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Tuesday, June 24, 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 (CQ), 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, June 18, 2014

Summer Activity Tips for Families


AUBURN HILLS -- For many families, the summer transition from daily routines guided by the education system to a less formal schedule can be challenging. This is especially true for families who rely on special education services to support children who have a serious emotional disturbance or developmental disability
Experts from Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority are encouraging parents to remember that after school lets out, it is important that children and their families maintain a structured day. The amount of structure depends on each family.

They recommend that parents establish at least three goals to identify new learning experiences. 

At the top of their list are ideas for activities in Oakland County that have little or no cost:
·         Explore your local, County and State parks
·         Attend day and/or overnight camps
·         Plant and maintain a garden
·         Take an art class
·         Learn to cook, sew or repair something
·         Visit your local library
·         Help a neighbor in need
·         Attend movie nights or concerts in the parks.

More suggestions for inexpensive summer family fun experiences can be found online at Oakland County,, and 

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, June 16, 2014

My amazing mother: "I wilL Love you forever, ma..."


As mother lay dying, people she had cared for and gathered into her tender arms were coming into the nursing home to pay their respects.

"I love you," her godson Dominic Gerard, would say. Mother would open her eyes and say: "I love
you too Dominic!' Alana, a young lady she had known since she was 4 and had taken her under her
wings, said: "Carol, I love you!' Mother, fighting to rise out of that coma, responded: "1love you too Alana." "I love you, too, Tommy and Kathy," she said to her nephew and his wife. "Monica I love you:' she said in response to a young lady who lived with her when she was young and was a tremendous loving caregiver who told her of her love.

My turn finally came.

"Mom:' I said loudly because her lapses of consciousness were growing longer: "This is Jerry. I love you mother." Almost instantly she opened her blue eyes and looked at me and said: "You should."

And she's right.

Without her and my father Vince's love, I would have spent my life in an institution for the disabled, which was the norm in the late 1940s. "Get blanked," she and dad told the doctor when he said: "It would be better for all if Jerry was institutionalized."

They took me home and raised me to be normal. My , sisters, Nancy and Rene, helped. They fought the dumb bullies who tried to beat on me. They ran the bases when I played catch in the neighborhood with the boys.

Nancy, as a 2-year-old, would get down on her hands and knees in deep snow or ice and ,let me use her back to push off of so I could get back up after falling. Mother demanded I be able to go to school 25 years before the federal law was passed requiring that a boy or girl with a disability had the legal
right for a public education because she knew how important education would be to a child with cerebral palsy.

She and dad demanded I go to Osborn Public High School in 1960 at which time I told the principal I
would not go into a room that said "handicapped." I got a key from the principal I for the elevator and probably was among the first kids with a disability to be mainstreamed.'

When I was refused jobs because some foolish employer could only see the way I walked instead of my smile - which I got from her, and my ability - she comforted me.

She loved my dear wife JoAnn as her own daughter. She made JoAnn promise when she died, JoAnn would stay with me. She also told us children, "You are now old enough, I don't have to worry
about you anymore."

People say I am an advocate. She was the prime mover in my life and the strongest and most noble advocate I have ever known.

When we moved into a new neighborhood, she would scout out all the boys my age and tell them about Jerry and how he had a small disability and how he'd like to be their friends.

One hot summer day 55 years ago or so, she came out while I was trying to fit in and play baseball with a platter of ice cold watermelon. After that, I was "In Like Flint" with the guys.

We fought. I took out all the rejection the world heaped upon me as a child and teenager and raged at mother as though she did it. God forgive me now. We cried together. She is more than likely the most significant driving force to succeed in my life and that of others than anyone else I have ever met ...and after being a reporter for 45 years, I've met thousands. '

 After each of the 31surgeries I had, mother was there outside of the operating room to take care of me, sometimes with Nancy and Rene. She fought through her own fears to help ease my fears of pain,
death and dying.

There will never be another Carolyn Owens Wolffe.

When she would come in to Leland, an orthopedic school, everyone would say "who is that beautiful redheaded lady dressed so fine?" I'd proudly say "that's my mother. She sure is something, eh?"

Now many hearts are broken but she helped change a large part of the world and the good she did will not be buried with her but will live for eons.

She not only got me into school, but helped many other children with disabilities, including twins Dennis and Donald Lipinski who had Muscular Dystrophy.

She would feed stray cats but deny it when we caught her.

So now I know mother is with God and there's a hole in my heart that I shall live with until I go to be with her and all of our ancestors in the presence of God.

So now at night I will look into the heavens and there will be a bright new star just east of the
North star. We all will love you forever, ma. Jerry, Nancy, Rene, JoAnn, Bob, Paul and everyone

Friday, June 6, 2014

MI Choice program accepting new applicants

MI Choice Waiver Program that helps seniors, disabled stay in home, accepting applicants

Shannon Patton with some of the birdhouses and other items she makes in her spare time. She has caregivers come to her Oxford home to help her with cooking, dressing and shopping daily under the MI Choice program. Photo submitted by Jerry Wolffe


MORC Home Care: MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program
Phone: 1-866-593-7413
Shannon Patton of Oxford can spend her free time painting birdhouses in the comfort of her home instead of living in a nursing home.
That’s because she’s receiving daily help from the MI Choice Waiver program. It uses Medicaid funds to hire caregivers to come into her apartment and help her with dressing, cooking and cleaning.
Patton, 52, has been receiving services for three years which she says “are just wonderful.”
Several women take turns seven days a week, 2.5 hours a day, to help Patton, so she can stay in her apartment. Patton has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
“They make my meals,” she said. “They also help me take a bath or shower, do housework, change bed sheets, do laundry, vacuum, dust furniture and do whatever needs to be done.
“They have helped me so much,” Patton said. “MI Choice even provided money so I could have a portable air conditioning unit.”
Her service provider is Bay Nursing of Romeo.
Another MI Choice recipient, Michael Renaud, 48, of St. Clair Shores, incurred a spinal cord injury 11 years ago in a diving accident.
He receives 42 hours of service a week.
“This allows me to stay in my home,” said the father of two adult daughters, and husband of Kirsten. He has been a coach of a traveling women’s fast-pitch softball team since 1998 involving 21 different teams.
Caregivers also drive him to games that he coaches. He receives help in bathing, dressing and eating.
In addition, they do light cleaning of his home, shop for food and pick up medicine and take Renaud, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down, to medical appointments.
“Without this help, I’d be in a nursing home,” he said. “My wife also wouldn’t be able to work because there’d be no one to help me.”
After an initial intake review, those accepted in the MI Choice Waiver program are given a list of vendors who supply trained workers to come into the home to help a senior or a person with a disability with daily living tasks, said Marcia Marklin, MORC’s Home Care Program Manager.
Services include adult day care, help with chores, counseling, community living supports, home modifications, delivering meals, helping obtain medical equipment and supplies, private duty nursing, respite care, training and some transportation.
Medicaid pays the cost of MI Choice services.
To be eligible, recipients of aid must be Medicaid eligible, 18 years of age or older with a disability who would otherwise require living in a nursing home, or be at least 65 in need of nursing home care.
Financial eligibility includes not having $2,000 or more in cash or investments and an annual income of $21,163 for a single person or $42,326 for a family of two. Recipients can own a car and home.
People living in Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties are eligible for MI Choice services through MORC.
Marklin said MORC recently transitioned about 15 to 20 people out of nursing homes into their own place to live. Those receiving services are 18 to 96.
“This program is about allowing people to live a life with dignity in the setting of their choice,” she said.
“This is an important service because our society and government never adequately prepared for the needs of seniors and those with disabilities,” she said.
“MORC Home Care is open for intake. Call if you have need, or want to know more about the program.”
Those interested in receiving help from MI Choice should call the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center’s intake line at 1-866-593-7413.

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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Common Ground hosts human trafficking awareness session


Common Ground is participating in a task force to raise awareness of human trafficking and co-sponsoring a women’s networking event, “Chained — A Program on Human Trafficking,” with human trafficking survivor Theresa Flores.

The event is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 26 at the Village Club of Bloomfield Hills, 190 East Long Lake Road. A portion of the $90 ticket price will be donated to Common Ground’s Victim’s Assistance Program, which provides 24-hour access to counselors and advocates for victims of crime, domestic and sexual abuse and workplace violence.

To purchase tickets, call (248) 451-3736 or visit
Flores, who was a teenager from Birmingham when she was kidnapped, will share her
story of trafficking and being a sex slave. It is a compelling look at a billion-dollar industry that forces thousands around the world and in southeastern Michigan into activities against their will, a Common Ground spokeswoman said.

"Every day, the horror of human trafficking is perpetrated by profit-seeking predators who exploit children, women and  men for sex and labor services. Increasingly, traffickers conduct their illicit operations in Michigan,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“Human traffickers take advantage of technology to remain anonymous and keep their victims hidden in the shadows,” he added. "Our daughters, friends and neighbors are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and other forced labor by traffickers who take advantage of them."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Social cause of this century likely to be gaining rights for those with disabilities


The social justice movement of this century is likely to focus on acquiring equal rights and opportunities for the 57 million people in the United States and 1 billion globally who have a disability.

People with disabilities are the largest minority group in America and anyone can become a member at any time, according to Disability Funders Network. The DFN is a national membership and philanthropic advocacy organization that seeks equality and rights for individuals with disabilities.

The economic data uncovered by the DFN, which was established in 1994 to be a catalyst for creating new understanding of how funders can promote inclusion of those with disabilities in grant-making programs, is disheartening.

More than 65 percent of working age adults with disabilities is unemployed, it says. Of those working, one-third earn an income below the poverty level. The jobless rate of people with disabilities also is 10 times greater than the U.S. unemployment rate, the DFN found.

The number of people “living with a chronic health condition” is expected to increase to 150 million in the United States by 2030.

DFN also found:

o   Despite the strides made in the disability rights during the past 25 years, the majority of people with disabilities are poor, under-employed, and under-educated due largely to unequal opportunities. This, despite findings by the U.S. Department of Education which said workers with disabilities are rated “consistently as average or above average in performance, quality, and quantity of work, flexibility, and attendance.”

o   The Foundation Center Tuesday (6.3) reported that out of more than $3 billion spent in philanthropic giving, only 2.9 percent of grants made by institutionalized philanthropy are directed to programs serving people with disabilities.

o   Disability belongs in any grant-making program that supports diversity. Or Education. Or employment. Or housing. Arts and culture. And, any other element of life because the interests of those with disabilities mirrors those of all groups in the nation.

We in the disability community call the able-bodied TABS because it means temporarily Able-Bodied because sooner or later an accident, disease, or old age will force its way into your life, leaving you less able and perhaps with a severe disability. So when you fight for those of us with disabilities, you are fighting to have a good future for yourself and loved ones and to free an oppressed people.

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