Tag Archives: brenda long

Education policymakers on MSU Extension resources: The FHE team goes to the Capitol

On Friday, May 20, representatives from 15 state legislative offices attended a coffee and donuts informational session at the state Capitol. The session was held by the Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team to educate the group about the post-foreclosure toolkits that Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides. Toolkits were also distributed to all offices to advertise the effective and impactful resources that MSU Extension produces for families and individuals starting over after home foreclosure.

In a brainstorming and planning meeting between a few members of the FHE team and Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, the team discussed reaching out to legislators to market the “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit. Eric, having previous experience working in the Legislature, suggested hosting an event to draw attention to the new resource. He shared that often state departments hold educational sessions to provide legislators and their staff members with timely resources and information.

The FHE team wanted to not only share the MSU Extension resource with the legislators and their staff members, but also educate them that they could use it to support constituents who call their offices with questions about personal financial recovery. Team members received the approval of Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the college of agriculture and natural resources; Dave Ivan, their institute director; and MSU. They also secured the support of Sen. Darwin Booher, who co-sponsored the event. Then the planning began. Jean Lakin, Sarah Carter, Erica Tobe, Eric Walcott, Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson and Mike Kovacic contributed to the planning of the event.

The event consisted of a short, half-hour presentation to legislators and their staff members, followed by a brief question-and-answer period. Each legislative office, whether or not an office representative attended the event, received a packet. The packet included MSU Extension FHE team information (including infographics of the results of their programs, a team roster and current program offerings), district foreclosure data (for offices that RSVP’d to the event), a free “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit and marketing kicker cards to promote the resource in their communities. Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson, Eric Walcott, LaShawn Brown, Beth Martinéz, Brenda Long, Erica Tobe, Mike Kovacic and Jinnifer Ortquist attended to host and answer questions.

The “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit is a research-based, resource guide for residents who have experienced foreclosure, housing instability or both. It was designed to provide an educational support after traditional foreclosure counseling services end as a way to rebuild financial standing. Eight stand-alone units address core financial concepts (budgeting, credit and debt management, exploring housing options and more). One unit addresses emotional recovery after foreclosure and stress-management skill building. Visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/mimoneyhealth/startingover to access the resource. The material will be available soon in Spanish, and a series of noncredit online courses will be available to participants statewide.

“Staff members that I spoke with were very receptive of the material, interested in the information, and appreciated that it was free for the general public to use.” Erica said. “I think promoting this toolkit to legislators in the manner that we did was a good way to be accountable for the funds that we have received to support our work in this programming area, and provide them with useful information that they can use with the residents in their districts. In addition, it was a great way to market MSU Extension, and the work of our FHE team. We had several staff members attend the event, and they were able to connect with their respective legislative offices, and create connections for future programming opportunities! The legislative staff members that we spoke with were very excited to see the information presented and seemed to appreciate the short, succinct manner that we presented the material. I think most participants left the presentation understanding how they can use the information in the future and appreciated the applicability of the resource.”

If you have any questions about this event or the materials, please feel free to contact Erica Tobe, MSU Extension specialist, at tobee@msu.edu or Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, at walcott3@msu.edu.

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MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our fellow Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session Nov. 5 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Individual awards:

Joyce McGarry won a Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Joyce has worked for MSU Extension for 17 years, concentrating in the areas of nutrition and food safety programming. She supervises nutrition staff in seven counties and provides leadership as co-chair of the Nutrition Physical Activity Work Team in the Health and Nutrition Institute.

Gail Innis and Brenda Long both won Michigan and National Distinguished Service awards. The award is given to members of 10 years or more. It recognizes Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Gail began working for MSU Extension as a program associate in 1991. She describes her current position as educator in both the Children and Youth Institute and the Health and Nutrition Institute as “the best of both worlds” where she can draw on the resources of both to serve families across the lifespan. Brenda is a senior Extension educator and has been based in Ionia County since 2002. Her programming focuses on health, financial capacity and homeownership education.

Brenda also received two national awards for health insurance education, collaborating with eleven state partners. She took third place for the Florence Hall Award, which recognizes NEAFCS members who have been alert in recognizing emerging issues or new concerns and interests of families or individuals and have planned and implemented programs that benefit families or individuals. She took first place for the Marketing Package Award for an outstanding marketing package promoting a program pertinent to family and consumer sciences issues.

Lisa Treiber won a national and Michigan Clean and Healthy Families and Communities Award. The award honors outstanding educational programming efforts that utilize any of the American Cleaning Institute’s educational materials in the areas of food safety, emergency preparedness or response, safe and effective use of cleaning products, and others.

Team awards:

Teresa Clark-Jones, Gail Innis, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish and Holly Tiret took third place nationally and second place regionally and in Michigan for the Early Childhood Child Care Training Award for the “RELAX: Alternatives to Anger for Parents and Caregivers Workshop.” The award recognizes outstanding childcare professional training that addresses the needs of young children. Over 600 participants have taken this workshop throughout Michigan and in West Virginia and Texas.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Bill Hendrian, Jean Lakin, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Pam Sarlitto, Beth Waitrovich, Chris Venema, (all NEAFCS Members), Jim Buxton, Moses Cantu, Angela Miles Griffin, Lauren Hale, Khurram Imam, Sharon Jeffery, Scott Matteson, Vivian Washington and Rob Weber (all non-MEAFCS Members) won a national, regional and Michigan Extension Housing Outreach Award for “Michigan State University Extension Housing Programs 2013-14.” The award recognizes programming that enhances housing outreach to communities and special needs families.

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Congratulations to Step III awardees

Every year, senior staff members work with the administration to review the applicants for Step III. It is a rigorous process for the applicants, involving a portfolio review and a seminar presentation, which is assessed by the applicant’s peers and institute director, but a great opportunity for recognition within Michigan State University Extension. The four staff members who have been awarded the status this year are Rebecca Finneran, Brenda Long, Janet Olsen and Holly Tiret.

Step III is awarded to Extension academic staff members who have demonstrated excellence and scholarly achievement in their work as Extension professionals over an extended period. Those who are awarded Step III achieve “senior” status, similarly to a professor rank among faculty. Their titles will now reflect their Step III status by adding “senior” before them.

Please join me in congratulating them on their hard work and dedication to Extension!

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Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Money Smart Week, April 5 to 12, is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. More than 400 free Money Smart Week events took place throughout Michigan on topics ranging from kids and money to managing student loan debt, household budgeting and retirement.

Our Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) work group participated in 12 Money Smart Week events throughout the eight days. One of the largest events was the Fox 2 News “Ask the Expert” program held the morning of April 7. This program consisted of both a live call-in program in the Fox 2 News studios and a live webchat on the MyFoxDetroit.com website. TV viewers either called in to the studio or went on the Web to ask questions on debt, credit, budgeting, homeownership and mortgages, retirement and investing, and fraud and scams.

The FHE team members who participated in the studio taking calls were LaShawn Brown, Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Krauch, Angela Miles, Wanda Roberts, Pam Sarlitto and Rob Weber. This group answered more than 250 calls and also talked with Fox 2 News financial reporter Murray Feldman on-air on a variety of money issues.

Answering questions in the online webchat were FHE team members Jim Buxton, Bill Hendrian, Khurram Imam, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Jinnifer Ortquist, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington. This team provided replies to more than 100 questions that came into the chat room.

Money Smart Week provided a great opportunity for the FHE work group to enhance their mission of providing financial education throughout Michigan. And I think the Ask the Expert call-in/live-chat model they’ve developed with Fox 2 News is something that might be appropriate for other program areas and work groups to consider in the future. We’ll hear more about that on the May 5 MSUE Update Webinar.

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Extension staff members help residents through property tax assistance

In a July 26, 2012, Spotlight, I told you about the Step Forward Michigan Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010 to aid families in states hit hardest by the economic and housing market downturn. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) oversees distribution of the fund in Michigan where it’s known as the Step Forward Michigan Program.

In January 2013 through the Step Forward Michigan Program, the MSHDA added property tax assistance to their Loan Rescue Program. Homeowners that have endured a qualifying involuntary hardship that has caused them to fall behind may be eligible. Without this assistance, these homeowners, which in many cases have paid off their home mortgage, would have lost their homes due to tax foreclosure.

Our Michigan State University Extension counseling and support staff provide ongoing help to homeowners in getting questions answered, helping with the application process and correcting applications so that Macomb County residents have the best chance for assistance. Greening Michigan Extension, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) educator Jean Lakin leads the team of Natalie Ciampichini, Helena Fleming, AmeriCorps member Alicia McMiller and Rob Weber.

Extension educator and District 11 coordinator Marie Ruemenapp said, “Macomb Executive’s Office staff and the treasurer are just ecstatic with what MSUE (Jean and her staff) have been able to do.”

“The very productive partnership between MSU Extension and the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office is really what has driven the success of this program in Macomb,” said Ted Wahby, the Macomb County treasurer. “As we reach out to delinquent taxpayers, we know we can count on Jean Lakin and her team of housing counselors at MSUE to guide people through the application process. Our team effort has resulted in more than $1.1 million dollars in back taxes paid, and more than 175 families no longer at risk of losing their home.”

Read more in this Macomb Daily article: http://www.macombdaily.com/government-and-politics/20131003/treasurers-program-collects-900000-saves-hundreds-of-homes

Macomb is not the only county taking advantage of the Step Forward Michigan program and of the help given by MSU Extension staff.

Denine Kamprath, deputy Monroe County treasurer said, “We feel that this program is a wonderful opportunity to help people that have hardship situations be able to get ‘caught up’ on the back taxes that they owe, and to keep them out of the foreclosure situation. Hopefully, by getting this assistance, they will be able to stay on track and avoid falling back into this pattern for the future. . . . Thanks for all your continuous help with our residents.”

In Monroe County, according to Deputy Treasurer Kamprath, with support from MSU Extension staff members Terry Clark-Jones and Pam Sarlitto, 18 residents have been assisted and a total amount of $113,533.94 in back taxes has been collected as of October 2013.

MSU Extension is an MSHDA-certified housing counseling agency. We have been assisting Michigan residents in applying for the tax foreclosure Step Forward Michigan funds since Jan. 15.

Other Financial and Homeownership Education work group members across the state involved in helping Michigan residents through the Step Forward Michigan program besides those mentioned above include Jim Buxton, Scott Day, Sharon Jeffery, Mike Krauch, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, AmeriCorps member Vicki Newcomb, Christine Venema, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington.

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More staff members assist with financial issues

In last week’s Spotlight, I talked about our Michigan State University Extension staff assisting people with financial questions on the air during Money Smart Week. I’d like to call your attention to the comment from Extension educator Brenda Long below the article. Brenda mentions that in addition to the staff members on the phone, five MSU Extension staff members answered email questions in a live Fox 2 News chat room from 7 a.m. to noon on April 22. Thanks to Brenda, Extension program instructors Jim Buxton and Sharon Jeffery, Extension program worker Al Gaiefsky and Extension educator Vivian Washington.

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Step Forward Michigan Program assists homeowners struggling to hold on to their homes

Michigan State University Extension educator Jean Lakin would like to bring a great resource to the attention of Extension educators across the state. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), one of our partners in the Financial Housing and Energy work group, part of the Greening Michigan Institute, has a program that benefits citizens across Michigan who struggle with underwater mortgages and unemployment.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. Michigan received $498.6 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to operate the Hardest Hit Funds program. In July 2010, Michigan was the first state to award and disburse Hardest Hit Funds. The MSHDA oversees the distribution of the funds in Michigan. The Hardest Hit Funds program operates under the name Step Forward Michigan Program.

Extension educators can direct clients needing assistance to apply online at http://www.stepforwardmichigan.org/. More than 25,000 Michigan homeowners have initiated an application. If financial literacy is outside your normal area of expertise, feel free to refer to Jean or one of her colleagues on the Financial, Housing and Energy work group.

The Step Forward Michigan website also offers a toolkit for partners to help get the word out to homeowners about the program through the use of the program’s logo, Web ads, posters and cards, newsletters and social media posts. Any educator can use the kit.

Jean said, “We currently have MSHDA-certified housing counselors in Macomb, Washtenaw, Lapeer and Ionia counties. However, Step Forward Michigan is an excellent resource for Extension educators in any institute in any county to provide to residents as we know the economic and mortgage crisis has impacted all of us.”

Jean co-leads the Financial Housing and Energy work group with Extension educator Terry Clark-Jones. Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educators Christine Venema and Brenda Long are also involved in the Step Forward Michigan initiative.

In related news, a national foreclosure settlement will allow the MSHDA and MSU Extension to expand our financial education and counseling services for homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure or those who may have recently gone through foreclosure. We’ll have more information on this opportunity in the future.

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