89.1 WEMU

washtenaw united

United Way of Washtenaw County
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Fighting racism and social injustice is an ongoing battle. Washtenaw County residents will have a chance to make a difference through the United Way of Washtenaw County's "21-Day Equity Challenge."  For this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair sits down for a conversation with UWWC President/CEO Pam Smith and UWWC board chair Yodit Mesfin Johnson about how the challenge works and what it seeks to accomplish.


Pam Kisch
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

The Federal Fair Housing Act banned housing discrimination in 1968, but fair housing laws are not self-enforcing.  The Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan (FHC) is one of many organizations across the nation, whose mission is to ensure that no one faces discrimination when searching for a place to live. FHC's executive director, Pam Kisch, sits down with WEMU's David Fair to discuss the center's ongoing work for this week's installment of "Washtenaw United."


United Way of Washtenaw County
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

The end of the year is approaching, which means it's time to start thinking about filing your tax returns.  Such a task can be daunting, which is why the United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) developed the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair has a conversation about this program with UWWC senior community manager Amanda Reel and Bob Mull, who was UWWC's 2017 Volunteer of the Year.


Meals on Wheels
Volunteer Washtenaw / volunteerwashtenaw.org

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels relies on nearly 100 volunteers each week to ensure that our homebound neighbors receive their meals.  People volunteer for a variety of reasons, and sometimes, it becomes a family affair.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair has a conversation with Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels executive director Courtney Vanderlaan and one of its volunteers, Crystal Metzger.  


Washtenaw United
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Back in November 2017, Washtenaw County voters approved a millage to increase funding for mental health services and public safety.  In the last two years, those funds have been allocated to 11 new programs.  Derrick Jackson from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department and Lisa Gentz from Washtenaw County Mental Health Services join WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about how these vital services have improved and what lies ahead in this week's "Washtenaw United."  


Washtenaw United
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

For the last five decades, Ozone House has been a place where troubled young people can go for shelter and guidance.  Bara Youness was one of many kids who benefited from this organization, and, now, he acts as one of its advocates and volunteers there as well.  Youness and Ozone House executive director Krista Girty join WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about Ozone House's work and legacy in this week's "Washtenaw United." 


Melvin Parsons
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

There are many ways to work towards equity and opportunity in our community, but urban farming might not be the first thing that comes to mind.  Melvin Parsons saw the trade as a way forward for himself and is now expanding and giving back through his "We the People Growers Association" and the "We the People Opportunity Center."  Parson joined WEMU's David Fair for this week's installment of "Washtenaw United."


Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Access to health care at a young age can prove difficult sometimes.  Fortunately, the Corner Health Center makes it possible in a high-quality, judgement-free environment.  The center's executive director, Versell Smith, Jr., joins WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about what the center is all about in this week's "Washtenaw United."


Alize Asberry Payne
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

Washtenaw County is one of the economically vibrant communities in southeast Michigan.  Yet, there are socio-economic and racial disparities to work through.  That is why the county has created the position of Racial Equity Officer.  Alize Asberry Payne is the first person to take the title and joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the "One Community" initiative in this week's "Washtenaw United."


Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Providing affordable housing for low-income residents can be difficult, especially those who are senior citizens.  Fortunately, Michigan Medicine created the HomeShare program, which allows seniors to share housing with other individuals.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair has a conversation about this amazing program with Janet Hunko, director of the Housing Bureau for Seniors at Michigan Medicine, and Judy Slater, who volunteers regularly with HomeShare.


Peace Neighborhood Center
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

For 50 years, the Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor has been providing opportunity to those facing social and economic challenges.  The work continues today with services, such as the Alternatives for Youth (AFY) program.  The center's executive director, Bonnie Billups, Jr., joins David Fair for a conversation about creating opportunity and working toward equity in this week's "Washtenaw United."


Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living / https://www.annarborcil.org/

The way we’ve developed the world isn’t always fully accessible. For those with challenges, accessibility remains an issue. WEMU's David Fair introduces you to two men who are helping open doors for those who often felt locked out. Alex Gossage is interim executive director for the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living and Will Purves is director of planning and program development.


Manchester
Manchester Community Resource Center / manchestercrc.org

In rural communities, services, such as grocery stores, medical facilities, and access to public transportation, can be seriously limited.  The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was created by the Corporation and National Community Service (CNCS) and housed within the Senior Services department at Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County. The RSVP program seeks out community partnerships who are in need of volunteers to help support their mission and goals. Manchester Community Resource Center director, Laura Seyfried and local RSVP volunteer Delores Notten talk about the program's efforts and goals with WEMU's David Fair in this week's "Washtenaw United."


Washtenaw United
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, getting a job can be far more difficult.  That is particularly true for felons but even those with misdemeanors run into employment barriers.  That’s the idea behind an upcoming expungement fair in Washtenaw County.  In this week’s "Washtenaw United," attorney Michael Kiehne and Michigan Works! Washtenaw County Service Manager Johnny Epps discuss the societal benefits of helping the convicted fully reintegrate. 


Ankoor Soni
Packard Health / packardhealth.org

Opioid addiction is ravaging all parts of the country, and Washtenaw County is no exception.  Packard Health has launched a new Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program to help the addicted.  On "Washtenaw United" this week, WEMU’s David Fair will talk with Packard Health medical director, Dr. Ankoor Soni, about the shift in perspective, from addiction as a crime issue to one of public health.


Bill Manns
St. Joseph Mercy Health System / stjoeshealth.org

Bill Manns' initial career plan was to become a doctor.  While working toward that goal, he recognized health administration was the better path to make the differences in health care services he thought necessary.  Now, Manns is president of the St. Joseph Mercy Health Systems hospitals in Ann Arbor and Livingston.  Manns shares his journey and discusses the future of health care in our community on this week’s "Washtenaw United."


United Way of Washtenaw County
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Childhood trauma takes time to heal.  It also requires resources that may not be easy to find.  Deb Gordon-Gurfinkel decided to use her experience in drama education to create a program called "Telling It."  It uses arts as a means to help troubled youth in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  Gordon-Gurfinkel joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss "Telling It" on this week's "Washtenaw United."


Nancy Shore
Ann Arbor Public Schools / a2schools.org

The school year is right around the corner for Washtenaw County K-12 students.  Unfortunately, all too many will head to class without the supplies that better prepare them for academic success.  That’s the purpose of the “Stuff the Bus” campaign that begins today.  89.1 WEMU’s David Fair gets the history and mission of the “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive in this “Washtenaw United” conversation with the Ann Arbor Schools' Nancy Shore and United Way of Washtenaw County’s Susan Smith


Washtenaw United
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Once people age out of the foster care system, they face many uncertainties.  That is why the 'Our House' program was created.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair is joined by Our House volunteer Rose Putler and client Alexis Deese-Romberg to discuss what this program brings to the community.


United Way of Washtenaw County
Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Bhuvna Murthy has performed more than 700 hours of community service through her high school career.  Service work is a passion that formed early in her life and has manifested in great works to the benefit of many.  That’s why the United Way of Washtenaw County awarded Bhuvna’s efforts with a “Varsity Letter” in Community Service.  WEMU’s David Fair met with Bhuvna and UWWC Director of Development Susan Smith to discuss the Varsity Letter program and the past, present, and future of an outstanding young woman. 


Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Get a personalized look at the work of the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan.  It’s been around since 1975 and now has offices in Ypsilanti, Jackson, and Detroit, and there can be no question it is a community resource that is changing lives.  Anell Eccleston is programs manager for the Student Advocacy Center and Jakobie Pillar is one of his mentees who just graduated from ACCE High School in Ypsilanti.  Their story comes to you through WEMU’s partnership with the United Way of Washtenaw County in this week’s edition of "Washtenaw United."


United Way of Washtenaw County
David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

The New West Willow Neighborhood Association was formed in 2015 and, ever since, the future of the Ypsilanti Township neighborhood has become brighter.  Long-time resident, association member, and neighbohood watch activist Janice Williams provides a look at living in West Willow and building to something greater. 


Washtenaw United
David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

The mission of the Ypsilanti-based 'Black Men Read' program is clearly stated: "We exist to promote the power of stories, storytelling and literacy to children in order to normalize the historical and cultural contributions of Black people throughout the diaspora, uplifting Black men and all of the ways that they engage in their families and communities while disrupting tropes of Black father absenteeism."  In this week's 'Washtenaw United,' you'll find out why the program is changing dynamics throughout the entirety of the community.  


Washtenaw United
David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

It is said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  That is particularly true if you live near or below the poverty line.  Foundations Preschool has a mission to support at-risk children and their parents to create opportunities of prosperity.  As a non-profit, the school can’t do it alone.  That, too, takes a village.  In this week’s "Washtenaw United," you’ll hear from the school’s executive director, Sandy Williams, and from United Way of Washtenaw County "Volunteer of the Year" Jessie Schlanderer as Foundations Preschool gets set to celebrate it’s 85th anniversary. 


Jason Gold
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

Many K-12 students live with food insecurity, housing and transportation issues, and, too frequently, physical or emotional abuse.  That presents a barrier to positive educational outcomes.  In this week’s "Washtenaw United," WEMU’s David Fair talks with student advocate and Adverse Traumatic Experiences master trainer Jason Gold about how best to identify and deal with the issues to change life trajectories.


United Way of Washtenaw County
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

A recent study concluded that Washtenaw County does not provide equal opportunities in health, education, and other life essentials to its Latino citizens.  Out of that study, the Buenos Vecinos collaborative was formed to make such things more available.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks about the program with its leader Charo Ledón and the UWWC's director of community impact, Bridget Healy.  


Food Gatherers
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

Food insecurity and hunger is more pervasive in Washtenaw County than you might think.  In this week’s "Washtenaw United," WEMU’s David Fair finds out what is being done, in both the short and long term, to eradicate the problem.  In this conversation, Food Gatherers president and CEO Eileen Spring and United Way of Washtenaw County president and CEO, Pam Smith, discuss the progress made and the work still to be done.


Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

To paraphrase, it takes a village to create a full-service child care and early childhood development center.  A group of like-minded partners combined resources and created 'The Collaborative'-Ypsilanti YMCA Child Development Center.  In this week’s "Washtenaw United," WEMU’s David Fair talks with Eastern Michigan University Director of Student Engagement Decky Alexander and EMU doctoral candidate Veronica Konglim about the creation, purpose, and impacts of 'The Collaborative.'


Jason Frenzel
Doug Coombe

It is Earth Day, and there's no better way to celebrate than volunteering your time to make our planet a little more eco-friendly.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks to the Huron River Watershed Council's Jason Frenzel and Amanda Reel of the United Way of Washtenaw County about the importance of volunteerism.


David Fair / 89.1 WEMU

Today is Tax Day.  As many people rush to file their returns, there are a few who can't afford to have someone file their returns for them.  That's why the United Way of Washtenaw County formed the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  UWWC representatives Andrew Johnson and Patrick Helman talk all about the VITA program with WEMU's David Fair in this week's "Washtenaw United."


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