Upcoming Events

Our guest for lunch this week was Barb Yuhas, Executive Director of the Farmington-Farmington Hills Foundation. She'll talked with us about their Bountiful Backpacks program. There are families in Farmington and Farmington Hills that qualify for federally-funded school breakfasts and lunches for their children. Many people find it difficult to believe, but it’s true. In addition, some of these children don’t have healthy food for the weekend, and that’s where the Bountiful Backpack Program fills the gap.

For $200 a year, a child with "Title 1" status (free or reduced school lunch) at William Grace Elementary School, goes home on Fridays with a backpack full of food for the weekend. The Program was first introduced at the Foundation’s Winter Gala in February 2009, and guests responded on the spot with donations and pledges totaling over $6,000. This fall backpacks went home with 60 students at William Grace Elementary School. To continue this program, and expand it to include additional elementary schools, a goal of $12,000 has been set for the coming year. After the luncheon, one of our club members generously offered a $500 donation, giving a great head start to the 2010-11 program.

Barb also reminded us that the upcoming Duck Races are an integral part of their fundraising efforts. Last year (when we were all members of another organization whose name their attorneys have asked us not to mention), we entered a "cheerleader" duck. Plans are in the works to support this great organization with another entry this year.

Our guest last week was Rita Fields. Rita is Vice President for Talent & Workforce Strategies for Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, a newly constructed hospital within the Henry Ford Health System. She is also President of the Marygrove College Alumni Board, a member of the board of directors of Mercy Education Project and a board advisor for the First Children Finance Fund. Crain’s Detroit Business named her among “40 Under 40” for 2008. In 2009, the Fusion division of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce honored her with a Young Professional in Health Care Services Horizon Award. After hearing all that, you may be surprised to learn that she was once 17, pregnant and homeless. She talked about her path in life and the incredible obstacles she has overcome to arrive at this place in her career and personal life. It was a heartwarming story, and a wonderful lunch to share with our administrative assistant guests.

Our guest for lunch this week was State Representative Vicki Barnett. Vicki is an Xemplar Club member, and represents the 37th District of Michigan including all of Farmington and Farmington Hills, and is currently serving her first term. She shared with us her take on the current budget crisis, and talked about some of the solutions she and the “bipartisan freshman caucus” hope to bring forward. Obviously, tax revenues are down this year. This has had a significant impact on school funding among other areas. Vicki is working on a plan to convert current state employee pension plans to defined benefit plans which could save the billions of dollars in future years. A state-wide no smoking ban will go into effect in May. Legislators are contemplating a number of new taxes and spending cuts to make ends meet, and Michigan faces several years of difficulties in future budgets. Sadly, the only good news is that the local economy may finally have bottomed out and be starting to rebound.

Our guest speaker for lunch this week was Mike Isenberg. In February of 2005, Mike's father succumbed to pancreatic cancer. It can happen to anyone, a spouse, parent, sibling, or even just a friend. When that person dies, well-meaning people often say “You’ll move on from this”, or “You just have to carry on.”

Mike feels that carrying on paints a picture of someone carrying a sack of emotion on their shoulder.  He talked about LIVING ON, and has written a book, “The Longest Year: One Family’s Journey of Life, Death and Love”. Mike uses family stories to talk about some of the things that have helped him to live on. Would that person want you to grieving for the rest of your life, or living it? It was a story that touched our hearts, and he tells it very well.

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