Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh’s contract was renewed through 2022 at the Jan. 21 township board meeting. He received a 2% raise, which he donated to two local organizations, the Community Resources Commission and the Meridian Garden Club.
According to the press release, both the CRC and the Meridian Garden Club will receive $700 each this year. Both organizations work to improve the township.
Recognizing the donors
Members of the CRC sub-committee discussed on Feb. 12, during its meeting, how to recognize donors such as Walsh and others.
CRC member Angie Wilson: “One of the ideas we came up with was a banner, that we would put our donors on, and we would have that at the farmer’s market and other social events in the township.”
With large amounts of donations coming in during the holiday season, Jackson said that if both the community and the commission keep the momentum up “we can do huge things to address … people who are largely overlooked.”
The CRC has provided financial assistance to hundreds of Meridian Township residents since 1985. The commission works with several local churches and organizations to provide funds for an overlooked population in the township — those living under the poverty level, which is about 13% of the area’s population or more than 5,000 people.
The commission, made up of eight volunteers, meets monthly to discuss ways to fundraise for the CRC’s mission to provide financial support to pay utilities and rent.
The CRC assists residents in need provided the resident shows regular improvements to better their current situation, either a steady job or progress toward one.
Darla Jackson, human services specialist for the CRC, said her role the last nine years has taught her many things.
“There is a definite advantage of being in the suburbs,” Jackson said. “While you’re over here in the suburbs, I think people are looking to give back, especially where they live.”
Suzanne H. Brouse has spent almost 40 years of her life in Meridian Township. Brouse, the Community Resources Commission chair, has spent the past 12 years in the position and many hours dedicated to giving back to residents of the township.
Brouse: “I think people just enjoy it … (the community) It’s sort of like a small town, but it’s a good small town, and the educational system is well respected.”
Jackson, the staff member for the commission, spends most of her days on the phone, assisting residents with the process of filling out forms and applications for federal aid programs.
She helps people get through “whatever crisis they may be in,” whether it be a rent payment, guidance with applications to receive aid or connecting a resident with a local church and the food bank to receive resources, such as clothes, food or transportation.
The CRC provides plenty of other resources for the community including free tax assistance and preparation for those who qualify and a wide connection to area organizations that help relieve some financial burdens for the area’s underprivileged residents.
The hardest part of her job, Jackson said, is that “there are guidelines in how the funding is spent, (but) there are also gray areas,” situations that she has evaluated on a daily basis.
She confronts the tricky decisions with the commission’s principles in mind: “If they (the resident(s)) are working as hard as they can to get out of whatever hole they’re in, I’m willing to make that call.”
The commission is looking to have enough donors to put up the banner toward the beginning of the summer, when market season is in full swing.
The commission plans to have several fundraising events such as a March Madness event, several restaurant ‘take-overs’ and an event at the June 27 Celebrate Meridian Festival.