Chamber volunteers make impact at Felt Mansion

Invasives cut back, litter removed as part of areawide Community Impact Day.
Kyle Carey of VentureSource rakes cuttings down the steps for disposal at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.

Kyle Carey called from the tall grass in the shadow of the Felt Mansion on Wednesday afternoon, May 15, 2024.

“Hey! Cutting crew! I need you,” he yelled from the overgrowth.

“Where are you?” Phil Sotok called back, wielding a pair of sheers.

“The other side of the bunker,” he replied, laughing, referring the grotto built when the mansion was a seminary.

Carey and “the cutting crew” were part of the about 15 volunteers spread out over the mansion grounds for Community Impact Day sponsored by the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. The volunteers cut out invasive species and collected litter on the estate grounds.

Phil Sotok of VentureSource clips vegetation at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.

Volunteers

“The Felt Estate values the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce and our local businesses. Events such as the Community Impact Day allow businesses and partner organizations to connect in ways that we otherwise might not have the opportunity to,” said Elizabeth McEwen, executive director of the Felt Estate, 6597 138th Ave.

This was the first time the mansion participated in Community Impact Day, according to Hannah Bowen, program manager for the chamber.

More than 1,400 volunteers signed up to help at more than 70 nonprofits or municipalities for the day, Bowen said. The chamber serves 1,200 member businesses representing 80,000 employees in the Holland-Zeeland area.

“The volunteers who participated at the Felt today tackled environmental stewardship projects that impact not only the beauty of our community spaces, but also the long-term health of our delicate dunescape ecosystem,” McEwen said on Wednesday.

Judy Van Dussen, left, and Leann Miller, both of VentureSource, cut vegetation at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.

For Judy Van Dussen and Leann Miller, a trip to the Felt Mansion was a way to help a place they often visit.

“I come here every Saturday,” said Van Dussen as she cut an Amur honeysuckle branch.

The Outdoor Discovery Center will follow the cutting with an injection into the roots of the plant to kill it, McEwen said.

Andy Levesque of VentureSource works at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day. Scott Wright, Tony Yung and Bill Van Niejenhuis, both of VentureSource, cut vegetation as well.

Tours

As Kyle Carey raked what his “cutting crew” had removed from the behind the grotto, he said Wednesday was his first time at the mansion.

“It came highly recommended,” he said, motioning to the mansion behind him. “I wanted to see the mansion.”

A list of tour times is available at the mansion’s website.

Free self-guided tours are 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Sunday, July 28, Sunday, Aug. 11 and Sunday, Sept. 8.

Bill Van Neijenhuis of VentureSource, left, and Tony Yung of VentureSource cut into brush at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.
Meagan Maas of Lakeshore Nonprofits, carries cuttings from work at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.
Bill Van Neijenhuis, Andy Levesque and Tony Yung, all of VentureSource, cut vegetation at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day.
Elizabeth McEwen, executive director of the Felt Estate, briefs volunteers before they start work at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., on Wednesday, May 15, as part of Community Impact Day. In back, Phil Sotok of VentureSource sprays insect repellent.