Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Princeton comes to Michigan...

I have heard my fair share of stereotypes about young people and their lack of motivation. Today's blog makes me feel great because it always an awesome feeling to dispel generalizations. My hubistrator (Jason) and I are co-chairs this year for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Committee of Michigan.
Our duties include seeking out young people (high school age) who have made strides in race relations. I am happy to say that this year's winner Shirisha Thota made an amazing difference in race relations by being innovative, hardworking and creative.
One of the first things mentioned about ths student when we talked to her reccomender was that "Shirisha's one of a kind; she's going to be president one day!" She describes Shirisha, a junior at Farmington H.S., as incredibly friendly, gregarious, passionate about social justice issues, a leader who leads by example and is well-respected and liked by her peers. Shirisha has made personal contact with her state representative, Vicki Burnett, about promoting race relations in her school and county area, and is apparently on a first name basis with her!
Shirisha is very proactive and has gone above and beyond in her role as a Youth Policy Leader. She is "thirsty for this kind of work" i.e.. work related to race relations, social justice, and intergenerational/interracial dialogues. She is working with her Vice Principal and community officials (like Representative Burnett, aka, "Vicki") about organizing more programs and dialogues to promote race relations, including people of all ages.
Shirisha was awarded with a monetary stipend and acknowledgement from Princeton University for her efforts-she also was given the opportunity to come to the National Symposium on Race at Princeton University to meet other young people who have made an amazing difference in their respevctive states.
Today's blog is dedicated to Shirisha for making Michigan stand out in diversity!
-Read something great!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guest blog from Senior Alliance

Friendship Has No Age Limit
By: Linda DeVore
Program Manager
The Senior Alliance

The Senior Alliance, (TSA) Area Agency on Aging 1-C is a non-profit organization serving the 34 communities in southern and western Wayne County. TSA’s mission is to coordinate a comprehensive network of services to enable older persons to function as independently as possible in the community environment, which best suits their needs. TSA provides advocacy, programming, planning, contracting, funding and personnel necessary to accomplish the foregoing purpose. Services are also provided to individuals with physical disabilities. The people we serve come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities.

Oftentimes, when we think of the words “diversity” or “inclusion” we think of the color of someone’s skin. But, diversity also encompasses age, ability, knowledge, and much more. One of my favorite sayings is, “Friendship has no age limit”—something we strongly believe at The Senior Alliance.

TSA has a comprehensive network of nearly 50 programs and services. In the past year, The Senior Alliance has had remarkable success in all of its programs and has continued to provide services to meet the needs of hundreds of seniors. Older Americans and the disabled have witnessed many turbulent times in the history of our country including World Wars, The Great Depression, and tragedies of diverse kinds. They have made it through those times with great resolve and dignity and are a valuable asset to the next generation. Without the fundamentals they have laid, this country would not be what it is today.

One of the programs that TSA provides is the Holiday Meals program, which delivers meals to seniors who otherwise would not get a hot meal on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Labor Day. Seniors receiving these meals are homebound due to disability or frailty. Many of them may have no family or friends to assist them or visit with them during the holidays. Meals on Wheels does not deliver on holidays, so programs like Holiday Meals through TSA ensure vulnerable and delicate seniors receive a meal for that day.
For many, this brief encounter with someone from the outside is very beneficial to the welfare of the senior and leaves a lasting impression on their hearts and minds, along with the actual nutrition that the meal provides. These seniors look forward to the companionship and of the individual bringing the meals, if only for a few minutes. Sometimes, this is the only opportunity that they have to speak to another human being. How difficult this must be. I can only imagine how this brief visit tugs at the heart strings of the senior. The Holiday Meals program has managed to reach its arms far into the community. Schools and churches participate by having children create beautifully colorful placemats that are delivered along with the meal; many times these seniors keep these placemats for the entire year as a keepsake.