COVID-19 Update: Veteran Unemployment Rises in November, Ascension Michigan Expands Online Mental Health and Counseling Services, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
COVID-19 Map
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Veteran Unemployment Rises in November

Although overall employment numbers increased by 245,000 in November, veterans unemployment increased to 6.3 percent during the month.

Post-9/11 veteran unemployment increased from 6.2 percent to 6.9 percent in November. Of the total 552,000 unemployed veterans ages 18 and over, 21 percent have been unemployed for less than five weeks and 79 percent have been unemployed for more than five weeks. The average length of unemployment is 23.1 weeks (the median is 16.8 weeks). The overall unemployment trend varies by different veteran demographic factors, however, some more than others.

With respect to age, the youngest post-9/11 veterans’ (ages 18-24) unemployment rate increased from 14.1 percent to 15.1 percent in November. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans’ ages 25 to 34 increased from 7.6 percent to 9.4 percent last month. Both these group of post 9/11 veterans (ages 18-24 and 25-34) were unemployed at a higher rate than their nonveteran peers of the same age group

Unemployment for female post-9/11 veterans increased from 3.4 percent to 5.7 percent in November. Similarly, the overall unemployment rate for female veterans (all cohorts) increased to 5.3 percent. By comparison, female nonveterans have a higher unemployment rate (6.0 percent) compared to female veterans.

Total male veteran unemployment saw a monthly increase in unemployment from 5.6 percent to 6.4 percent. The post-9/11 male veteran unemployment also increased from 6.7 percent to 7.1 percent in November.

African American post-9/11 veterans saw a monthly increase in unemployment to 7.7 percent. This rate is lower than the 9.8 percent unemployment rate of their nonveteran counterparts. Hispanic post-9/11 veterans experienced a monthly increase in unemployment to 13.3 percent. This rate is higher than the 8.1 percent unemployment rate of their nonveteran counterparts.

For a full report on veteran unemployment, visit here.

Ascension Michigan Expands Online Mental Health and Counseling Services

Warren-based Ascension Michigan is increasing access to mental health and counseling services, including direct-to-consumer virtual psychiatric and therapeutic services.

Now, those in need of this type of care can use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to connect with experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors online from the comfort of home or any remote location.

Psychiatrists are available for support and may prescribe and monitor medication to help control symptoms, while therapists – including psychologists and counselors – are on call to listen and help with life’s challenges.

Services are available for both adults and children with appointment availability seven days a week, and appointments can be made online or in the Ascension Online Care app 24/7. No insurance is required. These expanded services allow for more providers to be available to listen and respond to the mental and emotional health needs of anyone, anywhere.

“Ascension Online Care provides a personalized, professional and convenient way to access care,” says Dr. Tania Elliott, chief medical officer of Virtual Care at Ascension. “It’s particularly suited to mental health and counseling services, with patients having access to therapists from the privacy of their own homes. One great feature is that this service is available whether someone is already a patient or not.”

For more information, visit here or download the app from the ​App Store​ or ​Google Play​.

LTU Students Look to Solve 21st Century Problems in ‘Grand Challenge’

Students at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield will be participating in the federal “Grand Challenges of Engineering” virtual presentation program Tuesday, Dec. 8, during which students will work to solve some of the most vexing problems of the 21st century.

The student presentations will take place online from 6-8:30 p.m. The presentations are open to the public. Register to view the presentations here.

The Grand Challenges of Engineering program was developed by the National Academy of Engineering and top engineering schools to educate a new generation of engineers equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society.

The challenges are advancing personalized learning, making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, engineering better medicines, advancing health informatics, restoring and improving urban infrastructure, securing cyberspace, providing access to clean water, providing energy from fusion, preventing nuclear terrorism, managing the nitrogen cycle, developing carbon sequestration methods, and engineering the tools of scientific discovery.

Lawrence Tech is one of only two engineering schools in Michigan to implement the Grand Challenges Scholars Program — and the only university in the nation to include humanities majors in the effort, according to Jason Barrett, chair of the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Communications in LTU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“The problems of the 21st century are too big for people in any one field to solve,” Barrett says. “Solutions will come only through working across disciplines, including engineering, the sciences, entrepreneurship, and design.”

Village of Rochester Hills Welcomes Pop-up Tenants for Holidays

The Village of Rochester Hills, which features a walkable, pedestrian-friendly streetscape with a mix of notable retailers and restaurants, will welcome an array of pop-up shops to its tenant list this holiday season.

Among the pop-up tenants are:

  • Coco Ray Fashion Boutique, a women’s fashion boutique.
  • Detroit Life, city-inspired apparel and accessories for men, women, and children.
  • Go! Calendars, Toys and Games, games and toys for the whole family.
  • Rebeccas Ladies Fashion and Accessories.
  • Light and Loom, professional interior design services.
  • Upcountry Textiles, handcrafted, global-inspired home décor and accessories.

Friendship Circle Kicks Off the Holiday Season at Dakota Bread Co.

Friendship Circle, a West Bloomfield Township-based nonprofit, recently purchased Dakota Bread Co. and is launching several holiday initiatives, including kicking off its training program for adults with special needs.

The training program provides adults with special needs job training with the future goal of offering them full-time employment at the bakery.

There are four adults with special needs who train and work two three-hour shifts per week. During this time the adults help with a variety of tasks such as baking bread and various baked goods, braiding challah, measuring and preparing various ingredients, slicing bread and more. The goal of the program is to teach the group life skills (including time management, organization, customer service and more) so they’re employable going forward.

Friendship Circle is open to hiring those who go through the program at Dakota Bread Co. if/when possible and is supportive of trainees choosing to apply for full-time employment at other bakeries upon concluding the program. This first program will conclude at the end of the year and will resume with a new group of adults with special needs in 2021.

“We are dedicated to helping adults with special needs find job training opportunities and are so excited to have our first group at the bakery,” says Bassie Shemtov, co-founder of the Friendship Circle. “It’s the perfect time for this group to get hands-on experience at the bakery amid the busy holiday season. Additionally, because Friendship Circle is rooted in the Jewish faith and Dakota Bread Co. is known for its challah bread, we’re eager to share the holiday spirit through delicious bread and several specials.”

Friendship Circle is also celebrating the holidays with special offers and events, including Friendship Express, an event series taking place Dec. 7-17, which will feature the Friendship Circle team traveling to different families’ homes where there are children and adults with special needs. They’ll set up an outdoor igloo and welcome individuals to enter one at a time to get fresh doughnuts and cider to celebrate Hanukkah. The events will be socially distanced, and attendees will wear masks at all time. Those interested in attending can sign up here.

Dakota Bread Co. is offering patrons coffee beans and candles free of charge. The bakery also is selling a “sweet hugs” vanilla sugar cookie, designed by an adult with special needs, Sam Morris. Sam has been part of the Friendship Circle family for over 10 years and he’s currently an artist at the nonprofit’s Soul Studio.

Pepsi Shines Light on City with ‘Full of Detroit Soul’ Initiative

Pepsi has unveiled “Full of Detroit Soul,” the brand’s ode to the city it’s inhabited for more than eight decades.

“Full of Detroit Soul” is a multi-year community platform and creative campaign that builds on and amplifies years of ongoing support of the Detroit community, all now housed under this new initiative.

Made in collaboration with Detroit-based artists and creators, the platform celebrates the city’s history and impact on culture, while spotlighting the new class of artists influencing it today and providing ongoing and much needed support to the community it serves.

To kick-off the first phase of “Full of Detroit Soul,” Pepsi partnered with internationally known Detroit-raised R&B singer/songwriter, KEM, as well as some local muralists – Désirée Kelly, Ndubisi Okoye, and Sydney James – to create Detroit-inspired murals, which now canvas the city through “Full of Detroit Soul” billboards and wallscapes.

Throughout the month and into 2021, Detroit residents will see “Full of Detroit Soul” come to life across a multitude of ways:

  • Citywide artwork display​.
  • Musical Showcase and locals-only meet and greet with KEM.
  • “Full of Detroit Soul” Digital Hub.
  • Limited Edition Packaging​: “Full of Detroit Soul” limited edition packaging on 24-packs, 2-liter and 20-ounce bottles of Pepsi will begin to roll out at retailers across Detroit in early 2021.

For more information, visit here.