Main Street Programs
Schaerli honored at state level
is one of three to receive
statewide board member award
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(November 2012) What started as a family getaway
for Sandy Schaerli turned into an introduction to a town that would
change her life. While reading the travel section of the Chicago Tribune
about 20 years ago, Schaerli came across an article on Madison, Ind.
While the family had planned to visit a variety of sites around southern
Indiana, upon reaching Madison, We did not go further, she
Soon there was a meeting with a real estate agent, and Schaerli was
well on the way to becoming an integral part of the town with which
she had fallen in love.
The small town friendliness proved to be a bit of an adjustment for
Schaerlis young daughter. When I walked down the street
when we first came here people would just say hi. My daughter
looked up and asked, Do you know these people?
Schaerli (far right) poses
with Madison Main Street board
member Gerry Michl (left) and
program director Whitney
Schaerlis own friendly nature made her fit right
in and she was quickly welcoming others to her adopted hometown. Living
near the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, she often catches tourists
who are looking for directions, and Schaerli is always ready with a
cheerful greeting and helpful local advice.
Its exciting to introduce people the wonderful things we
have here downtown, she says.
Schaerli was honored for her work as part of the Madison Main Street
Program on Oct. 11 by being named one of three outstanding board members
at the statewide Indiana Main Street Conference. The program describes
itself as a group dedicated to keeping our historic downtown an
economically vibrant part of our community through support of our businesses,
promotion, design assistance and cooperative effort with other local
In a press release, Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who oversees the
Office of Community and Rural Affairs, said of the recipients, Every
one of these individuals is a champion of local downtown revitalization
efforts and promotes economic activity in their respective communities.
The 2012 Board Member of the Year Award is given in recognition of exceptional
commitment to downtown revitalization and takes into consideration
not only a recipients impact on the Main Street Program itself,
but also on individual community members. Schaerli was nominated for
the 2012 Board Member of the Year Award by fellow board member Wanda
Gross and former Madison Main Street Program Executive Director Rhonda
Since becoming a part of the program in 2009 Schaerli has been an active
member. In their nomination letter, Deeg and Gross point out that Schaerli
is willing to take on tasks ranging from spearheading new programs to
assisting with clean up after events. Gross says of Schaerlis
nomination, She has done so much for Main Street and the merchants
In addition to being active on three committees and serving as a constant
font of ideas and enthusiasm, the nomination letter also points out
that if the program or event called for refreshments, Sandy never
failed to bring the tastiest, savory desserts.
This willingness to step up and do whatever needed to get done has made
her a valued member of the organization. This statewide award comes
a year after Schaerli was named Volunteer of the Year for the Madison
One of the Main Street programs that Schaerli has been a vital supporter
of is this years Buy Local initiative. When plans
for the campaign were first announced, Schaerli bought an eye-catching
three-wheeled bicycle and adorned it with a red flag and a Shop
Local license plate. Her cheerful trips around downtown proved
to be a fun way to get people talking about the program. While Schaerli
says that it may be obvious that it is important for shoppers to support
local stores, Sometimes people forget.
She continued, saying that having Main Street be successful is
sort of a barometer of a whole town. She highlights the impact
a tour of Main Street can have on visitors says that a thriving downtown
area can encourage confidence from investors.
If they go downtown and seen and active, involved Main Street
it benefits the whole town, she reflects.
As someone who relocated to Madison, Schaerli is well aware of the value
of such first impressions.Im not from here; Im not
a native, she explains.
She thinks that this outside perspective helps her and other transplants
to appreciate the special resource that is downtown. Weve
seen what it is like in other places, she says of the enthusiasm
Madison generates in its residents who have moved from other areas.
Currently, Schaerli is busy with a decal project that will help share
history and fun trivia about downtown buildings and businesses. The
idea is that soon the Main Street Program will help provide window decals
to local businesses in order to facilitate walking tours of downtown.
Schaerli was instrument in helping get an intern from Hanover College
to assist with research over the summer to gather information on about
20 buildings. The decal project is being supported by a grant from the
Schaerli notes that I always say people forget to look up,
and she hopes that the signs will help remind people to look up
and appreciate this great architecture.
Both Schaerli and Gross encourage those interested in the downtown area
to consider becoming a part of the Madison Main Street Program. Gross,
who opened Wandas Gifts back in 1991, says, Main Street
does so much for the community. They are there to fight for you when
you have problems. Its a fine group, and everybody takes ideas
from each other and gets along.
Schaerli agrees, saying, I dont think theres anything
better than becoming involved in your community.
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