Fund-filled-- Foundation supporters 'connect' at local event


By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

It was a time to "connect" with supporters as well as a chance to say "thanks" to those who have given generously to a cause that continues to gain traction in Oakland County.

Last Monday, May 10, at The Moose Preserve, more than 150 members of the local legal community turned out in a show of support for the drug court programs in Oakland County, raising upward of $10,000 for the RESTORE Foundation, the private funding arm for the adult and juvenile treatment courts.

RESTORE was founded in 2008 in an effort to ensure that the county's drug treatment programs are able to become financially independent, according to Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts, president of the Foundation's board of directors. The goal is to "reduce or eliminate the financial dependence of the county's drug court programs" on state and federal grants for their operational budgets, she indicated.

A number of Oakland County judges were on hand for the reception, including Edward Sosnick, Joan Young, and Colleen O'Brien of the drug court programs. Also in attendance were judges Nanci Grant, James Alexander, Shalina Kumar, Rudy Nichols, Leo Bowman, Martha Anderson, Daniel A. O'Brien, Mary Ellen Brennan, Cheryl Matthews, John McDonald, and Kelley Kostin. Retired Judge Gene Schnelz likewise attended, as did County Commissioners Brad Jacobson and David Potts, and Corporation Counsel Judy Cunningham.

"Judge Sosnick spoke of the importance of drug courts in breaking the cycle of addiction so the participants can stay out of jail and lead productive lives," said Judge Potts. "Ashley Loudenback, a graduate of the juvenile drug court, told the audience of her transformation. Michael Sullivan, president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation, accepted an award for OCBF's support of RESTORE."

The OCBF earlier this year awarded a $10,000 grant to RESTORE, Sullivan indicated.

Among the speakers at the event were attorneys Alan Ackerman and Ven Johnson, two key supporters of the RESTORE Foundation. Ackerman is secretary of its board of directors, while Johnson is a member of RESTORE's honorary board. They both have been instrumental in helping raise funds for the nonprofit organization.

"Alan Ackerman and Ven Johnson told the group about the need for future fund-raising to ensure the viability of the drug courts," Judge Potts said, noting that First Michigan Bank sponsored the cost of food for the event.

"The purpose of RESTORE Connection 2010 was to keep everyone connected with the organization and to explain what we do," she added.

The reception will serve as a prelude to an event scheduled for next Wednesday, May 19, titled "All Rise for Oakland County Treatment Courts." The program, beginning at 6 p.m. in Waterford Mott High School, will feature guest speaker Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly of the Michigan Supreme Court. Also scheduled to speak that evening are Oakland County Circuit Judge Joan Young and 51st District Judge Phyllis McMillen.

The May 19 program is being held in observance of National Drug Court Month.

Published: Tue, May 18, 2010