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Tic With It
Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.
Detroit-East Michigan Chapter
July, 2000
Art's last article as president.

Final Report...From the Past-President's Desk
As I conclude my term as president, I have been asked to review the major changes in our Chapter's services and directions during the past several years. The transition actually began in 1996. As Administrative Director for President Rose Wood, my first assignment was to address the formation of a true advisory board composed of representatives from medicine and education. It would require 15 months and, when completed, include 3 doctors, 3 educators, 1 attorney and an organization/finance specialist. By then Rose had completed her term and was writing a book and moving to Oklahoma, and I was left holding the gavel.

So we begin as the Chapter existed in June, 1996. The Chapter hotline dictated our activities each month with numerous calls for assistance, referrals and requests for information from new TS parents. We had been reacting to, and addressing these needs since our inception in 1974, through the support group at Providence Hospital, serving the entire Detroit area.

We formally recognized that these calls for help were just the tip of the iceberg. In 1996, we launched plans to become more pro-active. The organization's direction, since then, has been to expand beyond the needs of parent of TS children. We began, immediately, by extending support from nine meetings a year to 12, adding meetings in July, August and December. Then we added recreational outings for TS kids and families in July and August. Then we planned the expansion of the number of support groups and areas served:

The biggest change was in concept. In 1997, we realized we could not just keep adding services to the over-taxed volunteers and Chapter structure. Therefore, we reorganized services, and all committee activities into three areas: Support, Education and Public Awareness. The support area was to coordinate the support and telephone counseling of new TS families. Education was to deal with school needs and implement education of doctors, teachers, etc. Public Awareness was just that, and activity designed to increase the awareness of TS in the general public. This simple concept seemed to make it easier for members to volunteer as they could more clearly see the effort required in a specific area, and how their efforts would fit in. It also helped that when they volunteered in one area they weren't "stuck" helping with everything. The net result was a significant increase in the number of volunteers assisting the overall Chapter effort.

Of course expenses increase in direct proportion to the number of services, activity areas and projects. In the midst of new support groups, expansion from Detroit area to all of East Michigan, and planning seminars, we had to overhaul and increase our total fund-raising potential, and implement better money management. This required a Ways and Means committee.

Our annual Bowl-A-Thon grew from one alley in 1996 to 6 locations in 2000, quadrupling the net proceeds. Our fall auction moved from the auditorium at Providence Hospital to a banquet hall in 1998, to a French restaurant in 1999 and on October 15 the TSA Charity Auction will be held at the elegant Whitney Restaurant, one of Detroit's premier facilities. Our sales efforts have expanded from Entertainment Books to include educational books about TS, available at our support groups. Asset management procedures were implemented, including bulk mailing of the newsletters. We have been very lucky in the area of donor solicitation. Our pleas for office equipment resulted in two IBM compatible computers. The bowling brochures are donated by a corporate sponsor. Our popular TS Day at Four Bears Waterpark is totally complimentary. The pig for our pig roast/luau/picnic is being donated by Serra Brothers Catering. It proves the old adage, the harder (and smarter) we work, the luckier we get.

The education committee focused on the need to increase the level of technical awareness among the professionals serving TS children and adults, the medical and educational communities. This direction and concentration has resulted in: 1998 A medical symposium on TS at Beaumont Hospital; for 120 doctors 1998 and beyond. Presentations to CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) the largest gathering of special educators in the state each year. Our annual workshops are S.R.O. 2000 The Educators/Parents Conference for 220 teachers and parents. And plans for regular educational seminars for related professionals in the future.

In the public awareness area, we have developed and produced a brochure explaining the disorder, as well as the services of the TS Association. This brochure is being distributed to TS related doctor's waiting rooms during National TS Awareness Month. This year we begin sending them to schools and other health related agencies. Another awareness vehicle is a teacher/school awards program for spring 2001. It will serve to publicly recognize those teachers/schools that are doing a good job serving the need of TS children., accompanied by publicity in local papers.

Few of these advances could have been realized without the establishment of the professional advisory board. More than advisors, these professionals, once committed to advising our organization, have opened doors for the Association that we have been knocking on for years. I wish to formally recognize them, as a body and as individuals, for they are the very basis of our most significant accomplishments in the past three years.

These individuals have earned the gratitude of all Tourette families in Michigan. I also thank my officers and the individuals who have served this growing Chapter these past three years. Thank you to everyone, from the elected and appointed officers to the volunteers on committees that planned and operated seminars or simply brought cookies to support group meetings, or licked stamps for the newsletter. They know who they are and are too numerous to mention. In closing, I extend best wishes to our president, Michelle Bumbalough and the new officers on the board of directors. I would encourage all TS families to get involved, volunteer, give them a hand. They are working for you to create a better world for your TS child and all adults with TS. They need your assistance.

Art Abbott



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