Macomb Matters August 2020 Issue 71
- Message from Mark
- Employee Accolades
- New Hires/Retirees
- Department Spotlight
- Thousands of grants distributed to help small businesses affected by COVID-19
- Macomb County’s COVID-19 response continues
- From disruption to innovation: How the Macomb County IT Department overcame COVID-19 challenges
- For Your Benefit: A Message from Andy McKinnon
- Perks at Work
- Reminder: Daily COVID-19 self screening questionnaire now in effect
- Providing support by keeping it casual
- WIC Program receives Gold Loving Support Award of Excellence from the USDA
- MMYH Ambassadors
- Paw Print
- Recipe Corner - Ratatouille
- Event Calendar
- Blog Log
- News Nook
Message from Mark
It’s been almost six months since the onset of the coronavirus here in southeast Michigan. In that period, our county workforce has responded to countless challenges and developed unique solutions to meet the needs of our community. I am so proud of the work you are all doing. You make Macomb a great place to call home.
I know that many of our employees have school-aged children and there are still many uncertainties about how the beginning of this school year will look, depending on the district. I understand that this is incredibly stressful, so please know that the county is making every provision for employees to work remotely when possible. For many, this is welcome news as families navigate the very different school year ahead. Together with Andrew McKinnon and his team of HR professionals, we are encouraging all supervisors to work with employees on these issues. And if you have questions, do not hesitate to email email@example.com.
In the meantime, I’d like to share a back-to school toolkit assembled by our Health Department with details on COVID-19 and school processes. This is a living document and will change as guidance is updated. But it provides some great information to help parents understand the coronavirus and how schools are adapting to this new normal.
Again, thank you for all you are doing during these challenging times. I am proud to be a part of Team Macomb!
Jodi Dix, Human Resources and Labor Relations, achieves SHRM certification
Jodi Dix has become a Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resources Management – a global organization which serves as a resource for Human Resources standards in the workplace. This certification is globally recognized and ensures Jodi’s ability to administer human resources best practices regarding leadership, business, ethics and communication, while maintaining professionalism and integrity. Jodi stated: "I decided to go for the SHRM certification as I felt it was the next step in my HR career. I also wanted to use the test results and the study material to understand where I lack knowledge as an HR professional and to gauge an idea of where I can improve. I knew this test was going to be difficult so I have been studying intensely for the past three months. Much of my college education was focused on policies and not so much the human resources management aspect of Human Resources, so it was fascinating to learn about all of the theories and Labor Laws that are frequently used in HR. It felt so nice to see the word 'Pass' after taking the exam. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am incredibly happy with the results. With this certification under my belt, I am now looking to earn my Masters Degree."
Deputy Jerry Romanow, Deputy Jason Bone and Deputy Clifton Morgan, Sr.
Macomb County Deputies often face unexpected situations that require split second decisions which can have a long lasting impact. That was the case for Deputy Jerry Romanow. He was on his morning patrol and noticed smoke coming from an apartment building in New Haven on June 25, 2020. He engaged immediately, approaching the home and attempting to enter the residence and evacuate a mother and her children, who were trapped upstairs. The heavy smoke drove him out of the home. He retrieved a fire extinguisher from the trunk of his patrol vehicle, and made multiple attempts to enter. He deployed the extinguisher against the flames, which kept reigniting. He was soon joined by fellow Deputies Jason Bone and Cliff Morgan, Sr. and the New Haven Fire Department. Using a ladder provided by the New Haven Fire Department, they were able to reach the second floor from outside. The mother and her children were successfully evacuated, and taken to nearby hospital for treatment for severe smoke inhalation. Deputy Morgan was also treated for severe smoke inhalation. Deputy Romanow stated: “I heard the baby crying upstairs and knew I had to get the kids out of the home. Once I knew that I couldn’t gain entry without a breathing apparatus, my focus was to contain the fire so it did not spread to the upper floor. I couldn’t help but think of my own little boy as I heard that baby crying. I was acting not only as a police officer but as a father too.” In a news story by Fox2Detroit, Sheriff Wickersham stated he is “very proud of the heroic actions taken by these deputies. They acted with swiftness and selflessness, putting the lives of the citizens they serve and protect every day before their own.” A video of this incredible rescue is available for viewing here.
Pictured: Macomb County Sheriff Deputy Jerry Romanow
Is there someone in your office who deserves a “pat on the back” for an outstanding achievement? If so, please let the Macomb Matters committee know about it! Email Maria.firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
Donna Cangemi retires from Macomb County!
The Macomb Matters team is pleased to congratulate Donna Cangemi on her retirement from Macomb County! Donna has been with the county since January 1996, when she started as a therapist in Community Mental Health. Back then, there were therapists in the Macomb Intermediate School District who saw severely emotionally impaired students in the schools. Donna saw adolescents at Neil Reid High School, but she eventually moved to the clinic at 10 Mile and Harper, treating clients at First Resources and Treatment Southeast. That is when she ran for and won the role of President of AFSCME Local 411, a position in which she remained for six successful terms.
Recently, we asked Donna to reflect on her years of service for this newsletter.
What will you miss most about working for the county?
I will miss my members and the administrators I have worked with during the 21 years I was president of AFSCME. I have really crossed paths with a lot of wonderful people.
What are you most proud of during your career with the county?
During my tenure as president of AFSCME 411, I was able to develop technology in the office, restore fiscal stability, develop and maintain databases for memberships, develop a website and protect member's promised benefits.
What are your plans for retirement?
After COVID-19, my husband and I would love to travel. We had a long vacation planned but, like many people, we had to cancel it due to the pandemic. In the meantime, we are doing some long overdue redecorating plans.
Macomb County employment has been good to me. I enjoyed every minute of my employment. It's a wonderful place to work.
Click here for a list of New Hires/Retirees
Health Department contact tracers can help curb COVID-19, but need the public's help
While scientists and medical experts are still learning about COVID-19, one thing is certain: Case investigation and contact tracing can be one of our most effective tools in the fight against this novel coronavirus.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease and people who they came in contact with and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
However, there is a barrier to contact tracing efforts, and that is fear. People are afraid of getting a phone call from a contact tracer and answering questions about their health and their contacts. They do not know who is on the other line and how their information is used. Of course, it’s human nature to fear the unknown. So it’s easy to understand why this reaction is common.
The following article aims to address some of these concerns. With background information on contact tracing and insights from the Macomb County Health Department, it provides a level of clarity so in the future, if you receive a call from a contact tracer, you can feel comfortable answering and assisting with the process. Because ultimately, contact tracing, along with face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing, is how we stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities open.
Think back to March. The virus was spreading quickly and testing was limited. With no known cure, many states across the country shut down or scaled back public activities. The aim was to prevent mass infection. Several weeks into the pandemic, testing became more widely available and contact tracing efforts expanded.
According to a piece in NPR, “Contact tracing is an age-old infection-control strategy.” The article goes on to quote Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, who said: "We've been doing it in public health for decades."
For instance, in 2016, Macomb County contact tracers within the Health Department’s communicable disease division helped combat the spread of hepatitis A after a major outbreak in the state. With the help of that dedicated team, the local infection rate stayed at about 200 individuals. But it could have been much higher.
“It goes back to the main goal of public health, which is to keep people healthy,” said Lillian Schreiber, a registered nurse and public health coordinator who has been with the Macomb County Health Department for 40 years. “Our field deals with all types of issues, including lead poisoning, premature babies, environmental health and more. We are trying to promote health and prevent disease.”
Schreiber has been helping lead the Health Department’s COVID-19 contact tracing since the spring.
“Our communicable disease team has seven dedicated staff that normally handle contact tracing, but since the coronavirus became so widespread, we had to expand,” she said. “Right now we have about 25 employees doing case investigation and management.”
The team is primarily made up of nurses. When COVID-19 hit, these individuals transitioned from their normal Health Department duties in divisions such as family planning and immunization to the contact tracing team.
“The nursing profession trains you on diseases and how to deal with a lot of different emotions,” Schreiber said. “We know how to handle complex and sensitive information and we know how to empathize with patients and clients who are afraid or upset. But for our current contact tracing efforts, the nurses received additional training on COVID-19 so we can answer questions and use communicable disease best practices so we can explain the importance of helping us track cases.”
Since the Health Department began contact tracing for COVID-19, the team has reached 12,000 people, with no signs of stopping anytime soon.
“We are trying to contain the virus and keep it from spreading widely in the community,” she said. “Our goal is to control it by getting to the source so we don’t have a situation like we had in March and April. We absolutely do not want people getting sick and dying.”
As you can see, this is a life or death situation, making it all the more important to help the contact tracers if they reach out. So, what might that look like? Here’s how it works:
- If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, their results are reported to the Health Department. A contact tracer receives that report and reaches out to that individual, also known as an index case, by phone.
- If the individual does not answer, the contact tracer will leave a brief message identifying themself and asking for a call back. If a connection is made, the contact tracer will provide information on COVID-19 and recommended isolation time periods. They will also ask for the individual’s employer, general demographic information, timeline of where they have been starting from 48 hours before symptoms began, if they have traveled recently and any close contacts, which are defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection.”
- The contact tracers will then contact the individual’s employer to alert them to the positive diagnosis and proper cleaning and isolation protocols. They will also reach out to close contacts and relay that they were exposed to a COVID positive case, without revealing that individual’s name. The close contacts are advised to quarantine for 14 days, starting from their last contact with the index case, and to monitor themselves for symptoms. They can also participate in a monitoring program used by the Health Department that emails or texts a daily survey about their health.
- If no additional cases develop from those close contacts and the individual with the original positive result recovers, the index case is closed.
“The public should know that as contact tracers, we will always identify ourselves when we reach out,” Schreiber said. “Additionally, they should know that their health information is kept private. We load it into a secure database operated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services so the state can look for outbreaks and allocate resources accordingly. It is not used for any other purpose.”
Contact tracers will never ask for social security numbers, banking details, immigration status or insurance information. They will however ask for your date of birth to confirm that they are speaking with the correct person, and verify the spelling of your name and address.
“Effective case investigations and contact tracing can only be achieved through trust and collaboration between the public and the health professionals conducting the contact tracing,” said William Ridella, Director/Health Officer of the Macomb County Health Department. “If everyone can work together and do what is asked, this is a proven process that can break the chain of transmission, and ongoing spread of COVID-19.”
In closing, Macomb County asks you - please do not fear contact tracing. And please pick up your phone or return the calls of our contact tracing team. We are working diligently to combat the coronavirus and to keep our communities safe and open. But we can only do so with your help.
Healthstyles and Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘Win by Losing’ registration begins Sept. 14
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is excited to announce that the 23rd round of Win by Losing begins in September 2020. This free competition helps motivate you to achieve health goals throughout the year. Working as a team also creates camaraderie among your fellow employees, which can be especially important if they are working remotely.
Teamwork, combined with healthy competition, has been a successful combination for thousands of Win by Losing participants for more than 10 years. Since BCBS launched the nine-week competition in 2009, participants have lost almost 187,000 pounds. Any Macomb County employee can participate. BCBS does not have to be your health care provider.
Healthstyles encourages you to create your team and get ready to Win by Losing.
Registration begins September 14. If you are interested – become a team captain and get a team together of fellow employees. A minimum of two employees per team is all that you need.
The 23rd round kicks off September 21. Your team will compete against other Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network group customers.
Win by Losing is all about you. If you have any questions about the competition, contact Claudette Wizniuk at 586-307-8269 or email@example.com.
Thousands of grants distributed to help small businesses affected by COVID-19
When COVID-19 hit Metro Detroit, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) mobilized to support the local business community. The team shared resources, made connections and gave away PPE to help businesses get through the shutdown and the larger pandemic. But perhaps its most important function was developing and managing grant programs and overseeing the distribution of millions of dollars in assistance.
"No one could have imagined that we would be granting thousands of businesses relief funds to help them to the other side of the pandemic when this year began," said Vicky Rad, director of the department.
MCPED has so far managed four different grant programs using local, state and federal dollars made available through the CARES Act. Over the last several months, the department has received more than 10,300 applications for grant funding. The team, which consists of 17 hardworking individuals, processed each application with care and provided the highest level of customer service to ensure that every business received the support they needed.
"The level of coordination that needed to take place behind the scenes was astounding in terms of verifying applications, entering company information into our vendor system and issuing hundreds and hundreds of checks each week,” Rad said.
By September 30, approximately $28.5 million in grants will have been awarded to local organizations.
“This type of funding may not cover all of the losses our businesses have incurred, but it will have a definite impact. Our grants can help them pay employees, cover rent and utilities and purchase supplies and materials that are essential for operating.”
MCPED will continue this work through the end of the year and it has plans to distribute an additional $50 million to the community through various projects, grants and programs.
“Our goal is to aid in recovery in any way we can,” said Rad.
For more details on this work, visit MCPED’s new digital dashboard here. The goal of the dashboard is to help the public see how money is being spent and to help keep grant applicants informed of progress. The page is interactive and visitors can drill down by industry, community, employee count and minority status. There is also an option to see the number of grants awarded by zip code and location.
Macomb County’s COVID-19 response continues
Macomb County leaders and personnel have been on the ground responding to the COVID-19 crisis since mid-March. Together, this group managed emergency operations, continued vital Health Department services, provided support to those in need through Macomb Community Action programming and helped the local business community.
From disruption to innovation: How the Macomb County IT Department overcame COVID-19 challenges
When a fire broke out in the basement of the Old County Building in 2013, the Macomb County IT Department faced a monumental task.
“Our systems were down for five days,” said Jako van Blerk, the county’s chief information officer and IT lead. “We had to get everything back up and running. Ultimately, our team came together and solved the issue.”
This spring, the department was dealt an equally difficult challenge: a global pandemic that led to massive shutdowns and a switch to remote work for millions of individuals. But like the experience in 2013, Macomb County IT was ready to engage.
“We heard about the pandemic reaching American shores, and we knew that it was going to be a matter of time before people were going to ask us to work from home,” said van Blerk. “So we assembled a team and started talking about how we could service our clients in such a scenario. We had to look at the different technologies and capacity. We also looked at potential requests and how we would be able to service them if they did become a reality. This gave us a good headstart and helped us prepare for what was to come.”
When the county’s work-from-home order arrived, IT’s team helped hundreds of employees become remote workers.
“Pre-COVID, our capacity limited us to 250 or less remote workers...we had to change that, and quickly,” van Blerk said. “At times the work felt overwhelming. For instance, we’ve processed over 1,250 COVID-related Help Desk tickets. But our staff came through. It was a real team effort.”
“IT operates best in these types of moments,” added Sandy Wilson, the county’s deputy IT director. “It’s a time for innovation and our team rose to the occasion and made sure every problem that we ran into was solved.”
The majority of those solutions dealt with connectivity and communications, including:
- Licenses for remote work - IT found a low cost solution that would work with personal PCs and was able to deploy it to the user base while working though the 250 license limitation with its regular vendor.
- Bandwidth - Accommodating additional connections required an increase to the county’s Internet bandwidth from 500 MB to 1 GB. This process normally takes months, but IT completed it in a matter of weeks.
- 1,000 tablets - IT assisted Macomb Community Action in procuring tablets for Head Start students, which allowed them to communicate electronically with teachers.
- Webcams - Many employees did not have the equipment necessary for working from home. After much searching and negotiations, IT was able to secure 125 webcams that solved the most critical connection issues.
- Intranet - The intranet that was accessible on-site was not accessible to users working remotely for security reasons. IT had to come up with a solution to make this available, because pertinent HR and health information was disseminated through this outlet.
- County website - The external county website was updated almost daily with new information and materials for the public. IT worked closely with county communications to ensure timely and accurate changes were implemented 24/7.
- Conferencing capabilities - Teleconferencing was not widely used by the county pre-COVID. IT found a fast solution and secured 500 Cisco Webex licenses, Google Hangouts and Zoom. The department then integrated the systems into calendar functions, making it simple to schedule meetings.
- RingCentral and cell phones - IT implemented RingCentral for WIC, which allowed the program to take appointments online and answer phones from offsite. The department also ordered and set up more than 50 cell phones for phone banks and other answering services like the county switchboard.
- Video arraignment - IT had to increase capacity and add Zoom licenses for this system to ensure calls could be taken on the native polycom system or via Zoom to communicate with all Courts.
- Cybersecurity - Letting users access the network remotely has a very different set of rules than being on premise and physically inside a secure network. IT therefore had to implement its cybersecurity program on the fly. Every item was reviewed from a secure standpoint and put in place after being verified by the department’s security administrator.
The technology solutions and innovations don’t stop there. With the addition of federal CARES Act funds, IT plans to pursue and complete 42 projects by the end of the year. These include replacing laptops, creating online scheduling and check-in programs, implementing the electronic signature service DocuSign and moving data protections to the Cloud, which will allow IT to restore critical workloads offsite while protecting county data for a longer period of time.
To put it simply - this is a significant undertaking. But just as they did in 2013 with the fire, the IT Department will work hard to find solutions to problems and to provide world class services to clients and constituents.
“Our decisions are always a balancing act between technological advances, fiscal responsibility, cybersecurity, process improvement and culture,” van Blerk said. “But our promise as the IT Department is that the advancement and best interests of Macomb County and its residents are always front and center.”
The Macomb Matters team would like to thank the IT Department for its hard work and dedication throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
For Your Benefit: A Message from Andy McKinnon
Burned out, tired, fatigued -- these are all words I have heard people using to describe their state of being during some point of the last 6 months. As County Executive Hackel hints at in his message, with the beginning of the school year upon us, this isn’t going away any time soon.
In HRLR, we have spent a lot of time attempting to put together how the Governor’s Executive Orders interact with federal law (Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), ADA, FMLA) and guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL). As mentioned in the past, this is a complex web of regulations that leave our heads spinning, I cannot imagine how hard it then is for our staff, who have work to do in their own areas of expertise, to comprehend.
Therefore, I believe it’s important that our staff knows what we desire as a county and what we are looking to do. As Mark said, we are asking our leadership and supervisors to work closely on the issues of childcare and remote work.
A brief example of how we as a county are putting this into practice is from the FFCRA. Recent guidance from the DOL states that FFCRA leave is not available to parents whose children’s school offers any face-to-face learning, even if that same district offers a virtual option. Therefore, the DOL would force parents to send kids to school even if they felt uncomfortable as they wouldn’t have protected leave. We don’t feel that’s right. As a county, we have made the decision that parents who choose the virtual option may access their FFCRA leave. This is up to 12 weeks of leave at 2/3rds pay.
It is important to remember that some departments simply don’t have the luxury to allow their staff to work remotely and therefore they have to exempt themselves from the FFCRA. The Sheriff and Juvenile Justice Center, as examples, have tasks that must be primarily accomplished in person. Further, it’s important to remember that when leadership makes an accommodation for a staff member, (whether it is FFCRA protected leave or a shift change) it often has an impact on other staff members. An example of this is in our office, if a supervisor is unavailable to be a worksite supervisor because they have to take care of a child at home, another supervisor then has to be the worksite supervisor that particular day. It’s not a huge imposition, but something to be mindful of that every accommodation comes with unintended consequences.
Further information will be coming out shortly as a recap on what time has been provided to staff and what leaves are available. The county will continue to work diligently alongside our staff to blunt the impact of these unprecedented times. Whether it be caring for a child, an immunocompromised loved one, an aging parent or just trying to get through these times without completely burning out, there isn’t anyone who is getting through this unscathed. Therefore, I would ask that you all give yourselves a little grace, take a moment to breath and take a moment to reflect on the work that has been able to continue even with the work world turned upside down. Thanks for all you do and take care of yourselves and each other.
Perks at Work
Working parents and stress management
The Perks at Work program is focused on providing assistance in two areas trending across the county: Working parents and stress management.
For kids going back to school remotely, Perks at Work is here to help you save on back to school purchases. Whether you’re buying a new laptop for remote learning or stocking up on notebooks to take to the classroom - Perks at Work provides access to a variety of retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, Overstock.com, etc. Just go to www.perksatwork.com and visit the Back to School Store on the navigation bar.
Additionally, Perks at Work is continuing the Community Online Academy (COA) through the end of the year. The COA Kids Club is a supplement to remote learning and focuses on helping families where virtual learning may fall short. The program has an emphasis on social connections and activities.
Finally, Perks at Works is highlighting stress/anxiety resources on their webpage to assist employees. Just click on the Stress/Anxiety tab on the navigation bar to help you live a better and healthier life. Through the Community Online Academy, you can take fitness classes, manage your wellness and participate in a Community of Activeness and Health.
Reminder: Daily COVID-19 self screening questionnaire now in effect
Two weeks ago Macomb County launched a daily self-screening questionnaire for employees, vendors and members of the public wishing to enter county facilities. The digital survey asks for a name and contact information. It also lists COVID-19 symptoms and asks respondents to check off what they may or may not be experiencing. The questionnaire must be completed prior to entering a county building.
Please note - This tool was developed to assist county leaders in keeping facilities safe and secure and in accordance with CDC guidelines and the Governor's Executive Orders. All information gathered through the digital tool is kept confidential. Access the questionnaire here.
Providing support by keeping it casual
The Casual Day program supports various local charities and programs through the support of Macomb County employees. Your participation in this Board of Commissioners sponsored program allows you to directly impact more than a dozen charities each year. For the months of September and October, your donations will support the following organizations.
Habitat for Humanity
Casual Days: September 4, 11, 18, 25
Habitat for Humanity assists low-income families in purchasing a home and uplifting lives of families out of substandard housing. There is a branch of this organization in Macomb County that brings people together to build homes, a community and hope. The mission of the organization is to provide a decent place to live for everyone. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity visit: http://macombhabitat.org/
Beaumont Health Foundation
Casual Days October 2, 9, 16, 23
The Beaumont Health Foundation provides support for the NICU at Beaumont Hospital to acquire specialized equipment for little ones and their families. This nonprofit network makes sure every child receives what they need to thrive and be well by helping hospitals maintain state-of-the-art resources and bridge financial gaps for families. This portion of the Foundation supports the smallest and bravest patients. To learn more visit: https://www.beaumont.org/giving
The Rainbow Connection
Special Casual Day: October 30
The Rainbow Connection is a Rochester based non-profit that grants wishes to Michigan children between the ages of 2 ½ - 18-years-old with life threatening illnesses. In addition, they provide support services to eligible wish families experiencing financial difficulties. To learn more about this organization visit: https://www.rainbowconnection.org/
WIC Program receives Gold Loving Support Award of Excellence from the USDA
Photo 1: (Pictured from left to right) Samantha Mohan, lactation specialist; Lauren Cody, breastfeeding coordinator/full-time lactation consultant; Kamisha Higgin, lactation specialist
Photo 2: Vanessa Humbach, part-time lactation consultant
The United States Department of Agriculture recently awarded the Macomb County Health Department’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program a Gold Loving Support Award of Excellence for its breastfeeding program. The Award is part of USDA efforts to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities in their communities.
The Macomb County Health Department is one of only 99 Gold Awardees nationally, and one of two in the state of Michigan to receive this distinction.
“This award highlights our team’s commitment to assisting mothers in our community on their breastfeeding journey, whether they’re wondering if breastfeeding is right for them, learning to breastfeed for the first time or just needing some support in the months after their baby’s birth,” said Lauren Cody, breastfeeding coordinator at the Macomb County Health Department. “We’re especially proud to receive this great honor in August, which is National Breastfeeding Month.”
The Award is intended to provide models and motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding and breastfeeding duration rates among WIC participants. To receive the Award, applicants are evaluated on a broad range of capabilities and services including peer counselling, peer counselling program management, staff training, policies, community partnerships, and quality improvement.
“The WIC program has been a long-standing, valuable community nutrition program that we are proud to deliver to eligible residents of Macomb County,” said William Ridella, director/health officer of the Macomb County Health Department. “We congratulate and commend the WIC team and their spirit of innovation and customer service. They continue to go above and beyond and deliver award-winning services that make a real difference for families that participate in this program.”
MMYH Ambassadors - Macomb Community Action Emergency Assistance
Welcome back to the MMYH Ambassadors column! This feature has taken a bit of a hiatus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic - but today it returns to educate employees about emergency assistance provided by Macomb Community Action (MCA). Let’s get started.
Community Action Agencies were founded in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.” Today, MCA’s mission, “persistent action to diminish poverty and promote independence,” confirms its commitment to working with disadvantaged populations. The organization delivers quality services to address the causes and effects of poverty and its vision is for all Macomb County residents to achieve their fullest potential while maintaining personal stability and security.
MCA’s programs are specific to low-income and vulnerable families and individuals in the county. When COVID-19 hit, the team sprang into action and has been able to provide emergency financial assistance to help people with rent, mortgages, utilities and food.
“What has been different, because of COVID-19, is individuals coming to us with not only unique requests for assistance, but also individuals who have not needed support in the past,” said Ernest Cawvey, director of MCA. “Many people we are assisting at this time have not received help from our agency before.”
According to Linda Azar, division director for the Children and Family Services arm of MCA, food and rent have been the most requested areas for assistance.
“Food support continues to be at the top of our list of requests...we experienced a 50 percent increase,” she said. “School closures often impact this. When children are not on free or reduced lunches at school, we see a greater demand for food. And even with an eviction moratorium in place, we saw an increase in residents seeking help with rent that they have been unable to pay due to a sudden and dramatic loss of income. Many people have applied for unemployment, but benefits for some have been significantly delayed or denied.”
It’s clear - MCA is here to help in any way they can. If you, or someone you know, are in need of assistance, contact Macomb Community Action at 586-469-6999 or visit the MCA website. A wide range of services are available to support everyone from pregnant women to older adults. Simply get in touch, and service representatives will help you find what you need.
Now - think you’re ready to complete the ambassador quiz? Click here to get started and stay tuned for the next issue, where we’ll cover a new topic.
Adopting a pet from Macomb County Animal Control during COVID
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to adopt an animal from Macomb County Animal Control? How about picking your pet during a pandemic? This edition of Paw Print features a Q&A with Janelle Arbuckle-Michael, a senior outreach specialist for Macomb County Planning & Economic Development. Janelle and her husband adopted their new dog, Daisy, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This was their experience:
Q: What kind of dog is Daisy?
She is a pitbull-lab, but has the temperament of a lab, for sure!
Q: What made you adopt?
A: My husband Ryan and I always knew we wanted to adopt a dog, but with our chaotic schedules, we didn't want to adopt without being fully dedicated to handle the day-to-day responsibilities that come with adopting a new pet. When COVID hit, we knew our schedules were going to slow down pretty dramatically, so I decided to go to Macomb County Animal Control just to see what dogs were available. Daisy was the last pup I saw- she was laid back and I just had this intuition that she would be a good dog. The VERY nice staff let me hang out with her in the meeting room for a while and I just knew, this would be our dog. Fast forward to the next day, I brought Ryan and he instantly felt a connection, so we decided she would be our dog and to this day, we often feel she rescued us. We needed her during this pandemic as much as she needed us.
Q: What was your experience at animal control? Did they have restrictions or were they taking extra precautions due to COVID?
A: They wouldn't let anyone in without an appointment and the place was seriously SO clean and spotless. The animals are definitely taken care of and the staff are SO friendly.
The process was easy and took about 24 hours. You meet with the dog of your choice, sign the application, then the pup is yours! We chose Daisy because she was calm, laid back and just had the sweetest demeanor. We wanted a dog that had a lot of our personalities, so we knew a very active dog that needed a lot of attention wouldn't be the right fit, since we both would be working from home for a few months. Although Daisy is very active, she is pretty chill throughout the day and then we give her all the love and walks once our workday is over. She's spoiled, trust me, and she LOVES the warm sunshine!
Q: In your opinion, why should someone adopt a pet from a shelter like Macomb County Animal Control?
A: They're truly the nicest staff and they absolutely take the best care of all the animals. I have nothing but amazing things to say about them!
Q: Has having a pet helped you during the lockdown/COVID?
A: 1000%. Daisy forced us to get outside and get fresh air everyday- something you forget to do when you're working from home and have meeting after meeting. We didn't know the amount of love she would provide us during this pandemic. I lost my grandmother, who was my best friend, to COVID, and two other members from my family had it (thankfully they recovered) -- so she was a saving grace during it all. She kept me focused on something other than the constant grief I was experiencing with losing someone I cared for so deeply. She gave me all the cuddles and hugs, which helped so much!
Macomb County Animal Control is currently performing adoptions by appointment only with approved applications. If you are interested in getting a new forever friend, click here to read pet profiles and to fill out an adoption application. You can also visit the animal control facebook for all the latest and greatest animal news.
Recipe Corner - Ratatouille
Simmer eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes with onion, garlic and seasonings for a delicious flavor in this classic dish.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion (peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1 medium eggplant (peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces)
- 2 zucchini (diced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces or use 2 cups of frozen zucchini)
- 1 red bell pepper (cored, seeded and diced into 1/4 inch pieces)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 1/2 cups canned low-sodium tomatoes (including the juice or fresh tomato)
- 1 lemon (quartered)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- Put the pot on the stove over medium-low heat and when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, basil, and oregano and cook, covered, until the eggplant is very, very soft, about 40 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Serve right away, garnished with lemon quarters and basil, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.
Source: USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
The Macomb Matters Committee would like to thank the hard-working staff at MSU Extension for their recipe contributions. For more information about the programs MSU Extension offers, please visit https://msue.macombgov.org/MSUE-Home.
New! Be sure to check out the new calendar feature on InsideMacomb, our intranet homepage.
Make Macomb Your Home also maintains a comprehensive calendar of community events. Be sure to check it when you are looking for ways to enjoy Macomb with friends and family:
Macomb County COVID-19 Testing
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 9 am - 3 pm
80 Rose Street, Mount Clemens, MI 48043 (Drive-thru site)
No appointment is necessary.
The test is free, no prescription is needed and you do not need to have symptoms.
Mask Up Macomb poster contest
August 26 - September 16
Macomb County, Henry Ford Macomb and the Anton Art Center invite creative people of all ages to design a poster to help promote #MaskUpMacomb. Prizes will be offered to the top three winning entries in two age categories.
Learn more here
Do you have comments or suggestions for Macomb Matters? Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org