Faces of Milan

Sara Ford

Helen Polaski

Helen Polaski was editor of The Milan News for 17 years, opened an ice cream parlor, called Stella’s 16 Flavors, in downtown Milan, authored nine books and thousands of articles both online and in print, and has been a frequent contributor to a variety of Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

When freelancing for The Ann Arbor News Helen heard that a young girl’s pony had been killed in a drive-by shooting incident in the Ypsilanti area. The piece she wrote led to a deluge of donations for the young girl, including the gift of a brand new horse of her choosing. That was over 15 years ago and Helen says, “it still feels good to talk about it.”

Over the years Helen served on several committees (some more than once):  The Downtown Development Authority, The Milan Beautification Commission, The Milan Area Historical Society, The Milan Fair Board, and the Milan Jaycees.

Helen was instrumental in helping organize the first Holiday Parade in Milan, she ran the original Latchkey Program, called Rainbows, organized by Parks and Rec and held at Paddock Elementary, and also organized the first Daisy (kindergarten) Girl Scout Troop in Milan.

When Helen finished her first book, she told her writing group she thought it was “Paul Harvey” worthy, and wondered if she should contact him to see if he’d be interested in endorsing it.

“To save me from embarrassment my team quickly talked me out of that idea. So you can imagine my surprise when the phone rang one afternoon some months later and Paul Harvey was on the other line! He said he loved my work and asked permission to read passages from my books on his show.”

Harvey was getting ready for a trip and asked the office if anyone had something he could read on the plane and someone in the office had a copy of Helen’s first book and handed it over. He said it was a delight he couldn’t put down.

“Before I knew it, he had endorsed the book I was working on currently, and invited me to visit any time I was in Chicago.”

Helen and her family have lived in Milan for nearly 40 years.  Along with her husband, Tom, they raised three children, April, Alissa and Nathan.

“We have felt blessed to be in such a close-knit community.”

Five years ago Helen took a hiatus from writing to spend time with her first grandchild. Today, she has four little ones: Jacob, five, Liam, four, Weston, two, and six-month-old Kensington, all of whom keep her very busy.

“It breaks my heart to think some day they will be grown and Grammie won’t be needed as much. When that time comes, I will turn to the memories, tidbits and treasures they have shared with me and I with them, and once again my fingers will find the worn spaces on my keyboard, for my writing career is far from over.”

Photo Credit: Mary Kerkes

Sponsored by: Mary Kerkes Photography

Come visit us soon!