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Thursday, December 18, 2014

MORC worker wins 2015 Ford Mustang


Jessica Peterson of Sterling Heights stands next to the 2015 special edition Detroit Lions Ford Mustang she won from the Southeast Michigan Ford Dealers as her boyfriend, Jake Slep of Royal Oak, stands besides her. Submitted photo
A 23-year-old woman won a key to happiness during the Detroit Lions’ 16-14 win against the Minnesota Vikings when she reached inside a box and pulled out a key to a brand new blue Ford Mustang.
“I asked one of the Lions’ officials on the field during halftime when I picked the prize among three finalists if it was real,” said Jessica Peterson, 23, of Sterling Heights.
“I was told the key I had in hand was the one that would start the engine on the Mustang not far from me on Ford Field. The official also said: ‘I wouldn’t lie’ about a thing like winning a Ford Mustang when I questioned her.”
The three finalists came down to the field during halftime of the Dec. 14 NFL game and each pulled a small gift box from a “Santa” bag. Then Ford Motor Co. and Lions officials counted to three. At the count of three, the contestants opened their boxes and that’s when Peterson found a key in her box, she said.
The key was for a special edition 2015 Lions silver Ford Mustang. The car has blue Lions drawings on the fenders, blue rims, and Lions symbols embroidered on the seats, Peterson said. The loaded vehicle, including a customized exhaust, V-6 engine and automatic transmission, is worth more than $37,000.
Peterson works at the autism center in Clinton Township operated by the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. The autism center helps children with autism between the ages of 18 months up until age 6, said director Frankie Groce. Currently, the center serves 27 children with autism and MORC has another autism center in Troy.
After Peterson had the key in hand, “I entered the car and blew the horn and was thrilled.”
Her boyfriend, Jake Slep of Royal Oak, and Peterson received two free end-zone tickets on the Lions’ side of the field to the game.
Peterson had filled out a form to win the car at the Royal Oak Ford dealership off of Woodward on Black Friday, the much-hyped shopping day after Thanksgiving. She said she didn’t do any regular Christmas shopping that day, just visited the dealership with her boyfriend.
Peterson was called by a Lions’ official who told her she was one of three finalists from more than 65,000 people who filled out the form at a Ford dealership in southeast Michigan or online to win the unique Mustang. It was part of a promotion to have motorists test drive a Ford.
“When I found that key in the box, I was excited, happy and nervous all at once,” Peterson said.
“I was happy just to win the tickets to the game,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to win the Mustang.”
The Lions took plenty of pictures of Peterson with her Mustang. She also said her boyfriend and others also recorded the event on video.
Peterson said the two other finalists, a man and woman, were good sports. Each gave her a congratulatory hug as they looked over her shoulder at the sparkling car.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

OCCHMA receives jail diversion grant



By JERRY WOLFFE
Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority will receive a $275,370 jail diversion grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health on Jan. 1 to create a Crisis Intervention Team program and train 80 Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies.

The crisis program is a nationally recognized, community partnership between law enforcement and mental health professionals. It is designed to promote positive outcomes during crisis situations that require police assistance.  

“... OCCMHA has a responsibility to ensure that valuable training resources are available to local law enforcement,” said Willie Brooks, OCCMHA Executive Director and CEO. “The CIT grant is helping us fulfill this obligation by providing timely and important training experiences to officers, so that they are better prepared to serve people in crisis.”

Deputies who participate in CIT will receive 40 hours of comprehensive mental health training, which includes information about mental illness and developmental disabilities, opportunities to speak with advocates, individuals with mental illness and their families, and participation in role-playing scenarios.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country that utilize CIT have seen significant reductions in the number of officer and personal injuries, as well as a decrease in arrest rates.

“Our long-standing partnership with OCCMHA has served as the foundation for many initiatives that enhance the Sheriff Office’s ability to serve people who are in crisis, especially individuals with a mental illness,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “Bringing CIT to Oakland County is just one more example of our commitment to work together for the betterment of our community.”  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Credit The Macomb Daily: Businessman funds Miracle League party



The Macomb Daily, from Thursday, Dec. 11
 
The Miracle League of Michigan presents its annual holiday party for children and families of Easter Seals Michigan from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, 310 S. Troy Street.
 
Based in Southfield, the Miracle League provides children with disabilities the opportunity to play on both competitive and non-competitive baseball teams.

There will be live comedy, visits with Santa, magic shows, face painting, cooking and card demonstrations, and more.

The party is funded by a generous donation by businessman Mark Waad, 29, of Shelby Township.

For more information on the Miracle League of Michigan, click michiganmiracle.org.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Common Ground named ‘Best Managed Nonprofit’



After being named a finalist in 2010 and receiving an honorable mention in 2004, Common Ground has been named Crain’s Best-Managed Nonprofit for 2014. The 43-year old non-profit agency, which helps people going through emotional and/or mental health crises, was featured in the Dec. 1 edition of Crain’s Detroit Business. CEO Tony Rothschild said he was thrilled that Common Ground has been recognized as a standout among its peers. He said he believes one of the reasons Common Ground won the honor is because of the innovative approaches it takes in providing services to the community. Common Ground is based in Bloomfield Hills with locations in Pontiac, Royal Oak and Flint. The agency’s 24-hour Resource and Crisis Helpline is 800-231-1127.
— by Jerry Wolffe

Monday, December 8, 2014

MORC workers strive to make joyous holiday for needy family



Box: Gifts for the family can be sent to MORC, Reimbursement Department, 16200 19 Mile Road, Clinton Township, MI. 48038. Call (586) 263-8977 for more information if needed.

By JERRY WOLFFE

An Oakland County woman and her two grandchildren with autism are likely to have new clothes and toys this holiday season due to the generosity of workers at a Clinton Township nonprofit.
The family recently moved to Oakland County from Florida, leaving all their possessions behind, said Nancy A. Ricotta, reimbursement supervisor at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc.
All nine members in her department including Ricotta – Shelly Cousins, Audrey DiFranco, Sue Lencheck, Teresa Miller, Tracy Paris-Koka, Renee Stroze, Joanna Tohme, and Kathleen Zelmanski -- are donating to the family so they have enough food and some new outfits for Christmas.
Ricotta asked Executive Director Teri Donaldson of the Futures Foundation learned the family’s needs after providing them with furniture donated by White Star Movers.
“Their story touched my heart and I wanted them to have a wonderful Christmas.
“We are lucky” to have identified a family “who is badly in need of our assistance this holiday season,” Ricotta said.
“Please, please help me” to help my granddaughter and grandson to have a nice Christmas, the grandmother said. “I’ve been waiting to buy a weight blanket for my grandson and some stuff for my granddaughter but because I don’t have any money I haven’t been able to buy anything.”
MORC so far has acquired some basic furniture and household goods for the family. The gifts will be delivered around Christmas.
The grandma, Carmen Nieves-Sosa, and her 10-year-old grandson, Isaias Ortiz-Hernandez, and 7-year-old granddaughter, Aiyana Jordan, live in Clarkston and the children attend Andersonville Elementary School in Clarkston.
“The grandmother is an extremely strong advocate for her grandchildren,” Ricotta said.
The grandmother is eager to learn about the needs of her grandchildren so she can help them develop to their full potential, Ricotta said.
“With the determination of the grandmother, the support of family, and supportive services, this family will have the tools to help the children learn the skills they will need to live happy and fulfilling lives,” she added.
Items needed for Aiyana include shoes, boots, a coat, tops, underwear, artist training cards, and a pink/white Hello Kitty among other things. Isaias needs pants, shirts, shoes, boots, tennis shoes, hat, gloves, and scarf and would like balloon rockets with a pump.
The grandmother still needs pots and pans, sheets for twin beds, pajamas, gloves, a coat, pants and tops, snow boots, and any type of developmental or educational materials for the children.
“We are truly lucky to live the lives we live,” said Ricotta, a six-year veteran of MORC. “This is our way of sharing some of our good fortune, especially during the holiday season.”
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Common Ground Named “Best Managed Nonprofit”



(from Crain's)

After being named a finalist in 2010 and receiving an honorable mention in 2004, Common Ground has been named Crain’s Best-Managed Nonprofit for 2014.

The 43-year old agency, which helps people going through emotional and/or mental health crises, is featured in the Dec. 1 edition of Crain’s Detroit Business.

CEO Tony Rothschild said he was thrilled that Common Ground has been recognized as a standout among its peers. He said he believes one of the reasons Common Ground won the honor is because of the innovative approaches it takes in providing services to the community.

“We’re not afraid to take risks,” he said as an example. “Sometimes you have to spend some money to develop an idea and not just wait for funding. If it’s a good idea, funding will come.”

The agency has big plans for the future—all focused on helping people move from crisis to hope. It has adopted a peer recovery coach model, where those who have had and recovered from mental illness help those currently in treatment. The model involves partnering with other organizations on a number of new and innovative projects. It also includes moving its crisis services to a state-of-the-art facility and plans for much more. 

Common Ground is a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping youths, adults and families in crisis.  The agency’s 24-hour Resource and Crisis Helpline (800-231-1127), youth and family services, emergency psychiatric services and other programs throughout Oakland and Genesee counties are a lifeline for runaway and homeless youth, families in crisis, victims of crime, people with mental illness and others in critical situations. The agency operates a budget of more than $12 million annually.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.







Thursday, December 4, 2014

MORC Players wow audience



By JERRY WOLFFE

Some 16 people with disabilities sang, danced and did improvisations in a performance that thrilled and brought happy tears to the eyes of some of their parents and an audience of about 100 at the Auburn Hills office of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center.

It was an evening of joy and discovery of new talents.

The performance was the first time the “MORC Players” took the stage under sponsorship of The Futures Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to help those with disabilities, and guidance by Lou Fazzini, founder and executive director of All the World’s a Stage, Susan Scheuer, volunteer and board member and Mary Ellen Renne, another volunteer.

Parent Donna Raphael said the show Tuesday night (Dec. 2) meant “so much to our family and daughter whose one request was to be in an acting troupe. We were thrilled by her performance.” Daughter Lindsay said, “I loved singing and made new friends.”

The actors and actresses began practicing for the show about 12 weeks ago, said Teri Donaldson, the executive director of The Futures Foundation. She was in the front of the room with the performers encouraging them by repeatedly saying: “You can do it” as they sang or danced on the ‘stage.’

“We try to teach people to step out of their comfort zone and not give up,” said Fazzini. “This program was about giving everyone a voice.”

Actor Yuri Goga, 28, of Waterford said, “I learned to mime for the first time. I liked having my voice to be on stage.”

He was referring to when Scheuer began the show by standing in front of the troupe and moved her body and the MORC Players mimicked her motions. At one point with arms outstretched to her sides, she reached straight up to the ceiling and then over her head, creating a circle like the world or a new dawn and everyone did the same in a heart-warming moment that symbolically showed the spirit of those with disabilities can’t be limited.

Fazzini said theater is a universal art form and “can be for any level” of ability. “It’s just about doing things. We taught the actors and actresses how to use their voices, bodies and motion to express themselves.”

MORC vocational specialist Kristie Persyn of Macomb Township said the performance “made the actors and actresses feel special and boosted their self-esteem.”

“I think it gives our people the chance to shine in a different way,” said Support Coordinator Supervisor Sue Gipperich. “It shows they are individuals and can get up there and strut their talents and show they are as good as anyone else.”

At one point, everyone sang along with a recording of the late Karen Carpenter’s “Sing, Sing a Song.” Not one performer worried his or her “singing wasn’t good enough for everybody else to hear” as they moved, each in his or her own way, to the song’s rhythm.
Alicia Young of Waterford said it was “so much fun and we worked so hard.” Her friend and fellow actress, Nadeen Spivey of Rochester Hills, said: “I made new friends, too, and liked best interacting with the others.”

Kelly Knighton of Clarkston summed up the experience for the actors and actresses who had fun and ventured where they had not gone before.

“I had stage fright, but I hung in there and got back up and did my thing. I loved the performance.”

And perhaps that is the key to life and finding happiness: Getting back up and doing your thing with all your heart.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 63-8950.