By Judy Reed
When there is community group doing something good in Cedar Springs, there is a good chance that Donna Clark, our town’s head librarian, is a part of it. Her dedicated involvement in the betterment of our community is being recognized with her selection as the 2016 Grand Marshal for the Red Flannel Festival.
“The Festival is extremely proud and thankful for the many years of Donna’s outstanding dedication to the Cedar Springs community,” said Michele Tracy, President of the Festival. “Donna has volunteered for Red Flannel Festival for many years. She is also a great leader in the community, serving as Secretary of the Cedar Springs Rotary Club, 2nd Vice President of the Cedar Springs Women’s Club and Secretary of the Community Action Network. Donna is also very active as a volunteer for the Community Building Development Team. She has also been the Librarian at the Cedar Springs Public Library for the past 15 years.”
Donna has a heart for Cedar Springs, and it shows through in everything she does.
“It’s very obvious Donna loves The Red Flannel Town, and especially the Red Flannel Festival!” said Tracy. “This year, with the ground breaking of a new library, is the perfect year to honor Donna for her many years of community service. Her personal volunteerism on the Red Flannel Queen Scholarship Committee and over 10 years of directing the Festival’s “Read to Ride” Program are instrumental to the success of the Festival. The Red Flannel Town is truly a better place because of her exceptional community involvement and extraordinary volunteerism!” said Tracy.
Being selected as Grand Marshal was the last thing Donna expected.
“I was shocked when I heard that I had been named 2016 Red Flannel Festival Grand Marshal,” explained Donna. “My second reaction was to think of others more worthy. I then realized that 2016 is going to be an epic year for the Cedar Springs Public Library as the Community Building Development Team moves to initiate Phase I of their master plan—to build a beautiful, spacious new home for its “Red Flannel Town” Library.
Tentative plans are for the library to begin construction this summer at the corner of Main and W. Maple, near Cedar Creek.
“In 2016 we are trading out 2016 sq. ft. for 9,998 sq. ft. How about that? Our Community Library will also celebrate 80 years since the 1936 millage was voted in to provide stable funding, thanks to the inspiration and hard work of the ‘Clipper Girls’ and others. I share this honor with those who have gone before me and those serving with me today. Let’s celebrate as we ‘Build the Heart of Cedar Springs!’” remarked Donna.
Donna came to Cedar Springs in 1971 from her hometown in Mustang, Oklahoma at the age of 18 to go to the tiny Bible school on Pine Street, Wesleyan Bible Institute. Her pastor, one of the founding members, encouraged four of his local youth to go and study in Cedar Springs. The following year Donna married a talented fellow from Ohio, Dan Clark. WBI was reborn as Jordan College, where Donna eventually graduated and took her credits to Grand Valley State University to graduate with a B.A., certified to teach English to grades 7-12. Donna stayed on at Jordan College and taught a few English-related courses.
Donna thrived here in Cedar Springs, got her education and in 1978, she and Dan started a family. They have four children, Daneille, Shianne, Josh, and Tamar; and two grandchildren, Clark and Oaklee. The couple went to Oklahoma for 10 years, and then lived in Israel for almost 13 years. They returned in November 2000 for Dan to take a job at Creative Technologies Academy.
“Imagine my delight and surprise when 23 years after leaving Cedar Springs for Oklahoma and then almost 13 years in Israel, our family of six ended back here in Cedar Springs! After only two months, a job found me through my Cedar Springs friends from the 70s—the Cedar Springs Public Library! In all we have lived in Cedar Springs for 22 years.”
Donna will reign this year, the Festival’s 77th, over the two weekends of the 15th oldest Festival in the state of Michigan, sharing the Red Flannel warmth of our community to visitors and residents. Visit www.redflannelfestival.org to volunteer or for additional information.
Watch the Post for more announcements about the new library, and what to expect at this year’s 2016 Red Flannel Festival.