MILES AND MILES OF SMILES
Norwood Jewell's Charity Donates Minivan to Ennis Center for Children
Apr 12, 2017
Story and Photos by Jonathan Powell
GRAND BLANC, Mich. – It often involves disappointments during an uncertain journey, but every foster child is just one caring adult away from finding a forever home.
Not to mention having a good adoption and foster care agency on your side to provide the love and professional support you need until the perfect match comes along.
Just ask Delrico Loyd, a union Coordinator at the UAW-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing Academy (WCMA). He’s one of thousands of former foster children whose lives turned around thanks to the Ennis Center for Children, one of Michigan’s leading advocates for displaced children.
Norwood Jewell, a UAW Vice President and Lloyd’s boss, was thinking of Loyd and other Ennis Center alumni when he recently donated a 2015 Chrysler Town and Country minivan to the center through his Making Our Children Smile charity.
“Our goal is to put smiles on children’s faces,” Jewell, director of the union’s Chrysler Department, said in a statement. “Whether it’s making them feel safe, providing food and clothing or even something as simple as giving a kid a new bike, we want to help make a difference in their life.”
The presentation took place at the Al Serra Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership in Grand Blanc, as nearly 20 representatives from the UAW and FCA US, Ennis employees and community members looked on.
Even though he was miles away at the time, it was a special moment for Loyd, a program coordinator at the WCMA in Warren, Mich. He has never forgotten his roots and the importance of giving back to the community.
A former member of the Flint., Mich., City Council, Loyd has often assisted the agency with its community outreach. He ultimately became a face and spokesperson for the center, which helped him during a pivotal period early in his life stay safe, stay in school and on a path toward a productive adulthood.
“My twin brother and I were born to a 14 year old mother who had no real support system in her life,” Loyd recalled. “She faced countless challenges and obstacles with family that subsequently led to her placement into a foster care setting.
“Being such a young mother with two boys, she was encouraged to put us up for adoption. Anyone would agree that a young lady in foster care with children would face insurmountable odds.”
Loyd credits the Ennis Center with helping the twins persevere through tough times until they were adopted at the age of 8 by the same family.
“It wasn’t easy for us while waiting for a forever home,” he said. “There were countless placements and a lot of disappointments, but finally we found a family unit that was a perfect match and the rest is history.”
Loyd’s path and passion for community service crossed with Jewell’s when he served as a UAW International Representative working for Jewell, who was Director of Flint-based UAW Region1C at the time. Both have a special place in their hearts for displaced and disadvantaged youth.
Jewell’s Making Our Children Smile program is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization funded by UAW members as well as many civic groups and companies. Every penny donated goes to help children in need.
Miguel Foster, Co-Director of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, represented Jewell at the Chrysler Town and Country presentation ceremony. Jewell could not attend because he was leading UAW contract negotiations with Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill.
Citing Jewell’s “true passion to make a difference in people’s lives,” Foster said the vehicle donation was the latest example of support for the Ennis Center provided over the last few years by Making Our Children Smile in partnership with UAW-Chrysler and UAW Region 1D Director Gerald Kariem.
“They have been able to work with Ennis Center and support their efforts and goals. So it certainly is an honor to be able to present this vehicle to such a worthwhile agency,” Foster said as he presented the minivan’s keys to Robert Ennis, Founder and President of the Ennis Center.
Ennis greeted the attendees with a huge smile and said, “Thank you to Norwood Jewell and the whole UAW family. We truly appreciate the fact that you think we are worthy, and give us something this great and meaningful. We have 348K on the other van, so we are excited to have a new one.
“When you’re a nonprofit, you make use of what you have, and you have to make things work. I have much appreciation, love and gratitude for you all.”
The center will use its new van to the fullest capacity, serving all counties in Southeast Michigan with locations in Flint, Pontiac, Port Huron and Detroit.
“I would like to thank UAW President Dennis Williams and the rest of the members on the Executive Board,” said Kariem. “Dennis encourages the directors and the officers to
get involved in community service.
“Vice President Jewell and I both share in that passion. On so many occasions, we have been able to help agencies like the Ennis Center, and it makes us all feel so good. But most importantly, it’s just the right thing to do.”
The center has been working with abused and/or neglected children for 39 years, reaching more than 3,500 children and families in crisis annually. On any given day, it helps over 300 children in its foster care program alone.
“I am super excited that we have this new vechicle to transport our children to different programs,” said Sherry Houston, the center’s Director of Development. “It will allow us to take them to doctors’ appointments, afterschool programs, special events and other activities.
“In the summer, we have a huge picnic where all of our locations bring the kids and come together and play. Sometimes we might have families that have six or seven kids who have been split up between the locations. These gatherings allow these siblings to come together and reacquaint themselves.”
Houston, who has been with Ennis for 14 years, said the center offers several opportunities besides making monetary or in-kind donations to support its mission. They include volunteering for events or becoming foster or adoptive parents.
“We are always looking for individuals that have a passion for helping children and providing a safe and nurturing home in which to help raise a child,” she said. “Our children have a variety of needs, but like any child, they just want to be loved. Finding loving and caring homes is one of our biggest needs.”
For more information about the Ennis Center for Children or how to become involved in supporting its programs, please contact Sherry Houston, Director of Development, at 810.233.4031 or visit www.enniscenter.org
Photo above story: From left, UAW-Chrysler NTC Co-Director Miguel Foster, Ennis Center Founder Robert Ennis and UAW Chrysler Department Assistant Director Shane Dawes.