by Audra Ellis, MiCAFE Outreach Specialist
I have the pleasure of working with a number of organizations in the tri-county area through my work with the MiCAFE (Michigan’s Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly) program. These organizations include senior centers, senior housing complexes, faith-based organizations, and community centers. They all actively help seniors apply for food assistance and other public benefits in partnership with our MiCAFE program.
I help these organizations do outreach in their communities to spread the word about the availability of benefits, like food assistance, that help seniors and how MiCAFE can help them apply. Without our devoted MiCAFE community partners, the MiCAFE program could not reach thousands of seniors each year, and they are truly a part of the MiCAFE family.
MiCAFE Application Assistants, who help seniors apply for benefits at our community partner organizations, are some of the most kind and caring people I have ever come across. Many MiCAFE Application Assistants help seniors as volunteers. Lois Heaviland, a volunteer from Community of Christ in Lansing, said,“Personally working with the MiCAFE applicants is very rewarding in itself. Often, I receive a hug and special thank you from clients that feel they have been treated with respect and kindness.”
MiCAFE partners with several organizations in the tri-county area where seniors can go to get help applying for food assistance and other benefits:
- Bath Township Senior Center,
- Community of Christ,
- Eaton Rapids Medical Center,
- Grange Acres Senior Apartments,
- Meridian Township/Senior Center,
- Northwest Initiative,
- and Southside Community Coalition.
In addition to helping seniors through the MiCAFE program, our partners provide many other services for their communities. For example, Community of Christ holds computer classes every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for those who want to learn additional computer skills.
Southside Community Coalition has many community events such as the pet fair they held this summer. The fair helped pet owners get the necessary shots and wellness exams that their pets needed, but that the owners could not afford. They helped 200 pet owners this summer alone. As a pet owner myself, I know how expensive shots and exams can be. Pets can become a main source of companionship, love, and family for many isolated seniors. Providing for their pets is like providing for a family member and is essential to their quality of life.
Bath Charter Township’s Senior Center goes above and beyond for their clients and for the MiCAFE program. At our last meeting, they told me about how they spread the word about the MiCAFE program by passing out our flyers at their churches and local food bank. Theresa Kidd, a MiCAFE volunteer, drove one of our clients to a doctor appointment because the client did not have access to transportation. Theresa later set her up with a service, called Care-A-Van, that will take seniors to doctor appointments. The charge is only $10.00 to go to and from an appointment. The service is provided regardless of the distance to the appointment. Care-A-Van is through Clinton Transit.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with these wonderful and caring people who continue to go above and beyond to assist seniors and their communities. If you or someone you know is having a hard time making ends meet or putting food on the table, call MiCAFE at 1-877-664-2233.
MiCAFE is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Services to the Aging, and the National Council on Aging. MiCAFE partners with community based organizations to conduct outreach and provide application assistance for the State of Michigan Food Assistance Program and other benefits. If you would like more information on how to become a MiCAFE partner, please call the MiCAFE Call Center at 1-877-664-2233.
Audra is the MiCAFE Tri-County Community Partner Liaison at Elder Law of Michigan. She has been with Elder Law since February of 2009.
Before coming to Elder Law, Audra worked as a Shift Leader at Alcohol Drug Administrative Monitoring, where she oversaw shift changes and worked closely with clients developing her communication skills.
As a member of the MiCAFE team, Audra works closely with MiCAFE community partners and seniors in the tri-county area. She also partakes in case management and delegates attorney correspondence, working closely with both clients and attorneys to keep daily activities within the organization running smoothly and efficiently. Audra also helps Elder Law give back to the community by building partnerships with local organizations.