United Way of Washtenaw County

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. 


Ypsilanti District Library
Ypsilanti District Library / ypsilibrary.org

The Ypsilanti District Library will finally break ground on a new Superior Township branch, and the public is invited to the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, April 7th.  Lisa Barry talks with Sam Killian of the library system about how this new facility has been a long time in the making and how the community will benefit.

  

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. 


Khadija Wallace
Joyful Treats / anewjoyfultreats.com

In the best of times, food insecurity is a significant community problem.  In the pandemic economy, it has become a desperate situation for all too many.  The Ypsilanti-based Joyful Treats Community Foundation is bringing its culinary and catering talents to the fore in helping address the issue.  Founder and president Khadija Wallace joined WEMU's David Fair on "Washtenaw United" to discuss the inspiration and motivation behind the foundation's efforts.


Cozine Welch
Cozine Welch / A Brighter Way

Those who are released from jail or prison, especially people of  color, face a great number of barriers to successfully reintegrating.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse.  Former inmate Cozine Welch started the organization "A Brighter Way" to help those, like him, who have faced these obstacles.  Welch joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the work of supporting those in need of a new path while recognizing, and fighting, the systemic racism that permeates our system of justice. 


Alena Zachery-Ross
Ypsilanti Community Schools / ycschools.us

Soon after the pandemic hit, unemployment went up significantly on the east side of Washtenaw County.  Student homelessness and food insecurity went up, while any sense of security and stability plummeted. The Ypsilanti Community Schools and its partners responded in short order by creating "The Resiliency Center."  YCS superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the center's impact so far and why the center will likely be with us even after the pandemic is over. 


Marquan Jackson
Marquan Jackson

For nearly a decade now, Eastern Michigan University's Family Empowerment Program has helped those living in Ypsilanti Housing Commission facilities in a variety of ways.  The program's work has become even more important through the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for families of color.  The program's executive director, Marquan Jackson, joined WEMU's David Fair on the first day of Black History Month to discuss services offered and why the pandemic has highlighted issues of systemic racism. 


David Gruner
Career Solutions / cdcpi.com

The past year has brought a global pandemic, political unrest, and a more concerted effort to combat systemic racism.  Put together, it has created new challenges for leaders in the non-profit sector.  Ann Arbor-based "Career Directions" is dedicated to coaching leaders and organization teams and, it too, has found new challenges to overcome.  On "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair explores challenges and solutions with Career Directions executive coach/principal, David Gruner.


Alize Asberry Payne

2020 reinforced that there is still a lot of work to do to achieve racial equality and justice in America.  Numerous acts of police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionate impacted people of color highlight the need for greater investment in equity.  In a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day edition of "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair discusses the state of "The Dream," locally and beyond, with Washtenaw County racial equity officer Alize Asberry Payne.


Roz Gould Keith
Roz Gould Keith

There has been some progress made in societal acceptance of the trans community, but there is a long way to go.  Most communities still lack adequate support systems for trans people and their families to help navigate through.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," Roz Gould Keith joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss her family's journey and the nonprofit organization it inspired, Stand with Trans. 


Ypsilanti Community Schools

With the help of Eastern Michigan University, the United Way, and other local groups, Ypsilanti Community Schools will open an in-person Learning Lab on Monday January 11th.  


Michelle Walters
Washtenaw Area Council for Children / washtenawchildren.org

The pandemic has created hardships across the board.  For a good number of people, it has been devastating and sometimes tragic.  Many have lost jobs and, coupled with being largely confined at home, are more stressed than ever.  That can be a recipe for child abuse.  WEMU's David Fair spoke about it with Michelle Walters, executive director of the Washtenaw Area Council for Children, whose mission is to prevent child abuse and ensure safe and healthy lives for all children. 


Bridget Herrmann
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

To say that 2020 was a challenging year would be an understatement.  The coronavirus pandemic combined with political unrest and reinvigorated calls for racial justice and equity proved difficult for everyone. The United Way of Washtenaw County had to adapt to new work restrictions, launch new fundraising programs, and adapt to changing and increasing needs in the community.  UWWC vice president for impact and advocacy Bridget Herrmann joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the year in review and a peek into what 2021 may bring. 


Ann Arbor Residents To See An Increase In Water Rates

Dec 22, 2020
City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s city council has approved two rounds of water rate increases. 


Krista Girty
Ozone House / ozonehouse.org

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed more young people into the streets.  Ozone House's new facility in Ypsilanti is full up with a waiting list that is the longest in the organization's history.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks with Ozone House executive director Krista Girty about helping those in need despite the changes the COVID crisis has created. 

  

Alice Liao
Alice Liao

For 20 years, the Ann Arbor-based Women's Center of Southeastern Michigan (WCSM) has been providing a safe space for women and families in our region.  As like all nonprofit organizations, the events of 2020, including the coronavirus crisis, has made the center's services more valuable than ever.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair speaks to WCSM's marketing director, Alice Liao, about what the center has accomplished in 2020 and what it hopes to achieve in 2021.


Toni Kayumi
Toni Kayumi

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Ann Arbor YMCA has remained committed to serving Washtenaw County and its citizens.  The organization has been adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic and is prepared to continue doing so for as long as necessary.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair  spoke with Ann Arbor YMCA president and CEO Toni Kayumi about 2020, the Y's plans for the immediate future, and the lessons learned that will carry forward. 


Madeline Garcia
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

One of the repercussions of the pandemic has been higher unemployment levels and a greater number of people in need of assistance.  For many service agencies and institutions, volunteers have become even more invaluable in serving the mission of meeting those needs.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair spoke with Madeline Garcia from the United Way of Washtenaw County Volunteer Center about volunteerism in a most unusual year.   


United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

Food Gatherers president and CEO Eileen Spring has been named 2021 Woman of the Year by the United Way of Washtenaw County.  The ceremony to honor her will be held virtually in March at the "Power of the Purse" event.  Spring and United Way of Washtenaw County president and CEO Pam Smith joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the award, the work, and food insecurity as we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday in this week's "Washtenaw United."   


Desirae Simmons
Desiraé Simmons

With the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and a highly volatile election season, 2020 has been a year of discontent.  Desiraé Simmons is co-director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.  She says the good news is more people have become engaged and are working to take action, but it has to continue to grow.  Simmons joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the growing importance of civic engagement in this week's "Washtenaw United."


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

The year 2020 has brought many challenges, from political rancor, to COVID-19, and renewed efforts to end systemic racism.  Such challenges can be especially difficult for Washtenaw County's young people.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County has pushed on in helping youngsters find their way.  On this week's "Washtenaw United," the organization's executive director, Jen Spitler, discusses the program and its operations in a most unusual year with WEMU's David Fair.  


Towana Parker
Destiny and Purpose Community Outreach / dapco.org

The coronavirus pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, even moreso for new and expectant mothers.  In the meantime, a Washtenaw County nonprofit group called "Destiny and Purpose Community Outreach," or DAPCO, has providing special services for families in need, and the organization has a special event planned for those welcoming new babies into their lives.  DAPCO executive director Towana Parker talks about a community "baby shower" the organization is planning with WEMU's David Fair on this week's "Washtenaw United."


Dan Kelly
Shelter Association of Washtenaw County / annarborshelter.org

Fall weather is here, and winter is right around the corner.  The services required to aid and assist the area's homeless increase every year during the cold weather seasons.  Now add in the potentially lethal combination of COVID-19 and flu, and things change even more.  On this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair gets together with Dan Kelly, executive director of the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, to discuss how services have and will continue to evolve during these challenging times. 


Aaron Kinzel
Youth Justice Fund / yjfund.org

A recent study shows African Americans in Washtenaw County are far more likely than white people to be charged with felonies, and sentences tend to be longer.  The data raises questions about prosecutorial discretion and biases in the criminal justice system.  Aaron Kinzel is a lecturer of Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of Michigan-Dearborn and serves as Executive Director of the Youth Justice Fund.  He joined WEMU’s David Fair on "Washtenaw United" to explore bias and the search for equality in the criminal justice system.


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