Thursday, January 28, 2010

TWO LOCAL GROUPS WIN CASH IN FACEBBOOK COMPETITION

Posted on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM

A few weeks back, we took a look at four metro-Detroit organizations competing for a cool million, thanks to an innovative, Facebook-fueled grant giveaway ("Chasing the buck," Jan. 13). Gathering votes from Facebook friends the world over, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Friendship Circle and Sikhcess, both from West Bloomfield, and the Canton-based charity Hand by Hand all made it into the top 100, each winning $25,000.

Metro Times learned Monday that two of the four, Mosaic Youth Theatre and Friendship Circle won further grant money from the Chase Community Giving Program.

Though Mosaic Youth Theatre came up a bit short in the tally, failing to advance into the next round, the hearts and minds behind the Chase Bank grant giveaway were inspired by the amount of support behind Mosaic and found another $37,000 for the acclaimed youth theater organization. Mosaic recently purchased the former home of WTVS and WJBK in New Center, and there’s no doubt the funds will go toward renovations for their new home.

One of the top vote-getters, and one of five recipients $100,000 awards, is the Friendship Circle. Based in West Bloomfield, the Friendship Circle brings families with children who have learning, developmental or physical disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or ADHD back “into the circle” of community by pairing their children with teenage volunteers who are taught to acknowledge their friends’ place in society and make them feel included. Their facility, the Ferber Kaufman LifeTown, is a 23,000-square-foot building with an activity wing, home to eight different kinds of therapy rooms, and a 5,000-square-foot “indoor city” called the Weinberg Village, which is a place where kids with special needs can learn essential life skills. In the to-scale mock town, kids learn to use crosswalks, do basic banking, how to appropriately tip service people, go the pharmacy, pet store, beauty salon, doctor, library and more. With the help from more than 800 volunteers, Friendship Circle serves 2,500 individuals with special needs from 155 different schools.

The grand, million-dollar prize went to Invisible Children Inc., based in San Diego, Calif., a group that that tries to raise awareness of the war in Northern Uganda and educate its children.

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