Woodlands wins United Way award working with SMC

Published 8:54 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BENTON HARBOR — Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network’s counseling partnership with Southwestern Michigan College merited an Excellence in Impact Award from United Way of Southwest Michigan.
United Way celebrated its record-setting $4,186,203 2016 campaign March 16 at Lake Michigan College Mendel Center as it prepares for its 75th anniversary this year. The effort shattered the $4 million goal set after raising $3.8 million in 2015.
CEO Kathy Emans, board Chairman Bob Wagel, licensed clinical social worker Tonya Cosey and Misty Collett, who received a standing ovation for a video about overcoming methamphetamine addiction, accepted the award on behalf of the Cassopolis-based mental health agency.
“Recipients must be engaged with United Way and working toward our goals in education, income, health and basic needs,” said Berrien County Council for Children Executive Director Jamie Rossow, the presenter for the award. “They have to show measurable impact, demonstrate collaboration and make a long-term commitment to doing good work.
“This organization is often found at the intersection of innovation and collaboration. Their work in the mental health and substance abuse arena is difficult — especially in a small rural county where needs often outpace resources available, which many times forces them to get creative.
“In addition to consistently delivering solid outcomes across their current list of services. Last year (Woodlands) formed a new relationship with Southwestern Michigan College to provide mental health assessment referrals and treatment to students who otherwise might have dropped out of school because of undiagnosed or untreated issues.
“In the first four months of this pilot project, the program impacted student retention rates by almost 25 percent. This unusual tactic could have been a risky move, but clearly, it’s paying off.”
Chief of Staff Tom Atkinson, Director of Campus Security and Conduct Lyndon Parrish and Director of Niles Campus Brent Brewer represented SMC.
Atkinson, during the United Way’s annual meeting, was elected to the board of directors, along with Nermina Kamencic of Gast Manufacturing and an officer slate of Chair Andy Janson of Hanson Logistics, Vice Chair Ann Cardon, St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent; Treasurer Kim Richardson of 1st Source Bank; and Secretary Dave Doetsch of Mid-West Family Broadcasting.
Zack East of Mid-West Family Broadcasting and Dan Peat of Kinexus were announced as 2017 campaign co-chairs.
Pacesetters for the 2016 campaign included AEP D.C. Cook Plant, Competitive Edge, Edgewater Bank, 1st Source Bank, Kemner Iott Benz, Lakeland Health, Meijer of Benton Harbor, Meijer of Stevensville, Mid-West Family Broadcasting and Walsworth Publishing.
Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter, community college, founded in 1964. The college averages in the top 10 percent nationally for student academic success based upon the National Community College Benchmark Project. Southwestern Michigan College strives to be the college of first choice, to provide the programs and services to meet the needs of students, and to serve our community. The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.