c. Along with a small collection of toys and books, a small visitation room now boasts a cityscape scene with green fields and open sky in the distance. A plan carries a Blue Cross Complete flag behind it.

New Murals Create Welcoming Space for Flint-Area Foster Children

Regardless of how or why a child enters foster care, children who do have experienced loss and confusion. They’ve had to say goodbye to their home, family members they feel devoted to and a sense of control over their lives.

“All of those kids – every single one of them who comes through our doors – have been traumatized,” said Vicky Schultz, CEO, Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties. The Flint-area Health and Human Services agency is currently serving 109 children in foster care.

Blue Cross Complete and Catholic Charities employees unveiled the new murals on Friday, March 6 during a special dedication.

Blue Cross Complete and Catholic Charities employees unveiled the new murals on Friday, March 6 during a special dedication. Pictured from left are: Stephanie Rowden, Community Health Navigator, Blue Cross Complete; Alesha Keelean, Community Outreach Supervisor, Blue Cross Complete; Laura Mutz, Communications & Marketing Director, Blue Cross Complete; Julie Aronica, Strategic Initiatives Director, Blue Cross Complete; Paul Loffreda, Interim Market President, Blue Cross Complete; Vicky Schultz, CEO, Catholic Charities; Melissa Hickman, Foster Care Specialist, Catholic Charities; Theresa Hurley, Development Director, Catholic Charities.

Every day, children show up at Catholic Charities’ Children’s Center to attend court-ordered visitations with their biological family members. The rooms those visits take place in were recently transformed with the help of local artist Carol Severn; whose work can also be seen at the Flint Children’s Museum. The whimsical murals she created for the visitation rooms were commissioned by Blue Cross Complete of Michigan.

“I think they look wonderful,” said Theresa Hurley, Director of Fund Development, Catholic Charities, who envisions the murals serving as a conversation starter for kids and their family members. “Creating an inviting space is one way to make sure children view the visits as a happy and comfortable experience,” she explained.

The revamp is a visible example of the type of atmosphere staff work to create in every interaction with clients served through a variety of programming offered by Catholic Charities.

“We often get feedback from our clients that it feels like family here,” Schultz said, “and that is what we strive for. We want everyone that walks through our doors to know that they are welcome, safe and have the support they need to get through whatever they are going through.”

In addition to Foster Care services, Catholic Charities serves Flint residents through:

  • Services for the homeless, including laundry and shower facilities, a Warming Center during the winter months and three soup kitchen locations.
  • Help with basic needs through a Community Closet and water filling station. When funding is available, the organization also helps people facing eviction or utility shutoffs.
  • Counseling services help children, adolescents, individuals and families experiencing emotional or mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, grief and loss, divorce, anger management, family crisis, domestic violence, parenting and pregnancy and substance use addiction.
  • Offender Success programming helps recently incarcerated individuals returning to the community successfully re-enter by providing assistance with housing, employment and life coaching to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.
  • Prevention and Education efforts are focused on effective parenting, helping young people avoid substance use and providing seniors with opportunities for connection.
  • Services for children, including medical transportation, summer camps and the Mr. Gaines Garden Project.

“Blue Cross Complete is honored to team up with Catholic Charities because we share their commitment to supporting the basic needs of individuals and families on their pathway to health and well-being,” said Paul Loffreda, interim market president, Blue Cross Complete. “Murals and the sense of joy they provide have more to do with health than you might think. At Blue Cross Complete, we put a lot of emphasis on social determinants of health, things in life like stable housing, access to nutritious food, even stress.”

“These things are not medical, but they can have a profound impact on an individual’s health,” Loffreda continued. “We work to remove these barriers to well-being, and we do that in part by partnering with organizations like Catholic Charities who understand the criticality and the need. We hope these murals will provide comfort and joy to families in Flint as they navigate the valuable but sometimes stressful systems of adoption and foster care.”

To learn more about Catholic Charities, visit their website. Check out the new murals below:

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