A newsletter for friends of Highfields                                                           October, 2014
Introducing Michelle:  Strengthening Families Breakfast Speaker

    Three years ago, Michelle Hopkins, a mother of five, found herself in a tough situation. Her youngest daughter was failing school, acting out at home and spending her time with friends likely headed down a destructive path.

     She knew that in order to help her daughter, she had to intervene. With Sam's promise to attend a meeting, she made an appointment with a counselor. But when the time came, Sam fought it. Michelle set up several appointments to try to help her daughter, each one unattended.

    After a year of going back and forth, she contacted LifeWays, a community mental health agency. After explaining her situation, she was directed to Highfields.

    She was told that Highfields would be different than the other counseling efforts she had made. Highfields would be willing to work with her work schedule and income. Highfields was willing to come to her home. Most importantly, Highfields was a different type of therapy.

    Since Michelle and Sam's experience with Highfields, Sam is getting straight A's, has a new group of friends and is an active member of their church. "We have a very good teenager," Michelle said.

    Michelle plans to share her story at Highfields Strengthening Families Breakfast on Oct. 23. She knows she is not the only parent who has been faced with a seemingly hopeless situation - and she knows that she is not the only parent who has the capacity to get through it with the right help.

    "Sam and I feel like we are a success story," she said. "The situation was pretty dreadful. Sam and I are incredibly grateful for what Highfields and Eric have done...How we got from where we were, with so much violence and aggression, to where we are now was not by accident. It took a lot of hard work and working with the right people."  

What Makes Teachers, Parents and Students Happy?
"My mom encouraged me to [go to Reaching Higher] because it sounded like a fun thing to do... My favorite part is doing my homework so I don't have to do it at home and going on field trips. My favorite field trip was to the Butterfly Garden."
- Alexia Sparks, 5th grade, first year at Reaching Higher

    Since its inception in 2007, Highfields After School program, Reaching Higher, has consistently done two things: helped students, and expanded.

    In the last seven years, the grant-funded program has grown from a two-location program able to serve 90 students to a program reaching across seven schools, able to serve 315 students each day.

    "The difference between Reaching Higher and other programs is that we bring the 'Highfields component.' We work with students at their level on behavior and social skills, because that's how you get to their academic problems," said Brenda Weck, the project director. "If a student doesn't feel safe, they're more worried about walking home at night than getting their homework done."

    Through Reaching Higher, students are able to make new friends, get help with their homework, learn new skills and take field trips. One field trip that Hunt Elementary has coming up is to Ichiban Japanese Restaurant where they will discover hibachi-style cooking.

    While a field trip to a restaurant may not be a typical venture for elementary school students to make, it does offer several benefits. One of those is to learn about different cultures and food.

    "It's food they've eaten before - chicken and steak - but prepared in a different way that they might not be familiar with."

    Aside from the cultural and culinary aspects, the trip helps with the students' interpersonal skills by teaching them how to order food from a server.

    "It's teaching them how to be good members of society and teaching them the social skills that we take for granted," she said.

    Reaching Higher isn't just aimed at elementary and middle school students; there are also resources available for parents. According to Weck, increased parent involvement is a big goal of both Reaching Higher and local schools - and not an easy goal to obtain.

    "We try to bridge the gap between school and parents; we try to find what parents are interested in and what their needs are," she said.

    Reaching Higher offers classes, meetings and speakers that address specific needs and interests of the parents. Some classes include how to build a resume and create a household budget. Speakers have talked about topics ranging from drug abuse to being aware of signs of Attention Deficit Disorder in children. Weck says it's important to the program that, if a parent expresses a need, they address it right away.

    The staff involved with the program enjoy benefits of Reaching Higher, too. At a time when educational standards are changing and teachers are given larger and larger classes, Reaching Higher gives teachers a chance to connect with students and build strong relationships with them.

    "This is one of the few times you can see such fast results," Weck said. "In this program we are able to see the growth [of students] in front of our eyes."

In This Issue
Introducing Michelle

After School Program
Upcoming Events
"Strengthening Families" Breakfast
Thursday, October 23rd
Kellogg Center
Seats are still
The breakfast is free with the opportunity to donate to Highfields.

For more information or to sign up as a table host, contact:
Bev McGill
(517) 628-2287 x332
or email her now.
Highfields' Services
Highfields is a human services agency providing opportunities for at-risk children and families through counseling, residential care and education programs.

Highfields provides 16 different programs in 11 counties and serves about 6,000 children, youth and families.

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
Highfields' Board

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.

Brian Philson, President/CEO
Highfields, Inc.


Kristin Bartley
Two Men and A Truck

Bill Clark
Clark Constructors

Patrick Dean
Dean Transportation

Mark Emmert
Dart Bank

Michael Foster
Plante & Moran, PLLC

Patrick Fuller

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


Timothy Monroe
VP, Clinical Services

Jill Clark
Director, Quality and Program Development

Derek Hitchcock
Director, Residential Services

Israel Velez Jr.
Director, Finance and Personnel

Beverley McGill
Director, Fund Development

Highfields, Inc. | 5123 Old Plank Road | Onondaga, MI 49264
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