CA with tag line 

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

Where Life Begins
Love Never Ends
In This Issue
Identifying Safe Strangers
How Child Abuse Cases are Investigated
Laura's Story
New Lending Library Location
Scheduled Classes
Holiday Hours

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

Donalynn Ingersoll
Principal, Luce Rd. Elementary  
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

Join Our Mailing List



Think positive - less than two months until the first day of Spring!


Our annual 5K fundraiser is on May 10.  We enjoy encouraging people to exercise to stay healthy while raising funds to help prevent child abuse and neglect in Gratiot County.  With a superhero theme this year, what superhero are you going to be? There will be prizes for best costume!


Thank you to all of you who braved the storm on January 25th for our 4th annual Family Expo.  Despite the weather it was a wonderful day and we had a great turnout.  Check out pictures from the event on our Facebook Page, Child Advocacy - Gratiot County.   


This month, we offer informative articles about what is happening within our programs.  It is amazing how diverse our programs are and what our office has to offer Gratiot County!



Child Advocacy Staff


Check out our website



by Ty Warczinsky

GCSAC Coordinator 


First off, I want to address the tragedy that struck our community a few weeks ago: the passing of Sean Murawske. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, Alma College, and the entire Harbor Beach Community. 


Many negative influences are lurking in our world today.  I think it seems as if there is much more negative than positive at work because the negativity is the subject of most of the media's attention, and we are fed devastating news stories on a daily basis.  I would like to shine some light on a young man that I feel deserves light shone upon him, a rapper named Macklemore.  This is a man whose lyrics speak out against hate, consumerism, and addiction. Through his lyrics, Macklemore allows us to share in his story of pain, sorrow, disgrace, recovery, and relapse.  He speaks the truth about the dangers of drugs and alcohol by medium of music.  

Click here for "Otherside" lyrics 


Macklemore became a poster boy for a successful recovery from drugs and alcohol.  The exemplary part of his story was that it focused on recovery as a journey and not just the completion of an obstacle.  Because those who have struggled with addiction are well aware that recovery and sobriety are not items on an agenda that receive a check mark when completed; they are a daily battle and journey that one fights over and over again. Macklemore is vulnerable to a new depth in his song "Starting Over" because of his transparency in the shameful truth that he relapsed after writing his inspirational hit "Otherside." 


Macklemore influenced countless people struggling in the grips of addiction with his song "Otherside." He could have used his success to easily mask his relapse, but instead he chose to write about the truth many addicts know all too well-the risk of relapse. I believe Macklemore is on to something...something we need to grab ahold of.  You see, society pressures us to keep our shameful secrets hidden and in darkness.  


Many of us live with the nagging fear that if the world knew our secrets that we would be left alone and rejected.  When in truth, change happens when we share without fear or shame.  We will change our community by being transparent and honest. If one person steps forward to share his/her story, it's in those times that light shines in the dark corners of the world.  This is when change can happen because one person's bravery can help overcome another person's fear and that person can then influence another.  Rick Patino articulates this truth well, "Lying makes a problem a part of the future; truth makes a problem a part of the past." When we allow truth the spotlight is when we can truly help prevent others from falling for the age old appeal of drugs and alcohol.

Identifying Safe Strangers

By: Richelle Davis

Prevention Educator


When talking to your child about strangers, make sure to teach them how to identify safe strangers.  There may come a time when your child needs help and does not know anyone around them.  Maybe they are in the store, at McDonald's, or playing at the park and need help.  It is important to teach your child how to identify who to go to for assistance.  Safe strangers are people your child can ask for help when they need it.  Police officers and firefighters are two examples of very recognizable safe strangers, but you may not always see them around, so who can you go to?  


If your child is in a store or restaurant, teach your child to look for people who are working there.  People who are wearing a uniform and/or name tag, or those who are working at the cash register or behind the counter would be considered safe.  In a time of emergency, your child could go to them for help.  Maybe your child is playing at the park and there are no employees to look for.  In that case, in Protect Yourself, I teach children to look for a mom/dad with children. This would be someone you could consider safe to go to if you need help.  Be sure to emphasize that whenever possible, children should go to a public place to seek help.


You can help your child identify who safe strangers are by pointing them out in your neighborhood.  If you are in a restaurant, ask your child who they would go to for help.  While playing at the park, have your child look around and identify who the safe strangers around them are.  Teaching our children about strangers and discussing these situations with them, empowers our children to be confident in knowing what to do in an emergency situation. 



Business Improvement Award

By: Heather Gardner

CAC Coordinator




Child Advocacy is excited to announce that we received a 2013 Business Improvement Award from the Alma Action Association for the addition of our Children's Advocacy Center.  We were presented the award at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast on January 24th.  It was wonderful to receive the award and to have the large diverse group of attendees hear a brief description of The Children's Advocacy Center and our recent accreditation through the National Children's Alliance.


As a non-profit organization it was an honor to be included with a large list of businesses in Gratiot County that are also growing.  It is with the continued support of our community and many collaborations that has afforded us to opportunity to grow and provide important quality programs to the children and families of Gratiot County.


 Evidence of Effectiveness

Submitted By Michelle Zombeck

CASA Coordinator



Since its creation by a family court judge in Seattle, Court Appointed Special Advocates has become one of the most effective programs of its kind.  Today there are almost 1,000 CASA programs around the country.  It is a unique blend of private support, public need and the kind of people power that comes from 70,000 volunteers all committed to the rights of every child in foster care and child welfare system.


Key Outcomes for the CASA Model


A child with a CASA volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home:

  • More likely to be adopted
  • Half as likely to re-enter foster care
  • Substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
  • More likely to have a plan for permanency

 Children with CASA volunteers get more help while in the system...

  • More services are ordered for children

 ...and are more likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence.

  • Volunteers spend significantly more time with the child than a paid guardian ad litem.

 Child with CASA volunteers spend less time in foster care...

  • "It is quite remarkable that children without CASA involvement are spending an average of over eight months longer in care, compared to children having CASA involvement."

 ...and are less likely to be bounced home to home.

  • CASA volunteers improve representation of children
  • Reduce the time needed by lawyers
  • More likely than paid lawyers to file written reports
  • For each of 9 duties, judges rated CASA volunteers more highly than attorneys
  • Highly effective in having their recommendations adopted by the court

Children with CASA volunteers do better in school...

  • More likely to pass all courses
  • Less likely to have poor conduct in school
  • Less likely to be expelled

 ...and score better on nine protective factors

  • Neighborhood resources, interested adults, sense of acceptance, controls against deviant behavior, models of conventional behavior, positive attitude towards the future, valuing achievement, ability to work with others and ability to work out conflicts.

Even though we are making great strides in this national movement, we still are a long way off of achieving our goal of having a CASA volunteer for every child in need.  To find out how you can do more, please contact Michelle Zombeck at 989-463-1422 or


Article obtained from the National CASA Association web-site

New Lending Library Site
By Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator
Great News!  There are now lending library items available at Rosebush Elementary.  They are located in the Great Start Collaborative office and it will be open Monday through Friday 8:30-4:00, unless Melissa is gone to a meeting.
Please either call Melissa Maeder in advance at 989-433-2962 or email her at to make sure she is in her office so you are not making a wasted trip. 

Scheduled Classes



Surviving your Adolescents

a parenting class for Parents of Teens

The class will meet for six sessions.

Please call (989) 463-1422 if you are interested in attending.   


Other Trainings/Groups 


Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

Tuesday, February 11

6:00 p.m.

Youth for Christ - Alma 


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

 Child Advocacy Superhero 5K

Want to try something new this year?
 You are a loyal 5K participate?
Please mark your calendar for our annual 5K race!

Saturday, May 10 at 9:00 a.m.

 Alma Armory, 710 N. State St.

Online registration is now available at

Registration forms are available at
 It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Board Member, Kent Schulze, this month.  Kent will be taking over as the Director of DHS in Clinton and Eaton Counties.   Kent has been a long time Board Member and played an integral role in the development of the Children's Advocacy Center of Gratiot County.

Kent, our Board of Directors and Staff wish you all the best!  Thank you for your service to Child Advocacy!

We hope you enjoyed our newsletter this month.  Happy Valentines Day! 
Audra Stahl
Executive Director