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County organizations try to tackle poverty


To the Editor:

Within the Thumb area of Michigan, a small sum of federal grant money was awarded to address local areas of concern regarding poverty. Several partnering agencies and organizations within Lapeer County gathered to determine the greatest needs within the county, and were very creative in developing methods and solutions to address these issues. Spearheading these efforts was Linda DeTavernier, coordinator for the Great Start Collaborative of Lapeer County.

DeTavernier coordinated communication among several county organizations that ultimately defined two key areas of concern: significantly lower monthly food budgets for families, and an alarming increase in suicides within the county. In response to these needs, two key initiatives were organized: a series of 'Scratch Cooking' classes and suicide prevention training.

Helping families stretch their monthly food budgets was a high priority. In cooperation with Lapeer Regional Medical Center, the Lapeer County Health Department developed a scratch cooking class entitled "In the Kitchen with WIC." The one-hour class taught WIC (Women, Infant and Children supplemental nutrition program) recipients how to prepare nutritional recipes from WIC-approved foods. The class was held two to three times per month during July, August, and September, and over 70 WIC recipients attended.

Participants received recyclable tote bags with supplies they needed to complete the recipes taught in the class such as measuring spoons, spices, or other ingredients. The classes were so successful that they will continue for the next several months.

Perhaps as a testament to these economically challenging times, suicide rates in the state are on a significant incline. Those who are unemployed or on the brink of financial collapse are especially at risk. According to researchers, suicide rates among the unemployed are two to three times higher than those who have employment. In many cases, however, the warning signs go unnoticed. A Suicide Prevention training, featuring speaker Barb Smith, was held to educate key people on the warning signs and risk factors, as well as how to help those who are contemplating suicide. The training was well attended by human service professionals, law enforcement officials, school personnel, and emergency/health personnel.

Human Development Commission served as the fiduciary for these projects, and was pleased with the joint efforts in the community to combat poverty. commented HDC is grateful to all the individuals and organizations who helped with these efforts, and especially Linda DeTavernier who played such a key role.

HDC intends to continue building partnerships with agencies and organizations within the community.

It's only through strong partnerships that many of these services are possible. We want to see our community become stronger.

Sincerely,

—Lori Offenbecher

Executive Director

Human Development

Commission

Thumb Area


November 17, 2010

Castle Creek
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