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Cindy Ficorelli

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Cover the Uninsured Week Community Caring Award winners announced

(GENESEE COUNTY, MI) Winners of the ninth annual Community Caring Award were announced this morning - Friday, 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 self-esteem 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, school-aged 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.

"When he was news director at WJRT ABC 12, the question never was whether the station would dedicate time and resources to further the mission of Cover the Uninsured Week, but how the station could do more … help more.

"Jim Bleicher truly is the champion for the 60,000 people in Genesee County, and the thousands beyond this county who need our help," Toldo reported at the Community Caring Awards breakfast.

Other Community Caring Award nominees this year include:

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
Pastor Sherman McCathern of Joy Tabernacle Church has developed a ministry that addresses social issues such as health and wellness, youth violence, substance abuse, poverty and worn down properties. His focus is not only on helping to improve the life of one single individual, but also on entire communities.

Mary Ann VanAlst
Mary Ann VanAlst has worked as a volunteer at the Red Cross for 12 years. A retired, registered nurse, she is a problem solver and treats clients with the utmost respect, her nominee writes.

Tammy Nelson
Prescription drug plan coordinator for Genesee Health Plan, Nelson specializes in helping the uninsured apply for and receive free prescription medications.

Jeff Johnson
Over the past five years, Johson, a member of Calvary United Methodist Church, has organized and led local weeklong mission trips in this community. The mission team of 50 volunteers has installed roofs, painted homes, solved plumbing problems, replaced stairs, and provided many more renovations and repairs to local residents.

Frank Murdough
Love in the name of Christ – known as Love INC – brings Christian churches together across denominational lines to help the poor by meeting immediate needs, such as food and clothing, as well as long-term needs such as life skills and transitional housing. Murdough leads the way when it comes to transforming lives in order to improve the wellbeing of others.

Vicky Brownell
Vicky Brownell is the first point of contact when the community calls or stops in for services at First Presbyterian Church. During times when resources are slim, Vikcy finds a way to help those in need. She not only is a valued resource, but she is a source of hope and encouragement for those less fortunate in the community.

Pam Nelson
Pam Nelson servies as a functional area specialist for he United Way of Genesee County. She is considered an inspirational woman admired by many because of her passion and dedication that goes far beyond her role at the United Way.

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.

Locally, the Cover the Uninsured Week committee plans activities every year to help those we serve and increase support to help the underserved.

The week kicked off with a call-in show at ABC 12. This year, panelists answered more than 130 calls from residents seeking resources and medical assistance.

On Tuesday, May 3, the annual Cover the Uninsured Expo brought in more than 500 people.

A total of 79 individuals enrolled in Genesee Health Plan, and another 39 re-enrolled; 81 people took advantage of vision screenings provided by East Michigan Eye Center and Complete Eye Care; 110 individuals received dental screenings provided by Hamilton Clinic; podiatry screenings were given to 30 individuals by Keith Daniels, DPM, of Hamilton Clinic; 82 people obtained advice at the Ask the Doctor booth compliments of McLaren; 40 blood pressure checks were administered by the
Genesee County Free Medical Clinic; 73 blood glucose screenings were conducted by Hurley Medical Center; about 200 free hygiene kits were distributed; 87 large bags of clothing were given to 224 individuals; 252 families were given 14,446 pounds of food;
and 25 agencies in Genesee County were on hand to offer advice and help to those who attended the expo.

For more information on Cover the Uninsured Week, call Genesys at 810-603-8682.


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