County employees give nearly $50k to worthy recipients

Oakland County employees donated $49,000 to support local charities this year through the county’s Casual Day program, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said during a special ceremony at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center in Waterford. On Casual Day, employees in participating departments and divisions donate $1 to wear jeans to work.

Patterson presented 20 organizations with checks totaling $34,500 during the event. Receiving Casual Day funds for the first time was Dutton Farm of Rochester. County employees also donated $14,500 during five Special Casual Days this year. A Special Casual Day is one that has a designated recipient.

“Oakland County employees prove they have big hearts every year through our Casual Day and other charitable initiatives,” Patterson said. “It’s humbling to lead hundreds of employees who want to give so much back to the community.”

This year’s 20 Casual Day recipients were:

  • American Diabetes Association, Southfield
  • Canine Advocacy Program, Novi
  • CARE House, Pontiac
  • Danny’s Miracle Angel Network (D-MAN) Foundation, Rochester Hills
  • Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Dutton Farm, Rochester
  • Grace Centers of Hope, Pontiac
  • HAVEN, Pontiac
  • Helping Hearts Helping Hands, Clarkston
  • Kids Kicking Cancer, Southfield
  • Oakland County Children’s Village Foundation, Waterford
  • Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society, Pontiac
  • Operation Injured Soldiers, South Lyon
  • Oxford/Orion FISH, Lake Orion
  • Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Rochester
  • The Rainbow Connection, Rochester
  • Scarlet’s Smile, Commerce
  • Toys for Tots, Waterford
  • Walk the Line to SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Recovery, Southfield
  • Yellow Ribbon Fund, Rochester

Since its inception in 1993, Oakland County employees have donated more than $900,000, touching the lives of thousands of people. No taxpayer funds are used in the Casual Day program.

American Diabetes Association, Southfield, Mich.: The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. It leads the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fights for those affected by diabetes. The association funds research to prevent, cures and manages diabetes, delivers services to hundreds of communities, provides objective and credible information, and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes.

Canine Advocacy Program, Novi, Mich.: The Canine Advocacy Program provides advocacy services to child victims utilizing a highly-trained dog to help alleviate the anxiety associated with being involved in the criminal justice system. The dog is skilled in assisting children in both the courts and assisting child victims of sexual assault in group therapy settings. The Canine Advocacy Program has worked in district and circuit courts as well as the Oakland County Children’s Village.

CARE House, Pontiac, Mich.: CARE House of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council is a leader in protecting the children of the community. It was formed out of collaboration in 1977 when Oakland County law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office, the Junior League of Birmingham, Children's Protective Services, and community stakeholders joined forces. This collaboration and dedication to the kids has continued for more than three decades

Danny’s Miracle Angel Network (D-MAN) Foundation, Rochester Hills, Mich.: Danny’s Miracle Angel Network or D-MAN Foundation was founded by Ziad S. Kassab in memory of his younger brother, Danny, who was hit by a car at the age of 7 on July 22, 1993. This accident resulted in Danny being a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic for 16 years. He passed away on Aug. 30, 2009. Despite his many health complications, Danny lived his life to the fullest and inspired everyone he met. Ziad, moved by his younger brother’s life and faith in God, started the foundation as a way to give others with severe injuries like Danny’s a chance to live life fully with a can-do attitude. D-MAN is dedicated to enriching the lives of families and individuals living with physical and mental disabilities. Through education, specialty programs, and fundraising efforts, the D-MAN Foundation strives to ensure that quadriplegics and others with various disabilities have the opportunities to achieve the highest quality of life possible.

Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.: The Donate Life Coalition of Michigan was formed in 1999 to promote organ and tissue donation. Its goal is to encourage Michigan residents to accept organ and tissue donation as a fundamental human responsibility. It seeks to accomplish this primarily through public education, legislative and professional education endeavors. The Donate Life Coalition of Michigan is modeled after Donate Life America, which among other things, creates and distributes national advertising campaigns and various awareness efforts such as National Organ and Tissue Donation week.

*Dutton Farm, Rochester, Mich.: At Dutton Farm, the staff firmly believes that every person has the right to equal opportunities, meaningful work, and a right to make their own decisions. It is committed to advocating and assisting individuals living with disabilities to live full and satisfying lives and to reach their ultimate potential in achieving their dreams. Dutton Farm works with school districts, private employers, and state agencies and other community resources to offer the highest quality and most individualistic plan to meet the individual where they are at and assisting them to get where they want to go, offering skill building assistance, job training, dutton farm employment, job coaching/supported employment, and independent employment with natural supports.

Grace Centers of Hope, Pontiac, Mich.: Grace Centers of Hope was established in 1942. It has since grown and evolved into the largest and oldest faith-based outreach to homeless and disadvantaged individuals and families. Grace Centers of Hope provides a full recovery and rehabilitation campus for homeless men, women and children who have been abused or addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

HAVEN, Pontiac, Mich.: As Oakland County’s only comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year. Its mission is to empower survivors to heal, and engage all individuals and communities to address and prevent sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Its vision is to eradicate sexual assault and intimate partner violence and heal those affected by its injustice.

Helping Hearts Helping Hands, Clarkston, Mich.: Erica Cale is the founder of Helping Hearts Helping Hands. At the extraordinary age of 15, she realized her calling to be a missionary – to live her life helping others. On April 10, 2007, she established Helping Hearts Helping Hands, a family-based non-profit organization, in Honduras. Helping Hearts Helping Hands’ goal is to change the lives of poverty-stricken Honduran children and families. It provides immediate assistance by delivering food, fresh water, clothing, shoes, vitamins and other needed items to Honduran villages. It provides personal care items and instruction on self-care, dental care, health, and nutrition. It helps Honduran families establish businesses that will provide a source of income to become self-sufficient. In addition, Helping Hearts Helping Hands operates a foster care home in a neighborhood where crime and gang related activity occur daily.

Kids Kicking Cancer, Southfield, Mich.: Kids Kicking Cancer is a non-profit organization that provides weekly classes for children, both inpatient and outpatient, in the mind-body techniques found in the martial arts. Its mission is “to ease the pain of very sick children while empowering them to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally.” It emphasizes relaxation and mental imagery, and skill each student according to his or her capabilities to engage in breathing, meditation, and active karate exercises.

Oakland County Children’s Village Foundation, Pontiac, Mich.: The Oakland County Children’s Village Foundation is a dedicated group of community leaders who volunteer their time and resources to promote and enhance Oakland County Children’s Village. Oakland County Children’s Village provides quality, innovative, comprehensive services to youth and families. Oakland County Children’s Village offer’s a safe, structured environment for youth that includes secure detention, residential treatment and shelter care services.

Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society, Pontiac, Mich.: Founded in 1874, the Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society originally resolved “to collect and preserve things of the past, present, and future appertaining to the county which will delight and instruct the present and future inhabitants.” Over time, the mission and activity of the Society has become more focused. It provides educational and cultural experiences through our four main attractions: The Governor Moses Wisner homestead, known as Pine Grove; the Drayton Plains One Room School, moved to the property in 1965; the Research Library and Archives, containing extensive materials often not available elsewhere; and the Pioneer Museum, highlighting the county's rural past.

Operation Injured Soldiers, South Lyon, Mich.: Operation Injured Soldiers provides recreation opportunities to wounded military veterans of all eras as a “Thank you” for their service, and to aid in the recovery from physical and emotional injuries sustained during conflict deployments. It is important to help disabled heroes get back to doing sports and hobbies they enjoyed before being deployed. Operation Injured Soldiers’ goal is to produces significant health improvements through recreational therapy such as improved cardio vascular functioning, reduction in pain, greater control over stress, reduction in depression and anger, improved attitude toward ones disability, and increased immune system activity.

Oxford/Orion FISH, Lake Orion, Mich.: Oxford/Orion FISH provides emergency aid in the form of food, and agency referrals to individuals who live in Oxford, Lake Orion, Addison/Leonard and parts of Oakland Township. Its daily volunteers will call individuals seeking assistance, assess the problem, identify the need, and work toward a solution. The action may be an appointment for that afternoon at the FISH food pantry to receive emergency groceries to last five to seven days; and often referrals to other agencies for additional assistance.

Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Rochester, Mich.: Since 1982, Paint Creek Center for the Arts has been dedicated to promoting the arts and artistic excellence through a full range of cultural programs including exhibitions, studio art classes, outreach programs, community involvement projects, and the Art & Apples Festival®. PCCA is committed to creating opportunities for artists to exhibit original works. The exhibition season includes group shows and solo exhibits. In addition, PCCA produces exhibition catalogues, artist profiles, and presents public lectures in conjunction with each exhibition.

The Rainbow Connection, Rochester, Mich.: The Rainbow Connection is a charity that grants wishes to Michigan children who are suffering from life threatening or terminal illness. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson began The Rainbow Connection as a memorial Golf Outing to raise scholarship funds in the name of Tim and Jennifer Dobson who died in a plane crash, along with their father, Ron, on the way to a wedding in Canada in Ron's private plane. Their mother, who survived but was critically injured in the crash, sits on the board of directors for Rainbow Connection. From the humble beginning of a small golf outing that raised $2,300, the Rainbow Connection now has an annual budget nearing $1 million.

Scarlet’s Smile, Commerce Twsp., Mich.: The Scarlet’s Smile Foundation is named after an adorable 5-year-old little girl from Commerce Township who is fighting a battle with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Scarlet’s Smile is dedicated to making children’s lives and their families lives better. Its goal is to build an all-inclusive playground in Commerce Township where all children can play. It has secured a location next to the brand new Commerce Township Library. Not only will Scarlet with SMA benefit from the playground but all kids with disabilities and abilities can gather and play together.

Toys for Tots, Waterford, Mich.: Toys for Tots’ mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. ABC Harley-Davidson and Waterford HOGS are the volunteers behind collecting on behalf of Toys for Tots in the Waterford area.

Walk the Line to SCI Recovery, Southfield, Mich.: Walk the Line to Spinal Cord Injury Recovery exists for one purpose: to promote and achieve recovery from spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. Walk the Line says, “When a team of individuals all believe and work towards a goal, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” Walk The Line challenges the rules of traditional rehab by including its clients in goal setting, creating unique program designs, encouraging interaction and socialization among clients, caregivers, family members and staff. It provides an environment that promotes respect for each other and one where everyone is family.

Yellow Ribbon Fund – Michigan, Rochester, Mich.: The Yellow Ribbon Fund was created to provide support for the injured service Personnel returning home, and being treated at military hospitals such as Walter Reed Army, Bethesda Navel, and others with traumatic wounds sustained in the field of battle. Your financial assistance is important to the continued success of the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

*Denotes recipient organization which received Casual Day donations for the first time this year.