From the Campaign Trails: The 2012 Health Bus Tour

by Kellie Cochrane

Our enthusiastic group at our first stop, Senior Services!

In between the fun of our two great Community Campaign Kickoff events, UWBCKR supporters in Kalamazoo had the opportunity to board a charter bus and get a glimpse into the impact they have on the community.  Each year, the bus tour focuses on one of our pillars of Education, Income or Health, visiting three local nonprofits that partner with UWBCKR.  This year the focus was Health, and we were very excited to be able to learn a little more about the great work going on in our region.

Our first stop was Senior Services Center, which has an impressive facility and offers some of the most comprehensive services for the older population, from enrichment activities to Meals on Wheels.  I was shocked to learn that in many other communities if you call to have a relative or neighbor put on a Meals on Wheels program they’re often put on a waiting list for months, or even longer in some cases!  In Kalamazoo, once the call has been made the person in need of food will receive their first meal within 24 hours.  President and CEO of Senior Services, Robert Littke, says that one of the reasons they’re able to serve the community so well is because of their strong partnership with United Way.

Next up, we stopped at the Family Health Center, which has a beautiful brand new facility.  The Family Health Center is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in Kalamazoo County and has been serving the community since 1971.  Their mission is to provide quality, comprehensive primary care to all in a welcoming environment.  On our visit, FHC staff walked us through their intake process and payment setup to show how they help lower income patients get the care they need, from appointments to prescriptions.  It was great to see the level of care that went in to creating a positive environment for healing.  I was impressed to learn that the doctors are divided into teams, so if a patient needs an emergency appointment and the primary doctor isn’t available, someone else on the team can step in, who is equally familiar with that patient’s case and financial situation.

Our third stop was Community Healing Centers, an organization dedicated to providing integrated healing services to the community.   They provide huge support to people struggling with addiction.  They provide services across the spectrum, from helping with the detox process to finding a job once in recovery.  While there, we had the pleasure of hearing Mike’s story.  Mike was a former patient of Community Healing Centers, who, after an arrest, decided he needed help battling his drug addiction.  Mike shared how full his life is now that he is clean, and how much he values the help of the Center, as well as the people in the community who support these services.

Our final stop of the day was to join other UWBCKR supporters at Kalamazoo’s Community Campaign Kickoff event.  It was a great day learning more about the important work going on in our community.   It was even more powerful to realize that the organizations we visited were just a small representation of all of the amazing partners we have in this region.  Thank you to Senior Services, Family Health Center and Community Healing Centers for hosting us for the day and more importantly — for your dedication to our community’s health!