 2022.