Photo provided - Doug and Nancy Schwartz were named Centreville’s Citizens of the Year in May.

Doug and Nancy Schwartz named Centreville Citizens of the Year

CENTREVILLE — A local couple well known in Centreville’s faith community were recently named as Centreville’s Citizens of the Year for 2022.

Doug and Nancy Schwartz, two of the founding members of Firm Foundation Ministries in Centreville, were recipients of the yearly award, announced in mid-May during Centreville’s village council meeting. The two were honored for their work with Firm Foundation, including over a decade with its popular Vacation Bible School program, which last year had over 300 kids participate, a record for the program.

“The village is lucky to have residents like Doug and Nancy living in the village. They are prime examples of what Centreville represents with Bulldog Pride,” Village President Brandy Eckert said in a statement. “They both live, work, learn and praise in the village. They give hope to others in the community during their time of need and give an uplifting example of what a successful marriage working together for the benefit of others looks like.”

The Schwartzes are Centreville natives, having graduated from Centreville High School in the early 80s. They were high school sweethearts, and have been married for 37 years. Doug has worked at Burr Oak Tool in Sturgis for 35 years as an engineer and engineering supervisor, while Nancy has been a paraprofessional for Centreville schools for 16 years. They have four children, with another in Heaven, as well as a number of grandchildren.

Doug and Nancy, along with former pastor Jay Ulrich and others, founded Firm Foundation in 1996. Outside of VBS, the two have also helped a number of families with a prayer ministry and marriage classes at the church.

“We like to help people, help hurting people try and pick up the pieces, try and connect the dots, try to figure out where the root is of any problem, just start there and love on people,” Nancy said. “We've been through our own stuff and we just want to be there for other people, and working with families you can see where a strong healthy family is just the center of everything. We feel it's important to build relationships with people.”

“It’s really fun to see people come to faith in Jesus and recognize the change that takes place in their lives. Their depression leaves, anxiety leaves, and they're excited for life,” Doug said. “We help them through financial difficulties as well, help them get into budgets, normal stuff like that. But it's really impactful in a world that's chaotic to know you can live in the midst of a storm and have peace.”

Both Doug and Nancy said they were surprised to learn they were selected as Citizens of the Year, and even thought it wasn’t true at first.

“It’s quite an honor, we were quite surprised,” Doug said.

“At first we thought it was a joke,” Nancy recalled. “Our daughter called us while we were out riding bikes one night, and she goes, 'Well, I just wanted to call and tell you that you guys were Citizens of the Year this year,' and I was like, 'Yeah right,' and she was like, 'No, really.' Our neighbor had told her to give us the news, and thought that was really sweet.”

The two have recently been gearing up for the next season of VBS, which begins in late July. They said it takes six months to get the program ready every year, working with three to four other churches doing the same program, and they said they couldn’t do it without a massive number of volunteers.

“One of the things we do is we have a team of people that work together, so we can't take credit for ourselves because we have a big group of people, but it's quite humbling as well,” Doug said.

“We have around 190 volunteers we use to pull it off. When we say big team, we mean it and we need every single person. It's a great thing. The kids love it,” Nancy said. “And it helps with me being in the school too, and they just love the fact they can see all these people during the summer and it gives the parents a few hours of free time, since we do it for three hours a night.”

Doug and Nancy will be recognized as Citizens of the Year during the upcoming Covered Bridge Days festival, happening July 15 and 16. They will receive a special plaque from the village and ride at the front of the Covered Bridge Days Parade. The two said they are looking forward to it, even thinking about bringing one of their biggest hobbies into it.

“Yeah, we thought we might even ride our bikes in the parade,” Nancy joked.

Overall, the two said they were honored to receive the Citizen of the Year award.

“We just have done a lot in the community ourselves for 30 years, and we went to school there too and just felt like we always wanted to give back to the community in any way we could,” Nancy said. “There's a lot of opportunities even in a small town. We enjoy the people, and we love Centreville.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

Three Rivers Commercial-News

124 North Main Street
Box 130
Three Rivers, MI 49093

Telephone: 269-279-7488
Fax: 269-279-6007
General email: info@threeriversnews.com