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November 28, 2012

OLHSA sells Ferndale office

Operations will continue at three new locations

By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

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The Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency will soon be leaving its south office, located in Ferndale at 345 E. Nine Mile Road, and moving into a smaller facility on Hilton Road. The organization will also partner with a pair of Ferndale nonprofit groups that will help continue its services.

FERNDALE — The Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA) will soon move out of its south office in Ferndale and divide its services between a new, smaller facility and a pair of nonprofit organizations.

OLHSA recently sold its building at 345 E. Nine Mile Road and will begin relocating its various programs Dec. 1. All of these services will be housed within the city borders in order to remain accessible to residents of Ferndale and surrounding communities.

The agency has already purchased a new office at 3029 Hilton Road, which will provide its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services starting in January. Also commencing in January will be OLHSA’s emergency food assistance and food pantry programs at the Renaissance Vineyard Church, 1841 Pinecrest Drive. Meanwhile, the Accounting Aid Society at 1956 Hilton Road will offer the organization’s full array of Welcome Center services beginning in December.

According to Kelsey Krumrey, public relations coordinator for OLHSA, this new setup will allow OLHSA to provide a bigger variety of programs to residents.

“We’re really just looking to broaden the scope of our services in south Oakland County,” she said, “and this is the first step in that process. We want to reassure our clients, though, that all of our services will continue uninterrupted at the current building until our new locations are ready to open. We’re slowly phasing them out one at a time right now.”

It was unknown at press time who had purchased the property at 345 E. Nine Mile Road or what it would become in the future. However, in a statement, OLHSA CEO Ron Borngesser noted that selling the 10,000-square-foot facility would enable the agency to assist a greater number of people, as well as to seek out new opportunities for providing services in the region.

“Being accessible to our clients and effective in helping them improve their lives is our most important goal,” he said. “The old building just wasn’t the best fit for us, but we can now focus on our strong community partnerships as a tool to better serve our community. Together we can look forward to what that future will bring.”

Founded in 1964, OLHSA is a community-action agency dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people facing crises — especially elderly people, those with low incomes and those with disabilities — while also strengthening local communities, families, seniors and youth. In 2011 alone, OLHSA provided more than 300,000 services in the pursuit of helping people and changing lives. The agency currently has offices in Pontiac, Ferndale and Howell.

Kathleen Hatke Aro, president of the Accounting Aid Society, said that her organization has already had one OLHSA employee embedded at its Ferndale location for the past year, and OLHSA will likely add more workers once Dec. 1 rolls around. She hopes that this new partnership will allow the Accounting Aid Society — a nonprofit group that provides free tax preparation services and helps build economic self-sufficiency for low- and middle-income families — to add as many as 3,000 new tax clients during the first year.

“This is a really natural fit for us,” Aro said. “We want to bring in some new services for people without duplicating any of the services that OLHSA already provides. A lot of their programs are things that our clients have been requesting for a while now.”

OLHSA patrons will also be able to access the Renaissance Vineyard Church’s supplemental food pantry, which is currently open on the first and third Mondays of the month and services 50 to 100 families per month. But according to lead pastor Jim Pool, those details may soon change, as the church is still working out some of the details with OLHSA about how the new arrangement will work.

“We may need more volunteers or OLHSA employees to keep up with the increase in demand,” he said. “We’re already getting multiple calls every day about the food pantry; our requests have doubled since people started hearing about this. But we will not be changing our food pantry significantly — we will just be strengthening that service.”

Pool added that the Renaissance Vineyard Church has had a working relationship with OLHSA in recent years and is now looking forward to strengthening that bond.

“This is going to be a great cooperative effort,” he said. “It’s the kind of partnership that will help build a better community. I believe that this will create a stronger Ferndale, because it’s exactly what people need during this time of great economic uncertainty.”

For more information, call (248) 209-2600 or visit www.olhsa.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jeremy Selweski at jSelweski@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5004.