OLHSA aims to assist vulnerable populations

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 29, 2017

OAKLAND COUNTY — For more than 50 years, the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency, or OLHSA, has continued former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” with relief programs aimed at those facing financial hardship.

OLHSA also helps other vulnerable populations in the area, such as incarcerated and formerly incarcerated parents and their families, immigrants, and people with HIV/AIDS.
There are many services available, addressing issues like economic security, hunger, housing, health, education, older adult services and more. Qualification requirements vary for each program.

Those in need of assistance can contact OLHSA’s Welcome Center at (248) 209-2600. A specialist will then assess the situation and match the caller with the appropriate programs.

There are also career opportunities available through OLHSA, including teaching positions. More information is available online at olhsa.org/current-openings.  

In addition, OLHSA will be offering a new opportunity in October where community organizations working toward the same goals as OLHSA will be eligible for mini-grants.

“Often, community groups know the best way to solve local issues but lack the available resources to implement their visions,” said Adela Piper, OLHSA spokeswoman. “This initiative will allow OLHSA to test innovative approaches through partnership with grass-roots organizations and projects.”

OLHSA works with more than 100 nonprofits, foundations and corporations to provide more than 209,000 services annually. Funding comes primarily from federal, state and local governments.

In 2016, OLHSA served more than 22,100 people across both counties. Health and nutrition services and early childhood services were the most popular. OLHSA also weatherized 128 homes in 2016 and saved homeowners more than $1.5 million in energy costs.

Between Madison Heights and Hazel Park, 275 services were provided to nearly 200 clients. These numbers don’t include the Head Start program in the schools.

OLHSA’s biggest volunteer opportunity is the Walk for Warmth, which takes place in February. OLHSA is already mobilizing volunteers to raise funds for the cause; the volunteers will then show up and have fun at the indoor event with exercise, music and more. The funds raised go toward heating homes in Oakland County.

The organization is also currently working on initiatives to develop more “living wage” jobs and to provide affordable, quality child care and other services for working families. OLHSA is also working on services to help residents stay in the county and age in place, and to increase trust in law enforcement among youth.

“OLHSA has served as a catalyst for people to change their lives,” Piper said. “It’s inspiring to see people come into the agency, receive what they need — with dignity intact — and find a path towards a greater quality of life.”

Susan Harding, CEO of OLHSA, said her organization accomplishes this work with the cooperation of many others.

“OLSHA is intently focused on increasing our impact by nurturing the relationships we have with more than 100 partners and establishing new, impactful connections,” Harding said. “I truly believe our communities are strong when we work together and support one another.”