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Updated 9:00 AM October 13, 2004




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  2004 United Way campaign
Collaboration characterizes local agencies

"Most people in Ann Arbor—and I was among them until not too long ago—don't believe real poverty exists within our city boundaries—or even county boundaries. We think of it as something that exist in other countries, or maybe the Deep South.

"But it does exist here, in the shadow of this world-class and world famous university.

"Not long ago, a woman moved into Hikone [low-income housing]. She had several children. She came from a local shelter, Safe House to be exact. Safe House, by the way, is a United Way-supported agency. As we always do, our staff visited with this woman to see what kinds of things she needed. We made a list, and procured furniture from several agencies. One of these, Friends In Deed, is a United Way-certified agency.

"Her school-aged children started coming to the on-site community center we operate, where they received homework help, participated in nature club and came with us to the local library every week. The youngest girl enrolled in our on-site Girl Scout troop. CAN and Girl Scouts collaborate so that our public housing kids, too, can experience that mainstream experience of wearing a Girl Scout uniform and taking part in its enriching experiences. Girl Scouts, by the way, is a United Way-supported agency.

"The mother took advantage of the twice-monthly food deliveries to our community center, courtesy of Food Gatherers. CAN and Food Gatherers collaborate, too. In addition to the food drop offs, CAN staff goes to the Food Gatherers warehouse twice a week to load up on food—because we feed our children dinner at our centers. And as you probably guessed, yes, Food Gatherers, too, is a United Way-supported agency.

"This past summer, her children participated in the free six-week summer camps, which CAN organizes in the community center. But two of them experienced another treat. CAN nominated these kids [for]—and they received—full scholarships from Washtenaw Camp Placement Association—so they went to 12-day overnight camps. And yes, Washtenaw Camp Placement is also United Way supported.

"When a child had a dental emergency, it was Hope Dental Clinic where CAN was able to fit him in for a same-day extraction. CAN and Hope Dental have an "understanding"—and we are able to get our children appointments for emergencies and Head Start checkups. And of course by now, you know what I will be telling you next: Hope Clinic received United Way funds.

"The list of services CAN provides goes on and on. But so does the list of agencies with which we collaborate to make this happen. SOS and the Salvation Army are available when families get behind on their bills and are threatened with eviction or DTE shutoffs. They, too, are United Way fund recipients.

"In another family we serve, a parent struggled to keep her temper under control as her teenage daughter discovered the art of discourse and practiced it—ad nauseum—on her mother. It was Ozone House—another United Way agency—where we took this teenager when things threatened to get out of control.

"Here is a little known fact: About 30 percent of our families living in public housing have received asylum in the U.S. At both sites we serve, we have families that fled Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime, and there are a fair number of Somali families as well. We invited Washtenaw Literacy to offer an on-site ESL class, which we combined with a First Steps program. Washtenaw Literacy is part of the United Way family."

To contribute to the University's United Way effort, go to, print the pledge card and return it to 6008 Fleming Administration Building, campus zip 1340.

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