Rochester Hills charity awarded first Brooksie Way Mini Grant

Blessings in a Backpack, a charity that provides weekend meals for
elementary school children in need, is the first recipient of a
Brooksie Way Mini Grant.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson made the award Thursday to
the local chapter of the group during the grand opening of the Brooksie
Way/Crim Fitness Foundation Satellite Training office in Rochester
Hills. The charity will provide weekend meals for eligible students in
the Rochester Schools. Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett recommended
the charity for consideration.

“This is the first grant and I’m pleased that it will benefit children
in both Rochester and Rochester Hills,” Patterson said. “Both cities
have worked tirelessly on behalf of the Brooksie Way. This is a small
way for us to give back to them.”

The grant was accepted by local program coordinator Kim Williams, who
organized the program in Rochester Hills and obtained additional
corporate donations to support it.

“With the support of the Brooksie Way Mini Grant, and the dedication of
Rochester Hills residents like Kim Williams, we are now able to
officially launch the Rochester Hills “Blessings in a Backpack,”
Barnett said. “This is a great way for Rochester Hills to see first
hand, one of the many positive impacts that the Brooksie Way Half
Marathon and 5K has brought to our community.”

Blessings in a Backpack is a national program that feeds school
children who are eligible for free or reduced meals during the school
day. The Michigan chapter also runs the program in Avondale and Clawson
and several other districts in the region.

Thursday’s grant will fund a pilot program in four elementary schools
through the end of the school year, said Cheryl Whitton, president of
Blessings in a Backpack — Michigan Advisory Board. Without the grant,
the pilot program would not have begun before fall at the earliest.
There are 1,800 school children eligible for the program in the
district. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with staples
that require little or no preparation. Contributions to the program are
tax deductible.

“With the downturn in the economy, there are people who didn’t need
assistance before but now are in dire need,” Whitton said. “If we can
help those people and keep them here, it only makes for a stronger
community.”

Patterson announced in his recent State of the County address that
proceeds from the Brooksie Way Half Marathon would be used to fund a
$50,000 mini grant program to support health and fitness activities in
the county. Grants amounts are up to $2,000.

A second grant will be given out on Saturday during the Oakland
University-North Dakota State men’s basketball game to the OU men’s and
women’s track and cross-country teams.

The Brooksie Way Half Marathon is named in honor of Brooks Stuart
Patterson, a young father and son of the county executive, who died
after an accident in 2007. The 2010 Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5k
races are set for Oct. 3.

The Brooksie Way is presented by Oakland County and the Crim Fitness
Foundation, and is sponsored by HealthPlus and Citizens Bank. For more
information on the race or the grant program please visit
thebrooksieway.com.