Community Caring Award winners announced

GENESEE COUNTY — Winners of the ninth annual Community Caring Award were announced May 6 at a breakfast honoring community organizations and individuals who make a difference in the life of thousands of Genesee County residents throughout the year.

A total of 10 organizations and eight individuals were recognized. One winner was chosen from each group as the 2011 Community Caring Award recipient.

The organization earning the annual award is Shoes That Fit, a national campaign adopted locally to build selfesteem in needy school-aged children by providing them with a pair of new shoes every year. Often, the shoes given to these kids through Shoes That Fit are the only shoes they will have for an entire year.

Each year, staff from Flint Community Schools identifies students in need and distributes this list to the three local hospitals: Genesys, Hurley and McLaren. Employees from the three hospitals purchase the shoes needed. And every year, each child who needs a pair receives a pair.

In 2010 alone, 1,036 students received a free pair of shoes.

Since the program’s inception, schoolaged children in Flint have received a total of: 12,434 shoes, 83,496 pairs of socks and 18,189 hats and sets of gloves.

The recipient of the individual Community Caring Award went to Jim Bleicher, former news director for WJRT TV ABC 12.

A member of the Cover the Uninsured Week committee since its inception nine years ago, Bleicher volunteered to join the group because of his personal dedication to the mission of helping the uninsured and underinsured in this community.

His efforts are far beyond noteworthy, reports Leslie Toldo, meteorologist and medical reporter at ABC 12 who nominated Bleicher.

“His dedication is honest, his belief in helping those who are suffering is amazingly strong, and his desire to lend an extra hand during an especially difficult time is overpowering,” she writes.

The ninth annual Community Caring Awards breakfast concludes Cover the Uninsured Week activities each year.

In Genesee County, about 60,000 residents lack adequate health insurance, and Cover the Uninsured Week is designed to help those individuals obtain access to care.

Details: 810-603-8682. — G.G.

Community Caring Award nominees:

Eyecare Associates — For the past 21 years, Eyecare Associates has dedicated one day every year to provide free eye examinations and eyewear to uninsured and underinsured students in Davison Community Schools.

MICafé volunteers — From legal consulting to food stamps and Medicaid applications, MICafé at Elder Law of Michigan advocates for the uninsured, and in particular, the elderly who need resources and assistance.

McLaren Visiting Nurse and Hospice — Brian’s House, the residential unit of McLaren Visiting Nurse and Hospice, offers hospice care to any person in the community with a debilitating disease regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Diversified Tax Service — Diversified Tax Service provides tax preparation services to low income individuals at a reduced rate, and oftentimes at no charge in situations of desperate financial hardships.

Family Orthopedic Associates — Family Orthopedic Associates has been providing emergency orthopedic services to the uninsured and underinsured for 30 years, and has contributed more than $200,000 in uncompensated care every year. The group of physicians also is a major contributor and health care provider to the Shelter of Flint.

Holy Redeemer Parish — Holy Redeemer outreach services are widespread: the parish distributes free food twice a week; provides financial aid to the uninsured and needy; offers blood pressure checks; distributes care packages to those in need; provides reading mentors to a local elementary school; conducts health assessments; and recently conducted a free job training program to help the unemployed with resume writing, interview skills and job seeking. All of these services are provided at no charge.

Crowne Point Endoscopy Surgery Center — Crowne Point Endoscopy Surgery Center provides a free GI clinic quarterly to patients referred by the Genesee County Free Medical Clinic.

Greater Flint MRI and Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience — With increased enrollment and rising health care costs, Genesee Health Plan was forced to change some of its covered services, including MRI testing. The three local hospitals — Genesys, Hurley and McLaren — set up a charity care program for the uninsured who needed an MRI, but there was a 90-day lapse in service during the transition. Greater Flint MRI as well as Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience stepped up during this gap in service and provided free MRIs for those needing one.

Individuals nominated for the 2011 Community Caring Award are: Pastor Sherman McCathern of Joy Tabernacle Church; Mary Ann VanAlst, a volunteer at the Red Cross for 12 years; Tammy Nelson, Prescription drug plan coordinator for Genesee Health Plan; Jeff Johnson, a member of Calvary United Methodist Church; Frank Murdough of Love INC; Vicky Brownell of First Presbyterian Church; and Pam Nelson, a functional area specialist for the United Way of Genesee County.

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