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Innovative Health Care Magazine

103 InnovativeHealthMag.com President Barack Obama & Vicky L. Schultz, CEO Catholic Charities for Shiawassee and TH E REC IPIENT OF A B L ESSING WATER CRISIS Genesee Counties catholic charities ministers to When President Barack Obama visited the City of Flint on May 4, there were many local residents excited by the chance to seen him. One small wish belonged to Jayla Angel Lile, a hopeful 12-year-old. Needless to say, there were more people than there were available tickets. But through a true example of community spirit, Jayla got her wish. She was in the front row at the Northwestern Academy when Pres. Obama began his address. Jayla’s story is compelling. Our own Karen Smith, publisher of Innovative Health, became aware of the young girl’s request through Amanda Amira, who owns and operates Amira Medical Staffing, a private duty nursing services organization specializing in spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Amanda is Jayla’s caretaker. She shared Jayla’s wish with Karen, hoping that the magazine might have the ability to help. It was at this point that Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties (CCSGC) became involved. CCSGC was included in the list of organizations invited to meet the President, as they have been one of the strongest proponents for the citizens of Flint throughout the water crisis. When Vicky L. Schultz, CEO of CCSGC, heard Jayla’s story, she immediately went to work on it – and with the spirit that defines the organization, tickets for Jayla, her grandparents, and caretakers were found. Anyone familiar with CCSGC knows that they are in the habit of regularly producing “miracles.” of this nature. Starting in 1941, the organization has taken a leadership role in supporting the people of Flint through numerous programs. Young Father Sheridan arrived in Flint early that year, with a new degree in social work and desire to make a significant difference. The focus of the first efforts included providing resources for pregnant mothers, state adoptions and developing employment and financial assistance programs. They added the Don Bosco mentoring program for young men by 1955. As Flint changed throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, CCSGC again rose to the occasion, supplying new programs to support additional needs. There was a major addition to the organization’s commitment to its citizens in 1987, through the North End Soup Kitchen. From 1987 to 1999, CCSGC began offering counseling, substance abuse treatment, education and support groups, and foster care under its umbrella of services. It began the 21st century by merging Genesee County’s program with the equivalent in Shiawassee County. This allowed for better utilization of resources and increased its impact throughout the community. There was further expansion in 2011 and again in 2013, respectively, with the addition of St. Michael’s Catholic School and further merging with Catholic Outreach. The building was renamed the Sister Claudia Burke Center for Hope, in honor of dedicated Franciscan Sister of the Poor. Sr. Claudia founded the North End Soup Kitchen and Catholic Outreach and helped to start the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Her legacy lives on through the programs she began. Today, Catholic Charities is focused on the Flint Water Crisis, and they have offered their support for residents overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and the need for actions on so many fronts. They provide free water at their service locations throughout the city; have started a GoFundMe site for water relief efforts, to include nutritious, lead-mitigating foods and offer classes to help residents understand the situation and the Recovery Plan. On their website they have information about the impact lead has on your body, with a “Frequently Asked Questions” page, ideas for fighting lead contamination with nutrition and how to practice garden safety while growing within the city. There is also an Adult Exposure Fact Sheet that reflects the tremendous risk to the average, healthy Flint adult. Ms. Schultz said, “We meet people where they are, without discrimination or requirement. We stepped up to assist our Flint neighbors, and will do so for as long as it takes. And we will serve as a continued support for anyone in need – with an interest in improving lives and existing conditions that have affected our community as a whole.” Catholic Charities has assisted, and continues to assist, with bottled and gallon jug water, pantry food and hot meals, infant formula and diapers, adult diapers and feminine products, clothing and linens. It provides personal items such as toothpaste and brushes, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream and razors, soap and laundry detergent. It offers counseling, substance abuse treatment, outreach assistance, prisoner re-entry and work-ready programs, youth skill building, summer camps, and youth employment during the summer. It was through the CCSGC’s involvement in the Flint Water Recovery Efforts that little Jayla was connected. The willingness to help and to go the “extra mile” has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout this ordeal. The role that Catholic Charities and Ms. Schultz have played sets them apart from many service agencies that provide a standard service. For instance, it gave a little girl an empowering experience that she will always remember. Catholic Charities for Shiawassee and Genesee Counties 810.232.9950 for Genesee County; 989.723.8239 for Shiawassee County www.givehope@ccsgc.org


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