Music alumna works to positively impact Flint community

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Music alumna works to positively impact Flint community

courtesy of Erin O'Neill

courtesy of Erin O'Neill

courtesy of Erin O'Neill

Trevor Tyle, Life&Arts Editor

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When Dawn Ramirez — then Dawn Hamblin — came to Oakland University in 1986, she had dreams of pursuing a career in music. Little did she know, 33 years later she’d be changing the world in a very different way.

Ramirez is the executive director of Little Lamb’s Compassionate Ministry Center in Flint, an organization that provides clothing and other necessities to families in need, free of charge. Founded in 2005, Little Lamb’s offers a plethora of household essentials for local families, including diapers, bottles, baby formula, books, toys, school supplies, school uniforms, maternity clothes and clothing for children ranging from infancy to high school age.

“We need to have a community without margins, because that’s the only way families can flourish,” Ramirez said. “Our desire is to see families with children are able to receive what they need.”

Little Lamb’s also heavily focuses on safety, particularly in regard to children. Ramirez is a certified child passenger safety technician and can perform checks to determine if families qualify for new car seats for their children. They also partner with organizations such as Cribs for Kids to supply items for their safe sleep initiative, ranging from bassinets to pajamas.

In addition to items supplied by Little Lamb’s, their mobile unit — MERV (Mobile Everything Response Vehicle) — is used to partner with first responders or help local organizations with community events. It’s also readily available for emergencies, such as family fires or foster care situations. One of the organization’s immediate goals is to expand its use of MERV to the community.

“We’ve always felt it’s not necessary to recreate the wheel,” Ramirez said. “Working with our community groups and like-minded folks has been a goal, and that’s really coming together with this mobile unit.”

Ramirez studied music at OU for several years before transferring to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. While her work at Little Lamb’s may not have been the career path she expected in college, she knows the work she is doing is making a difference.

“The first three years of my son’s life, I was a single mom,” she said. “So I knew what it was like to have need, to have to ask for something. It’s never easy for us as adults to ask for help, [… but it’s] easier for us to do it when it comes to our children.”

Much of her ability to deal with such a difficult situation came from the lessons she learned in and outside of the classrooms at OU.

“I found a lot of strength within myself brought out by the challenges, brought out by some great professors, brought out by the classes themselves,” she said. “It helped me prepare for the next part of my journey.”

Though she didn’t graduate from OU, Ramirez considers her time here to be influential in where she’s ended up.

“My degree, it has nothing to do with what I do today,” she said. “But those years that I was there [at OU] formed a lot of who I am.”

To learn more about Little Lamb’s mission and volunteer opportunities, visit their website.