Ginny and Matt Sherrow, owners and founders of Fenton Winery and Brewery in Fenton Township, were recipients of the Michigan Hero Award. They were presented with the award during the formal Governor’s Service Awards 2022 reception and ceremony at the Fox Theatre in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Michigan Hero Award is the product of the Michigan Community Service Commission, which was established in 1991 through the Michigan Office of the Governor as the state’s lead agency for volunteerism. The Commission works to leverage and catalyze innovation and the volunteer power of Michiganders to strengthen their communities, grow the ethic of civic engagement, and build a stronger Michigan.
Fenton Winery & Brewery team member Randy Alexander submitted the following Hero Story to the commission.
Alexander wrote, “Matt and Ginny Sherrow have been a leader in business for over a decade in the Fenton area. COVID-19 hit and they were under tremendous pressure to keep the Fenton Winery & Brewery and wedding venue going, and take care of their employees. They both put in very long days and nights through shut downs, limited hours, restart and more shut downs. The entire time they were always worried as to how they could best navigate this crisis and above all take care of all the people employed by them. While many were forced to cut ties with their work force, Matt and Ginny stood behind their employees and supported them during a very difficult time.
“Ginny spoke to the Michigan House Appropriations Committee about the struggles of small business owners and the challenges in supporting their work family. They advocated for all small business owners who were facing tough times amidst COVID-19 restrictions.
“They showed compassion toward the community and gave employees hope, while easing fears of the ever-changing environment during COVID-19.”
Ginny Sherrow said the award was a complete surprise. She said their team member, Ryan Alexander, submitted the nomination back in April. Next week will be his 10th year at Fenton Winery & Brewery.
There were a total of 25 Community Hero nominees. Approximately two months ago, the Sherrows received an email indicating they were invited to the Fox Theatre to celebrate all the heroes.
In attendance were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
Ginny said it was a humbling experience to be recognized. “There were so many other great people being honored,” she said. She added that she gets a little emotional every time she reads Alexander’s nomination letter. “It was such a kind write-up,” she said.
Keeping businesses, especially restaurants open during COVID was challenging. “It was tough on businesses and for the people at the business,” she said. Some businesses sent their employees home to work, however, it doesn’t work this way for restaurants. Ginny said she and Matt were very concerned about their mostly young team members who were home, alone and couldn’t work. There was so much uncertainty. They didn’t know if they had a job. She said they held many zoom meetings to stay in touch and had happy hours attempting to make sure their employees felt hope.
“We were determined to bring everyone back,” she said. “It was tough for everyone.”
In February 2021, Ginny spoke out in support of restaurants at the Michigan House of Representatives Oversight Committee.
Looking back at her speaking in Lansing, Ginny said part of her reason for doing it was because she wanted the legislators to know the impact shut downs and restrictions had on their industry. “It was a way for me to focus my energy in a positive way,” she said.
Ginny said another reason she spoke publically was because she wanted her boys to know that she tried the best she could.
Matt said with the restaurant shut downs, it was difficult to understand that they were told restaurant employees were not essential. “It’s a career, that’s what they do. They (restaurants) provide more than just food and drinks. They provide community. It’s essential.”
Ginny said with all of the uncertainty, it was a strain on all of them.
Regarding their award, she said, “It was a very humbling experience,” adding that it’s a really nice thing that the state does in recognizing all these people.