Organization makes their mark

The BHEA (Bloomfield Hills Education Association) operates a pantry for families in need, who are part of the Bloomfield District, to receive food and other needed items in order to support themselves. 


“BHEA is an association made up of all the teachers, counselors, and social workers in the district, which is about four hundred and twenty people,” said BHEA vice president and social studies teacher Philip Laliberte.


As an organization, the BHEA decided to start a food pantry to assist those in need throughout the district.  


“Former BHEA President, Grat Dalton, started the pantry back in 2012. He started it because he saw a need and knew that the educators in this district are always looking for ways to support this school community,” said Mary Blair, president of the BHEA.


Families can go to the pantry and fill boxes with whatever they need, or social workers can fill the boxes and deliver it to families, depending on what they prefer. In order to stock the pantry, a few events are held each year where staff members are encouraged to bring donations. However, anyone is welcome to donate at any time. For instance, Munchkin Mash, held on October 24 at BHHS, was a Student Leadership sponsored event for staff members’ kids to participate in Halloween activities. There was no cost for those that attended, but members of Student Leadership did ask that families brought a donation to the food pantry. 


While the pantry supplies food, it also supplies basic necessities to fit the needs of the families.


“We give food and various toiletries including toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, shampoo, all kinds of things like that,” said Laliberte.


As a team, the BHEA has many goals and are planning on making the pantry an even bigger focus. 


“We’ve helped a couple dozen families so far, and we’ve even expanded. We now offer it to people in need who live in Birmingham, because we have a close connection with their teacher association. The latest decision that we are looking into moving the pantry to the SOMEA office, which is the Southern Oakland County Michigan Education Association office,” said Laliberte.


As the pantry expands, the BHEA hopes to continue to make an impact on the community.


“We are fortunate enough that the man who started this pantry, Grat Dalton, is now in a position with the MEA that directly assists and impacts Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, and Royal Oak.  The union presidents from those two school districts love our pantry and also wanted to replicate the idea. We realized that one large pantry housed in our Lathrup Village MEA office would serve the communities much better than three separate smaller pantries. This way, we are serving three communities instead of one and our impact is so much greater,” said Blair.


The association’s ultimate goal is to make it the best program for every family in need.


“Our goal is to make this pantry as far-reaching as possible.  No family should go hungry in our community,” said Blair. “No family should have to make tough choices between food, medicine, and hygiene products. We have too many generous and loving people who want to help and consistently will step up to the plate and lend a hand.”