Cars lined the street around a home on Minglewood in Farmington Hills Thursday morning, as Verizon Wireless announced $119,600 of grants to nine Oakland County profits.
The announcement was made inside a home owned by JARC, a Farmington Hills-based nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities and their families. It's one of nine homes in the Farmington-Farmington Hills area and 20 in Oakland County, CEO Richard Loewenstein said.
Verizon public relations manager Michelle Gilbert said the home "is a perfect setting to talk about how corporate dollars support local organizations."
The company set up a large check register and representatives of each organization peeled back a tape that revealed their grant award. The largest, $40,000, went to the Oakland Literacy Council, which is based in Bloomfield Hills. President Judy Lindstrom said the grant is "a huge Christmas present" and will be used to create a computer center for adult students.
Lindstrom said the organization does "quite a bit of work" in Farmington and Farmington Hills, especially through the Farmington Community Library. One of their programs, "Reading Seeds", helps parents who have low-level reading skills to encourage their children to read. An activity might involve clipping coupons and then going to the store with the child to search for that item.
Former Farmington library director Bev Papai is a member of the organization's board, Lindstrom said, and both clients and mentors come from the community. "Farmington has been very kind to us," she said.
Loewenstein said JARC's $10,000 award will go toward providing services to clients, like the six residents of the home in which the press conference was held. In addition to group homes, JARC supports adults in other independent living situations and provides respite care for families who have a loved one with developmental disabilities.
JARC also has cooking clubs and other social programs and activities, Loewenstein said. "We're just a part of the community, like everyone else," he added. "We're great neighbors."
Kathy Kauffmann of the Southfield-based American Heart Association, unveiled her organization's $25,000 grant, which will be used for a variety of programs, including support for research, education programs for women and childhood obesity programs in Oakland County schools.
"We want to make sure the American Heart Association is in every community and every school," she said.
HAVEN of Oakland, based in Pontiac, will use its $10,000 grant to continue domestic violence prevention programs. CEO Beth Morrison said the agency is reaching out to children in kindergarten and 1st grade with an animated DVD called Daisy Tells a Secret, which addresses the difficult subject of child sexual abuse.
Another grant, $5,000 to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Greater Detroit Section, will also support HAVEN clients. The council's "Luggage for Freedom" program puts pots, pans, dishes and other household items in the hands of HAVEN clients who are leaving the shelter to set up housekeeping on their own, NCJW executive director Susan Gertner said.
Other awards included:
Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County/Care House - $13,000
Funds will be used for the Steward of Children program, which trains and educates parents and organizations that work with children about how to react and report when a child has been abused or neglected. Executive director Cathy Weissenborn said adults learn the signs of abuse, along with factual information. "The most important thing (to say) is, I believe you, I'm going to help you, this is not your fault," she said.
Humble Design - $5,000
This Birmingham-based nonprofit was formed to help families transition from shelters to low-income housing. Humble Design provides personal items that may have been lost in the transition, from pillows, mattresses and bedframes to cribs and books for children and youth.
Volunteers of America - Michigan - $10,000
Based in Southfield, the organization will use the funds to expand its Operation Backpack program, which works to ensure that low-income children in southeastern Michigan returned to school with the tools they need to do well, including new backpacks and other educational supplies.
North Oakland Family YMCA - $1,600
Grant funds received by this Auburn Hills-based group will support its ongoing client services.
In all, this year, Verizon donated $500,000 to organizations across the state of Michigan, Gilbert said.