Beverly Hills resident honored as ‘Community Champion’
Posted June 12, 2013
BEVERLY HILLS — When Nancy Stermer first began working at a corporate level with Detroit-based nonprofit The Children’s Center in the mid ’90s, she had no idea it would turn out to be a life-changing experience.
More than 15 years later, she is still galvanizing others to contribute their time and treasure to one of the most notable mental health and family outreach institutions in the city.
For her outstanding service, Stermer was recently named one of six Community Champions by Molina Healthcare of Michigan and was awarded a $1,000 grant for the nonprofit organization.
“This organization is so appreciative of even the smallest gesture, and I think that’s one of the reasons so many of my colleagues have really jumped on board,” she said.
“There’s not only a need, but a very sincere appreciation for every little gesture, and it’s acknowledged. You see where your effort makes a difference.”
Stermer’s employer, Macquarie Equipment Finance of Bloomfield Hills, has always strongly encouraged its employees to give back to their local nonprofits, and assisted in those efforts.
“They suggested employees do fundraising and activities that involve other staff. So about three years ago, I got very active in getting other employees to do all kinds of events that benefit Children’s Center clients directly,” said Stermer, who is the vice president of global marketing communications.
Founded in 1929, The Children’s Center started the forerunners of foster care and school social work services, and piloted satellite mental health programs in public schools. Today, it offers a wide range of programs to assist the community in the realm of mental and behavioral health, as well as abuse, neglect and poverty issues.
Stermer and her colleagues helped sponsor a back-to-school donation drive to provide 466 backpacks and supplies to children in need, as well as the monthly celebration at The Children’s Center for every child’s birthday.
“I learned that many of our children have never had their birthdays recognized — not even with a card, or something telling them, ‘Happy birthday,’” she said.
“Many don’t even know when their birthday is.”
She has helped organize toiletry collections, gathered volunteer gardeners to beautify the exterior grounds, helped stock the center’s boutique for families in need of emergency clothing and supplies, and sponsored movie nights so that low-income families could bring their children out for a movie experience.
“One of the reasons we provide all these supplementary services is it’s very hard to heal a child’s emotional issues if they don’t have their basic needs taken care of,” she said.
“The reason I’ve been so involved and my passion for this particular charity is because the magnitude of child mental health issues is so great — abuse, neglect, abandonment, autism. The Children’s Center has shown consistent success in helping even the most troubled children and their families. They have demonstrated success in healing families so they can lead healthy, productive lives.”
Stermer said her own colleagues and their dedication to The Children’s Center are things that inspire her continuously.
“Without me even doing much initiating at all, they have shown incredible generosity, compassion and willingness to help,” she said.
Molina Healthcare of Michigan President Stephen Harris said in a statement that Stermer is an extraordinary example of someone who truly cares about the health and wellbeing of young people.
“The work she has done to help provide resources for children in need has positively impacted the entire community. We are proud to recognize her as Community Champions winner,” he said.
Stermer said she encourages everyone to take a campus tour of The Children’s Center, which is located at 79 Alexandrine West in Detroit.
“The campus tour will change you,” she said. “There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s the best way to find out how to match up a need with an interest. We have all kinds of needs, and we’re always looking for volunteers,” she said.
The Children’s Center free tour gives visitors a chance to learn about the center’s early childhood development programs, therapy and support for those with mental health and behavioral disorders, “healing the hurt” programs for those who have been abused or neglected, and the foster care, adoption and independent living programs.
“I initially thought that I could use my background in mental health and teaching, combined with my business experience, to give back,” she said.
“What I’ve found instead is the learning experiences and rewards I’ve gained from The Children’s Center far exceed whatever contributions I have made.”
For more information on The Children’s Center, visit www.thechildrenscenter.com.
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