ART Doing Good

The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with local artist Susan Pominville to raise funds for Torch 180, a nonprofit restaurant in Fowlerville where people with disabilities learn the skills needed to work in the restaurant industry.

Limited-edition prints of Pominville’s original oil painting, SKY, inspired by the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, will be offered for sale on the chamber’s website,, and at the event.

As its title suggests, Pominville’s painting captures the beauty and excitement of watching a simultaneous launch as hot air balloons slowly rise to fill the sky with a dazzling display of color. Her intuitive abstract style uses bold strokes, bright colors, and thickly textured paint to capture the emotion and energy of her subject. In SKY, long swaths of color overlay one another, giving the impression that the ground, spectators, balloons, and sky have come together as one.

The 12”x18” gicleé reproductions are printed on the highest-quality archival paper. Each print, priced at $250, is signed and numbered by the artist and comes with a certificate of authenticity. Proceeds benefit the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce and Torch 180, a working café and coffee shop that teaches students culinary and management skills to prepare for restaurant jobs and careers.

“Torch 180 is a natural fit with the Chamber and a wonderful opportunity to work together for the greater good of our region,” says Janelle Best, president of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors Balloonfest. “This collaboration wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of artist Susan Pominville and the support of the many donors who purchase her works.”

Balloonfest, now in its 38th year, will take place June 23–25 in two locations: downtown Howell and the main campus of Howell Schools, 411 North Highlander Way. A free shuttle will be running to transport guests between the two sites. The event features hot air balloon launches, fireworks, a nighttime balloon glow, live entertainment, food vendors, and much more family-friendly fun. For information, visit

Torch 180 was founded in 2015 by Rhonda Callahan, who couldn’t abide the fact that local people with disabilities were living in poverty, in part due to limited employability training programs in Livingston County. Based on her experience in the food service industry, she knew that many jobs were going unfilled. To meet this need, she created Torch 180, whose mission is to provide inclusive opportunities for vocational training and work experience for those with disadvantages.

Callahan chose the name Torch 180 because a torch is a symbol of light, and in dark times, people look for a way forward. “The number 180 represents helping people make life changes in a new, more positive direction,” she explains.

Torch 180 has mutual benefits for both employees and employers. As one graduate who now works as a dietary aide at Independence Village in Brighton, says, “The people I serve are the main reason I love my job.”

Garrett Pace, Recruiter at Independence Village, describes what Torch 180 has meant to this retirement community. “Torch 180 helps shine a light on candidates who have the skill—and the heart—to provide the absolute best experience for seniors in our community.”

For more information on Torch 180 programs and to volunteer or make a donation, go to


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