Community Events: Touch a Truck

The Churchill HS Interact club with the assistance of the Livonia AM Rotary Club, is hosting the annual Touch A Truck, which is a hands-on family event that provides a unique opportunity for children and adults alike to explore vehicles of all types including public service, emergency, utility, construction, landscaping, transportation, delivery, and just plain awesome – all in one place. 

Kids can blast horns and sirens, climb onto construction equipment, and learn how the equipment operates, all up close and hands-on. Children are encouraged to touch their favorite vehicles, get behind the wheel, and meet the people who help to build, protect and serve our community.


All donated proceeds and sponsorships go to support local organizations, such as our Livonia Police and Fire, the LPS Education Foundation, and many others. 

While Touch a Truck is a completely free event, we do ask for a $3.00 parking donation. These proceeds directly help local organizations that serve our community on a daily basis.

Date: Saturday, August 27, 2022

Time: 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM

Location: Greenmead Historic Village Special Event Parking

Address: 20501 Newburgh Rd, Livonia, MI 48152

Parking Fee: $3.00 donation requested

In consideration of visitors who are sensitive to loud noises, Touch a Truck offers “quiet time” from 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM. During those two hours, we will ask participants to refrain from sounding horns, sirens, and the like.

Download the event flyer by clicking here.

Suicide Prevention QPR Training

Suicide is the second leading cause of death-starting with children at age 10 all the way up to adults age 33. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, aids, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. These were some of Growth Works’ CEO Nick Griswold’s opening remarks for the Suicide Prevention QPR Training, hosted by Growth Works.

Growth Works is a member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition that was started through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) initiated by St. Mary Mercy, trinity Health Livonia in 2015. This resulted in a suicide prevention forum developed through a collaboration of stakeholders in the seven participating school districts and community organizations. Through this collaborative effort, it was determined that for the work of this committee to truly gain traction, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator would be needed to allow them to meet their mission and achieve the goal of zero completed youth suicide within the districts served. In 2021 the Coalition was awarded a grant from the Flynn Foundation to support the work of the Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Syndee Malek was hired in 2022 to spearhead this important work.

The coalition has been hard at work assessing the existing programs and services in our local school districts as well as seeking out new resources and tools. This included QPR training, Question Persuade Refer, for all members of the educational staff of the seven Western Wayne School Districts involved in the coalition. The purpose of this training is to help save lives and ensure that all members of the educational team can recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone for help.

The first event in brining QPR training to the educational staff took place on June 27th at the Inn at St. John’s. Participants spent the morning with two keynote speakers, Kevin Fischer Executive Director of NAMI Michigan and Growth Works’ Board Member and Gail Neely Kolbeck from Every Monday Matters. The event hosted more than 250 attendees and 171 individuals were trained as QPR Gatekeepers. QPR Gatekeeper training is good for three years; trainers need to recertify after three years as well. We captured a lot of great feedback and comments from participants including, “I feel more confident in talking with people about suicide and asking directly if they are having suicidal thoughts.” “Relationships are the most important way to help build trust for students to feel comfortable to open up to you as an adult.” ”I received useful resources to someone to and I feel more comfortable asking the question about suicide.” These are just a few out the hundreds of comments we received that show an overwhelming need for more education and training like this one.

This incredible event was made possible by the generous support of our community sponsors including Healthy Livonia, Community Financial, Gordon Advisors, Schoolcraft College, Michigan Educational Credit Union, South Redford School District and the Kiwanis Club of Plymouth. We would also like to thank all of the participants who joined us for this event, who will be taking life saving resources back to their organizations, and they include Clarenceville, Livonia, Redford Union, Taylor, Wayne RESA, Northville, Plymouth-Canton, South Redford, Wayne Westland, Growth Works and other community guests.

We will be hosting another Suicide Prevention QPR Training Day, November 8th. If you are interested in more information or sponsoring this event, contact Laura Reiners at Thank you for your support in helping us reach our goal of zero completed youth suicides within the seven Western Wayne School Districts.

Employee Recognition Spotlight: Emily & Brian

Working in the human services sector is not only challenging, but can also be some of the most rewarding. Our staff are regularly assisting youth, individuals and families when they are at the very worst moments in their lives, and they bring compassionate, hope and love no matter what their circumstances might be.

That is why Growth Works started an Employee Recognition Program to recognize staff who went above and beyond to live out the Growth Works’ values in their interactions with our fellow staff members and our clients. Our staff members live out the values of Passionate Dedication, Service to Others, Humility and Commitment to Community on a daily basis. Our goal for this program has been to recognize those individuals for their heartfelt work, and it also sets a high standard for the type of individuals who carry out our work here at Growth Works. We are caring for the body, mind and soul of our clients, and we take that work seriously.

We want to share with you two employees who were recognized by their peers for living out the Growth Works values; Brian Theisen and Emily Loar.

Emily embodies all of the Growth Works values and mission in her daily life and work.  She is dedicated to this organization and to her coworkers, and her passion has helped shape our department into what it is today.  She practices service to others through being a supportive person to our department, and although she does not typically have direct contact with clients she also serves them by teaching and guiding the coaches, as well as answering questions from us (at all hours of the day/night) to ensure we are providing quality client care.  She shows her commitment to the community by volunteering for community outreach events and connecting with the clientele we serve.  Despite her knowledge and experience she remains humble.  She takes advantage of new training opportunities, and asks for guidance when she needs it, and remains teachable.  Emily is an asset to our department.  Since returning to in-person work, I have watched her work tirelessly to sort through, fix, and finalize all of the paperwork from the time we were working virtually, on top of keeping up with her regular daily commitments.  Emily leads us through her example and compassionate guidance. 

Emily Loar

I would like to recognize Emily Loar as employee of the month. Emily demonstrates all growth works values. She has turned the Peer Coaching database around so that its efficient and gives correct data for our client care needs.  She spend many hours explaining to each coach how to use the system the right way and continues to help any of us at a drop of a hat. She listens to us when we have difficult times and is willing to help at any time. I personally have asked her for help with certain cases and she was able to help me assist a client in the best way possible. Also Emily is a daily inspiration her who personal recovery journey is so amazing and she has been open with me to share her story which give me strength for  my own continued recovery journey. I also have seen her sign up to assist in for things for the community outreach part of our job. In conclusion I just think Emily is a great assist to our company and deserves to be recognized for it.  

Brian takes his position seriously and invests personal energy into meeting his clients where they are at. At the same time, he demonstrates humility and teachability, seeking feedback from coworkers. I regularly hear impassioned stories from him about where certain clients are at. I really value my relationship with him, it helps to keep me grounded. If Brian is awarded employee of the month, I anticipate that a new faith in the Growth Works way will well up in me; an eternal spring to bestow upon those with whom I work.

Brian Theisen

Brian takes his position seriously and invests personal energy into meeting his clients where they are at. At the same time, he demonstrates humility and teachability, seeking feedback from coworkers. I regularly hear impassioned stories from him about where certain clients are at. I really value my relationship with him, it helps to keep me grounded. If Brian is awarded employee of the month, I anticipate that a new faith in the Growth Works way will well up in me; an eternal spring to bestow upon those with whom I work.

Together for Mental Health

Growth Works is a community organization, and we see it as our responsibility to respond to the needs of the communities we serve. It’s no secret that there is a connection between Mental Health and Substance, and that there has been an increasing need for Mental Health Services over the past few years. So while many still see Growth Works as a substance use treatment organization, we see our mission as much great than that.

May was Mental Health Awareness Month and Growth Works partnered with several of our local communities to host two events, Together for Mental Health, to share information and resources regarding Mental Health with our community. Our first event was hosted at the Livonia Rec Center and featured Mayor of Livonia, Maureen Brosnan, Livonia City Councilman Rob Donovic, Livonia Police Sergeant Scarantino, Livonia Public Schools Director of Student Services, Jennifer Taiariol and Growth Works, Western Wayne CMO/YAP-Director Jennifer Sibel. Each of these panelists had the opportunity to address the audience to share their perspectives on the need for Mental Health services across their environments as well as sharing how far we have come and the progress we have made to address these challenges.

The second event in our two part series took place at the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Center, PARC and featured City of Plymouth Mayor Nick Moroz, Canton Township Director of Public Safety and Police Chief Chad Baugh, Livonia City Councilman, Rob Donovic, Plymouth Canton Schools Psychologist, Kathy Grodus, and Growth Works, Community Relations Director Laura Reiners. Mayor Nick Moros stated, “A mental health crisis can happen to anybody and they can come at any time…Dispelling the stigma means saying it’s okay to not be okay, but it also means making it possible for community providers to provide resources and connect with those who need it most.” Bringing these community leaders together to share their struggles, their personal stories and their message of hope made for a powerful event that set the wheels in motion for even greater change here in our community. Click here to see the video of our panel and discussion at the PARC. Growth Works is grateful for the support and partnerships we share with many local municipalities, public safety departments, school districts, health care systems, nonprofits, human service organizations and many other great resources here in Southeast Michigan. Our mission is to help individuals and families restore hope, embrace change and improve their lives and this work would not be possible without our support system of partners and friends. We want to thank all of our community partners who played a role in bringing this important conversation to our community. And we look forward to sharing more about our work in the communities we serve.