2017-12-07 / Front Page

Eike gives back by volunteering — a lot

People who make county a better place
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


KIM EIKE is the smiling face behind the desk at Suttons Bay’s elementary school library. He has volunteered there since retiring as manager of information systems at Munson Healthcare in 2008. KIM EIKE is the smiling face behind the desk at Suttons Bay’s elementary school library. He has volunteered there since retiring as manager of information systems at Munson Healthcare in 2008. Editor’s note: This week we begin a three-part series on members of the Leelanau community who impact the lives of others all year-long. Their work is especially appreciated at Christmastime.

Kim Eike can tell parents what’s on the top of young readers’ Christmas lists.

The longtime trustee on the Suttons Bay Board of Education does much more for the district than attend monthly meetings.

He volunteers two days a week at the elementary/ middle school library, helping students find materials for assignments and reading.

He also helps when students from the Leelanau Montessori Charter Academy visit.

“I shelve books, check out kids,” Eike said. “Laurie Sohasky is in charge. But it gives her more time to work with students if I do some of the clerical duties.”


KIM EIKE has devoted much of his time, in retirement, to working with Suttons Bay students at the school library and as a volunteer teachers with the Inland Seas Education Association. KIM EIKE has devoted much of his time, in retirement, to working with Suttons Bay students at the school library and as a volunteer teachers with the Inland Seas Education Association. Born in southwest Connecticut, Eike grew up watching many of his neighbors commute daily to work in New York City.

He graduated from Cornell University and went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.

His first exposure to northwest Michigan was in 1985 while working as a consultant for downstate technology company.

Less than a year later, Munson’s head of information systems was promoted and Eike was selected to fill the vacant seat.

He and his wife, Betsy, made Suttons Bay their home in 1986.

In 2008, when his daughter Rebecca was a sophomore in high school, School Board trustees Tom Nixon and Terri Kelty encouraged Eike to run for a seat on the Board of Education.

It wasn’t too much of a stretch for Eike who had already been attending school community relations committee meetings.

“At that time there were five people running for two seats,” he said. “Now, there are usually two candidates for two seats.”

Eike has served a total of 7 1/2 years on the board with a brief hiatus between 2013 and 2015.

”Somebody’s got to do it,” he said.

Like many of the active retirees living in Leelanau County, Eike is as busy as he wants to be. He’s found fulfillment in volunteering.

“My wife didn’t want to see me just sitting around the house,” he said.

A movie lover, Eike had thought about volunteering at the State Theater in Traverse City while taking in a few films. But he decided he didn’t want to make the back-and-forth trips.

Besides, he thought it would be a bit self-serving.

“There are a lot of things I could have been involved in. But I thought being involved in stuff that impacts kids is something I should prioritize,” he said.

In addition to his time served on the School Board and directly interacting with students in the library, Eike is a longtime volunteer with the Inland Seas Education Association.

He initially served as a volunteer on the school ship working with students from all over the state as they collected data from the lake —taking measurements, catching fish, and counting plankton, among others.

Now his task is inputing that data into the ISEA database.

“After 26 years, they are able to make comparisons and see how things have changed,” he said.

A good number of youngsters who’ve gone through the school ship program have later come back as adults to either intern or talk about their occupation and how ISEA made a difference in their lives.

“We need people like that to hold (the government’s) feet to the fire, to make sure there’s no de-investing in the Great Lakes,” Eike said.

Norsemen sports fans may recognize Eike as a public address announcer or statistician at basketball games.

Behind the scenes, Eike also volunteers as assistant webmaster for Suttons Bay Public Schools, making sure announcements and information are posted online on a timely basis.

Reflecting over the years, Eike remembers something told to him during his interview at Munson.

“I was told that community involvement was one of the responsibilities that went along with the job,” said Eike, who said he volunteered at first without giving the responsibility much thought.

He encourages adults to get involved as he has at Suttons Bay.

“We have great kids, great faculty and great support staff. We could use always use more volunteers,” he said.

Further information about how you can help is available at 271-8600 ext. 400.

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