Jewish women in Detroit have had some remarkable accomplishments over the past 100 years. We know this. So, why am I thinking about this particular topic for this week’s column? Because I had a very pleasant and interesting meeting with Michael E. Williams.
The meeting came about by happenstance on Mackinac Island in June. We were both attending the Mackinac Policy Conference, but we met on the road. I was walking one way and he was walking in the opposite direction. We saw each other’s conference badges and had a brief discussion in the middle of the road. This was my good fortune — Michael is the president and CEO of Orchards Children’s Services in Southfield, and he invited me to see his operation. Well, the work this organization performs on behalf of Michigan’s children in need is impressive.
From Michael, as well as the Orchards website, I also learned that Orchards was founded in 1962 by the Greater Detroit Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. It began as a residential center for boys. Now, its programs include adoption, foster care and family preservation for the entire state of Michigan.
Of course, once I realized the connection to the NCJW, I decided to look into the Davidson Digital Archives and see what I could find on Orchards. It was well covered in the JN: There were 349 entries related to Orchards. And, not too long ago, there was an excellent story in the March 24, 2016, issue of the JN for the birthday of the NCJW titled “125 Years of Service.” Along with a very nice photo of board members in 2013 — taken, appropriately, at the “All Kids Playground in Waterford established by NCJW” — the article cites the organization’s work with education, poverty, hunger and, well, you name the need, and these Jewish women are on the job! Orchards Children’s Services is just one example of dedication to bettering our community.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org