Empowerment Dinner & Celebration


The Empowerment Dinner & Celebration
is our annual our gala event honoring a community member for his or her continued commitment to empowering survivors of abuse through philanthropy and activism. Attendees enjoy a cocktail reception, a world-famous Frankenmuth dinner, silent auction items, raffles, and a special awards ceremony.

 

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Underground Railroad, Inc, has named M. Christine Church, MSW, LMSW, its 2022 Empowerment Award Honoree. The annual recognition is presented to a community member who is committed to empowering survivors and eliminating abuse in Saginaw County. Church will be celebrated at the Underground Railroad’s Empowerment Dinner and Celebration on October 5, at the Bavarian Lodge and Conference Center.

Her commitment to advocate for survivors of domestic violence and for programs that serve survivors, began in 1996 when she joined the board of directors for Underground Railroad. When she joined the board, services were mostly limited to emergency services for abuse victims and their children.
During her time on the board, she served on the committee to raise funds for the present Emergency Shelter on Washington Avenue. Since 1996, programs and services continue to expand, Court Advocacy, Transitional Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Safe Place Supervised Visitation and Exchange, Resale Store, Collaboration with Girls on the Run, Pet Shelter within the Emergency Shelter, and the establishment of the Mid-Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.
The impact that domestic violence has on the emotional health of survivors, their families, and the community, led her to change careers. After working 20-years in sales and marketing, Church enrolled in the school of social work at the University of Michigan where she earned a master’s degree. Since 2003, she has worked as a therapist in the children’s program at MPA Group in Bay City.
A son, Dominic, his wife Angelica, and grandchildren, Maria, Jed, and Kayla live in Ohio. Since the war in Ukraine began, Dominic and Angelica have worked to bring cousins from Ukraine to safety. Cousins Svetlana and Liza are now safe with them at their home in Loveland, Ohio. A cousin, Polina, is a now in Saginaw and a freshman at SVSU.
Church and her husband Jim celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Both are proud to be supporters of the Underground Railroad. They are astonished at the growth of programs and services provided. They hope their efforts at informing friends, family, and colleagues about the agency’s success, stability, and efficiency, has increased understanding and support for the Underground Railroad.