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If you’ve ever been to the Citizen Exchange in Old Town, Delta, an affable Golden Retriever, may have welcomed you. She belongs to Michele Maki, who co-owns the local artisans’ market with Amy Valdez Barker. Citizen Exchange showcases the work of more than 80 artists and often hosts events to grant them exposure. Maki, who has lived in Lawrenceville since 1992, has been a potterer for 11 years, a hobby that makes her business more meaningful.
“Citizen Exchange is where I fell in love with Old Town,” said Maki, who recalls shopping decades ago at the Kroger at Beaver Ruin Road. “We want to uplift and encourage new and veteran artists. We have artists as young as 10 years old.”
When Maki and Rick, her husband of 44 years, moved to Gwinnett, Lilburn was her shopping destination. That led her to discover more about Lilburn – the town, its people, its connectivity and embracement of all things that comprise a community.
“I think Lilburn is an amazing enclave of people who really care about each other,” Maki said. “There is a real feeling of community that is apparent by the people you meet, the people who are courteous enough to stop at the pedestrian crosswalk and the people who support the local businesses.”
Weeks ago, Maki figured prominently in a City of Lilburn Facebook posting that told how she helped an upset senior citizen who came into her shop. The woman wanted someone to drive ahead of her and guide her to a Snellville address to personally pay a bill. When she shared her story, Maki reached out to a friend at Lilburn City Hall, who in return contacted Lilburn Police. Shortly thereafter, Senior Police Officer Mike Johnson arrived, calmed the woman down, talked to his supervisor and got permission to assist the woman.
But it all started with Maki, and that’s why she’s our July “Citizen of the Month.”
“I find that, by working and being at Citizen Exchange, I can make a difference by representing our little town in a positive, joyful way,” she said. “I love sharing the beautiful works of art that we sell and enjoy being an ear to listen to someone who needs a moment of friendship. I believe that we choose how we act or react and I choose positivity and kindness.”
Sounds like a great choice.