Building dedication named for him surprises community leader Moses Walker

It's not easy keeping a secret when the secret is giant letters on a building.  

Moses Walker thought he was going out for a quiet dinner with his family in late October. Instead, he was met by 200 people who showed up for a ceremony renaming the Paterson Street clinic of the Family Health Center the Moses L. Walker Building. It turned out to be a surprise as intended. 

Walker arrived at the Paterson campus with his family, who insisted he wear a blindfold. He removed it to see 200 people cheering outside the clinic. 

Moments later, workers on the roof released a tarp to reveal the new, LED-lighted sign with his name. He also received commendations from Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Congressman Fred Upton.

Keeping the renaming a secret was a real challenge, says Denise Crawford, Family Health Center’s President and CEO. 

Walker lives nearby and is an active board member. He visited the Paterson facility twice in the days before the ceremony -- days during which workers installed the building’s new sign. With a tarp and staff leading Walker to another door the surprise stayed a secret. Another time, a friend of Walker’s saw the new sign and promptly headed off to tell him. Fortunately, Crawford caught the friend in time.

“Mr. Walker has worked endlessly on behalf of Family Health Center so that our community could be stronger,”  Crawford, said at the unveiling. “We stand here today bigger and better than ever before, able to serve more, give more and impact more because of Mr. Walker and his 47 years of commitment and dedication."

The Moses L. Walker Building stands on the original site of Family Health Center. In 2012, it expanded from a 23,000-square-foot clinic to its current two-story, 75,000 square feet of 104 examination rooms, offices, pharmacy and support space. Walker, then board chair, was instrumental in raising $10.3 million to support that expansion.

Today, Family Health Center operates six clinics plus two mobile units, providing medical and dental care to underserved populations in Kalamazoo County.

Walker, a long-time member of the Family Health Center Board of Directors, helped spearhead the creation of Family Health Center in 1971—at the time a simple trailer at the current Paterson Street location. 

The rechristened Moses L. Walker Building is a state-of-the-art healthcare facility providing care to thousands of underserved patients.

During the dedication ceremony, many attendees said they felt like Walker’s adopted children, crediting him with wise counsel that influenced their lives. Crawford picked up on that theme in her remarks: “As witnessed tonight, Mr. Walker has many adopted children. But he has also adopted a community and a county. He has many times fed and clothed our children and attended to our ailing parents. He has truly walked the walk.”

Walker, a prominent community leader and champion of social justice, was visibly moved as Family Health Center surprised him Friday with a ceremony renaming its Paterson Street clinic the Moses L. Walker Building.

“To say that I’m overwhelmed would be an understatement,” Walker said. “It does bring tears to my eyes. I really appreciate the honor.

“Family Health Center has been a labor of love. It’s still a labor of love,” he added. 

Source: Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers and Associates
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