CA with tag line 

 525 N. State Street  Suite 4 Alma, MI 48801 
(989) 463-1422




"Hugs can do great amounts of good,

especially for children."


- Princess Diana -



In This Issue
Welcome Ty Warczinsky
What to Teach Kids About Strangers
CAC Update
Welcome Michelle Zombeck & CASA
What Can I Do With An Experience Bin?
Scheduled Classes
Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

About Us 


 Child Advocacy is a non-profit agency with a mission to improve the welfare of children and their families through education, training, and support for the prevention of substance abuse and child abuse and neglect.

 Our Staff
Audra Stahl 
Executive Director
Ronda Sorensen
 Parent Educator  


Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator


Ty Warczinsky 
GCSAC Coordinator
 Richelle Davis 
Prevention Educator
Heather Gardner
 CAC Coordinator
Michelle Zombeck
 CASA Coordinator 
Brenda Shafley
Office Assistant 

Board of Directors 

Wes Wickes
Youth for Christ
Vice President 
Jennifer Leppien
Michael Hetzman
Community Mental
Health - Gratiot Co.
 Kelly Piotrowski
Dept. of Human Services

Lori Apple
Comm. Mental Health - Isabella Co.
 Wendy Currie
Mid Michigan Dist. Health Dept. 
Colleen Davis
Prosecuting Attorney's Office 
Toni Davis
Women's Aid Service
Rob DuHadway
DuHadway Dance Dimensions
David Justin
 Alma School Board
Mike Morris
Detective, Gratiot Co. Sheriff's Dept. 
Kent Schulze
Dept. of Human Services
Jennifer Siefker
Tri Lakes Petroleum
Jennifer Stambaugh
DeafBlind Central CMU
 Carolyn Studley
Retired - Alma Public Schools
Kim Vetter
MI State Police
Joe Yourchock
Community Representative


Seat Safety


Did you know that at Child Advocacy we can install and provide a safety inspection for your child safety seat?  Child Advocacy has a nationally certified safety seat technician available!
To make an appointment call
 or 800-552-4489

Permanent Prescription Drop Off



Alma Police Dept.

525 E. Superior St.

Mon. - Fri. 

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Gratiot Co. Sheriff

226 E. Center


open 24 hrs./day

7 days/week


Both sites accept

prescription pills, liquids, and patches.


Lung Clinic

Lung cancer is the leading cause of deaths from cancer for both men and women. Tobacco use causes 87 percent of all deaths from lung cancer. Mid-Michigan Cancer Center is offering smoking cessation education.

If you are interested in learning more about the Lung Clinic, a free telephone screening is available by calling
(press 2).

Quick Links

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This month we have lots of exciting news to share!


We have hired two new employees, added a new program, and received the final accreditation for the CAC!  


We are so excited to announce that Child Advocacy has added the well established CASA program under it's umbrella of programs!  CASA of Gratiot County is an amazing program serving victims of child abuse and neglect in Gratiot County.  Read more about the CASA program and our new coordinator, Michelle, below.



Child Advocacy Staff


Check out our website

Welcome Ty Warczinsky

Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition



My name is Ty Warczinsky, and I am the new Gratiot County Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator.  I am honored to be in a position to get to know the caring people in this community.  During the short time I have spent working for Child Advocacy; I have already seen the concern for one another's well-being that is present in Gratiot County.  I find it to be a breath of fresh air in the "me first!" world in which we live. 


I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself.  I hail from Rochester College (Rochester Hills, MI) with Bachelor's and Master's degrees.  During my college career, I had the privilege of playing basketball for a two-time National Championship-winning team.  After I graduated, I spent the next seven years working for two nonprofit organizations in inner-city Detroit.  Life then took my family which includes my wife Brandi, my five year old son Brehm, my three year old son Lucas, and my one year old daughter Isla to rural Texas.  There we pursued training to be missionaries in Africa.  Life, however, had other plans and unexpectedly brought us back to Ithaca, Michigan of all places. 


 I am not only excited but blessed to work in a community that is doing its part in making Gratiot County an even safer and better place to live. I commit to doing my part.

What to Teach Kids About Strangers

By: Richelle Davis

Prevention Educator



Kids see strangers every day in stores, parks, and in their own neighborhoods.  Most of these strangers are nice, normal people, but a few may not be.  Parents can protect their children by teaching them about strangers and recognizing suspicious behavior.   

When in the classroom teaching Protect Yourself, I like to talk to the kids about what a stranger is.  A stranger is anyone that you have never met before.  It's common for children to think that "bad strangers" look scary, like the villains in the cartoons.  This is not only untrue, but it is dangerous for children to think this way.  Pretty strangers who look good, smell good, and talk nice can be just as dangerous as the ones that look scary, gruff, and rough.  When you talk to your child about strangers, explain that no one can tell if a stranger is nice or not just by looking at them and they need to be careful around all strangers.  

But, we don't want to teach our children that all strangers are bad.  If children need help- whether they are lost in a store, being threatened by a bully, or being followed by a stranger- the safest thing for them to do may be to ask help from a stranger.  You can make this easier for them by teaching them who a safe stranger is when they may need help.    

Next month we will look at teaching your child how to identify a safe stranger when they need help.





It's Official!!!


 by: Heather Gardner

 CAC Coordinator





The Children's Advocacy Center of Gratiot County was recently accepted as an accredited member of the National Children's Alliance! This is a wonderful accomplishment for our staff, Multidisciplinary Team and community.  Our new accreditation status recognizes that our CAC skillfully works together as part of a multidisciplinary team in the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. This coordinated effort significantly aids in the well-being of the children and families we work with. 


The Children's Advocacy Center of Gratiot County is a wonderful resource for our community that can provide expert information on child abuse as well as to serve and educate our community about the effects of child abuse. 

Welcome Michelle Zombeck and



Hello my name is Michelle Zombeck and I am proud and honored to say that I am the new CASA Coordinator for Gratiot County. 


Some of you may be wondering what is CASA?  CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).  A CASA "is a trained community volunteer appointed by a judge to speak up for the best interests of an abused, neglected or abandoned child involved in a juvenile court deprivation proceeding. Bringing urgency to a child's needs both in and out of a courtroom, CASA volunteers advocate for safety, permanence and well-being for children through independent recommendations."



I would like to take a minute to thank Jennifer Leppien who has been acting as Interim Director as well as an Advocate.  Jennifer is a great resource and has been amazing while the program has been in transition.

My goal as Coordinator is to give Advocates the support and assistance they need to succeed, to create awareness about CASA and to have enough Advocates that we have a waiting list for case assignment.


Just to share a little background information about myself.  I was born and raised in Wyoming Michigan; I attended Central Michigan University where I attained a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology and Family Studies with an Art minor. 

I started my career working with juveniles in a Non-Secure program and two different Day Treatment Centers.  I then transitioned into the Workforce Development field where I worked the past 10 years providing case management, outreach, recruitment, design and implementation of programs focusing on education as well as creating program awareness.


On October 26th CASA held a fundraising event called Trivia Night and it was a huge success!  The evening created awareness in the community, brought in around $10,000 in donations and approximately 100 people were in attendance.  We appreciate all the hard work of the volunteers who made Trivia Night possible.  Special appreciation to Kathy Greening and Jennifer Siefker for putting Trivia night together, WCFX and Angie Evans for promoting the event and everyone else who had a part in making the night a success.  We look forward to making Trivia Night an annual event.


I hope that learning more about CASA has peaked your interest.   I encourage you to contact me for further information and to answer any questions you may have. 


What Can I Do With an Experience Bin?
  by Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator

With an experience bin from our lending library, you can turn toys into tools, both indoor and outdoor activities.  For instance, with the items in the "My Body" bin, children can practice their fine motor skills with the bear dressing puzzle by buckling, zipping and snapping.  They can then look around to find clothing with zippers, snaps and buckles.  Outside you can help the children investigate bark, leaves, fruit skins, shells or other natural elements that protect living things in all sorts of weather.


The children can work on spatial relationships with the musical instruments by exploring their 5 senses while shaking, feeling and looking at the instruments.  They can follow directions such as "March around the table with the cymbals".  Outside, they can play hide and seek with the person hiding shaking an instrument as a directional clue for the seeker to follow.


This is just a couple examples of what can be done with the items in an experience bin.  This particular bin includes many more items to practice taking responsibility, vocabulary development, sorting and relating to others.  Please feel free to come in and take a look at what our lending library has to offer.

Scheduled Classes


Childcare Provider Trainings
(Parents are welcome to attend)

How do Children Grow
Saturday, November 23
10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Veteran's Memorial Library -Mt. Pleasant
Cost $25
3 training credits
Click here for a registration form.

Powerful Children:  Stories of Children and Teachers as Co-Investigators
Saturday, December 7
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
CMU - Education & Human Services Building (EHS)
Cost $30
To registers, click here.  
Registration deadline - December 1
Great Start to Quality Orientation 


Friday, December 13

8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Wilcox Non-Profit Center - Alma

$10 prepaid fee required

Visit for other classes offered.


Other Trainings/Groups 


ACT Parenting Class

Begins Monday, November 11 and meets six times

5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Wilcox Non-Profit Center - Alma

To register, please call (989) 463-1422.


Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

Tuesday, November 12

6:00 p.m.

Youth for Christ - Alma 


Please call our office at (989) 463-1422 to register or to get more information.

 Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group 
by Ronda Sorensen
Parent Educator


I know that I have mentioned this support group in the past but I want to take a few minutes to tell you a little more about the group and invite you to hear this month's speaker.  
Parenting is the most difficult and most important role any person can take on.  This is true when we are parenting children who were born to us and were raised consistently by us.  However, more and more families are taking on the role of providing a home for children who for one reason or another are unable to live in their own homes.  This can be an extremely difficult undertaking and often results in additional changes in placement for the youth due to behavioral and emotional challenges which the children experience.  
If you find yourself in this situation, we would like to offer you a source of support and encouragement as well as professional lecturers who provide guidance and information.  For instance, this month we are having a local therapist come and talk to us about Play Therapy. Many parents have expressed an interest in learning more about the use of therapy with children and its reliability with young children.  If you are providing foster or adoptive care, please join us on November 12, at the Youth for Christ Building in Alma at 6:00 p.m..  Child care is provided.



As you can see, exciting things are happening here at Child Advocacy!  We are so happy to welcome the CASA program to our agency; as well as new employees, Ty and Michelle.  We have also welcomed two new Board Members to our already impressive roster, Jennifer Siefker and Joe Yourchock.  Jennifer and Joe are making the transition from the CASA Board of Directors to the Full Child Advocacy Board of Directors.  Last, but not least, we would like to welcome all of the Advocates from CASA to our Child Advocacy Family.  The Advocates are truly the heart of the CASA program, and we are all looking forward to getting to know them.  We look forward to sharing more about the CASA program with you in the coming months. 


I would also like to say Congratulations to Heather Gardner and her entire team for the "Official" notification from the National Children's Alliance on passing accreditation.  Most of you wouldn't know this, but many Children's Advocacy Centers take around 3 years to apply and pass accreditation.  The Children's Advocacy Center of Gratiot County opened it's doors in January 2013, applied for accreditation in March, went through Site Review in August, and was officially accredited in October!  AMAZING!!!!  Not only did the team pass, but they passed with flying colors, and are truly offering the highest quality services to the children through the CAC.


For more information on any of our programs please visit our website at


Happy Thanksgiving!!   

Audra Stahl
Executive Director