3rd Annual Michigan Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (MBC-LEO) Fundraiser
The third Annual Michigan Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (MBC-LEO) dinner in Lansing was attended by elected officials from Madison Heights, Southfield, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Kentwood and Saginaw. State Representative Robert Dean addressed the group and talked of his experience of moving from a position of city councilmember to a state representative. On the night before the event, Dean received the Walter Bergman Award from the NAACP which recognizes those who strive for freedom and equality.
The presentation was a homecoming for Dean. As a former member
of Grand Rapids city council and the MML board, he remembered the initial
talks of starting the affiliate group for African-American officials. He
saw this as being very important and was therefore thrilled when asked
to present at the event.
Dean informed the elected officials in attendance that if they wanted to run for office they need to have their personal life in order, be able to pace themselves, get plenty of rest, set aside personal time for themselves, and enjoy life and people. He also warned them not to let their ego get in the way.
Donna Littlejohn, executive director of Muskegon Family Care (MFC), also addressed the group. She talked about health disparities that affect African Americans disproportionately such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and HIV. The Family Care Center, like many other similar community health centers around the state, addresses concerns that some private practice physicians will not address, especially if the patient is uninsured. MFC serves individuals regardless of their ability to pay. The organization has 139 employees and serves more than 19,000 patients who require quality medical care. MBC-LEO president Clara Shepherd also serves as president of MFC. Donna said there are similar health centers across the state and she encouraged councilmembers to inform their citizens of community health centers in their areas. Spreading that information could conceivably reduce the $18 million wasted annually on avoidable emergency room visits.
The fundraiser dinner concluded with the decision to hold the fourth annual (2008) fundraiser dinner in Saginaw, Michigan where MBC-LEO will continue to bring officials together to share ideas and develop solutions that will help build better communities, thus creating a better Michigan.