Cheers To The Front Porch Concert Series

Mike Bentley & his son, James, blowing bubbles during a Front Porch Concert.

In the words of Sophia from the "Golden Girls," “picture this”….

It’s the middle of March and I’m sitting in my office thinking to myself, “How in the heck can I get more involved in the community?” My wife and I both grew up in Lakewood, and had lived in West Park a number of years. We liked it, but, when we had children we decided to move back to Lakewood because of the charm and culture we wanted our kids to have that we witnessed growing up. Yes, it’s different, but more or less, it’s the same. I say that with compliments. The culture and people are similar; but the homes, the businesses, and Downtown Lakewood make it so much more beautiful than it was when we grew up. People aren’t just coming for the bars anymore. They’re coming to eat, bike, shop, and live.

So, I start running down the various things I can do. Now, selfishly, I wanted to also promote my business; but, it was extremely important to me that I get involved with something I care about. At that moment, I’m looking around my office, and saw a picture of my two boys, who are the absolute light of my wife’s and my lives. All I can picture is them, in our family room (if you live in our neighborhood, you’ve probably heard the music or walked by and said “these people are nuts”), begging for “Uptown Funk” and the four of us singing and dancing with the kids’ drum and guitar, over and over and over. BOOM! It hit me. I sent a message on Facebook to LakewoodAlive inquiring about sponsoring the Front Porch Concert Series. Shortly thereafter, I’m sitting and hashing out a plan with their impeccable leader, Ian Andrews, on how to promote the series, and learning more about the organization to make sure I believed in what they stood for (economic development in Downtown Lakewood, home beautification, Light Up Lakewood, etc.).

My wife and I took our toddler boys up to the concerts just about every Friday, save for a couple when we were out of town for the weekend. It amazed me how many in our community showed up! The first week, we had a table set up to promote Bentley Wealth Management, and gave out bubbles while the kids and adults danced the night away to Havana Nights Orchestra. Another week, I ran into Dr. Picard, whom I’ve known since I was at Lincoln Elementary with his second oldest son, for the first time in nearly 20 years, and got to catch up while one of his younger sons was jamming away with the Vance Music Studio Kids Bands. I caught up with Sergeant Kevin Fischer weekly, and it was particularly memorable watching him help a young lady, who had had a bad day, get her car open while the keys were locked inside. I got to meet many of YOU; my neighbors, my friends and family, my clients, up there weekly. We got particularly lucky this summer that we didn’t have much rain on Friday nights and the whole Downtown Lakewood area could hear the beautiful notes coming from guitars, keyboards, standing bass, and yes, even Ernie Krivda’s saxophone.

While many of you probably remember seeing my business’ name attached to the social media blitz and press releases LakewoodAlive put out weekly this summer, I came away extremely grateful. I’ve had many people come to me asking if I could work with them on financial planning; others saying, “Oh, you’re the guy who does the concerts” (I wish I had musical bone in my body, I can’t even keep a beat); or asking how I felt it was working out from a sponsorship standpoint. Yes, the sponsorship I did with LakewoodAlive worked to get you all aware of me and maybe even sick of me at the same time, but this came down to what was important to me. They cared about that. LakewoodAlive knew how much my kids enjoyed music, and how much they enjoyed those concerts every week. They cared about how it became a ritual for my family, and many of yours, to be up there weekly dancing the night away. Ian, Allison, Matt, Lisa, and Mark at LakewoodAlive deeply care about our community. I’ve volunteered, I’ve helped with planning some of the larger events they put on, and I drank in their awesome beer garden at Meltdown!

I’d like to raise a glass to our community, our city, and LakewoodAlive for making this year the most successful Front Porch Concert Series, yet. Thank you. In a society where it feels like so many extra-curricular activities are getting taken away from children and communities, we are lucky to live in a town that cares about the arts. We are a community of diverse, artistic, strong-willed, but accepting people. No matter our differences, we always come together in the end as a community. The Front Porch Concert Series is only one example. LakewoodAlive puts on Summer Meltdown, Spooky Pooch, The Lakewood Wine & Craft Beer Festival, Light Up Lakewood, they do the flower boxes on Detroit during the spring/summer, they do volunteer projects for yard clean up, house painting etc. I’ve already told Ian and the team that I’m back as the title sponsor for next year for the Front Porch Concert Series. I’m doing it because of our community, because of our children, because of the arts. If you see me around, say hello, have a conversation with me. I grew up here, I’m raising my kids here, and I want to make sure my family and I give back to this beautiful lady we call home. Lakewood.

Michael Bentley

Mike Bentley is Vice President, Investments at Bentley Wealth Management of Raymond James. He is originally from Lakewood and lives here today with his wife, Missy, and sons, James and Alex. In his free time, Mike enjoys gardening and landscaping, golf, Cleveland sports, The Ohio State Buckeyes, and spending time with his family. He is a past board member of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. He is a current board member of the Clifton Club. Mike is also actively involved with LakewoodAlive, both as title sponsor for the Front Porch Concert Series and a committee member for the Lakewood Wine & Craft Beer Festival.

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Volume 12, Issue 20, Posted 5:03 PM, 09.27.2016