Police, firefighters team up for Beats & Heats Bowl-a-thon

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 18, 2019

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The police and firefighters of Madison Heights keep the city safe and will rescue residents in a pinch, but they’re not well-known to many of the people they serve. An upcoming fundraiser will offer a chance to mingle with them, all while supporting a noble cause.

Madison Heights Youth Assistance is sponsoring the annual Beats & Heats Bowl-a-thon featuring the Madison Heights Fire Department and Madison Heights Police Department, set for noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at Madison Park Bowl, 25023 John R Road. Check-in starts at 11:30 a.m. The cost of admission is $25 and pays for two hours of bowling, shoes, food and soda.

If a student brings $50 or more in pledges, the registration fee is waived. Pledge sheets are available at mhya.org. There will also raffles, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle.

There are nearly 30 prizes to be won, including a set of four Detroit Red Wings tickets, valued at $99 each, as well as a week’s vacation anywhere in the world, covering the costs of accommodations, but not travel.    

The money raised helps support Madison Heights Youth Assistance, or MHYA, which aims to keep troubled youths out of the court system and help rehabilitate those who break the law.

“The event netted approximately $2,000 last year,” said Deb Lindsey, the caseworker at MHYA. “We hope to net at least $3,000 this year so we can continue expanding our prevention program in the community and the schools.”

This is MHYA’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The nonprofit also tries to hold a restaurant fundraiser each quarter, including a recent one at Texas Roadhouse that raised $1,000.

The programs at MHYA help to reduce delinquency, abuse and neglect, diverting juveniles out of a legal system that may traumatize them and finding more constructive ways to get them on the right track, through a variety of approaches such as one-on-one counseling, mentoring, anger management classes, camp programs, family meetings, skill-building workshops, and even court visits that allow teens to observe the process without being part of it.

Another program is the UTURN Jail Tour of Oakland County, which helps youth ages 13 and older to better understand the consequences of poor choices. Then there is the “We Are Family” Family Education/Recreation Committee, which holds presentations on such issues as mental health, substance abuse and developing coping skills. The committee also organizes series on mindfulness, yoga and other concepts that encourage families to spend time together.

The money raised from the bowl-a-thon makes this and other programs possible, such as upcoming initiatives for free therapeutic exercise and arts programs in local schools.

MHYA can also help kids who are going through some kind of pain, be it fear, insecurity, shame or other issues. Their troubles in school or with the law are often the result of them simply acting out. Early intervention is key.

According to Lindsey, caseworkers are employees of the Oakland County Family Court’s Family Division. In addition to providing youth and family casework services, caseworkers provide guidance and work alongside their local volunteer board of directors, subcommittees and other volunteers to develop and implement prevention programming.

MHYA itself is just one of many youth assistance groups — more than two dozen across Oakland County. Youth assistance was originally started in the 1950s by three groups of sponsors: Oakland County Circuit Court, participating cities and local school districts.

The goal was, and remains, to minimize trauma and restore self-esteem to kids who make mistakes so that they can lead better lives going forward. It’s about positive reinforcement, which can also be seen at the Youth Recognition Breakfast each spring, held in partnership between MHYA and the Madison Heights Community Coalition, where scholarships are awarded to two senior graduates.

“We try to break down the stigma that is attached to delinquency and problematic behavior,” said Megan Fuciarelli, chairperson of MHYA. “We recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Our goal is to hopefully strengthen the family bond and community relationship so that those bad choices aren’t made, but if they are made, we try to approach them in a way where we won’t further traumatize the students. That’s really what our goal is, and I think that’s the difference. We don’t come at it in a negative way — we come at it in a positive way.”

For more information, call Deb Lindsey at (248) 589-6860. To make tax-deductible donations to the group, visit mhya.org or send a check or money order to MHYA’s office at 31201 Dorchester Ave., Madison Heights, MI 48327.

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