Oakwood volunteer earns inaugural Apple Award

When the Wayne-Westland Community School District faced the difficult decision to close several schools, a popular and often-used community resource faced an uncertain future.

The school-based clinic at Lincoln-Jefferson Elementary school served an economically distressed area of the community, providing medical and counseling services many nearby residents wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Staffed by the Oakwood Healthcare System, it relied on space at the school to serve patients—and Cheryl Welday, a long-time community volunteer, didn’t want to see it go away.

Welday led a fund-raising effort that has since brought in more than $60,000 to help fund the renovations to move the clinic to nearby Adams Upper Elementary School, where it can continue to serve the same clientele. For her efforts, Welday was honored with the inaugural Apple Award from the School Community Health Alliance (SCHA).

“She is a worthy recipient of this honor,” said Lisa Rutledge, Corporate Director of Community Outreach for Oakwood Healthcare. “She has been an invaluable part of this project. Her tireless efforts will help bring healthcare services to many students and families that need it.”

The Apple Award was created this year to recognize who shows dedicated support for a Child and Adolescent Health Center (CAHC). Welday received the award at the annual SCHA meeting in Mount Pleasant, MI, in front of more than 100 staff members from CAHCs across the state.

“The School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan is proud to recognize Cheryl Welday for her dedication to the field of school-based health care,” said Michele Strasz, director of the SCHA-MI. “She has tirelessly advocated time and effort to assure access to high quality healthcare in school-based and linked health centers in her community. She saw the benefit first hand of school-based health care on the health and educational achievement of the students her community serves.”

A CAHC is like a doctor’s office in the school. They provide students with quality primary and mental health services in a safe, easily accessible location on or near a school campus. There are nearly 70 state-funded centers and programs in Michigan that serve more than 200,000 children of all ages in all different types of settings. They are strategically located in medically underserved communities where access to health care for youth is an issue.

Greg Baracy, superintendent of the Wayne-Westland Community School District, said the clinic has provided a vital service in the community.

“It’s been a great partnership,” he said.

For more information on the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan, visit www.scha-mi.org.