WONder Woman Ann Heler Honored by Women Officials Network (video)

essentialTOPtempWONder Woman Ann Heler modern natural baby inprogressHonored by Women Officials Network (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 2, 2015)

With a life of activism in education, sex ed, LGBT rights, protecting senior citizens and creating a free health clinic for uninsured people in the community, Ann Heler of Ferndale was an apt choice for one of five WONder Woman Awards given by the Women Officials Network on April 30.

“She has more energy and drive and conviction for her causes than anyone I have ever met of any age. That’s incredible. Ann is a women who has truly devoted her life to education and improving the quality of life for all people in Southeast Michigan,” said Ferndale Mayor ProTem Dan Martin as he gave her introduction. She “is the soul of the community,” he said.

dinos02sidelogo3Martin could barely scratch the surface of Heler’s community works, but focused on her activism for equality. “While she was a teacher, Ann stood up for civil rights and worked with the Michigan Federation of Teachers in Detroit on GLBT issues to encourage the protection of sexual orientation in teachers’ contracts years before we could have the conversation openly like we can today.”

He also described FANS – Friends and Neighbors of Ferndale, a group of gay and lesbian residents and supporters who met for both social and social justice reasons. The group spearheaded diversity training in the police department and helped create a welcoming atmosphere in the early 1990s. “You know what happened to FANS? It’s not there anymore, because it didn’t need to be,” he said.gardenfreshAD

Heler spoke about three of her passions – creating a welcoming community, developing model curriculum for teaching sex ed to special needs students, and the creation of the FernCare Free Clinic. The clinic is approaching its fifth year thanks endless volunteering and fundraising by many people brought together by the cause.

But perhaps most Heler-like was the way she picked up on and drew out the passions of the crowd. “When I look at you, all I feel is the energy in this room…all the projects we’re involved in, all the work we’re doing… and all the work we have yet to do,” she said.

“I wish seed01_bridget and kevin deegan krauseI had enough time to go around the room and ask each of you ‘What gets you?’ If you had a moment, what would you take on and what would you do? What looks like it needs doing, and nobody’s doing it,” Heler asked. With her hands repeatedly on her hips, and as she said “Boy do we women know how to use these hips,” she showed exactly what got so many women out into the community and doing good work.

“Something sparks you,” she said. “And I bet that’s one of the reasons we’re in this room. It’s just something got you.”

FernCare Free Clinic is perhaps the most recent big project, but Heler is not done yet. She was ferncareADrecently appointed to serve on the Ferndale Housing Commission to help right an organization that had not been fairly serving its residents. She is also active in Citizens for Fair Ferndale and continues her work with school districts, advocating for youth with special needs.

Learn more about FernCare at www.ferncare.org.

Five women were added to the ranks of WONder Women, and their stories will be added over ferndale_pride_2015_02the next few days:

Anne Doyle

Sheryl Mitchell

Ann Heler

Kelly Garrett

Nanci Grant

For more on the Women Officials Network go to http://www.womenofficialsnetwork.org/.

For the 2014 WONder Women go to: http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/05/01/wonder-women-recognized-for-changing-the-world-video/

essential BOTTOM papyrus font20150502_ferndale_people_ann_heler

About the author

Oakland County Times has written 12059 articles for Oakland County Times

Contact editor@oc115.com for any questions or story ideas! Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or by chipping in through the PayPal button on the right side of the page.

Comments are closed.