Washtenaw United

Mondays During Morning Edition

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations and institutions that are creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is, Washtenaw United. 

Ways to Connect

Alison Foreman
Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels / ymow.org

We are approaching the end of  the year, and soon, we'll be meeting with friends and family for special meals at Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays. Of course, we can't forget the many elderly folks who don't have access to healthy and good food. That is a situation made more difficult by the ongoing pandemic. Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels continues to meet the challenges, but it isn't easy. WEMU's David Fair talked it over with its president and CEO, Alison Foreman. 


Derrick Miller
Community Action Network / canwashtenaw.org

The Washtenaw County-based Community Action Network (CAN) is taking a neighborhood approach to help those most in need and to build better and more equitable futures. CAN executive director Derrick Miller joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the successes to date and the work that remains to be done. 


Ebony Robinson
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

To overcome inequity and injustice, there are systemic issues that must be remedied. Part of what it takes is adequately addressing racism, poverty, and trauma, particularly in communities of color. Those individual and collective issues will be the subject of a virtual forum this week. WEMU's David Fair spoke with a member of the team sponsoring the event. United Way of Washtenaw County's director of corporate giving, Ebony Robinson, discusses how these issues are impacting the entirety of the county, what is being done about it, and where we go from here. 


Derrick Jackson
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

Childhood trauma, if not addressed properly, can have terrible, long-term effects. In many situations, law enforcement is involved, and that can intensify trauma. Derrick Jackson from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the "Handle with Care" program that identifies those at risk of trauma and then provides needed resources to overcome its affects. 


Rich Chang
NewFoundry / thenewfoundry.com

The fourth and latest 21-Day Equity Challenge in Washtenaw County is complete. The challenge seeks to create awareness about inequity, injustice, and both overt and systemic racism. Rich Chang is CEO of the Ann Arbor-based software firm NewFoundry and serves as Board Chair of the United Way of Washtenaw County. He joined WEMU's David Fair to recap the latest challenge and the future it seeks to build.  


Jennifer Spitler
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County / bbbswashtenaw.org

For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has mentored at-risk children around the country. It has fostered lifelong connections and friendships resulting in postive outcomes for marginalzed and at-risk youngsters. As expected, the pandemic and the many racially-charged events over the past year-and-a-half present more challenges. WEMU's David Fair checked in with Jennifer Spitler, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, to see how the "Bigs" and "Littles" are faring. 


Colleen Klus
Washtenaw Intermediate School District / washtenawisd.org

When you have to worry about food, housing, and transportation, education can fall away on the list of priorities. Add in a healthy mistrust of a system known for systemic and institutionalized racism, and the barriers to success only grow. Knocking down those walls and building a better future is the goal of a group of "Trusted Parent Advisors." The group of seven women have been knocking on doors for four years and are having a great deal of success. WEMU's David Fair found out more about the program in his conversation with Washtenaw Intermediate School District community engagement specialist and parent liaison Colleen Klus. 


Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

Many consider Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor in particular, an affluent community. Yet, the truth is that a large number of Washtenaw residents are at, or below the poverty line. Morghan Boydston is the human services manager for the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the harsh realities as to why that is and the current efforts to address racism and its impact on local poverty. 


United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

America still struggles with reconciling its slave-owning past. An exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, entitled "Unsettling Histories: Legacies of Slavery and Colonialism," is designed to open further discussion on the topic. WEMU's David Fair spoke with UMMA assistant curator of global contemporary arts Ozi Uduma about the impact art can have on how we deal with race and racism in our present and future.


Deana Fisher
St. Louis Center / stlouiscenter.org

For over 60 years, the St. Louis Center in Chelsea has housed those with developmental disabilities and helped them find employment and work toward independence. Yet, like many nonprofit organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the center financially and emotionally. The center's chief operations officer, Deana Fisher, joins WEMU's David Fair to discuss how her establishment and its residents have adapted to the pandemic.


Carlos Franklin
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

The Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center in Ypsilanti has a mission: To unite all people, regardless of race, religion, or politics, and to highlight the works of authors of color. Bookstore co-owner Carlos Franklin joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss his love of literature and his journey as a Black, small business owner during social unrest and a pandemic. 


Florence Roberson

Many families face some sort of crisis, especially when it involves the criminal justice system. Finding support can be difficult, which is why Florence Roberson formed "Sisters United Resilient and Empowered," or SURE Moms. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the work her group is doing to build the community and alter the life trajectories for local women and their children. 


Nuola Akinde

Discussing racism, whether individual or systemic, is important, but sometimes awkward or uncomfortable. Not in the Kekere Freedom School program. It is at the core of what founder and director Nuola Akinde imparts to the students the school serves. Nuola joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss confronting racism and teaching children to embrace their cultural heritage. 


Black Men Read / bmrkids.org

Learning remotely and through a difficult pandemic academic year has left some children in the area a bit behind. Black Men Read (BMR) was formed to promote literacy and cultural engagement. WEMU's David Fair spoke with one of BMR's founders, Tamara Tucker-Ibarisha, about the innovative program and its plans to help kids be ready for academics in the fall. 


Roxane Raffin Chan
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

Many communities, including Washtenaw County, have declared racism a public health crisis. There are no simple cures for such a crisis, but holistic nursing consultant Dr. Roxane Raffin Chan has been providing services to help people cope with the racially-charged incidents in their lives. Dr. Chan explains how she and her company, Chan Body Energy, have responded to the United Way's 2021 21-Day Equity Challenge in a chat with WEMU's David Fair.


Naomi Norman
Washtenaw Intermediate School District / washtenawisd.org

There can't be equality until equity is achieved. Self-awareness and understanding of where systemic and institutionalized bias exists is the launch point. The United Way of Washtenaw County is about to kick off another 21-Day Equity Challenge, and its aim is to create recognition and awareness and provide a foundation for change. Naomi Norman is interim superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the benefits to public education and the people it serves. 


Madeline Garcia
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

The United Way's National Day of Action is right around the corner. Local volunteers in communities around the country work on a number of projects  aimed at helping the underserved and enhancing engagement. Last year, the pandemic forced everything to be a virtual experience. This year, vaccinations and relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions will allow for the return of some in-person work, too.  WEMU's David Fair got the rundown of how the 2021 Day of Action will be conducted from United Way of Washtenaw County senior development associate Madeline Garcia.


Jan Little
Michigan Ability Partners / mapagency.org

Michigan Ability Partners (MAP) has an ongoing mission to find work, housing, and other esssentials for military veterans and those with disabilities. The COVID-19 public health crisis created new and different challenges. MAP's chief executive officer, Jan Little, joined WEMU's David Fair to look at the immediate past, the present, and the future. 


Kristin Gapske
Washtenaw Community College / wccnet.edu

While there is still work to be done, women continue to shatter glass ceilings. More women are taking on the challenge of entrepeneurship and doing so successfully. At some point, most everyone launching a new business needs some guidance, and that's where Kristin Gapske and her team come in. Kristin is director of the Entrepeneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College. She joined WEMU's David Fair about how the center is assisting women in business start-ups and in industry growth. 


Ebony Parker-Featherstone
Michigan Medicine / uofmhealth.org

Throughout history, women have been the primary caregivers. All too often, it comes at the cost of their own physical and mental health. Dr. Ebony Parker-Featherstone is an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discusses ways for women to improve self-care. 


Liza Baker
Liza Baker

The year-plus of the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult on everyone.  Yet, women, overall, have carried greater burden with both physical and mental ramifications.  Life and health coach Liza Baker has developed techniques to maintain and improve women's health and shared her methods with WEMU's David Fair. 


Moonson Eninsche
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

"Barrier Busters" is a coalition of more than 90-plus service agencies and organizations in Washtenaw County.  It helps low and moderate income families in times of need and helps bridge gaps that might otherwise send a person, or family, spiraling downward.  Moonson Eninsche supervises the program from the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development.  He joined WEMU's David Fair to offer an inside look at how pandemic hardships have increased the need for services. 


Pam Smith
Pam Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

This year marks the United Way of Washtenaw County's 100th anniversary.  Appropriately enough, "Washtenaw United" has now surpassed 100 episodes on WEMU.  David Fair marks both milestones in a conversation with UWWC president and CEO Pam Smith and touches on what the future holds. 


Alison Petersen
Feonix-Mobility Rising / feonix.aarp.org

Washtenaw County residents aged 50 and over may not get out and about as easily as younger folks.  It can be even harder for those with less financial means.  A new pilot program called "AARP Ride@50+" was developed to make public transit more accesible, and its community development manager, Alison Petersen, joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the program and what it has, so far, achieved. 


Emma Roeder
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

We are officially in the midst of tax season.  For many Washtenaw County residents, it is stressful, especially for those who have struggled financially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Still, volunteers working at the United Way of Washtenaw County's VITA program are ready to provide tax advice and assistance.  VITA program manager Emma Roeder joined WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about the program's current efforts on this week's "Washtenaw United."


Yodit Mesfin-Johnson
Nonprofit Enterprise At Work / new.org

Yodit Mesfin-Johnson has been a community activist all her adult life.  She serves as president adn CEO of  Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) in Ann Arbor, is active in Black Lives Matter, and is on the board of the United Way of Washtenaw County.  It is her mission to create equity in marginalized communities and put more people of color at leadership tables to ensure diversity and equality in our communities.  In the final Women's History Month edition of "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks with Mesfin-Johnson about her life, career, and the foundations she is helping build for future generations.

Barbara Niess-May
SafeHouse Center / safehousecenter.org

Barbara Niess-May has provided a voice for survivors of sexual assault in Washtenaw County for decades.  Currently, she serves as the executive director of SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor, which provides shelter, counseling, legal help, and other services for such victims.  Niess-May joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss her work, the progress made, and what lays ahead.  


Alma Wheeler-Smith
Eastern Michigan University / emich.edu

Albert Wheeler was Ann Arbor's first, and only, African-American mayor.  His activism in the Civil Rights Movement inspired his daughter, Alma Wheeler Smith, to enter the political arena as well.  She served 14 years in the Michigan Legislature and continues to be a voice for equity and equality across race and genders.  WEMU's David Fair reflects with Wheeler Smith with an eye towards what the future may hold. 


Trische' Duckworth
Trische' Duckworth

As WEMU continues to mark Women's History Month, we continue to talk with some of the women working today to building a new and better future.  The Black Lives Matter movement was initiated by women.  Community activist Trische' Duckworth has been a vocal leader of the movement in Washtenaw County.  WEMU's David Fair discussed the journey to activism with Duckworth and the history she hopes to help write and the legacy she wishes to leave on this  week's "Washtenaw United." 


Tiffany Ford
University of Michigan Credit Union / umcu.org

Numerous women in America often face two challenges in life: succeeding in business and maintaining a family.  Finding balance can be daunting.  In this Women's History Month edition of "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks with  Tiffany Ford, president and CEO of the University of Michigan Credit Union, about her experience and the work to create better futures and more balance for members of her team. 


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