2009 Awards: Ann Heler

Ann Heler was nominated to receive a Good Neighbor equals Strong Community Award for many reasons and many activities. Those of you who know Ann could probably give a long list of her community activities….for those of you who do not know her we will give you a few.

Ann helped to co-found FANs of Ferndale, a gay/lesbian resident association that focused on social, political and community service activities. Ann served for several years as president of FANs and chaired their Hate Crimes Watch committee. Ann also served as a board member and president of Team Great Lakes, a participating group of the Gay Olympics. Along with Craig Covey, Ann has created and presented sensitivity training for the Ferndale Police. She has also been a Board member of the Midwest Aids Prevention Project.

Ann is a community representative to the City of Ferndale Special Event Committee and previously represented Ferndale on the Board of Community Media Network. Ferndale is one of the cities in Michigan that has a Human Rights Ordinance on the books thanks to the leadership Ann provided as one of the tri-chairs of this effort. Ann is an active member of Citizens for a Fair Ferndale and will not let an election for an issue or an office go by without organizing a forum to educate the electorate of Ferndale.

Right now, the project that is taking up most of Ann’s time is leading the Herculean task of opening a free clinic in Ferndale – you may have heard about FernCare – if you haven’t you soon will.

So, as you can see, Ann’s list of activities and accomplishments is impressive…and that is part of why she was nominated for a Good Neighbor award.

But what makes Ann such an asset to Ferndale is the way in which she goes about all of these projects. She talks to people and more people and more people…and she listens so sincerely to what they say to her. She includes others, appreciates their ideas, and gives everyone within a mile and a half of her the bulk of the credit. Her focus is always on how a project will benefit the people it is meant to serve…not who gets the glory.

Ever since Ann moved to Ferndale 29 years ago, she has definitely been a good neighbor and making our community stronger.