Off-Site Insights: Jambalaya and Jazz ReturnsNovember 14, 2023
MIDLAND - The "Jambalaya and Jazz" event will return to the Great Lakes Bay Region on Nov. 16 in Midland's Great Hall, with all proceeds from the evening supporting the operations of Adoption Option Inc., a local child welfare organization.
Chaired by Dow Credit Union CEO Michael Goad and his wife, Claudia Goad, the night will feature a live performance by the DJAM Band and guest soloist Gezelle Myers, along with comfort food from the region's most popular restaurants. This year, chefs from the Railside, Olvera's, and Timbers restaurants will cater the event, to name only a few.
Doors will open at 6:00 p.m., with performances expected to conclude by 8:00.
Dow Credit Union invested $5,000 as a Family Preservation Sponsor for the evening, citing a commitment to youth services as one of their pillars for community investment.
Adoption Option provides adoption services as well as resources for children in the foster care system. According to Adoption Option, the organization began offering services to help families with children in foster care over the past decade. Their professionals work with those families to "improve their parenting skills so that their children can be returned to them."
Tickets are on sale now for $75.00 and can be purchased online. Those interested in doing so or learning more about Adoption Option should visit https://adoptionoptioninc.org/jambalaya-and-jazz/.
Delois Leapheart, president of Adoption Option, recently shared her thoughts on the celebration with us. Check out the interview below!
Q: An event built around Cajun cooking and jazz music certainly stands out among the big Midland fundraising banquets; how did it come to be?
A: Ten years ago, when we began planning to add another fundraiser in November, we wanted to add something new to the landscape of fundraisers. The Great Lakes Bay region already had a dessert fundraiser. Adoption is nationally celebrated in the month of November. Courts around the state offer adoption celebrations for families finalizing their adoption in the month of November.
Since November is the beginning of the chillier temperatures, we thought people might be more interested in stopping at an event/celebration serving a “hot” dish. As a result, we led with a fancy dish that we thought would generate intrigue and warm thoughts: jambalaya. We wanted people who might not care for jambalaya to come also, so we added two more food categories: “comfort food” and “dessert”. Since most celebrations have great music, we added the “Jazz” to the title and created the event known as Jambalaya and Jazz.
Q. How has the event grown and changed since its inception?
A. The first event was held in a smaller space. We had 7 items in the silent auction from Midland and all the tickets were paper. Since that time, we moved the event to the Great Hall, we typically have more than 40 items and they are from around the state—including: an autographed Lions football, box seats for the Loons, autographed U of Michigan and MSU basketballs, sculpture and a Bob Spears photograph, an escape room adventure, gift baskets, hotel stays at locations inside and outside the Great Lakes Bay region, and more.
Q. Which of your programs will be most profoundly affected by the funds raised during the event?
Funds contributed will help all of our programs. When we provide services to families, the typical services we provide are covered by a contract. However, the needs of families trying to reunite or families trying to adopt, do not always fall within the four corners of a contract. For example, a child who needed mental health services was seeing a therapist that does not accept Medicaid. Once the adoption is final that child would be covered by their parents' insurance. To avoid a disruption in the therapy provided to the child, we used donor funds to cover the costs of therapy until the adoption is finalized. Another issue that comes up is related to glasses. Active children sometimes break their glasses more than once per year. If that happens, there is not insurance coverage provided for that additional expense. With help from donors, we make sure each child we serve can obtain the needed glasses regardless of whether it is covered by insurance.
Q. What accomplishments from the past year will Adoption Option be celebrating at the dinner?
A. Our amazing staff helped more than 1,500 children and adults collectively in 2023. We will be sharing a story about an adoption journey of two children. The family already had one child, but adding two more was a blessing.
Q. Would you please describe Adoption Option’s process for helping parents reclaim children from the foster care system?
A. When a court signs an order placing a child in foster care due to concerns of potential neglect or abuse, the goal is to provide services that will help the family regain custody of their children. When families are referred to our agency, we offer several types of services to help parents. For example, we offer parent education classes. Some of these classes are held in their home. Our staff report to the court the progress being made by the parents. The court looks at all the information provided by our agency and others, then decides whether they see sufficient evidence of progress by the parents that causes the court to believe it is safe for the child to return to their family.
Leapheart shared a number of Adoption Option's most powerful stories with us during the interview. Here is a link to just a few of them: https://adoptionoptioninc.org/blog/