Community Ties, a voluntary Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority (SCCMHA) program designed for developmentally disabled individuals, works to increase a person’s ability to manage everyday life activities in the community. The program has two locations – Community Ties North (CTN) is in the City of Saginaw, while Community Ties South (CTS) is in New Lothrop.
Currently serving more than 80 consumers and staffed by more than 20 full- and part-time SCCMHA employees, the centers – both housed in former schools – focus on supporting individuals as they fully experience life by providing opportunities for meaningful activities, exercising choice, and building relationships and partnerships within their community.
CTN is supervised by Jennifer Rieck-Martin, while CTS’s supervisor is Julie Bitterman. Both supervisors report to Charlotte Fondren, Director of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities.
“Our staff at CTN and CTS find community connections that go with the interests of our consumers,” Fondren said, “and those connections really improve the program. That’s extremely important to make the program successful. Everything is very consumer driven.”
Examples of activities are arts and crafts, a coffee club, movie days, bingo/card and board games, cooking classes and community outings. Those outings have included spending time with residents of the Maple Grove Senior Center in New Lothrop, visits to public parks, shopping trips, walking at local malls, parties at the Knights of Columbus, serving meals at local rescue missions, assisting with cleaning at various buildings, helping at local homeless shelters, fishing excursions, and time at local libraries.
Besides community integration and socialization, CTN and CTS provide health and wellness awareness, job readiness activities and “one on one” time with staff.
Fondren added that employees who work at the centers look forward to their time with consumers, and those consumers become part of their family. “When you walk through that door and interact with the consumers,” she said, “there’s nothing else like it. They make me feel good about my job and the work that I do. And I know we make a difference in their lives.”
For more information on Community Ties North or South, contact SCCMHA at 800-258-8678.