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Success Story Spotlight
Charmell Hancock had given up hope of finding a low-cost home that fit her specifications. After living in Detroit and being unhappy with the home she was in, she decided to pursue something better.
That’s when she heard about Venture, Inc., a housing subsidiary of OLHSA that builds and sells quality affordable homes to low-income homebuyers. At first it seemed too good to be true, but after talking with Venture, Inc. employees she realized her dreams were coming true. She even began decorating the house in her mind before she moved in.
Charmell currently resides in the home she purchased through Venture in Royal Oak Township with her 5 year old son, Chaz, and she couldn’t be happier. The house has all of the requirements she wanted and fits perfectly within her budget. She loves the amount of space the house has, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and her son enjoys the giant backyard. She was also impressed that the house came with new appliances including a stove, refrigerator and a dishwasher.
Charmell is comfortable in her neighborhood and happy with her decision to purchase the home. She is grateful to Venture, Inc. for helping her find her dream home and she encourages others to take advantage of the program should other houses be available.
OLHSA knows the struggle of finding affordable housing that is comfortable and attractive. Venture, Inc. was founded by OLHSA to offer beautiful homes at an affordable price. Venture, Inc. believes that homeownership should be a reality for residents with all income levels. The program is dedicated to building quality, energy-efficient affordable homes mainly in Royal Oak Township and Pontiac.
For more information about Venture, Inc. please email email@example.com.
A close knit group
For over 15 years OLHSA’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) has provided services to grandparents who are raising grandchildren in the Oakland County area. Program services include workshops, support group meetings and intergenerational activities. These services are made possible through funding provided by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B.
GRG offers interactive workshops on a variety of important topics including health and wellness, parenting, and legal issues. Support groups allow grandparents to meet others like themselves and can relate to the ups and downs of their situation. Intergenerational Activities help grandparents with finding common points of interest with their grandchild, which can be difficult. Registered grandparents can also receive monthly e-mail blasts and mailings containing useful resources that keep them updated.
Kathy Dankert has been part of the GRG program for over nine years and she has raised four grandchildren while in the program. Out of those four she has adopted two, currently ages nine and 13. “I like that the program puts me in touch with grandparents going through the same issues,” said Kathy. “We really are a close knit group and learn from each other’s struggles. The support group aspect of the program has been truly beneficial.”
Kathy has been involved with the fun intergenerational activities over the years as well, such as roller skating, bowling and other outings the group members have been on. “When the grandparents and grandkids get together, the kids feel that they are not alone in their struggles and gather strength and courage,” said Kathy. “They also develop priceless friendships.”
GRG also participated in the Children’s Holiday Wish program, which provided presents for grandchildren in the program and helped to make their holiday even more special.
Learn more about GRG on our website http://www.olhsa.org/grandparents-acting-parents
From client to employee
From client to employee, Rickey Brown has had many successes through OLHSA.
Rickey discovered OLHSA through the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI) and Department of Justice reentry program while he was incarcerated in 2009. He was in the program for six months and participated in various workshops.
Through the workshops offered by the MPRI, Rickey learned how to build a resume, how to prepare for a job interview, as well as other development skills that would prepare him for his future and for reintegration after being incarcerated. Additionally, he completed an auto mechanics course provided by Oakland Community College (OCC). OLHSA also helped Rickey apply to OCC so he could continue classes once released.
“OLHSA’s programs helped me to become an active member of society,” said Rickey. “I am grateful to OLHSA for helping me become successful and providing me with a job to support my family.”
Rickey was hired as an OLHSA employee in October 2013. As an employee, Rickey does tasks such as yard cleaning and snow removal. He really enjoys giving back to society and helping the elderly clients who can’t do the things for themselves that they would like to.
“I love getting up early in the morning and being excited to go to work,” said Rickey. “Working for OLHSA has been such a great learning experience and it’s satisfying being able to help others.”
OLHSA is happy to have Rickey and is proud of all his hard work. “We can’t get him to stop working,” said Joan Leshley, Director of Community and Energy Services at OLHSA. “He is a highly motivated individual and has been doing a fantastic job.”
Rickey also has three grandchildren in Head Start and says he can’t believe how smart the program has made them. He says the program has helped his grandchildren with learning colors, numbers, letters and even speech.
Rickey’s future goals are to continue working for OLHSA as well as to finish his auto mechanics degree. Since he has been working, Rickey has still been able to attend Oakland Community College and has four more classes to finish his degree.
Early Head Start
On Feb. 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 at the urging of President Obama, who signed it into law four days later. A direct response to the economic crisis, the Recovery Act has three immediate goals:
- Create new jobs and save existing ones
- Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
- Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending
The Recovery Act intended to achieve those goals by providing $787 billion in:
- Tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses
- Funding for entitlement programs, such as unemployment benefits
- Funding for federal contracts, grants and loans
In 2011, the original expenditure estimate of $787 billion was increased to $840 billion to be in line with the President's 2012 budget and with scoring changes made by the Congressional Budget Office since the enactment of the Recovery Act.
In Michigan, $7.86 million ARRA dollars provided a boost to federal grants. For OLHSA, it meant initiating the Early Head Start program, among other boosts.
Early Head Start is a comprehensive, two-generation federal initiative aimed at enhancing the development of infants and toddlers while strengthening families. Many factors are built into the curriculum, and include but are not limited to: prevention and promotion activities, positive relationships and continuity, parent involvement, cultural competence and transition planning.
In Oxford, a teen mother named Brittney enrolled her daughter Mariah in OLHSA’s Early Head Start. After dropping out of high school to have her child, Brittney enrolled Mariah in Early Head Start when she was a year old. The decision allowed Britteny to finish high school, and then go on to college. Brittney recently has graduated with her Medical Assistant certification and was offered a position at the doctor's office where she interned. Britteny and Mariah are now living in their own apartment after moving out of Brittney’s parent’s house. Baby Mariah went on to attend OLHSA’s Oxford Head Start and is doing well.
OLHSA was the recipient of the Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers (SERC) Grant in 2011 in the amount of $3.765 million. In an effort to provide relief to our energy resources and assist residents throughout Oakland and Livingston counties, OLHSA researched homes throughout both counties to determine the homes that would receive the greatest benefit from these new solar technologies. With the following products, OLHSA has been able to provide these households the ability to reduce their current utility bills by at the least, 1/3 annually depending on the technology used.
- Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels
- Thermal Hot Air and Water Systems
- Hybrid Water Heaters
In addition to single family homes, multi-unit apartments were also considered as a recipient. Following an overall site assessment of the property, it was determined that Oxford Square Apartments located in Oakland County would be an excellent candidate for these products due to the following criteria:
- This property consisted of 3 separate buildings with 2 buildings housing 4 units each and the last building housing 2 apartments and a shared laundry facility.
- Each apartment had approximately 650 sq. ft. of living space
- All utilities operate on electric only.
- There is no gas service to this property.
- The majority of the residents are senior citizens living on a fixed income.
An analysis of the utility cost and total watts used for one full year was conducted by our team. Overall, the building pictured used 33,679 total watts with a cost of $4,290.90 for the 4 residents in that building.
The SERC team knew improvements to those figures using new technologies were possible. The photos show the newly installed Solar Photovoltaic panels and Thermal Hot Air Systems. The installation of these two technologies has reduced the electrical usage and cost to the residents and improved their quality of life.