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Washtenaw United: Providing Food And Emergency Relief To Saline's Neediest Residents

Saline Area Social Service
Susan Smith
United Way of Washtenaw County

Saline is considered a rather affluent community, and some of its residents are still of need of basic necessities, like food and health care.  For the last 50 years, Saline Area Social Service has been there to lend a hand.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair has a conversation about the impacts Saline Area Social Service has made with its executive director, Anne Cummings, and one of its most devoted volunteers, Lynne Bush.

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions 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.'


Anne Cummings

Credit Anne Cummings
Anne Cummings

Joining as the Executive Director in June of this year, Anne has been volunteering with Saline Area Social Service for the last five years and is committed to not only helping those in Saline who are less fortunate, but also is determined to build awareness and understanding of the level of support that is needed in the Saline community.  Anne lives in Saline with her husband and three young girls.

Lynne Bush

Credit Lynne Bush
Lynne Bush

Lynne is a retired R.N. and has been volunteering at Saline Area Social Services for a little over a year.  She learned about Saline Area Social Services through a neighbor who sits on the Board of Directors.  Lynne has lived in the Saline area for over 30 years.  She has been impressed not only with the help that the agency provides, but also with the level of support from both businesses and individuals in the community.


Its vision is to help build a community where the most vulnerable residents overcome daily obstacles and achieve their fullest potential.

Its mission is to provide support and emergency assistance every week to over 300 members of our community through short-term or long-term aid and referrals.

Its purpose :

100% community-funded, Saline Area Social Service (SASS) is the only organization in Saline that provides comprehensive services to our clients, providing up to 8 meals and emergency assistance to more than 300 people each week.  SASS clients r eside within the boundaries of the Saline Area School District and fall within the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines: 40% of our clients are children, and of our total adult clients, 20% are women; 43% work part-time or low paying jobs; 24% disabled and 19% seniors.

Its impact :

Decreased food & household goods insecurity:

  • Distributed food 2,359 times, equaling 26,860 meals.
  • Delivered 1,557 meals to homebound seniors.
  • Provided 130 people with assistance for 614 prescriptions and 8 individuals with eyeglasses.
  • Provided 70 students with a backpack filled with school supplies and new shoes for the school year.
  • Helped 20 families avoid utility shut-off and 8 families avoid eviction.
  • Helped 8 individuals with car repairs so they can maintain employment or get to regular doctor appointments. 
  • Provided 35 individuals and families with gas cards for work and medical appointments.
  • Provided 10 backpacks filled with food and healthy snacks to students at Saline schools every week.

Increased the quality of life for those that SASS serves through strategic partnerships:

  • Provided 115 referrals to other community organizations for additional assistance or services.
  • Sponsored 30 students in afterschool activities, such as art, music, drama, sports, and other enrichment programs.

Engaged the community:

  • Received 128,818 pounds of Food Donations, valued at $218,991.
  • Received over 8,027 hours of Volunteer and In-Kind Services, valued at $200,681.
  • Received $54,500 in food and supplies for special programs, such as Holiday Meals, Adopt-A-Family for Christmas, and Back-To-School.

Its 2018 financial overview:

  • For every $1 in cash expenditures ($320,497), there was an additional $1.48 ($474,172) in food, volunteer and donated services raised to support programs and our organization.
  • Of our total 2018 annual expenditures (both cash and in-kind), 75% was allocated to our Programs, with the remaining 25% spent against Administration (13%) and Fundraising (12%).

Its 2019 goals:

  • To continue to meet existing food and emergency needs in the community.
  • To provide school-aged children scholarships for after school programs in sports, music and enrichment.


Saline Area Social Service

Saline Area Social Service on Facebook


United Way of Washtenaw County supports agencies like Saline Area Social Services, because we recognize that residents in Saline are miles from Washtenaw County’s Department of Health & Human Services hub in Ypsilanti.  There is no form of public transportation connecting community members in Saline with the services of Washtenaw County’s “urban core.”  People that do not have a vehicle or time to travel to access resources struggle with getting connected and fall through the cracks.  Community-based organizations, like Saline Area Social Services, are vital to reaching folks where they live and helping them meet their basic needs and beyond.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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