Friday, December 30, 2011

Eight Ways the Health Care Law Helps You

Although it seems like EVERYONE is against Obama-Care, I'm not sure why...I've studied it, and can find nothing really offensive.  Here's the latest from D.C.

2011 Year in Review: Eight Ways the Health Care Law Helps You

December 28, 2011 at 12:06 PM EST

Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of Health and Human Services

As we ring in the New Year, we also want to take a minute to reflect on the progress we made in 2011. I’m proud to say that we had a very productive year for protecting the health of all Americans, especially those who are least able to help themselves. From strengthening Medicare to expanding access to preventive services to holding insurance companies accountable – young adults, families, and seniors have begun to see benefits from the health care law that took effect in 2010.

Here are eight important ways that you or your family might have benefited from the health law in 2011:

1.      Making Sure More Americans Have Health Coverage 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance coverage thanks to a provision in the health law allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. This means more young adults in this country can now go on and live their lives with less worry about visiting their doctor when they get sick, or facing catastrophic medical bills if they are in an accident.

Families around the country are benefitting from this part of the law, including families like the Houghs, whose daughter Natalie was diagnosed with a rare heart condition after suffering cardiac arrest at school. Her condition requires a lifetime of medication and care. Now, thanks to the health care law, Natalie can stay on her family’s plan and has started college. And by the time she turns 26 it will be illegal for a plan to deny coverage to anyone, regardless of their health, and Natalie will have access to a choice of quality, affordable health plans.

2.      Shedding Light on Insurance Companies – Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies in too many states were able to raise their rates without explaining their actions. But now, insurers who want to hike their rates by 10%or more have to explain and justify those increases in writing. Experts will scrutinize those explanations and, in many cases, can tell the insurer to reduce their price.

As a result of this law, over the last year, 42 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories have stiffened their oversight of proposed health insurance rate increases. And results are beginning to come in. For example, Connecticut’s Insurance Department rejected a 20% rate hike by one insurer. And Oregon chopped the rate increase by one of its largest insurers almost in half, saving money for 60,000 people.

3.      Giving You More Value for Your Dollar – A new consumer protection took effect in 2011 called the 80 / 20 rule. It makes sure that at least 80%of your premium dollars are being spent on health care and improving your care – not on advertising and executive salaries. If your insurer fails this test, you get a rebate, starting this summer. This rule makes sure that you get your money’s worth from your health insurance company.

4.      Expanding Access to Free Preventive Care and Services – Under the Affordable Care Act, you and your family may be eligible for free preventive services. You may now have access to free preventive services such as:

·         Blood pressure readings, cholesterol tests, and nutrition counseling

·         Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies

·         Flu and pneumonia shots

·         Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, hepatitis, and meningitis

5.      Strengthening Medicare – Millions of Americans are enjoying improved Medicare coverage at a lower cost. Medicare’s premiums have remained stable and the Part B deductible will drop in 2012. Medicare beneficiaries now have access to free preventive measures like physicals, flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, mammograms, and colonoscopies. And Medicare will cover an annual wellness visit with no charge to seniors.

And thanks to the health law, the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole is starting to close. Through the end of October, 2.65 million people with Medicare have received discounts on brand name drugs in the donut hole. These discounts have saved seniors and people with disabilities a total of $1.5 billion on prescriptions – averaging about $569 per person.

6.      Putting More Doctors in Your Community – The number of doctors, nurses, and health care professionals in the National Health Service Corps has nearly tripled in the last three years. For the first time in its forty year history, the National Health Service Corps can count more than 10,000 members in its ranks.

7.      Improving Patient Safety – In April 2011 the Partnership for Patients launched. This is a national partnership that will help save 60,000 lives in the next three years by preventing medical errors. The Partnership for Patients also has the potential to save up to $50 billion in Medicare over the next 10 years. More than 6,500 partners, including over 2,900 hospitals as well as physicians and nurses groups, consumer groups, and employers, have pledged their commitment to the Partnership for Patients.

This will help patients across the country, including patient advocate Sorrel King. In 2001, Sorrel’s 18-month old daughter Josie accidentally suffered burns requiring a hospital stay. At first, Josie was getting better. However, after a series of unintentional but totally preventable mistakes and complications, Josie died. She became one of 44,000 to 98,000 Americans who die every year from preventable medical errors.

8.      Cracking Down on Health Care Fraud – The Affordable Care Act has given us strong tools to fight fraud. In 2011, the Department of Justice recovered more than $5.6 billion in fraud government-wide. Of the $5.6 billion, $2.9 billion was in health care fraud alone. Providers now have to go through tougher screening procedures before they can start billing Medicare. And we’ve given investigators new tools that allow them to analyze data in order to identify and stop suspicious payments before they go out. As part of the law, we also released new rules that will give states the flexibility to recover improper Medicaid payments, saving more than $2 billion over the next five years, with nearly $1 billion going back to the states.




Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simms To Build Nature Trail



The new “Franklin Ann Trail” will be built by late spring on the Simms Chevrolet property behind the building. Customers will enjoy a walk while they wait for their car to be serviced. This will also be a pet friendly area for customers who bring their dogs. The trail is named after Jack Franklin Simms and Dorothy Ann Simms, the parents of Jim and Bruce Simms.  Davey Tree Company will donate much of the mulch to cover the wooded area for people to enjoy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WOW!

 WOW!  First Grandchild! First Christmas! Now that's a WOW!  And guess what grandma and grandpa will do for him while his parents take a weekend break?  Anything!   Our very neat condo is a disaster: the kitchen is full of bottles, diapers and blankets are laying on our bed, and toys are scattered everywhere.  His schedule is written on the fridge, and things come to a halt when he needs feeding or changing.  Our only rest is during his naps.  Thankfully, he sleeps most of the night, but we keep a monitor on him, and one eye open, just in case.  He gets ALL our love and attention.  Carter comes first!

What a relief when he goes home. I can go back to being just an old, selfish grouch.  I can do what I want - when I want.  After all, I deserve it, right?  I take care of myself, you take care of yourself.   I mean, I always put a dollar into the Salvation Army can outside of VG's, so I care about others...right?

Hmmm, that sounds a little selfish... maybe I need to slip into church this Sunday and get an update.  Maybe I should remember what my Rotary friends would say about "service above self."  Maybe I should treat others a little more like how I treat my first grandson on his first Christmas.  I mean I'm not going to burp anybody, but maybe I can do a little more...

From our blessed family to yours: Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Celebrate the Clio Community" by Superintendent James Tenbusch

Celebrate Living in the Clio Area Community

    A wise man once said: “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”  Although this quote is meant to apply to the individual, it is not much of a stretch to relate it to a whole community.  Just about every community in Michigan is facing adversity.  The Clio Area Community is no exception.  Currently, over 100 homes are in foreclosure, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children who qualify for free and reduced price lunches in our schools, unemployment continues to rise, and there have been drastic cutbacks in funding for vital public services.  In spite of these difficulties, it is how Clio is responding to these adversities that reveals the true character of our extended community.  From what I have seen, Clio’s Character has always has been, and will continue to be, to vigorously support the common good.
      Since arriving here in July, I must say that I have seen a truly inspiring level of collaboration, cooperation, and outright kinship among the people of Clio, Vienna, and Thetford Township when it comes to taking care of its own.  This is a community that knows how to pull together to get things done.  It is always willing to find a way to make sure that its residents’ basic needs are being met.  This sense of community spirit is what drew me to the Clio area to begin with, and it is what will sustain its people through difficult times.  We should all take a moment during the holiday season to be grateful to our community leaders, teachers, church and service organization elders, and the police and fire officials who help make Clio a great place to live and work.

      The most recent example of this positive community spirit and commitment to action occurred just a few weeks ago.  On December 5th, the Hamilton Community Health Network officially opened the Clio Health Center located at 4154 W. Vienna Road, Clio.  The Center is open Monday through Friday 8:30am-5:30pm, (810) 406-4246, and accepts walk-in patients for primary care on a sliding scale basis.  No patients are turned away due to inability to pay for services.

      I view the opening of this important health facility as further evidence of a strong community.  In my opinion, there are four elements that must be present for a community to thrive--even in the face of adversity.  These elements include public access to quality (1) public services (including schools), (2) art, recreation, and library services, (3) places of worship, and (4) health care.  Clio residents are fortunate to have access to all these services.  Further, I know of no other community in Genesee County that brings together fifty (50) public and private organizations for a monthly meeting with a single purpose in mind: serving the public good.  Common Ground is a group of social service providers interested in coordinating their efforts to provide quality services to all residents of the Clio area.  It is the most committed and noble group of public servants that I have ever encountered.  Common Ground is an example of Clio’s community capacity -- a social asset that I will define further here.

      The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (1996) describes the process of building “community capacity” as something that is totally dependent on the “value placed on the distinctive qualities of the community that make it worthwhile for a group to invest their social capital by working together to enhance the quality of life.” This precondition for a healthy community leads to the development of several other crucial elements that sustain a community through good times and bad.  These elements include: knowledge building – a community’s capacity to adopt continuous improvement processes by generating and implementing new ideas; leadership – public/private partnerships whose representatives consistently demonstrate a willingness to work together to achieve a shared vision and strategic direction for the community; open dialogue -- continuous  and  inclusive communications and decision making across sectors rather than through vertical lines of power; and network building – the active recruitment of new community leaders , sharing of information, and development of strategic alliances that support the common good.

      Social scientist, Robert Chaskin (2001), who has also weighed in on community capacity, defines it as “the interaction of human capital that can be leveraged to solve collective problems and improve or maintain the well-being of that community”.  He points out that community capacity evolves into a strong community when neighbors care about neighbors.  “It is when you care about not only your kids and grandkids, but your neighbors’ kids and grandkids as well.”   This philosophy is carried further by Nate Jonker, Clio’s well-known community organizer and director of the Healthy Community Initiative.  “What makes a community strong? It’s the work of caring, responsible people willing to get involved in something bigger than just their own personal interests -- something that serves everyone’s interests,”  he says.   “It’s really that simple.”                   

      In 1996, the Aspen Institute researched the phenomenon of community capacity building.  The Institute determined that a primary importance of living in a community is that groups of people develop the “ways and means to care for each other, to nurture the talents and leadership that enhance the quality of community life, and to tackle the problems that threaten the community and the opportunities which can help it.” The researchers concluded that when people do these things, communities become healthy; when they do not, communities deteriorate.  Communities that have the ways and means to undertake challenges demonstrate capacity.  Clearly, without capacity, a community is merely a collection of individuals acting in their own self-interest without concern for any sense of the common good.

      So, why have I cited this research on community capacity?  The answer is simple: the Clio Area Community already has everything it takes to continue to grow and prosper, but it still needs YOUR help.  Consider the list of community organizations in the Common Ground text box below, and get involved!  Every group listed can profit from your input, participation, and commitment to serve the public good.  Become part of the solution in these trying times and help build Clio’s community capacity to even greater heights. 

      Look around us.  Our cities are hurting, the economy continues to sputter, social ties are weakening, and political power to support the public good is fading.  But in places like Clio, creative local leaders are fighting back, and they are succeeding by starting with what they have.  In the face of diminished prospects for outside help, they are turning first to their neighborhood residents and to the local citizens associations and institutions that are at the heart of their community.  That’s already happening in Clio, and it is a reason to celebrate.  Please join us and find a way to do your part to keep us strong.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rotary Wins National Award!

The Clio Rotary won a prestigious Service Award from the International Rotary office in Chicago for the club's involvement in the Clio Healthy Community Initiative. This is among only a handful of such awards given throughout the United States.  The Clio Rotary made a five year commitment to the project, and they have been at every volunteer opportunity including the first town hall meetings and five year planning sessions. Each member of Rotary has participated, but while thinking about the most recent top ten activities of the Initiative, it was easy to identify some key players who are members of Rotary:
  1. Health Fair and Fitness Expo: The entire club works on this one, and Wanita handles the food truck for over 200 families.
  2. Family Fun Day: Mike Rozboril has organized this since the beginning and it serves 200-400 kids and adults. Mike Stuart organized the summer activities in the park.
  3. Regional Planning Board: Henry Hatter and Mike Zinn provide positive leadership.
  4. Leadership Academy: Now finishing its third year, the entire club works on this one, serving 60 residents every year.
  5. Under 40's Group: Lindsay Carpenter is one of the new young Clio Rotary Activists. She is also working on saving the pool.
  6. Human Services Fund: Pastor Roger, Kathy, and others raised and spent $6000 last year for families in need.
  7. Clio Area Health Center. Two years in the making, the new health center is due, in part because of Henry Hatter's connections with Hamilton, the Old Newsboys and others. Mike Zinn, Jim Tenbusch, and Fay Latture have been key players.
  8. Clio Recycling: Mike Rozboril, Ned Lockwood, Kaytee Colley, and others are planning and ready to go.
  9. Healthy Kids Learn Best. Superintendent Jim Tenbusch has been to each meeting and is very supportive.
  10. Everything Clio.org. This began years ago with the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary members Kathy Block, Mary Todd, and Desire.
Congratulations to the names listed and to every member of the Clio Rotary for taking on this five year commitment; and thanks for your "Service Above Self."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do You Recycle? Here's A Plan!

The Clio Area Regional Planning Board presents a proposal to create:

The Clio Area Recycling Center at Wal-Mart

A  PROPOSAL

A Clio Area Recycling Center is proposed as a joint public/private partnership between the residents of the Clio Area, as represented by the Regional Planning Board, and the local business community including its major partner, Wal-Mart.



SECTION 1.              BACKGROUND: 



The Clio Area Regional Planning Board consists of two elected officials from the City of Clio, the Clio Area School Board, Thetford Township and Vienna Township.  The Planning Board has the governmental responsibility to plan and implement projects across boundary lines.  Projects undertaken by the Board include efforts within eight categories or spokes of the Healthy Community Wheel, intended to enhance the quality of life within the 48420 zip code and throughout the Northern Tier of Genesee County.



One of those categories emphasized within a Healthy Community is the “environment” which includes efforts in reducing, reusing, and recycling waste products.



At the same time, the local Wal-Mart store is committed to the Wal-Mart Corporate policy:

Zero Waste

Our vision is to reach a day where there are no dumpsters behind our stores and clubs, and no landfills containing our throwaways. We want to create zero waste.



And, the local Wal-Mart store is committed to:

Developing solutions — together

SVNs (Sustainable Value Networks) bring together leaders from our company, supplier companies, academia, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs.) Together, we explore challenges develop solutions that benefit our business, as well as our local and global communities.



SECTION 2.             PURPOSE 



It is intended to create a comprehensive recycling center in order to:

·       Establish a recycling infrastructure for the 48420 zip code and the Northern Tier of Genesee County;

·       Reduce the amount of garbage and reduce the need for landfills;

·       Educate the public on the benefits of recycling;

·       Instruct residents how to maximize recycling;

·       Create a unique public/private partnership with the Clio Wal-Mart that will capture the financial value of recycled materials for the equal benefit of both organizations.



SECTION 3.              THE CLIO AREA RECYCLING BOARD



A.     Purpose:         The Recycling Board will foster cooperation among public and private entities in order to encourage and enhance waste reduction, recycling, and resource recovery across the 48420 zip code and the Northern Tier of Genesee County.



B.    Membership:   A Recycling Board is created as a subcommittee of the Regional Planning Board with 3 representatives from the RPB and three representatives from the business sector including the Wal-Mart manager and his designees, and one representative from a private sector recycling business.



C.    Duties of the Board



a.      The Board will seek strategic partnerships and alliances that better organize current recycling efforts and promote additional means to reach zero waste in the community.

b.     The Board will make policy and establish procedures to operate the Center.

c.      The Board will appoint members of the private sector, business community to advise the Board on policies and procedures that maximize efficiency and profit.

d.     The Board will seek “best practices” from throughout the United States, including the “zero waste” policy of the California based Wal-Marts.

                                                    i.     The Board will develop a plan to create and operate the center.

                                                  ii.     The Board will develop a community promotion campaign.

                                                iii.     The Board will create a budget for implementation.

                                                iv.     The Board will develop a formula for sharing of profits between the public and the private sector.

e.      The Board will receive funds from the private sector business partners and distribute funds.

                                                    i.     The Board will receive and evaluate applications from community, non-profit organizations seeking funds for public purposes.

POOL PEOPLE APPEAL TO BOARD

The report  (see the previous posting) was presented to the Clio Area School Board on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011.  The Board listened, discussed and unanimously voted to implement the recommendation of the citizens (below).

Because all are interested in keeping the pool and all are interested in helping to re-vitalize the use of the pool, then the attached list of citizens all agree that the School Board is encouraged to undertake a feasibility study on remodeling the pool as soon as possible.
Many suggestions were made to increase usage of the pool.  It was agreed that citizen committees could be formed to advise the school district on issues including but not limited to:  1) user-friendly policies and procedures, 2) advertising and communication, 3) partnerships, and 4) student use. 
Please email nate@everythingclio.org if you can help on one of the committees.


.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Take the Plunge Report

TAKE THE PLUNGE

Clio Area Citizens in Support of the Clio Pool

On Monday, December 05, 2011, over 50 area citizens met at the Clio School Administration Building to discuss the benefits of keeping the Clio High School Pool open, and to make various suggestions as to how to increase usage of the pool.  Additionally, 25 citizens took the time to testify in writing, via email, regarding their support of the pool.  Organizations that sent representatives to the meeting include the Dive Shop, Hurley Hospital, and the Crim Foundation, the Clio Rotary, the Youth Sports Complex, and others. 

After hearing an overview of the situation from Superintendent Tenbusch, the group recorded the following as some of the benefits of the pool:

1.     We are a healthy community, and the pool is an excellent way to promote good health.

2.     The pool is excellent as a therapy for people of all ages who have short or long-term disabilities.

3.     The pool contributes to better health for senior citizens.

4.     The pool could be excellent to promote good health for young people.

5.     The pool could provide an additional sport for high school students.

6.     The pool could help to drown-proof our entire student body.

7.     The pool is excellent for youth and adult victims of asthma.

8.     The pool is an opportunity to promote family, church, and community interactions.

9.     There is some history of high school use of the pool.

10.  There is data from 4/5/6 graders indicating interest in swim clubs or teams.

Many suggestions were made to increase usage of the pool.  It was agreed that citizen committees could be formed to advise the school district on issues including but not limited to:  1) user-friendly policies and procedures, 2) advertising and communication, 3) partnerships, and 4) student use. 

The following is a list of suggestions that were recorded:

1.     Implement user-friendly practices such as on line tickets, season tickets, family passes, etc.

2.     Implement on-site purchase of tickets.

3.     Increase student usage during the day for PE classes.

4.     Promote family events such as birthday parties, church outings, student lock-ins, etc.

5.     Design a marketing and communication campaign.

6.     Develop new partnerships with hospitals, physical therapy businesses, Red Cross, Dive Shops, and other local businesses such as Snap Fitness, Curves, and MACC.

7.     Seeks grants from healthy community and fitness organizations.

8.     Seek partnerships with other schools such as Mott C.C., GISD, Montrose, Birch Run and other districts without pools.

9.     Increase availability on the weekends.

10.   Complete a community survey on needs and wishes for the pool.

By the end of the meeting, the citizens agreed, unanimously, to send the following communication to the Clio Area School Board:

Because all are interested in keeping the pool and all are interested in helping to re-vitalize the use of the pool, then the attached list of citizens all agree that the School Board is encouraged to undertake a feasibility study on remodeling the pool as soon as possible.

Sincerely, Nate Jonker, Director, Clio Area Healthy Community Initiative

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holidays - I'm going nuts!

Here's eleven tips to deal with stress during the Holidays...courtesy of C-SAM and the Mayo Clinic. For the details on each of the tips below, scroll down to the bottom of the everythingclio home page and click on "Mental Health Weekly Tips." 

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS.
2. REACH OUT.
3. BE REALISTIC.
4. SET ASIDE DIFFERENCES.
5. STICK TO A BUDGET.
6. PLAN AHEAD.
7. LEARN TO SAY NO.
8. DON’T ABANDON HEALTHY HABITS.
9. TAKE A BREATHER.
10. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT.
11. DON’T LET THE HOLIDAYS BECOME SOMETHING YOU DREAD.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mistake I made yesterday - But not today!

Yesterday I made a big mistake.  I needed to buy some toilitries for Rotary to donate to the Clio Community Services drive coming up December 10 so I went to the local dollar store in front of Walmart on Linden.  I don't know who owns that store, who works there, nor did I check on the origin of the product. 

I was reminded that Borden's also carries $1 stuff too; so I went there and bought more shampoo, soap, and laundry detergent to contribute.  Borden's does a lot for our community, I know everyone in the store, and I don't know anyone at the other place...so I should have checked local first! 

We just have to get it in our heads to check local first.  Buy gift cards to local businesses.  Look for things with a USA tag on the label.  We can do better! Did you see how many thousands of jobs can be created if every American bought one product made in the USA? WOW. We need to do it.  I'm fired up for shopping local!  How about you?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Squint Your Eyes

Squint your eyes a little and imagine a new partnership to serve adults and children in the Clio Area that has been in development since about 2008, but may be coming together here in late 2011.  The new health partnership would do a better job of diagnosing our health problems, remediate the most obvious issues, and then prepare a new plan for a more healthy future.

As many of us know, the health stats from 2008 are not good for those of us within the 48420 zip code.  In fact, our number of overweight folks with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes. and even cancer are higher than in the City of Flint or in other suburbs.  The Healthy Community Initiative has been a unique attempt by the Clio Area to get better, but we need to do more on two fronts: 1) keeping track of our progress, and 2) working closely with school children. 

We need more research based activities and we need to start with the youth!  Squint your eyes a little and we can now imagine a new partnership that can meet those two goals.  It's not done yet, but recently, three new developments give me hope that we can do it!

1)  After many meetings and conversations since the fall of 2009, a Clio Area Health Center opened October 1st on Vienna Road thanks to Hamilton Community Health Network.  This Health Center is a family health center, and because of its federal status, our Clio Area Health Center will serve all residents regardless of the level of income or insurance.  Access to health care for every Clio Area resident!

2)  The Greater Flint Health Coalition, in late August of this year, provided the Healthy Community Initiative a small grant to work at Carter Middle School to overcome some serious health deficits. The idea is to help 1000 children and families get more fit and eat better by creating a model healthy school building.  So far, the new project has found that parents and students are interested in becoming more healthy, but need a little help to get it done.  We also know that the need for services may be greater than we had imagined at the beginning.

3) Maybe the most important leg of the three legged stool is the recent designation of Hurley Medical Center as a "Children's Hospital."  Most of us know that Hurley is known for dealing with the most at-risk kids, but this designation will enable Hurley to add more children's services, conduct more research, and do more outreach throughout the county.

Now, squint your eyes and imagine a project that creates a model healthy building for 1000 Clio kids and their families that could be duplicated in other school buildings in Clio and throughout the State.  Imagine that Hurley's new staff would assist the Carter Middle School project do more research and determine individual health needs; and imagine that the new Clio Health Center would make sure that every child and every parent has health services to meet those needs; and then imagine that the all of our friends work together to develop a new plan based on the data collected. 

After nearly four years of work, all three of these developments have happened this fall, and it is like it is meant to be!  It's not done yet, but stay tuned at everythingclio.org for more news.  Please feel free to go to "contact us" or email nate@everythingclio.org  with your comments.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do We Have Poor People in Clio?

Clio Faces New Challenge

During the last few years, the Clio Healthy Community Initiative has led some programs and activities to improve the quality of life in the area, but now a new challenge has emerged that will require new resources and a new understanding of the world today in Clio.  Poverty.  Yes, we have poverty in the Clio area.

Time Magazine’s November 28th issue lays out the challenge in their article, “Below the Line.”  The article documents the fact that more Americans (46.2 million) are living in poverty than at any time since the census bureau has been keeping track.  The point of the article seems to be that poverty is now seen in every state and in every neighborhood.  The article says:

1.       Poverty is everywhere.  Of all the poor in American, suburbs have 33%, Cities have 28%, small metropolitan areas have 21% and rural communities 19%.  The income in the city of Clio has declined over the last ten years, and the number of children living in poverty ($22,314 for a family of four) has increased from 20% to 48% of Clio kids.

2.      Poverty is more than not having enough money.  Costs are up dramatically for Clio residents.  Gas and transportation costs are up and no public transportation is available.  Health care costs are up, and few resources reach out this far.  People are working two jobs and child care costs are up.  The new poor do not know how or where to access the state or federal safety net that are usually housed in the inner cities.

3.      Neighborhoods need fixing from within.  In every community, it is now necessary to “put the neighbor back in the hood.”  While Clio enjoyed numerous block and neighborhood clubs in the past, they have all but disappeared on Poplar and Clarion, on Marjorie and Delwood, and on Renee and Ataberry among others.

4.      The international economy affects some more than others.  In Clio’s past, Clio residents worked at GM or at the small auto-suppliers; and enjoyed the family farm after work.  Now, the family farm is owned by corporations, GM went bankrupt, and small auto-suppliers have literally disappeared.  The suburban Clio Area has been hit as hard as any community in Michigan!

5.      Solutions are available.  Poverty can be addressed in Clio and throughout the US by increasing the knowledge of how to access the current safety net before falling into “generational poverty,” by increasing the number of students in apprentice or technical programs, by raising the number of residents who have at least a two year degree or certificate, and by taking advantage of the new generation’s knowledge of technology.

Some of my friends and neighbors have told me recently that “we don’t have poor people in Clio;” and further, we don’t want poor people in Clio.  As a community, we need to understand the reality of our situation in order to address it.  We need to reach out and embrace the problem, not ignore it in hopes it will get better.

The crisis of jobs, educational levels, and poverty in the Clio Area will not solve itself. We need to take action.