Nine-year-old Romulus resident Dylan Lowrey loves two things: animals and helping others.
When Governor Whitmer put her stay-at-home order in place, Dylan feared the animals at the Romulus Animal Shelter would be in need of food and supplies—like many of us are during these difficult times.
With help from his parents, Dylan gathered cash donations from members of the community and used the money to purchase an entire truckload of supplies for the shelter. His donation included wet and dry food, treats, toys, cat litter, cleaning supplies, 30 hand-sewn dog beds and pizza for the shelter’s staff.
“Dylan’s mom called the shelter to let us know they would be coming with donations, but we were shocked when we saw the entire truckload of supplies,” said Animal Control Officer Annie Hall. “His donation came at the perfect time. The animals and staff are so thankful.”
Dylan has always had a passion for helping those around him. Two years ago, he raised $900 by playing his guitar in the neighborhood and at local businesses. He used that money to help a single mother buy Christmas presents for her three children—dropping off the gifts, and a hot meal, to their house on Christmas Eve.
Since word got around about Dylan’s first donation, he has raised an additional $1,200 for the Romulus Animal Shelter and is currently planning to drop off another truckload. When Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order expires and more businesses reopen, Dylan plans to place donation boxes at stores around Romulus in order to collect more supplies for the shelter.
During these uncertain times, it’s important to remember that every person has the ability to make a difference in their community—no matter their age. Dylan’s giving heart and love for his community make him the embodiment of ‘Romulus Strong.’
“When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian or a fire fighter,” Dylan said. “I just want to help everyone around me as much as possible.”
Lifelong Romulus residents Michelle and Brian Major embody the phrase “Romulus Strong.” After three long weeks battling COVID-19, Michelle and Brian have fortunately recovered from the virus and are leading healthy lives. Now, they are thanking first responders for their unwavering dedication to the community during these challenging times.
Brian and Michelle have spent the last three years volunteering as chaplains for the Romulus and Westland police and fire departments, along with the Detroit Metro Airport Fire Department. As chaplains, Michelle and Brian are trained to help first responders cope with the stresses of their job. When a department reaches out after a first responder is experiencing stress or trauma, Brian and Michelle show them ways to cope mentally, physically and, if requested, spiritually.
When Brian and Michelle fell ill with the coronavirus, they still found a way to thank and encourage the first responders in the communities they serve: creating 13 hand-made “thank you” signs.
In the throes of COVID-19, the couple would spend time making the signs until exhausted from the virus and forced to take a break. This process repeated itself for several weeks until Michelle and Brian finally recovered from the virus and were healthy enough to spend a day putting up 13 signs throughout Romulus and Westland. The signs were strategically placed near the entrance of the stations, so their words of encouragement are the first thing the police officers and fireman see on their way into work each day.
“We made these signs because we weren’t able to physically be with them during these hard times,” said Michelle. “We also send notes and emails of encouragement to each of the departments.”
Michelle and Brian know how lucky they are as seniors to have both overcome the virus, and they hope their story will encourage others in Romulus to stay positive and remember to thank first responders—those in our community who are often on the frontlines and exposed to COVID-19.
In addition to volunteering as chaplain, Michelle manages Romulus Flowers & Gifts and has plans to join her husband in retirement at the end of the year. Both Michelle and Brian are looking forward dedicating all of their time to their duties as chaplains.
“These first responders are a part of our family,” said Michelle. “I gained brothers and sisters when I became a chaplain for the police and fire departments.”
Mark Lewkowicz’s favorite thing about living and owning a business in Romulus?
“The small town atmosphere and how people in the community members look out for each other. The way Romulus residents care for each other can’t be matched.”
Mark has lived in Romulus since he was nine years old. If you ask him about his favorite memory growing up, he finds it hard to pick just one.
Mark fondly recalls playing in the woods with other children in the neighborhood and enjoying a frozen Coke from Walter’s Drug Store. Mark spent a lot of time browsing model cars at the dime store, L&M Variety, while his mother would shop for items like socks or needles and thread.
But Mark’s favorite memory was watching Merlin Lemmon work the day shift at the interlocking tower that served the Norfolk & Western and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads. He would sit and observe Merlin manually controlling the levers that would switch the railroad tracks, and send telegraphs back and forth to other towers.
“A guy my age shouldn’t know what it looks like to send and receive a telegraph. Maybe my grandparents, but not me,” said Mark. “The interlocking towers were one of the few places still using that method of communication and it was neat to witness. I’ll never forget that, or Mr. Lemmon.”
Mark is a graduate of Romulus High School and went on to earn an associate’s degree in automotive mechanics from Washtenaw Community College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in vocational education from the University of Michigan. Fast forward to 2020 and Mark is married with two adult children. He owns Landis Machine Shop, the oldest continually operating machine shop in Romulus. The company was founded in 1928 by Cleland B. Landis and recently celebrated its 91st anniversary. Mark has worked at Landis Machine Shop on and off since he was a young boy. The shop was purchased in 1979 by Mark and his family.
Mark has also actively served on several city boards and commissions, including the Romulus Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Romulus Historical Commission. Mark was the Chamber’s Board President from 1992 to 1994 and again from 2014 to 2016. He is now the acting chairman of the Historical Commission.
Mark credits his passion for leading and giving back to his father, John, who believed in community service. John was a member of the Romulus Kiwanis and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), a leader among the Cub and Boy Scouts of America, served as Treasurer and as council member for the Romulus City Council.
David Jones has lived in Romulus his entire life. His parents first moved from Alabama to Detroit. David’s father didn’t like the city life, so the close-knit, rural atmosphere in Romulus’ Jones Sub neighborhood was the perfect place to raise a family. By 1949, David’s family called Romulus home.
“Back then, Romulus was mostly farm land,” David said. “My father raised chickens and planted gardens, and some of our neighbors also gardened and raised other livestock.”
One of David’s fondest memories about growing up in the Jones Sub of Romulus were the community softball games. On Sundays, residents of all ages would gather outside of the TJ Coleman Community Center to play a few afternoon games.
David’s parents have since passed on, but he and his three sisters all still live in Romulus. A lot of classmates and friends still live in the city as well. David likes being able to drive around town and wave to familiar faces – something he feels he wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere.
His wife Joyce has always called Romulus home, too. David and Joyce have been married for 38 years, but they have known each other much longer. They first met in kindergarten at Beverly Elementary School and started dating several years after high school. David and Joyce have three adult children and 10 grandchildren.
Although he is retired now, David remains active in the community. He is president of the Romulus Athletic Boosters, runs the concession stand at high school basketball and football games. For many years, he coached little league and high school football. David volunteers through St. John’s Lodge #44. He is also a member of Mount Olive Baptist Church of Romulus where he servers as co-chairman of the Deacon Board, a member of the male chorus, and part of the transportation ministry.
He volunteers at events such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Walk and Celebration and helps stuff backpacks with school supplies in August for St. John’s Lodge #44 Youth Day.
“Whatever Romulus needs, I’m always happy to help,” David said.
We are grateful to have passionate residents like David spend their entire lives in the city we call home.
Taylor Johnson not only lives in Romulus, she helps others find their dream home in our community, too. Taylor is a REALTOR® at RE/MAX Cornerstone and she enjoys selling homes in Romulus because she knows firsthand the type of small-town, welcoming community Romulus offers residents of all ages.
“I tell interested homebuyers that living in Romulus is one of the best decisions they could make because our city has so much to offer when it comes to affordability, land and community activities,” Taylor said. “A lot of people who move to Romulus spend their entire lives here, and I think that speaks to it being such a great city and place to live.”
Taylor attended Romulus Public Schools through middle school before moving to Detroit in 2003. In 2009, Taylor and her mom moved back to Romulus because they wanted to be close to family. She says moving back was an easy decision.
When Taylor isn’t working, she spends her time giving back to our city. Taylor has been a member of the Romulus Garden Club since 2017, and through the club she has played a vital role in the beautification of the community. The garden club plants garden beds at the Romulus Senior Center, works with Boyscouts of America and assists the Parks and Recreation Department with upkeep of the city’s many parks. Taylor was appointed to the Beautification Committee in 2019 and volunteers with the Romulus Housing Commission’s Resident Engagement Committee.
Growing up, Taylor’s favorite pastime was sitting on the hood of her parents’ car with friends to watch the fireworks from Romulus Middle School.
Meet Jessica Workman, a 25-year Romulus resident and a Romulus Community Schools graduate. Jessica grew up in a military family and when her dad retired from the army, her family moved back to Romulus to live closer to her grandparents.
After graduating from Romulus High School, Jessica went on to study political science at The University of Michigan-Dearborn. When it came time to taking the next step in her life and purchase a home, Jessica knew Romulus was the city where she wanted to plant her roots.
“Affordability is an issue with people my age and that’s why many of us live with our parents or rent instead of buying a home. After looking in surrounding communities, I quickly learned that home ownership is possible for young people in Romulus and that’s a big reason why I moved back.”
During work hours, Jessica is the vice president of member experience at Advantage One Credit Union in Brownstown. In her spare time, Jessica gives back to the city of Romulus through leadership and service. Jessica sits on the Planning Commission, where she helps bring new business to the city and is a voice for current businesses. She also works with Director of Fire Services & Emergency Management Kevin Krause and Director of Public Services Bob McCraight to help local veterans with the Romulus Veterans Outreach Coalition.
Jessica embraces the slogan “Home of Opportunity” at her core and we are proud to have a passionate, young professional like her living in and giving back to our community.
“There is so much opportunity for young people like me to get involved in the community and enact real change. People in Romulus are willing to listen to the younger generation and I don’t think that’s always true in other cities.”