Denise Berry is the Chief Executive Officer at Family and Children's Services of Mid-Michigan, and a very dynamic woman. She is a retired Army engineer, former director of Military Student Affairs at Saginaw Valley State University, and avid athlete who competed with the U.S. Women's National Ringette team at the World Ringette Championships (WRC) in Helsinki, Finland in 2015.
Family and Children's Services of Mid-Michigan is a private, non-profit multi-service organization serving Midland since 1925. Specializing in quality mental health treatment and support services, FCS makes sure that individuals who need help can always receive it.
We sat down with Denise to discuss her favorite parts of the job and the excitement of working for Family and Children's Services.
Q: Since joining the organization in April 2018, you have had some time to settle in. Can you tell us what your day to day job entails?
A: It's my responsibility to make sure the agency has all the resources it needs to complete its mission and its vision. Our mission is to inspire hope and well-being for people of all ages by providing counseling, education and support. Our vision is for everyone to feel welcome to come as they are, and leave as they want to be.
Q: So what happens at FCS on a day-to-day basis?
A: We provide mental health counseling to individuals and families who may not be able to be served elsewhere. We are an agency that fills gaps in the community, meeting the needs of many who have previously been turned away. People have found in FCS an agency with counselors whom they can relate to, who can help them with their problems. We don't turn anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay, their presenting issue, or age. Thirty-three percent of the individuals we serve are under the age of eighteen, and another third of our clients make less than twenty thousand dollars a year.
Q: That is a very big need to fill! What kind of programming do you offer to help accomplish this?
A: We offer four main programs: general counseling, youth services, crisis services and addiction and recovery. General counseling provides therapy for many kinds of presenting concerns. This includes therapists trained in perinatal mood disorders, and a certified sex therapist who runs LGBTQ adult and teen Compass groups. We also run camp Iknowme, a camp for at-risk teens during the summer.
We have trauma-trained therapists, therapists who go into all of Midland County middle and high schools, and we also have therapists at The Rock Center for Youth Development. Our crisis services offer people the opportunity to call or walk in and be seen immediately free of charge for a crisis session. Addiction and recovery is also an important part of what we do for substance abuse issues. We also participate in several collaborations in the region that allow us to reach individuals throughout Midland County.
Q: That is a LOT of services offered! With so much to accomplish, what is something you would like folks to know?
A: I would like them to know that we do not turn anyone away, and we always figure something out. It's been our mission since 1925 to put the best interest of the client ahead of everything else. We understand the need and we are going to find a way to help the people who reach out to us.
This means that our partnership with United Way of Midland County and our fundraising efforts are imperative to the work that we do, so we can make sure these services are available to those who need them.
Q: What is your favorite part of this job?
A: It’s the people, hands down. Working with the Midland community has been a very rewarding experience. Everyone here has been so welcoming and willing to embrace each other and lend a helping hand.
Q: In turn, what would you consider to be the most difficult aspect of your work?
A: I think knowing that not everyone is comfortable reaching out for help, or is unable to. One of the most difficult concepts is the stigma still surrounding help for mental health. Often those that need it are still living in a place of shame that stops them from reaching out.
Q: You have an extremely exciting event coming up, that has been a big hit in the Midland community. Can you please tell us more about that?
A: Absolutely! We have the Great Lakes Bay Mom Prom coming up on February 23rd! The Mom Prom is a ladies night out where attendees can enjoy a dance floor, silent auction, cash bar and more. This is the fourth year, and this year's theme is "A Red Carpet Affair". It really is a time for ladies to come out, dance the night away, have the time of their lives and make a difference in other's lives. You don't have to be a mom to attend, it's a prom to help Moms! It supports pregnancy and post-pregnancy services, as well as youth services. It supports our full mission, but it really highlights that work specifically.
To learn more about Family and Children's Services of Mid-Michigan, you can visit their newly-designed website at fcs-midland.org, and order tickets for the Great Lakes Bay Mom Prom on their Facebook page.