Heart of Detroit: Ann Heler

Published On: Jul 27 2012 09:54:33 AM EDT
FERNDALE, Mich. -

You’d never know Ann Heler was retired. She’s a ball of community energy, and her stirring conscience helped form FernCare, a free medical clinic for those without health insurance.

Heler and a group of friends, none of which had any medical experience, started the clinic five years ago.

The clinic treats adults from 19 through 64 with no medical insurance. And outside of one paid employee, the staff does it from the heart.

“Every other soul, physicians, phlebotomists, pharmacists, docs, nurses, medical assistants, benefits counselors, every single including the board, every body else is a volunteer,” Heler said.

Funding for the clinic comes from the energy of Heler and her peers.
“We don’t get state money, we don’t get federal money. We get money by the old fashion word hustle,” she said.

Now in her 70s, Heler is no stranger to getting involved.  She helped form FANS, a community group that fought hate crimes alongside the Ferndale police. She sits on several other boards.

“I just ask them what is their project. You know I think, what’s there, everybody’s got a project…I think everybody has a project in them,” she said.

Ferndale in recent years has become known as a welcoming place. A good amount of that comes from people like Ann who never let retirement or naysayers slow them down. 

Putting the “community” in “community activist,”  Ann Heler is opening doors in the heart of Detroit.