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Washtenaw United
Mondays During Morning Edition

WEMU has partnered with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan 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. 

  • Understanding individually how we process the world around us is the best way to get to the underlying factors contributing to inequity in our lives. On Friday, May 17th, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan will launch the 21-Day Equity Challenge, and it's open to everyone in the community. WEMU's David Fair spoke with the UWSEM's senior director for diversity, equity and inclusion, Andre Ebron, about the program and its impacts.
  • There is growing support for an alternative to police response to a mental health crisis in the community. The question is: Can it be a safer and more effective tool in dealing with such incidents for the person involved and the community at large? Care-Based Safety is an organization pushing for such operations in Washtenaw County, Southeast Michigan and beyond. The organization's co-director of culture and operations, Liz Kennedy, talks to WEMU's David Fair about why she believes it could and would work in our community.
  • Mental health and well-being is a growing issue among today’s youngsters. For at-risk kids, the challenges are even greater. The “Telling It” program in Washtenaw County provides an outlet for area youngsters to gather in safe, uncensored and judgment-free spaces. The program's founder, Deb Gordon-Gurfinkel, and lead social worker, Kelly Kundrat, joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss how the process is equipping young people with essential skills that nurtures their well-being and sets them on a path towards success and fulfillment.
  • Connecting to the earth, learning to work, play and learn from the soil below our feet: That’s the mission Willow Run Acres in Ypsilanti and the personal mission of its founder, Farmer T.C. Collins. In addition to nurturing the earth and taking joy in its bounties, Farmer T.C. uses Willow Run Acres to fight food injustice and inequities in economic opportunities for the Black community. The land also serves as an education center for young people, so future generations can connect to the earth. Farmer T.C. joined WEMU’s David Fair on an Earth Day edition of "Washtenaw United."
  • A lot of kids get excited at the prospect of spending a part of the summer at sleepaway camp. The sheer number of activities and the opportunities to make new friends and have a life experience outside the home has a number of benefits. Unfortunately, there are a lot of families that can’t afford to provide that experience. That’s where Washtenaw Camp Placement comes in. Its mission is to help youngsters with less access find their way to the camp experience. WEMU's David Fair talks with executive director Matt Tarver-Wahlquist about how to get connected and the kinds of differences it is making.
  • There is just one week to go before the April 15th tax deadline hits. Qualified Washtenaw County residents can access free tax preparation assistance from trained professionals. The amount of credits and refunds some are receiving are proving to be life changing. Megan Thibus from the United Way for Southeastern Michigan discusses the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in a conversation with WEMU's David Fair.
  • Many believe the childcare system is broken in Michigan. Inadequate quality and affordable childcare are adversely impacting kids and families and is estimated to cost the state of Michigan nearly $3 billion in economic activity. Etta King Heisler believes childcare is a key driver in community equity. Etta is executive director of Apple Playschools in Ann Arbor and joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the childcare crisis and what needs to be done.
  • Women are earning more roles in leadership positions than ever before. But we are still without equal access and opportunity. As we wrap up our Women’s History Month series on "Washtenaw United," we explore the challenges of winning and building more leadership roles for women. WEMU's David Fair talks with the President and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Dr. Darienne Hudson shares her journey to leadership as a Black woman and what hurdles she’s working to help others overcome.
  • Depending on career path or job choice, women are still playing catch-up in the American workforce. The inequity is not just in job-to-job comparisons but also in access to employment opportunity. Creating that opportunity is what the organization “Dress for Success Michigan" is all about. WEMU's David Fair talks with its communications liaison, Alexy Rudolph, about how futures are being changed to reverse historical inequities.
  • March is Women’s History Month, and each week on "Washtenaw United," we’ll bring you a different story highlighting the amazing accomplishments and progress being led by women and organizations in our community. This week, WEMU's David Fair talks with Alfreda Rooks. She is director of community health at Michigan Medicine and is being honored as the United Way for Southeastern Michigan's Washtenaw County Woman of the Year.