Stories of Meaningful Change


Stories from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Living Room Conversations Get Personal

Alereo Wilson, 10, Monica Wilson and Anita Wilson

Monica Wilson's home is where the extended family gathers. So it was only natural for the family to meet there for a "Living Room Conversation" with staff from Church Without Walls/WOW Outreach. In the comfort of their living room, Monica's family opened up about their frustrations about the water crisis and the concerns they have for her children, ages 10, 17 and 18.

"Everyone was on the same accord, asking the same questions," said Wilson. "We learned a lot." For Monica, her sister, cousin, and mother, the living room conversation was beneficial and the meal that followed was a special treat. The family learned about new programs and services that were available to them. The double-up food bucks program, for example, allows the family to access healthy fruits and vegetables for free using their SNAP food benefit.

Conversations like this are happening across Flint under the direction of Tenesa Thompson, Administrator of WOW Outreach. The organization has connected 82 adults with needed services and is proud of the results.

• A mother, with legitimate concern, had been waiting two months for her sons' lead testing results. WOW staff called the testing facility on her behalf, and she received the results in two days.

• A single mother of four was looking for a positive environment for her teenage son. He is now enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint.

"We hold conversations over a warm, healthy meal," Thompson said. "Discussions over a tasty meal tend to be more comforting and encouraging. We help families navigate through the red tape that they may have grown leery of. We also give them a $50 VISA gift card for their time, which is greatly appreciated."

Today, Monica and her family enjoy visiting the Flint Farmers' Market where they use their double-up food benefit to buy son Alereo's favorites-broccoli, carrots, grapes and oranges. Like all mothers, Monica has big hopes and dreams for her children, and believes they will leave their mark on the world.

"I want them to see the world. I want them to be the best they can be!"