A newsletter for friends of Highfields                                                         November 3, 2014
The Resource Queen of Clinton County
Erika Phillips stands outside the Lansing office.

    Erika Phillips is always running. A mother of four, a Highfields Wraparound facilitator for Clinton County and an active member of her community, she keeps her schedule full. But you won't find her complaining - in fact, she'll admit to being called a "Positive Patty" by her colleagues.

    She says that, as a resident of Clinton County, she wants her neighbors and other community members to be successful.

    "That's how Clinton County works; we all just take care our people," she explains.

    She has been the Wraparound facilitator for Clinton County for almost four years. This means she carries out a process to "wrap" services available to a family around them to help keep their family together. She brings the many people and organizations in family's life together to help create a support system.

    In addition to her work with Wraparound, Erika is also on the board of the Child Abuse Coalition, a part of the Building Stronger Communities Coalition (BSCC). Between these three organizations, she networks with many professionals who share a vision of a happier and safer Clinton County.

    "Clinton County is so tight-knit, you have to be a part of the community," she explains. "The people who are a part of it have been there forever, so you have to be just as invested as they are."

    Erika works with high needs families every day. She knows that the stressors that affect a family are complex. For example, a family struggling to meet the needs of their children is made even more difficult when they are struggling to find transportation to a food pantry that's only open at certain times in an area that doesn't provide public transportation. But Erika loves her job and coworkers; her supervisor creates a comfortable working environment, despite the challenges of the job.

    "Erika has great rapport with both her clients and other professionals," Sharla Hansen, the community services coordinator at the Lansing office, said. "She is the 'resource queen' in Clinton County not just for our staff and the families that she works with but also other professionals in the community."

    Erika knows that she can count on the people in BSCC and the Child Abuse Coalition for help if she needs it, just like her colleagues can count on her for help when they need it.

    She is full of stories illustrating this. A special education director went to Erika when a family needed help getting food and money for a utility bill. Another colleague helped out a special needs family Erika was working with.

   "Relationships are key. I preach this all the time here," says Erika. "That's how I get a lot of things done in Clinton County - because I've built relationships with other service providers."

Having the Strength to Overcome an Addiction

    A year ago, Lauren* and her family were struggling. She was battling a drug addiction. Her two young daughters had bedbugs in their room. She and her husband didn't budget, didn't clean and didn't know where to turn. And things were about to get worse.

    Just before Thanksgiving, a neighbor reported their home to Child Protective Services. If Lauren didn't clean up fast, she would lose their daughters. She knew she couldn't do it on her own. So, CPS referred her to Highfields.

    At first, the thought of getting help scared Lauren. She didn't want to go to group meetings and she certainly didn't want to let a stranger into her home. But her fear went away as soon as she met Angie Allen, her counselor.

    "She sat down and explained the program to us. She answered our questions and took her time. She definitely let us know that if we didn't change, there would be repercussions... She was sweet and stern at the same time."

    Angie addressed the problems in Lauren's life head-on. The first order of business: get rid of those bedbugs.

    "Angie came over on her own time to help clean the house. We pitched everything," Lauren said.

    After that, they worked on budgeting. They used Angie's Sam's Club card to begin buying in bulk to save money. Then Lauren got her own so she could continue.

    "Before the addiction, I could stretch $100 as far as I needed to," Lauren explained. But during her addiction, she felt run down. She dragged herself out of bed every morning and didn't take care of herself.

    "I didn't follow through on anything, I procrastinated, I didn't pay bills," she explained. "I didn't realize how messed up I was until I came off it."

    Lauren had been using Suboxone to help her opiate addiction until she became pregnant with her first daughter. Then she was told that the only approved substance she could use during pregnancy is Methadone - a drug she knew about and did not want to use.

    Although Methadone is used as a treatment for opiate addicts, it's still a highly addictive substance. She lost her brother to a Methadone addiction several years before. She was scared of the drug, but didn't have a choice. It resulted in a four-year addiction.

    But when Highfields and Angie came into the picture, Lauren and her husband were ready for change.

    "She was dedicated to positive change and her husband was too," Angie explained. "This couple was really nice to work with because their children were so important to them. Even though they had problems, their children were primary."

    Angie worked with Lauren on overcoming her addiction by helping her to envision what her future would look like if she continued to use Methadone. Would she still be using it when her girls were in high school? As they got older, how long could she hide her addiction from them?

    "She was really able to see that," Angie said. "She told me, 'I don't want this. I don't want to be a mom on Methadone.'"

    Once Lauren was prepared to change her life, she knew she had the strength and the support system to make it happen. She says her biggest support systems have been her dad, husband and two daughters.

    "You have to be strong enough to overcome your addiction and put your kids first."

*Not her real name.
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Toy Drive

The Highfields annual toy drive will last from Friday, Nov. 28 until Monday, Dec. 15. It is sponsored by WLNS and the Mid-Michigan Ford Dealers. Please donate a toy to a family in need this holiday season.

Participating locations:
  • Grand Ledge Ford Lincoln
  • Seymour Ford Lincoln
  • Courtesy Ford
  • Pauli Ford
  • Candy Ford
  • La Fontaine Ford
  • Signature Ford
  • Brooklyn Ford
  • Ken Stillwell Ford
  • Bob Maxey Ford
  • WLNS
  • Highfields' Jackson Office
  • Highfields' Lansing Office
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About Highfields
Highfields is a human services nonprofit 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.

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
Our Lansing office has moved! You can now find us at the corner of E. Cavanaugh and S. Cedar. Our new address is:

4305 S. Cedar St.
Lansing, MI 48910

Our phone and fax numbers are still:
P: (517) 887-2762
F: (517) 887-2982

Board of Directors

Sheila Brake, Chairperson
Accident Fund

Sara Bennett, Chair-Elect
Two Men and A Truck

Anethia Brewer, Secretary
Ingham County Court

Mike Zamiara, Treasurer
Integrated Systems Consultants

Brian Gallagher, Past Chair
Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C.


Kristin Bartley
Two Men and A Truck

Bill Clark
Clark Constructors

Patrick Dean
Dean Transportation

Mark Emmert
Dart Bank

Michael Foster
Plante & Moran, PLLC

Alan Goschka
Bergman Associates

Michael Hull
Spartan Linen Services

James Hunsanger
MSU Federal Credit Union

Eric Jamison
Michigan Attorney General's Office

Karen Johns
Retired DHS

Mark Kellogg
Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C.

Jeff Klug
Klug Law Firm

Wallace Markham
Retired JP Morgan Chase

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

Doug Peters
Christman Constructors

Katie Rexrode
Jackson National Life

Tanda Reynolds
Retired DHS

Marlon Roberts
Office of General Counsel

Reshma Sambare
Miller Canfield

Tom Shewchuk
Logicalis, Inc.

Amy Tripp
Chalgian, Tripp Law Offices


Brian Philson



Timothy Monroe
VP, Clinical Services

Jill Clark
Director, Quality and Program Development

Derek Hitchcock
Director, Residential Services

Beverley McGill
Director, Fund Development

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

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