Families & Community | Michigan Radio
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Families & Community

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A line of candles on a concrete porch. A white teddy bear. Her face, shining through in photographs. Balloons, purple and silver, let loose into the night sky.

Her name filling the air.

“Honestie!”

“Long live Honestie, my baby!”

“I love you monster!”

“We love you!”

Fourteen year old Honestie Hodges passed away Sunday, from complications of COVID-19. Friends and family held a vigil Monday night.

And Hodges, now departed, carried her city’s grief one more time.

He had dementia and COVID. She wanted to hold him when he died.

15 hours ago
Daytona Niles / Bridge Michigan

Jerry Zeiger tested positive for COVID on a Tuesday.

The next day, the hulking former engineer with late-stage Alzheimer’s is tucked under a soft brown blanket at Sue’s Loving Care, an adult foster home in Kalamazoo.

He is 73. Outside his screened window, the woman he shared truckstop coffee with on their first date teeters on a step ladder on a raw November day.

a pumpkin pie on a table
Unsplash

Planning a Thanksgiving celebration isn’t usually a simple task—but this year, it’s bound to be particularly complicated. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Michigan, health officials warn that even small holiday gatherings pose risks.

It’s hard to know how to celebrate. Do you brave the cold and see family from a safe distance outdoors? Host a virtual dinner? Load up on turkey and take a long, tryptophan-induced nap? 

Like many married and working couples first confronting the pandemic, Bianca Flokstra and Victor Udoewa tried to go on with their lives as normal.

Flokstra continued to work full time while taking care of their kids, ages 4 and 2. She also handled most of the housework, with her husband helping from time to time. It didn't work.

"Those first couple of months were really hard," Flokstra says. "There was ... a lot of fighting. A lot of tears."

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A 14-year legal battle over child welfare reform in Michigan still isn’t done.

A monitoring report released Tuesday in federal court found the state only met 13 of the 52 performance standards it needs to meet before the child welfare system can be released from court oversight.  

The report period covered the second half of 2019, months before 16-year-old Cornelius Fredrick died following a restraint at a residential facility in Kalamazoo.

The state had dozens of investigations into the facility in the years before Fredrick died, yet it remained open.  

young people with masks drinking
Adobe Stock

Rev. Robert Teszlewicz was doing everything right. In the spring, he was off work, and followed the stay-at-home orders.

Brandon Griggs at paralitik / unsplash

Nearly three-quarters of Ann Arbor voters said “yes” on Tuesday to a 20-year millage that will help low and moderate income people find places to live in the city. 

Teresa Gillotti is Director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. She says the millage will help construct, acquire or subsidize up to 1,500 housing units for people making 60% or less of the median area income.

Pixabay

Homeless shelters are gearing up for their first full winter during a pandemic.

Laurel Burchfield, Associate Director of the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, says last spring, most shelters swiftly located additional places to house homeless people so they could physically distance.

Shelter residents were frequently tested, and the most medically vulnerable were put up in hotels. Burchfield say the measures prevented big COVID-19 outbreaks among homeless people in most cities.

Women are seeing the fabric of their lives unravel during the pandemic. Nowhere is that more visible than on the job.

In September, an eye-popping 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men.

The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on households, and women are bearing the brunt of it. Not only have they lost the most jobs from the beginning of the pandemic, but they are exhausted from the demands of child care and housework — and many are now seeing no path ahead but to quit working.

a billboard with a picture of a Native woman and red hand print over her mouth
The Native Justice Coalition


kyo azuma / Unsplash

Stateside for Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Today on Stateside, we take a look at the troubling rise in COVID-19 cases in Kent County. Also, a conversation about Jackson County’s history as a birthplace for  Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. Plus, we talk to two election attorneys about the possibility of contested election results after the presidential election.

Courtesy of Adrienne Lenhoff

If this were any other year, Michiganders could expect the usual costume parties, trick-or-treating, and corn mazes that signal the approach of Halloween. But now that COVID-19 is circulating, bobbing for apples is definitely out, and families might not be comfortable accepting candy from strangers this year. For holiday-driven businesses like haunted houses, the pandemic presents challenging questions about how to open up for the Halloween season safely.

Dylan Fereira / unsplash

The Michigan Department of Corrections is rolling out video visitation for inmates during the pandemic.

It's hoped that will help inmates stay connected with loved ones they can no longer see in person.   

MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz says it could be a long time before in-person visits start up again, especially as cases on the outside begin to rise.

Child looks at computer screen
Thomas Park / Unsplash

School has been back in session for more than a month now, and Michigan families and educators are beginning to settle into the strange new reality. Teachers and kids have shared how they’re adjusting to things like Zoom discussions, asynchronous learning, and masks in the classroom. Now that the back-to-school season is behind us and the rest of the year looms ahead, Stateside wanted to know: How are parents doing?

Courtesy of Malissa Clair

Malissa ClairLamphere Public Schools. Both she and her husband are essential workers for Consumers Energy. Before the pandemic, they both worked during school hours. But when Clair found out that her kids' school district was only going to be virtual this fall, she went into "mommy mode" and changed her schedule so she could be home during the day to help her youngest daughter, five-year old Sloan, with virtual kindergarten. Clair's hours are now 3:30pm - midnight, sometimes longer.

Life is hard for everyone during a pandemic. But in a global crisis, it is women who carry extra burdens, says Raquel Lagunas, director of the gender team at the United Nations Development Programme. "Because of their reproductive role in society, they are ones taking care of the kids, the house, the food, the survival of families."

A young Black child with curly hair writes in a notebook while sitting in the grass
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, we talk to a Michigan Teacher of the Year about how he creates an inclusive learning environment for LGBTQ students in his classroom. We also talk about how educators can challenge white supremacy and advance racial justice within schools. And we'll hear about a project that aims to tell a more complex, nuanced story of Native American communities in Michigan by hiring Indigenous reporters. 

A skyline of Detroit
Public Domain / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The architecture of cities, both visible and hidden, shapes the way that we move through our lives and our communities. It’s the job of urban planners to help design a city’s built environment—whether that’s a location for a crosswalk or the aesthetic for a new development project. But even in majority-Black cities like Detroit, those decisions are often made with very few Black voices at the table. Lauren Hood wants to change that.

kids getting candy at someone's front door
Matt Olson / Flickr

Grab your broomsticks and cauldrons, witches. It’s time to start planning your pandemic Halloween. Of course, things will look a little differently this year. The Centers for Disease Control is advising against things like indoor haunted houses, boozy costume parties, and most heartbreakingly, door-to-door trick or treating.

A cell phone with the apps Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pulled up
dole777 / Unsplash

A new Netflix documentary has social media users rethinking the platforms they frequent. The Social Dilemma revealed some disturbing truths about tech companies and big data. In addition, the Federal Elections Commission recently published an op-ed for Wired magazine suggesting the integrity of the 2020 election is in the hands of Facebook and Twitter. With misinformation and disinformation running rampant on those platforms, the op-ed paints a bleak picture.

Mitigating misinformation

Demostrators in downtown Detroit protest police-involved shootings that have killed African-Americans.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protests against police brutality have been a mainstay in the city throughout the summer. In the early morning hours of August 23, the flow of peaceful protest after peaceful protest came to a halt when police met protesters with tear gas and physical force.

Tristan Taylor is one of the organizers of Detroit Will Breathe, which has been leading the protests. He described the mood before the violence on August 23 as festive; a DJ played music as the protesters marched down Woodward Avenue, and the police response, he said, stood in stark contrast.

Karen Woolstrum / Unsplash

The Autism Alliance of Michigan is setting an ambitious 10-year goal: for Michigan to be the first state in the nation to employ adults with autism at the same rate as neurotypical workers.

Alliance President Colleen Allen says that would mean placing roughly 101,000 people on the autism spectrum in jobs. She says reaching the goal will require the involvement of state agencies, the public education system, as well as employers.

Noah / Unsplash

On Stateside, a church in Romeo grapples with systemic and politically motivated vandalism. And, what six months of COVID have looked like. Plus, we continue a focus on Detroit Month of Design with a conversation with the winner of the Design in the City competition.

Angelique Speight-Marshall has come up with an ingenious idea to help the toddlers she looks after practice social distancing: She gave each of them a walkie-talkie. The kids squeal with delight as they run as far away from each other as possible, to talk.

"You have to think outside the box," Speight-Marshall says, "because the pandemic is changing the way health and safety practices have been used over the years."

During this pandemic, I've been worried about my grandma — Nanay, to me. That's Tagalog for mother.

Her name is Felisa Mercene. She's a Filipino American immigrant. She's 92. Since March, she's been living in isolation from most of our family in Southern California. Her relatives have been wary of visiting. What if they had COVID-19 and infected her?

3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., where I live, I wondered: Is she feeling safe? Is she happy? Or ... is she lonely?

Philippe Bout / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, the Yemeni community in Hamtramck recently marched with Detroit Will Breathe protesters through the city and into Detroit. We spoke with an editor of the Yemeni American News about the community and their role in the protests. Plus, a new biography about Wendy Carlos, the woman who changed electronic music and reset the boundaries for composition.

people marching with a banner in Hamtramck
Simon Albaugh / Yemeni American News

Southeast Michigan – specifically cities like Hamtramck and Dearborn – is known as a hub of Arab American culture. But that group is not a monolith. Individual ethnic groups have their own cultures, cuisines, and stories about how they settled down in Michigan. That includes the more than 30,000 Yemeni Americans living in the region.

Eric Milikin

It’s been difficult to honor those who have passed due to COVID-19 with social distancing guidelines making memorial gatherings impossible. Rochelle Riley, the director of arts and culture for the city of Detroit wanted to change that.

titikul_b / Adobe Stock

A West Michigan-based child services agency says there’s been an increase in people looking to become foster parents. Bethany Christian Services is based in Grand Rapids, but places foster children throughout the U.S. It has seen a 55% increase in people attending foster care informational meetings from April through June compared to January through March of this year.

Native American protesters of the George Armstrong Custer monument dance in front of the monument
Katybeth Davis

Which historical figures deserve a monument? Many Americans are asking that question as the nation continues to reckon with racial injustice in the current moment. There are campaigns across the country to remove public monuments that honor people from America’s past who upheld racist systems, including slavery and the removal of Native people from their ancestral lands. That debate reached the city of Monroe this summer after a petition to remove its downtown statue of George Armstrong Custer received nearly 14,000 signatures.

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