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Families & Community

Nawrocki Center is working to help older, recently-single people adjust to life on their own.
Public Domain

 


Baby boomers are retiring. While many look forward to spending more time with their spouse in their golden years, others face retirement alone.

We were joined today by Sandy Olger, who’s starting that journey, and Lisa Beatty, an attorney with Nawrocki Center.

That firm focuses on seniors. It recently held a seminar on helping women who become single later in life. Whether they are widowed or divorced, they have to adjust to life on their own, socially, financially and otherwise.

Sandison told us that parents should focus on what their child with autism can do rather than what they can't.
Courtesy of Ron Sandison

 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. One of the most likely to be on the receiving end of bullying is the child who is on the autism spectrum.

Ron Sandison knows what that’s like.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At first glance, there wasn’t anything particularly unusual about their group: a handful of seniors at a local café, gathered over their weekly coffee. The topics of conversation could be wide-ranging, often touching on politics or thorny social issues. And there was a bond that strengthened with each weekly get-together.

But when Bill Haney first joined this “gaggle of geezers,” he quickly realized there were lessons to be learned in the stories they told. Haney has written, edited or published more than 400 books about Michigan and its people. So he was the right person to see a book in the lives of the group, which meets every Monday at Brioni Cafe & Deli in Clarkson.

Courtesy of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

If you had 20 years to give away $1.2 billion, how would you do it?

That’s the question facing one Detroit-based philanthropy, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

Funded by the estate of the late Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who was born in Detroit and went on to become the owner of the Buffalo Bills, the Foundation plans to focus its efforts on the areas Mr. Wilson called home: southeast Michigan and western New York.

And unlike many philanthropic foundations, which invest their endowments and give away the income generated by those investments, Mr. Wilson’s foundation has a mandate to spend all of the money by 2035.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so it’s a good time to take a look at how well Michigan schools are doing in their efforts to curb bullying.
M. Kukhlman / newsservice.org

 

His name was Matt Epling. His eighth-grade classmates voted him as having the best smile, the best personality and the most likely to become an actor.

On his last day of eighth grade, Matt was attacked by upperclassmen who took it upon themselves to give him a “welcome to high school” hazing.

40 days later, Matt Epling committed suicide. That was in 2002.

Since then his parents Kevin and Tammy Epling have worked tirelessly to end bullying, and to make school safe for kids.

"Anything that you would want, from shopping, to health care, to buying a car, you name it, we have it all right here. But yet, we have an incredible small town feel, and that's a very special thing," Brenda Quick told us.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

What happens to a picturesque city when its charms draw more and more people who want to live or work there, and when the push for new housing threatens the very thing that made that city so special?

Traverse City is wrestling with these questions right now, including the lack of affordable housing.

Some locals fear that Traverse City is losing its small town feel.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

For many visitors, Traverse City is the heart of Up North.

The natural beauty is complemented by the town’s vibrant culture of fine foods, craft beer and endless festivals.

But for locals, all that popularity comes at a cost.

sign that says "Flint Vehicle City"
Michigan Municipal League/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Amid the torrent of headlines about Flint's water calamity, it's far too easy to lose track of the long history of that city.

There are powerful and poignant lessons to be learned in the way rich, vibrant neighborhoods were taken apart and plowed under in the name of "development.”

Communities like the old St. John Street neighborhood.

Charles Winfrey grew up in the St. John Street community. Today he is the executive director of The New McCree Theatre. He joined us on Stateside

Listen to the full interview below.

Steven Rhodes
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A new community center will soon open up inside a Detroit school.

The Ford Resource and Engagement Center is at Fisher Upper Magnet Academy, on the city’s east side.

The Ford Fund, the Ford Motor Company’s philanthropic arm, is sponsoring the $5 million project. It’s part of a $20 million commitment to community causes in Southeast Michigan.

Amy Haimerl

When looking for a new house, prospective homeowners usually prepare to make a few cosmetic changes. When Amy Haimerl and her husband moved into their new Detroit home, it was completely void of plumbing, heating, and electricity.

Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

Two years after Toledo’s water supply was shut down by so-called blue-green algae, people are still worried about the safety of the city’s drinking water.

Toxins called microcystins are sometimes produced by certain freshwater cyanobacteria blooms. Those blooms are more likely under certain conditions, and every summer Toledo is on the watch for an increase.

A brick church
User VanZandt / Flickr- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit held a unique service on Friday called “Mass for Pardon.”

Leaders at the Archdiocese said it's important to ask forgiveness for sins the Catholic Church has committed as an institution. 

Flickr user Summer in the City/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

One of the organizations to rise from the ashes of the 1967 uprising in Detroit was Focus: HOPE.

It’s many things to many people, but primarily it’s a career training center for about 900 people each year, and a distributor of food to approximately 40,000 senior citizens in 42 Detroit-area communities each month through a United States Department of Agriculture program.

This summer Focus: HOPE got a new CEO. His name is Jason Lee.

SafeHouse Center director Barbara Niess-May told us community is key in preventing domestic violence and protecting victims.
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A couple of weeks ago in Dearborn Heights, four children were killed and their mother was bound, slashed with a box cutter and shot in the foot.

The man charged with the crime is her husband. The same man murdered his previous wife in 1991.

To talk about the best ways to hold domestic violence assailants accountable and keeping victims or potential victims safe, we turned to Barbara Niess-May, director of SafeHouse Center in Washtenaw County.

child's drawing on chalkboard
iRon leSs / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Legislation on child restraint in classrooms passed through a House committee Thursday. The legislation would prevent teachers from restraining or isolating a student except as a last resort in an emergency situation.

This was the third hearing by the committee to go over the bills surrounding student restraint and seclusion. The committee passed the bills with substitutes to the original legislation.

"I just don't like the same old summers -- you know, same old summers over and over and over -- but, fall," John Clark said. "I feel nice in the fall."
Flickr user PROJim Sorbie/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's that time of year again: the end of summer.

The nights are getting colder, the days are getting shorter. And today is the fall equinox. 

How do you feel about it? Are you happy to say hello to fall, or more sorry to say goodbye to summer? 

Mike Jackson feels that Proposal A could make Detroit less attractive to developers.
flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Two years ago, on a sunny September afternoon, there was a special celebration to mark the end of a long spell of construction on I-96 in western Wayne County.

Before opening the freeway to traffic, the Michigan Department of Transportation invited the public to come play on the nearly two-mile stretch of renovated road.

The turnout was big: the freeway filled with people walking, running, biking and rollerblading.

United States Department of Education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As Michigan kids get settled into this new school year, there's one group that can use some extra support: children who are immigrants or refugees.

Sheriff Jerry Clayton is making changes that emphasize and strengthen the partnership between communities and their police forces.
flickr user Elsa Blaine / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The rise in police shootings of unarmed black people, and the sharp rise in ambush-style attacks on police officers, among other factors, have many law enforcement agencies taking a new look at the way they protect and serve their communities.

That's certainly the case with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, where Sheriff Jerry Clayton is implementing "fundamental" changes in staff training and in talking with the community. 

Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert.
CGFome MRE

A statewide conference on making Michigan a hospitable place for immigrants was held in Lansing Monday. It’s part of the nationwide Welcoming Week, which seeks to bring together immigrants and U.S. born people in “a spirit of unity.”

This was the third annual statewide Welcoming Michigan conference. It brought together nonprofits, local government leaders, students and others to share tips and strategies for making Michigan communities more welcoming to immigrants.

Report reveals child care gaps in Michigan

Sep 16, 2016
United States Department of Education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State lawmakers need to spend more to make child care in Michigan affordable and high-quality. That’s the message in a report prepared for the state Department of Education.

Michigan helps working families with child care through the Child Development and Care program. But the report says the program and all childcare need to improve in five key areas:

Ty Schmidt told us safety is a huge part of the Norte! experience. "We really take it serious. They signal, they stop at every stop sign, and their confidence builds, their independence builds," he said. "As they get older, these will be lifelong skills."
Courtest of Norte!

It used to be that getting to school meant hopping on your bike.

But when Ty Schmidt moved to Traverse City ten years ago, something stuck him: crowded bike racks outside schools had been replaced with long lines of cars at drop-off and pick-up.

That led Schmidt and his wife Johanna to launch an effort to get kids to ride their bikes - safely - to and from school. 

Mobile farmers market on the road in Flint

Sep 13, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A traveling farmers market has begun popping up around the City of Flint.

It's a retrofitted 14 passenger bus that's been equipped to carry fresh produce and other healthy foods to Flint neighborhoods.

The project, called Flint Fresh Mobile Market, is the joint effort of several local non-profit organizations and one local business, according to Pam Bailey of the YMCA of Greater Flint.

The groups are the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Flint Food Works, The Local Grocer, Neighborhood Engagement Hub, and YMCA of Greater Flint.

PAULA FRIEDRICH / Michigan Radio

Librarians are finding themselves face to face with the heroin and opioid epidemic as drug users take advantage of free access to quiet areas where people often keep to themselves.

The library director in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says the open-access environment can make public libraries susceptible to misuse.

In the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, a man fatally overdosed in a locked library restroom in April. Officials say his body might have been there for days, overlooked by a now-fired security contractor.

The Muslim Student Association at Michigan Tech University is trying to raise money to build a mosque in Houghton.
Muslim Student Association (Michigan Tech University)

Islamaphobia has been rampant in the dark corners of the internet for a long time. It rears its head in real life as well, and as close as Dearborn, where we've seen armed protestors stand outside mosques and libraries protesting "radical Islam" or simply voicing their anti-Muslim sentiment. 

But there's a small enclave of Muslims in the Upper Peninsula that says they've been welcomed, and feel safe there. 

Flickr user EL Gringo/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

You decide to become a teacher because you want to help, to see your students grow and learn. 

But take a deep dive into teacher pay and you'll discover that teachers are taking a beating on that front.

A new study from the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute shows that in 2015, the weekly wages of public school teachers in this country were 17% lower than comparable college-educated professionals.

And who's hurt the most? Male teachers and veteran teachers. 

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas
flickr user Always Shooting / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Happy 906 Day!

Michigan's Yoopers want us all to know that today is the day to celebrate what they consider to be America's greatest area code. 

Bugsy Sailor is the self-titled "Official Unofficial Ambassador of the Upper Peninsula."

He joined us today to talk about the U.P. why the 906 area code deserves its very own day of celebration.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County is looking for people who are willing to open their homes to foster children.

The number of children in Genesee County in foster care remains stable.  But the number of foster homes has dropped significantly during the past few years.

Mike Milks is Genesee County’s Child Welfare director. He says the stress associated with Flint’s lead tainted drinking water is a factor for some.

Rick Hodges, left, and John Fox in a May 2016 commercial for Fox Automotve.
screengrab

This year, a Detroit-area auto dealership put out a TV commercial with a unique twist. 

The commercial features John Fox, owner of Fox Automotive, talking about everything they have to offer. 

And standing next to him, there's a man signing for hearing-impaired viewers. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has taken an unusual step – he’s declared a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

The declaration comes after a south side Lansing hotel informed dozens and dozens of residents they’ll be evicted in just the next few weeks.

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