A newsletter for friends of Highfields                                                         May 11, 2015
Scholarship Allows Mother of Six Continue Education
Thanks to the support you give Highfields, Shelley was able to bring her family together. Above, Shelley stands at Highfields' Onondaga Campus (left), her six kids welcome their youngest siblings (top) and a current picture of the six celebrating a birthday (bottom).

   Shelley has always wanted to work with kids and give them a better life. She adopted four of her six children, has been a foster parent and is currently a family support worker at Community Mental Health. But three years ago, she knew she needed help.

   She was going through a divorce and it was taking a toll on her children. She went to LifeWays and explained some of the problems she was having. They referred her to Highfields where she began receiving Home-based services.

   "I had to learn to parent my kids in a different way because the family dynamics had changed," she said. "Home-based also helped my kids because they felt they had someone to talk to."

   Shelley's therapist Christine came to her home and worked with her children to help identify their emotions and put those feelings into words.

   "Highfields was able to help give me the support I needed to make changes in the family," she said. "It helped give me an objective viewpoint on things I needed to change.

   Now that her family is in a better place, she has decided to dedicate herself to providing a better life to children in a different way; she is working toward her master's degree in counseling. She hopes to work with at-risk youth.

   "I want to be able to have a job that I will be able to use the skills I've learned over the years as a foster, adoptive and biological mom," she said. "I also want to have a more direct impact on families than at my current position."

   Shelley's kids have been supportive of her continuing her education.

   "I feel proud of her," Christopher said. "She's trying to achieve a higher level of education and trying to go for a job that she'll truly love and enjoy."

   Christopher also received an Aldinger Scholarship this year. He plans to pursue psychology when he goes to college in the fall. He says his mother inspired him to pursue higher education.

   Anyone who has received services through Highfields or has a family member who has received services is eligible to apply. The scholarhips will help Shelley and Christopher offset the cost of their education.

   Though it's hard to raise six kids, work and pursue her degree, Shelley is excited for what her future holds. She knows that continuing her education is the right move for her and she knows that she is setting a good example for her children.

   "I think it's teaching them to take their education more seriously and teaching them that education is not something that ends," she said. "It also works to my benefit because if they don't want to do their homework, I remind them that I don't want to do my homework either."


Your support helps keep programs like Home-Based available. For more information about 
Highfields' Home-Based Program, visit www.highfields.org/home-based.

The Aldinger Scholarship was created by generous local businessman John Aldinger. Anyone who has received Highfields' services is eligible to apply. For more information, visit www.highfields.org/resources.
Thanks to the people and organizations that work together to keep Ingham Academy going, Dustin and his classmates are given a second chance at an education and a bright future.

   Dustin didn't like to go to school. He didn't like to be at home. He fought at school, argued at home and was starting to get involved with gang-related violence.

   According to Dustin, if something didn't change, he would have dropped out of high school, gotten into more trouble and probably ended up in jail.

   Since transferring to Ingham Academy in October, Dustin has completely turned himself around. Ingham Academy is an alternative high school - a partnership between Highfields, Ingham County Circuit Court, Peckham Industries and the Ingham Intermediate School District. Designed for court-adjudicated youth, it gives kids like Dustin a second chance at an education while teaching them life and social skills. Dustin says being put on probation and transferring to Ingham Academy helped him see things in a different way.

   "The consequences are much bigger now," he said. "If I do something wrong, I'm going to get locked up."

   Dustin has been excelling at school like he never has before. His family has noticed how motivated Dustin is in his schoolwork.

   "He's a wonderful student," Leslie Whitford, Dustin's stepmom, said. "He always does his work, he's courteous and polite - that is such a change. We are so proud of this kid. So proud of him."

   Dustin began Ingham Academy at the 10th grade level. He worked so hard that within the school year, he had passed 10th grade and began 11th grade.

   "Dustin is without a doubt, one of the reasons we all come to work every day," Sharlein Krom, Highfields' coordinator of Ingham Academy. "Working with such a kind and devoted young man is what our jobs are all about. If he continues on the path he is on, he will be able to graduate early and I know that if not for the Academy he may not have graduated at all. That's a success right there."

   Though Dustin was reluctant to start a new school, he quickly realized the unique opportunity Ingham Academy presented to him: the freedom to work at his own pace.

   "Now that I have this opportunity to graduate early, why not take advantage of that?" he said. "You work at your own speed here. By the beginning of next year, I will be in the 12th grade book and will finish school a year early."

   He is beginning to plan his future, too - something he never did when he was skipping school and fighting. He aspires to become a nurse and plans to attend Lansing Community College and Michigan State University after graduation.

   His dad, Gregory Whitford, has seen first-hand the dedication Ingham Academy gives to its students and their parents.

   "Ingham Academy is just there for the kids," he said. "They're not there for the money. What they've done is amazing."

   Gregory says he and Leslie have benefited from counseling and parenting classes provided through Ingham Academy.

   Now that Dustin has completed nearly one year and two grade levels at Ingham Academy, he sees that it has had a big impact on his future. He would tell anyone going down the same road he was that Ingham Academy is worth it - if they're willing to work toward bettering their future.

   "Ingham Academy can change your life," he said. "It can put you on the right track."



Learn more about Ingham Academy at highfields.org/ingham-academy.

In This Issue

Upcoming Events
Annual Golf Outing

Our 35th annual golf outing will be held on Monday, June 8, at Forest Akers West. There are only two foursomes left! To RSVP, please contact
Deanna Rowen at
or (517) 628-2287, ext. 370 or register online at www.highfields.com/events.

Strengthening Families  Fundraising Breakfast

Our annual Strengthening Families Fundraising Breakfast will be held on Thursday, October 24 this year. For information, please contact Bev McGill at bmcgill@highfields.org or (517) 628-2287, ext. 337.
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About Highfields
Highfields is a human services nonprofit agency providing opportunities for at-risk children and families through counseling and support services, residential care and education programs.

Highfields serves 11 mid-Michigan counties and helps over 6,000 people each year.

Learn more about Highfields at www.highfields.org.

Our Mission
To provide opportunities to children, youth and families to be more responsible for their own lives and to strengthen their relationships with others.

Our Vision
To create bright futures for children, their families and the community
Board of Directors



Sara Bennett, Chairperson
Two Men and a Truck


Mark Emmert, Chairperson-elect
The Dart Bank


James B. Hunsanger, Treasurer
MSU Federal Credit Union


Wallace Markham, Secretary
JP Morgan Chase Bank




Peg Asmus
Dart Foundation


Kristin Bartley
Two Men and a Truck


Bill Bockwitz
Spring Arbor University


Bill Clark
Clark Construction Company


Patrick Dean
Dean Transportation


Michael Foster
Plante & Moran, PLLC


Susan Fulton
Department of Human Services


Jeff Hertrich
Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.


Lindsay Huddleston
The Huddleston Group, LLC


Michael Hull
MSU Spartan Linen Service


Eric Jamison
Michigan's Attorney General's Office


Karen Johns
Department of Human Services


Mark Kellogg
Fraser Trebilcock Davis & 

Dunlap, P.C.


Chivon Kloepfer


Jeff D. Klug
Klug Law Firm


Helen "Lizzie" Mills
Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC


Nick Oertel
Foster, Swift, Collins, and Smith, P.C.


Doug Peters
Christman Constructors, Inc.


Tom Reder
Bergmann Associates


Katie Rexrode
Jackson National Life


Tanda Reynolds
Department of Human Services


Marlon Roberts
Office of General Counsel


Reshma Sambare
Miller Canfield


Tom Shewchuk
City of Ann Arbor



Brian Philson



Timothy Monroe
Vice President

Jill Clark
Director, Community Services - South Team

Derek Hitchcock
Director, Residential Services

Beverley McGill
Director, Fund Development

Edward St. John
Director, Finance

Onondaga Campus
5123 Old Plank Road
Onondaga, MI 49264

Jackson Office
1206 Clinton Road
Jackson, MI 49202

Lansing Office
4305 S. Cedar Street
Lansing, MI 48910

Howell Office
204 S. Highlander Way, Suite 3
Howell, MI 48843