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Families & Community

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s the last day before Christmas. 

And amidst the frantic last-minute shopping and traveling, some people in Flint took some time out for music.

For 78 years on Christmas Eve, a bank lobby in Flint has turned into a small concert hall.

Dozens of people filled the First Merit bank lobby in downtown Flint to listen to choir sing a mix of holiday standards and carols, as well as sing along themselves.

user anonymonous / Flickr

Like many of us, the folks at Washtenaw County have something on their Christmas wish list: 17 apartments to house 17 homeless veterans.

Andrea Plevek is with the county's Office of Community and Economic Development.

If she were writing a letter to Santa, "I think that we would ask Santa Claus to open the hearts and minds of the landlord community here in Washtenaw County," says Plevek.

The county hopes to reach its goal of zero homeless veterans by the end of 2015, but Plevek says the county can't do it alone.

Muslims hold a vigil in Royal Oak in response to attacks in Libya
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

In the U.S., random attacks against Muslims – or people the attackers think look like Muslims – are on the rise. Michigan is not exempt.

In her recent article for The Islamic Monthly, Michigan public school teacher Zeinab Chami wonders why, 14 years after the most significant incident of violence in the name of Islam ever, we are now seeing more vitriolic comments against Islam – not fewer.

The article is called The Prayer of the American Muslim. That prayer: “Please, God, don’t let them be Muslim.”

user myeyesinthemirror / deviantart

"Yes, there's a place we all know, where people of all ages go. It doesn't matter if there's even snow at all.

In Michigan it's loved by all."

Those are lines from "Christmas in Frankenmuth" a song recorded by the American Legacy Jazz Band. The brassy number celebrates Bavarian chicken and "Christmas time all year round."

Take a listen for yourself:

Two children sitting at a table
Public Domain

Michigan officials say the state is now complying with federal requirements for child welfare and foster care.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration said Monday that Michigan has completed a program improvement plan required by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.

Federal officials determined the state wasn't in compliance in 2009.

Officials say by meeting the federal goals, about $2.8 million in federal penalties have been rescinded.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

When you’re driving into Lexington, Michigan on M-25, you pass this house with a teeny wooden sign out front: “Mary’s Pie Shop: Ho’Made.” No store front, just a house. I loved it as soon as I saw it.

“That’s so cute,” I said to Daniel, my friend whose family has a cottage down the road.  

“Have you been there? Who’s Mary?”

“She's so cool! But I think she’s retired,” he said. “They sell her DVD in the general store. It costs $100.”

It’s true. It does. It’s totally real.

VIDEO: Dinner with Ms. Chris

Dec 18, 2015

Our series Bringing up Detroit takes you inside the lives of four Detroit families as they navigate the city's often unpredictable school systems, economy, transportation networks, and neighborhoods. 

58 year-old Christina Lumpkin is her family's sole breadwinner.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

This story is part of Michigan Radio's year-long series Bringing Up Detroit, which examines the inner-lives of four Detroit families as they navigate the city’s often unpredictable school systems, economy, transportation networks, and neighborhoods.

The MacIntyre family took photos of how Flint's water crisis affected their day to day lives. From left: Sean, Ian, Laura, Evan and Broghan.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

As Flint's water crisis unfolded, there was a lot of news about decisions made by top level officials.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A growing number of Michigan cities are opening their doors to immigrants, despite a national debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Lansing city officials today signed a pledge making the capitol one of nearly a dozen Michigan cities pledging to welcome immigrants.

Mayor Virg Bernero laments the current national debate over Syrian refugees is creating negative feelings about immigration.

African American Santa Claus
soulchristmas / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM / cropped from original

Some Detroit children will have a chance to read their Christmas lists while sitting on the lap of a Santa Claus who looks like them.

BLAC Magazine will host a free event this Saturday and Sunday for children to visit  and get their picture with a black Santa.

For years, Northland Mall in Southfield was a "sure-fire place" for parents to take their children for a photo with a black Santa.

Alas, Detroiters, this is going to be our first Christmas without Northland Mall. And that raises a difficult question for the black community — where will we go to find a black Santa Claus?

Ever since I can remember, Northland was the sure-fire place where parents could take their kids to see a black Santa. My children grew up with two astounding life experiences that, for me, are the hallmark of the progress we have made as a race: They've never voted for a white president, and they've never sat upon the lap of a white Santa.

Edda Photography

    

You've heard the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well here's another take on that saying: "When life gives you stage-four lung cancer, open an improv comedy club that's also a brewery."

Tori Tomalia and her husband, Jason, are preparing to do just that: the Pointless Brewery & Theatre is about to open in Ann Arbor nearly two years after she was blindsided by the cancer diagnosis.

Daymon J. Hartley / Facebook

Ron Scott’s lifetime of community activism in Detroit ended recently when he died at age 68.

His quest for peace and justice led him to found the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, but his activism goes all the way back to when he met Grace and James Boggs. He was 16 years old.

His friend and longtime Detroit activist Rich Feldman tells us that everything Scott did, from his early involvement in the Detroit chapter of the Black Panthers to DCAPB, came from a place of love for his home and the people who live there.

Scrooge and Bob Cratchit from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
user Droll / Wikipedia Commons

A new report finds Michigan is the seventh least charitable state in the nation.

Wallet Hub is an online personal finance site that churns out a long list of financial best and worst lists.  

Its latest looks at charitable giving, or in Michigan’s case, a lack of charity.

Michigan ranks near the bottom of WalletHub’s charity list for relatively low rates of charitable giving and volunteering.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Saginaw neighborhood group is finding a new use for the site of a former county fairground.

It’s been more than a decade since people sat in the decaying grandstand on the 54 acre Saginaw County fairgrounds. 

People with bench warrants for missed child support payments in Eaton County have an opportunity for a fresh start next week.

During a two-hour window on Tuesday, Eaton County Friend of the Court will resolve bench warrants for outstanding support payments.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

As we draw near to the annual Thanksgiving feast, those whose menus include turkey may find themselves tempted to pay more for a bird advertised with some special buzz words.

But Detroit News Finance Editor Brian J. O’Connor tells us not to be fooled by the marketing.

According to O’Connor, there are a number of labels that ultimately don’t mean anything.

“Things like young, hormone-free and cage-free, for example, are completely meaningless,” he says.

Many local MIchigan restaurants give back to their communities by providing free meals on Thanksgiving.
Satya Murthy / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Many family-owned businesses across the state provide free turkey meals to local patrons to help give back to their communities. Michigan Radio spoke with a few owners of these restaurants and created a map to make note of the rest. 

Maureen Abood with a copy of her cookbook, "Rose Water & Orange Blossoms"
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

The Thanksgiving feast is at hand.

­If you’re a guest this year, you might be wondering what you can bring to the table.

East Lansing food writer Maureen Abood has some suggestions for one of her favorite holiday meals.

Chad Carr (held by father Jason) and his family in Sept. 2014.
Brad Muckenthaler / Flickr

Chad Carr, son of Tammi and Jason Carr, and grandson of former U of M head football coach Lloyd Carr and former U of M safety Tom Curtis, died today at the age of 5.

Chad Carr was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, last year.

The family sought multiple treatments for Chad's brain cancer and gave the public updates on his condition. Today, the family announced that Chad died this afternoon.

From the Pray for Chad Carr Facebook page:

flickr user Elizabeth Hahn / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Research seems to suggest that millennials are suffering from a self-image problem, especially when compared with baby boomers and Gen Xers.

And considering that millennials – the age group between 18 and 34 – now make up the largest demographic in the United States work force, it’s worth trying to understand why they think of themselves the way they do.

Jos Campau Historic District in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

In her piece on tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in HamtramckWashington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes that the city in 2013 "earned the distinction of becoming what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade."

Windsor Homes Coalition / via Facebook

A Windsor food bank is re-opening Monday, after it had an “amazing” change of fortune in just 24 hours last week.

The Windsor Homes Coalition food bank had never shut its doors in 45 years, until last Thursday.

“All we had left in our food bank was a loaf of bread and a can of tomato juice,” says Windsor Homes tenant advocate Shirley Beaton.

But after word got out, donations started pouring in—starting Friday morning.

Beaton says that’s when members of the Windsor Muslim Community Association showed up with a “truck full of food” and a $5,000 check.

Eric Constantineau / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM / cropped from original

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has issued a reminder in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris.

They want people to take a stand against retaliatory violence and discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans.

Earlier this week, the FBI office in Detroit issued a statement that it's investigating anti-Muslim threats against Dearborn.

Islamophobia harms the fearful as much as the feared

Nov 19, 2015
flickr user JMacPherson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

The ISIS attacks in Paris triggered fresh waves of fear and suspicion aimed at Muslims.

In just one example, the FBI is now investigating a Michigan woman regarding a tweet she sent out the day after the Paris attacks:

“Dearborn, MI has the largest Muslim population in the United States. Let’s f--- that place up and send a message to ISIS. We’re coming.”

From a local tweet like that to CNN anchors questioning why no one in the French Muslim community spoke up to warn of the Paris attacks, the shock waves of fear and paranoia can be felt resonating far and wide.

Raed / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Rahmaa Institute, a Michigan-based, Muslim-oriented family counseling non-profit group, is distributing safety advice to Muslim organizations in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut.

The Institute's founder, Khalid Iqbal, said the best way for Muslims to combat fear and backlash is to reach out to their non-Muslim neighbors so they get to know each other.

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Plans to transform an abandoned elementary school and nearby vacant lots in Pontiac into a community center catering to Syrian refugees are moving forward.

This in spite of Gov. Rick Snyder's announcement that he's putting Syrian refugee resettlement efforts on hold in Michigan.

Syrian-American businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project's organizers.

He said he was disappointed in Snyder's announcement, which came in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

To many of us, a trip to the grocery store is simply a matter of finding the time in our schedule to jump in the car and drive a few miles.

But that grocery trip presents big challenges to many of the people who live in Flint, where supermarkets are shutting down left and right.

The city lost two Kroger stores and a Meijer within eight months.

And with about half of the city’s residents living below the poverty line, many can’t afford to get a car to drive to the suburbs for fresh, healthy food.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Automotive and technology firms including Ford, General Motors and Microsoft have pledged about $4.5 million to a Detroit organization's workforce development and educational programs.

  Focus: HOPE announced Sunday that Microsoft Corp. is offering $2 million in software and cash, Magna International is giving $1 million and robotics equipment, and Lear Corp. and GM Foundation both pledged $500,000. Ford Motor Co. donated $360,000.

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