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Monday, August 11, 2014

Carhartt and MORC'S 10th anniversary hockey game scheduled

Employees of Carhartt, an American-based clothing company founded in 1889 that focuses on making work clothes, has adopted the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc., as its charity to receive funds raised in the Carhartt vs. Red Wings Alumni game.
The 10th Anniversary MORC Hockey Game will be at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21, at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center. 
This game for MORC will be extra special because it is part of Carhartt’s 125-year Anniversary Celebration.
Over the last 13 years Carhartt has provided thousands of people with disabilities with food, new winter coats and clothing, furniture and appliances, van repair and emergency help.  Each year, Carhartt adopts several hundred people for its “Carhartt Christmas.”
Thank you to all the MORC staff, local businesses and community members who volunteer to help with Carhartt donations throughout the year and on Christmas.
MORC is the state's largest nonprofit agency with offices in Clinton Township and Auburn Hills and provides homes in the community with 24/7 care for those with developmental disabilities or mental illness.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at MORC. He can be reached at 586 263 8950.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fishing Derby set for children with disabilities

Sponsors and volunteers are needed for this event. For more information on helping or attending, please call Doris Clarkston, president of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Benefit for the Disabled at (248) 618-8900 or William FitzGerald, the vice president of the nonprofit at (248) 736-9023. Those interested can visit the website at


The 28th Annual Disabled Children’s Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, is scheduled for Aug. 13 at Dodge Park No. 4 in Waterford between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
More than 100 volunteers will help an estimated 700 children with physical and cognitive impairments have a “great day of boat rides, games, and food and fun,” according to Doris Clarkston, the president of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Benefit for the Disabled.
“We also will have the command staff at the fishing derby to help cook and serve food,” Clarkston said. She added that the Sheriff’s Department’s Marine Safety Division/Dive Team and an EMS unit will be at the Cass Lake location where the park is located “to ensure the safety of the children and other participants on the water.”
Our Lady of the Lakes High School Football team will be in attendance at the park at 4250 Parkway to help load the children into and off of Pontoon boats.
Owners of the boats have volunteered them for the outing.
“A lot of these children seldom have opportunities to go boating and be in a park,” she said. “We are working as an organization to build an accessible playground to enhance the park experience.”
The department will provide lunch, fishing poles, games, and fun for each child. The children with disabilities will come from all over Oakland County “to have a great day,” Clarkston said.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence/advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIA volunteers help residents with disabilities discover artistic talent

Ashley Smith of Rochester Hills looks at the ceramic tile her friend, Brian Spuz of St. Clair Shores, is working. DIA art studio instructor Kathleen Rashid gives advice to both. Photo submitted by Jerry Wolffe
Artists with the Detroit Institute of Arts are trying to help people with disabilities who are served by the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc., discover their artistic ability.
In a trip from the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center in Clinton Township to the DIA, 11 people with disabilities and five staff toured the institute and then had sessions where they worked on ceramic tiles. They will decorate the tiles and eventually take them home after receiving skilled guidance from DIA art studio instructors/teaching artists Lavern Homan, Kathleen Rashid, Eric Gill, Soh Suzuki, Vito Valdez and Byron Nemela.
Before the hour-long art session, however, gallery docent Dave Galli guided the students, caregivers and MORC staff on a tour of several galleries and asked the individuals to describe the master works. Docents Judy Garvey and Judy Anderson also led guided tours during other sessions with DIA artists and those served by MORC.
“All of us are teaching artists,” Nemela said of those helping the students with disabilities.
The MORC artists were brought to the art studio by a chartered Indian Trails bus, sat at several tables and each was given two square four-inch ceramic tiles and told to draw whatever they wanted. People from MORC homes in Macomb County are taken one day and those from Oakland County are brought to the DIA the next day.
Rashid spent a lot of time helping Ashley Smith of Rochester Hills and her friend, Brian Spuz of St. Clair Shores, as the professional artists treated the MORC students with respect and patience.
Everyone worked hard on drawing on their tile. After an initial pencil sketch was done, Homan and Rashid brought out artist pallets for each table with blues, yellows, whites, greens and many colors the students could use to complete their works.
MORC Project Director Patricia Sims Sunisloe said she hoped the art works created by people MORC serves could be put on display at the nonprofit’s offices in Clinton Township and Auburn Hills.
“I think this program means a great deal to the participants,” said the sister of one of the MORC artists. “She told me Marty cannot stop taking about this experience and how much he is loving being a part of it,” Sims Sunisloe said.
“It’s fantastic for everybody,” said caregiver Barbara Lingenfelter.
A mid-July session – one of eight in July -- with the art studio instructors went quickly. Some students drew sketches of pets; others stars and planetary objects; some painted tiles saying “Mom is My Best Friend,” and everyone cooperated and helped each other.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at MORC. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mental Health First Aid Training has far reach


          OXFORD -- The Tri-County Mental Health First Aid group has provided Mental Health First Aid training to more than 2,000 people.
The group is offering the training for free through September 30 as it works toward the goal set by the National Council for Behavioral Health to make MHFA training as common as CPR and First Aid.
The free training was made possible by a grant that Training and Treatment Innovations, Inc. (TTI) received from the Michigan Department of Community Health. The grant money allowed TTI, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center and other collaborating agencies to form the Tri-County Mental Health First Aid group, helping to ensure that the optimum number of people are trained in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
The training teaches people about mental health issues and instructs them in what to do if they encounter someone having a mental health issue or crisis. There are two types of mental health first aid. The first is for anyone the community while the second is for adults who work with children and teenagers.
A calendar of training date and locations is available at
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.

A life changed by generosity

Nonprofit builds accessible bathroom for West Bloomfield teen with cerebral palsy

Posted: 07/24/14, 3:08 PM EDT |
Thanks to a group of volunteers, a 14-year-old girl can now use an accessible bathroom in her home built by volunteers with “Rebuilding Together,” a nonprofit.
Molly McCullough has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal. She lives in her family’s West Bloomfield two-story home with her parents and her four siblings.
There was no accessible bathroom on the first floor of their home and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Molly’s parents, Scott and Kristen, to give her a bath or use the toilet since it meant carrying her up a flight of stairs to the small bathroom.
Macomb-Oakland Regional Center support coordinator Karen Hollingsworth, who visits the home monthly, helped the family find a way to build an accessible bathroom for Molly in the garage. Rebuilding Together had a budget of $2,000 for the project. Hollingsworth, who has worked for MORC since July 1972, said materials cost $1,300 and “donated” materials and labor was worth about $13,000.
The room is nine-feet by 10-feet with beautiful tile on the floors and walls. It also has a roll-in shower and a roll-in-shower chair that was donated for Molly’s use.
Quotes from home remodelers for an accessible bathroom were in the range of “$20,000 and above,” she said. However, Hollingsworth’s son-in-law, Chuck Riley, and her daughter, Becky, volunteer through “Rebuilding Together.”
An application was made to Rebuilding Together and a gift of $2,000 was approved.
Each department in the Home Depot store in White Lake Township gave discounts on materials and there was an additional corporate discount, she said.
“The original supply list was under $2,000 but when the discounts were applied, it was under $1,000.”
Volunteers included electricians, plumbers and other trade workers who installed everything for the bathroom, including drywall, insulation and extending heating ducts to warm the bathroom.
The 90-square-foot bathroom contains a shower that is six-feet wide and three-feet deep as well as a vanity, toilet and sink. Parts of the walls were reinforced so grab bars can be installed, if needed. The donated roll-in-shower chair would have cost about $2,000 if the McCullough family had to purchase one.
Hollingsworth noted that Molly is ecstatic with the new addition to their home. “Now that her new bathroom is done, Molly has had her first shower in it and loved it,” McCullough’s mother said.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.