Wellness Advocates Offer a Helping Hand on the Path to a Healthy Lifestyle


Wellness Advocates Offer a Helping Hand on the Path to a Healthy Lifestyle

Like many women, Lisa Daniels put her needs last.

But after losing both parents to cancer and then watching her own health deteriorate with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, obesity and diabetes, the Midland woman knew she needed to make a change.

“I had to start treating myself at least as well as I take care of the rest of my family,” said Lisa, 44.

Lisa’s health provider referred her in September 2016 to Greater Midland’s Wellness Advocate Program. The program, which is generously funded by the Midland Area Community Foundation and the MI Health Endowment Fund, allowed Lisa to meet with a wellness coordinator to develop health goals – and then to receive one-on-one coaching, social support and accountability for a full year.

“Greater Midland is dedicated to raising the wellness bar in Midland County by providing welcoming environments to help people get active,” said Mike Schafer, Greater Midland’s wellness director.

Let’s say you’d love to try Zumba or a water aerobics class or just start walking. Greater Midland will match you up with a certified wellness coach to accompany and encourage you on this new, healthy path.

“Sometimes our wellness coaches have gone to a person’s house and walked with them around the neighborhood because they just weren’t ready to come into our fitness centers yet. That’s OK. The point is to encourage them to become more active,” Schafer said.

In the past, Lisa Daniels had taken her sons to the Community Center many times to play sports and swim. But she was too intimidated to try working out herself.

“You don’t want to be the fat lady who doesn’t know how to use the equipment. So I just didn’t go,” she said.

Thanks to the Wellness Advocate Program, though, she had a reassuring and safe coach to show her the ropes.


Lisa began walking outside two afternoons a week last fall with Sean Leahy, her new wellness coach. Eventually, they moved inside to the Community Center track and Sean showed her how to lift weights and do toning exercises.

“Sean made me feel very comfortable. He’s very encouraging, but he pushes me and makes me want to lift heavier weights or plank longer. Now it’s a habit and I really miss it when I don’t work out – and that’s something I never thought would come out of my mouth in a million years.”

The Wellness Advocate Program is free. But any fees associated with activities such as using the Community Center pool or going bowling are extra.

Greater Midland Wellness Coordinator Julie Dunsmore said more than two dozen people have already enrolled in the program.

“We never would have reached most of these people if it wasn’t for this program. They might never have made the first step. We call that a success,” Dunsmore said.

Today, Lisa works out three days a week, has dropped two clothes sizes, and plans to compete in her first 5K race this spring with her youngest son, Mason.

“This program has changed my life,” Daniels said.


Questions? Contact Julie Dunsmore at:
JDunsmore@greatermidand.org | 989-832-7937 x2295