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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fundraiser benefits students with disabilities

The Parents & Friends of Glen H. Peters School will hold their annual “Las Vegas Night” fundraiser on Saturday at the VFW Hall, 35011 23 Mile Road in New Baltimore.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit students with disabilities at the school, located in Macomb Township, by funding supplies, equipment and maintenance of the playground and the school’s splash zone, which opened last summer.

The event, which runs from 7 p.m. to midnight, includes: a 100-person no-limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament with $40 buy-in and payouts to the top 10 percent of the field; a euchre tournament (limited to the first 40 people) with $30 buy-in; blackjack; craps; and roulette. Pizza and cash bar will be provided.

Entry fee to the event is $5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets and more information, contact Karen Brouillard at 586-716-2944 or

A tease about Mr. Norton from Ch. 2 from "Surviving Disability" (c) by Jerry Wolffe

I’ve had at least two angels on duty during my life, others say, but the only angel I really found was my service dog, Norton, a mixture of Golden Retriever and Labrador and all heart with two white patches on his shoulders that look like angel wings against his otherwise tan coat.

He earned the title “Mr.” because he was just an incredible companion. I had to wait until I was in my 60s for Mr. Norton to show up in my life and be my “move” dog. His picture always was with mine in our “Voices of Disability” column that began in The Oakland Press in 1999 and won many journalism and community awards, but also, far more importantly, brought attention to the economic and political plight of the disabled.

When I first saw Mr. Norton with my wife, JoAnn, in 2005 at Paws with a Cause in Wayland, Mich., I thought he was absolutely stunning. He knew he was royalty and I suppose I should have dubbed him “Sir” instead of “Mr.” but so far he hasn’t complained.

Mr. Norton was sitting on a chair with head held high with many people sitting or standing around the walls of the room. Each had a role in training him to serve me. Mr. Norton could pull my wheelchair, pick up items I dropped, open doors, take off my shoes and socks, and make me laugh. Everyone wherever I went or worked loved that dog. If ever there was a chic-magnate, he was it. I regret I didn’t have him when I was young and single, but I probably wouldn’t have made it much past 20, but it would have been a healing process.

Anyway, Mr. Norton always kept me in line. I could flirt but not touch because my wife, JoAnn, was his best pal and the leader of our little pack.

One time in the early 2000s I told a park ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains that the park should have an accessible trail back into the woods that a wheelchair-user could use. Shortly after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed I became one of the 200 or so people picked by the Department of Justice and EEOC to learn it and go back to our homes and teach it so it was enforced. So, I was psychologically weighed down from 1990 forward in trying to make sure buildings, parks and restaurants were following what was called the most comprehensive civil rights law in history. Sometimes I wish I never had that training and received accreditation as an ADA Phase II Implementer from the government because the law is not really being followed. We believed the law would really work, but decades later the jobless rate among the disabled is still absurdly high and a majority of businesses are not accessible – a losing situation for all.

In the fall of 2011 or so, JoAnn and I went back to that park. The Ranger, Katherine, remembered me since I had been an angry asshole in telling her about the lack of accessibility at the park. By the way, federal entities such as the Smoky Mountains aren’t covered by the ADA, but are to be accessible under the Rehab Act.

“So, you came back,” she said to me as we rolled into the park ranger station. “I have some good news. Go down the road about a half-mile and there’s an accessible walkway.”

JoAnn, Mr. Norton and I got out of our Subaru where the ranger told us to go to and found the walkway. It was asphalt covered and about eight-feet wide, a real easy ride for someone like me.

So, I grabbed a hold of Mr. Norton’s harness and he started pulling me as JoAnn walked beside us. It was a beautiful day and we went deeper into the woods, leaving the sounds of the highway behind us.

Next thing I knew was that Mr. Norton had gone off at full speed after a squirrel in the woods. I held on tight to his harness. Bad idea. He dragged me out of my wheelchair and at least 10 feet off of the asphalt and I ended up lying in a bunch of prickly bushes and mud.

“Why can’t you get him for me?” Mr. Norton said with his eyes of the squirrel he had treed. “Damn, Mr. Norton,” I muttered. “Here’s another nice mess we are in because I keep forgetting you aren’t human and run after critters that run through the bushes in forests.

“Oh well, JoAnn,” I said, “I guess you have to go back and get that ranger to help me get out of this mess.”

“Why weren’t you careful?” the ranger said as she and JoAnn got me back in the chair as Mr. Norton sat by watching and apparently very entertained by the entire unfolding scene and oblivious to the bruises his ‘master’ had incurred. “I guess I forgot to be on squirrel patrol,” I quietly said to the ranger as our walk in the park ended for that day.

-- wolffe (Mr. Norton is recovering from nearly being hung by a harness around his neck when he apparently fell off a grooming table and incurred a severe pinch nerve... 2.27.2014). 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Futures Foundation to Partner with MCREST for Tiger's Opening Day Fundraiser

The Futures Foundation is partnering with MCREST to celebrate Detroit’s unofficial holiday with a day of fun, food and baseball as we cheer on the Detroit Tigers!
OpeningDayThe Opening Day party will take place  from noon to the end of the game on Monday, March 31, at Dave and Busters at 45511 Park Ave. in Utica.
Watch the Tigers’ home opener on a big screen while enjoying great food, drinks, a chance to win sports related prizes all while helping out two great organizations. Your ticket includes game viewing, a buffet lunch, two drink tickets, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, three raffle tickets and a chance to enjoy the game with friends and colleagues.
Sponsorships and upgraded tickets are also available that include additional benefits.
Tickets are $50 per person. All proceeds from the event will be split equally between MCREST, which helps provide shelter and support services to the homeless in Macomb County and The Futures Foundation.
For more information or to order tickets, please contact Teri Donaldson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  at 586-464-2610 or Jerry Wolffe at (586) 263-8950.

Monday, February 24, 2014 helps consumers find home-care providers

With men and women reaching age 65 now averaging a life expectancy of an additional 19.2 years, more families will be caring for elderly loved ones who increasingly want to remain living independently and in the safety of their own homes., created and managed by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B), a local non-profit serving seniors and adults with disabilities, is designed to help seniors and family caregivers in Southeast Michigan find quality in-home care.

The Southfield-based AAA 1-B developed as a free, unbiased community resource designed to guide seniors and families who are looking for home care. Initial funding for the project was provided by the Jewish Fund.

"There are lots of choices out there when it comes to home care," said Tina Abbate Marzolf, CEO of the AAA 1-B.  "It can be overwhelming. People often don't know where to start. We wanted to create something that families, especially families who might be in crisis, could use to make informed decisions."

Seniors and family caregivers can search the site's online listings of area home-care providers to find a company that is right for them. Users can  narrow listings based on their specific needs and also get firsthand insight into a company's performance by reading reviews entered by other people who have used their services. In addition to company listings, the site offers an extensive library of  informative articles on aging and caregiving. was inspired by a family caregiver whose mother had dementia. While caring for his mother, he struggled to find quality home care and the resources and information he needed. He was discouraged by the fact that he could go online and find reviews about restaurants, hotels or appliances but could not find anything similar to guide him when searching for a quality home care agency for his vulnerable mother.

The site was developed with the input and assistance of a group of 12 seniors and adults with disabilities who themselves receive in-home care. They wanted to share their experiences and insights and create a site that would work for people like them. They met one to two times a month for more than a year and helped develop the rating and review criteria, the look and feel of the site and the content. They also spent many hours making sure that the site would be easy to use and intuitive for older adults and people with disabilities.

For more information, visit sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B. To contact or learn more about AAA 1-B, call (800) -852-7795 or visit

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A "tease" from Chapter 2 of "Surviving Disability in the U.S.A."(c) by Jerry Wolffe

“My dream is far less eloquent than the “Mountain Top” that the late Martin Luther King, Jr., saw before he was killed. Mine is simple: Let each person decide what they want to do with their lives from what clothes to wear, what to eat, who to love and where to work. I never believed the creator made anything defective, especially people, and every time someone said I had a birth defect I wanted to spit in their face. I had so much rage as a child, it is remarkable I survived, but with each passing year God tempered my soul, probably from my lying in so many hospital beds and learning to accept suffering as a normal part of my life. Pain that saps the consciousness and wipes out all other perception and sensation is outstanding in transforming someone from being arrogant to being humble and realizing our fallibility. Each day then becomes precious.”

--By Jerry Wolffe

Family of children with autism to get private showing of movie


An awkward and embarrassing moment for parents of two sons with autism and the Goodrich Oxford 7 Theater will turn into a lesson in disability awareness and a special outing for the family.
Melanie Laine of Oxford Township, her husband, Steven, and sons, Matthew, 7, and Aidan, 5, went to the Oxford Township theater Saturday afternoon to see the 4:30 p.m. showing of “The Lego Movie,” Melanie said.
She said Aidan is obsessed with legos.
“He was not a little saint,” she said “During the movie he got excited and people complained to the manager.
“We were in the back of the theater by the entrance where we could make a quick exit if necessary and we’d be less obtrusive there,” Laine said. “The manager came over to me and said three people complained” her youngest son was disruptive.
She said she asked if the female manager was kicking them out of the show. “If we get another complaint, you will be hearing about it,” Laine said the manager said.
So Laine took Aidan and left the show. She then texted her husband and told him and their other son, Matthew, to leave, she said.
“The staff at the show was wonderful (but) I should never have been told that three people complained,” Laine said.
As they left, the manager refunded the cost the four had paid to attend the movie.
Laine then asked to speak to a regional manager, Reed Simon, of the theater which is owned by a company in Lafayette, Ind.
The mother posted what happened on Facebook after the family got home. “We have lots of friends in the autism community who called the regional manager to ask ‘Is it the policy to kick out autistic kids?’”
An executive from the theater group called Laine on Sunday afternoon, she said.
“Now Matthew, Aidan, myself and my husband are going to a private view of “The Lego Movie” at 10 a.m. Saturday at the theater,” Laine said. “They said they also would train managers in disability etiquette and go an extra mile” to properly treat those people with disabilities.
Laine said she believes her sons should be taken out into the community – to movies, amusement parks and other places where there are high stimuli.

The theater also is going to have a 10 a.m. “sensory” showing of future movies that children with disabilities might watch at the beginning of each month, Laine said. The movie house also said it would lower the sound and lights and allow the children to get up and yell.”
“I am very pleased with how this ended because ultimately the big winner is the Oxford 7 Theater because the sensory friendly movies” is likely to attract more business.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence/advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Battleground Earth: Good vs. Evil, a Tribute to Angelo Henderson

Writer-in-residence/Advocate-at-Large at MORC

It's taken nearly 70 years for me to realize this planet and, likely, the Universe is the setting for a battle between good and evil.
As a reporter with some 45 years experience and a person with a disability who has seen more than his share of violent deaths and has been the victim of segregation, discrimination, being beaten and bullied I should have known this as a fact long ago.
It also seems when someone or something is good and can create positive change on this planet, evil seeks it out to destroy it.
For good to survive, one has to remember the Biblical words in Matthew 5:39: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."
I am not sure evil can be defeated since human history is a road with carnage from the start.
If we look at recent history and those with the skills to change society and increase goodness in the world, we can see they suffered.
In January, 1948 after India became a Democracy, free from constraints of the Commonwealth, Mahatma Gandhi was slain. Gandhi himself had been the victim of segregation in southern Africa under Apartheid when he was thrown off of a train. He spent years in prison and his fasts to the point to death to stop violence are without equal in human history.
For good to win, there must be suffering without bitterness or thoughts of revenge.
When the Pakistanis and Indians were killing each other out of fear, Gandhi nearly sacrificed his life by going without food. Today, the two nations, each armed with nuclear weapons, still do not have a stable, long-lasting covenant of peace but at least they are not at war.
In Southern Africa, Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013, spent 27 years in prison in his fight against the Apartheid policies of his birthplace. Without freedom, he said he was willing to die. His courage eventually led to the elimination of the segregated policies and he became the president of the new nation. He was a man of peace.
In America, our Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., also was a godly man who was willing to suffer in the name of reaching equality for all his brothers and sisters, both black and white. He too became a martyr to die by the bullet of an assassin. But in his time through his magnificent oratory, he lifted a nation's eyes toward a greater good where all men and women are equal in the eyes of man and not just God.
In the case of Gandhi, King and John and Robert Kennedy, believers in civil rights who were both assassinated for those beliefs, it is impossible to know how much better this world would be if they had lived to carry on their work, if not only for just one more speech such as the one King delivered in April 3, 1968 before he was killed in Memphis where he said: "I have been to the Mountaintop." It was a speech about a future American day when we truly all would be loving and accepting brothers and sisters.
Gandhi possibly could have found a way for Pakistani and Indian leaders to let go of their fears if he had more time to show them the way to peace is through patience and love.
When JFK and RFK were slain in the hopeful 1960s, much of America's dreams of equality, survival of the middle class and true opportunity for all died. That's why this nation is failing spiritually.
At a local level, a good man, minister, journalist, father, husband and community activist, the Rev. Angelo B. Henderson, died this weekend (2.15) of natural causes. He was 51. The night before he died, he complained of shortness of breath.
He was a Pulitizer prize winner, just one of 25 black journalists to ever win journalism's highest honor. He also was a radio host at WCHB-AM and FM who made his program a platform for voices from all parts of the Detroit-area community. We and Richard Bernstein, an attorney and advocate for equal rights for those of us with disabilities, often appeared on Henderson's show. Our reporter friend, Dustin Blitchok of The Oakland Press, often accompanied us as we talked about the communities and events we covered, seeking the positive and not dwelling on the negative.
Henderson was one of the good guys, the kind that evil personified makes a point to take out before they become more powerful. But Henderson shall be more powerful in death than he was in life because so many reporters and journalists knew him and will take up his cause of trying to make Detroit a safer place. Henderson helped create the "Detroit 300," a crime-fighting organization he lead to stop the thugs and slayings in the Motor City.
I recall he always was smiling and he never turned the microphone off when even someone full of anger, frustration or hate called his station to let it rip. After spewing forth, the caller, it seemed, was more rational and less likely to continue on a path of evil.
Henderson's funeral will be this week (2/17/2014) and the station on Franklin off of Jefferson on Detroit's East side will find someone else to fill the time slot. But no one will have the type of inner faith, spirituality, humanity and sense of goodness that Henderson had on that show and in his life.
We all are the better for knowing him. And I and my friends know evil got a sharp right cross from this man's righteousness. In his memory, we have a duty to continue to fight evil, poverty, ignorance and anger.
I wish I had appreciated him more while he was alive.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

State provides grant for mental health first aid training

            Training and Treatment Innovations, Inc., of Oxford was awarded a $500,734 Mental Health First Aid grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health to coordinate and deliver free Mental Health First Aid training in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

The program, aimed at eventually reaching groups beyond southeastern Michigan, is an internationally recognized one that teaches people about mental health issues and instructs them in what to do if they encounter someone having a mental health issue or crisis.

The grant program is designed to increase the number of individuals trained in Michigan with the hopes that mental health first aid skills will become a common training statewide, in much the same way as regular CPR and first aid training.

With the grant money, TTI will work with other collaborating and coordinating entities to provide free training to interested parties in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties through September 30. An affiliate of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center of Clinton Township and Auburn Hills, the Center for Positive Living Supports, began offering the training Jan. 29.

Community groups and organizations such as churches, primary/first responders, teachers, and community programs that work with children and teens, recreation programs and any other groups interested in the training are encouraged to contact TTI to arrange for training to be offered at your site or ours.

Training and Treatment Innovations, a nonprofit, provides a range of services for persons with developmental disabilities, emotional impairments, and mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Services are offered in Genesee, Macomb, Oakland, Jackson, and Saginaw counties.

To arrange for mental health first aid training for your group or organization, call the TTI Training Department at (248) 524-8801 or MORC-affiliate, The Center for Positive Living Supports, at (586) 263-8748.

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, February 7, 2014

Schedule of Macomb-Oakland Regional Center Board of Directors' meetings

MORC, Inc.

Board of Director Meeting Dates


FY 2013


Board Packets
Pre Board Meeting Conference Call
Board Meeting
Fourth Quarter
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Monday, December
9th, 2013
Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Annual Audit
Thursday,  January 2nd , 2014
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Thursday, January 9th, 2014


FY 2014


Board Packets
Pre Board Meeting Conference Call
Board Meeting
First Quarter
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Monday, February 17th, 2014
Thursday, February 20th, 2014
Second Quarter
Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Monday, May 12th, 2014
Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Third Quarter
Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
Monday, August 11th, 2014
Thursday, August
14th, 2014
Fourth Quarter
Wednesday, December 3rd , 2014
Monday, December
8th , 2014
Thursday, December 12th, 2014
Annual Audit
Wednesday,  January 7th , 2015
Monday, January 12th, 2015
Thursday, January 15th, 2015


Note 1:  Board meetings start at 5:00 p.m. with pre-board conference calls starting at 3:00 p.m.

Note 2:  MORC senior management will send Board members a packet of information with a draft of the financial statements and other items for discussion.  Pre-Board meeting conference call is for discussion of draft financial statements and any other Board issues.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Arc executive director to retire

Ronald Kimball, the executive director of the Arc of Macomb County, says there’s “a long ways to go” before people with disabilities reach an equal place in society but they have come a long way during his 38-year career.

An open house celebrating Kimball’s retirement is planned from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the Arc’s office in Clinton Township.

Kimball lives in Waterford with his wife, Louise, and they have a son, Jay, 38, also of Waterford. His retirement is effective Feb. 28.

“I truly loved working with people with disabilities,” said Kimball, who became the Arc executive director in 1976. “Helping them always has been the best part of my job.”

Kimball came to the Arc from Goodwill Industries. During his tenure, the Arc has grown from about 40 employees to more than 170. Lisa P. Lepine, the current Arc deputy director, will succeed Kimball.

“Ron has been a phenomenal mentor, a wonderful teacher,” she said. “I have appreciated the years that I have learned from him, and I look forward to his support for many more.”

Kimball said he was “probably going to become a professional volunteer.”

As for people with disabilities, he said: “We still have a long ways to go, but I actually have seen people with disabilities come a long ways to become more assimilated in society.”

Kimball, 67, said it was critical that people with disabilities gain greater access to jobs. “However, with the way jobs have been in Michigan, it’s hard. We have had some success in getting people jobs in the community with help from job coaches. After the individual no longer needs a job coach, we follow up with the employer to see if there are any difficulties. We will do what we can do to salvage a person’s job.”

Kimball said leaders in southeastern Michigan must “do a much better job in finding transportation.”

He also said more independent living arrangements are needed for those with disabilities. “They should have their own places, condos, apartments and housemates and staff as needed.”

He recalled a case where a Monroe woman worked with mental health officials and now her son lives in a home she bought for him and a roommate.

“Now, Michael is doing great. It’s amazing.”

Since the early 1970s, the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center and others such as Kimball have worked to close all 12 state institutions where people with disabilities or mental illness were housed and moved into apartments, homes, or condos with caregivers, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, many states, such as New Jersey, still have state-operated institutions where it costs more than $300,000 a year per person to care for one individual with a disability.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence/advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.