About First Choice
First Choice of Saginaw is a legal charitable, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Persons who receive gift cards from First Choice of Saginaw are identified by their need by the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority (SCCMHA). First Choice of Saginaw was initiated by SCCMHA in 2005 to meet this need. The two organizations have a cooperative agreement based on their mutual missions.
In 2005 the First Choice project was first initiated by the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority (SCCMHA) by the Quality of Life (QOL) Workgroup at SCCMHA. SCCMHA is the local, separate, governmental entity responsible for the management of public mental health needs for Saginaw County. The Quality Team of SCCMHA had heard many examples of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in the Saginaw community, including those who reside in foster care homes and have very little, if any, discretionary funds to spend on personal needs, after their funds support their supervised residential care and supports. Given other quality challenges faced by both residents and providers in residential settings, the QOL Workgroup was created, a committee of the SCCMHA Quality Team. The QOL workgroup focus, along with looking at other quality issues in residential settings, determined that one way to improve the quality of life for adults living in foster care homes would be to provide these individuals with even some nominal additional discretionary funds during the holiday season. The First Choice project, now known as First Choice of Saginaw, was developed to help raise these funds.
In 2007 First Choice of Saginaw became a legally separate business in Michigan, rather than a project of SCCMHA, and in 2008, First Choice of Saginaw was awarded tax exempt status by the IRS. The name of First Choice was purposely selected, because many persons had historically been given used clothing items to wear or other used goods for their personal needs, or in some other way had experienced someone else selecting or giving them needed personal belongings or commodities. SCCMHA felt strongly that it was important to emphasize that persons with disabilities also have the right and need to have their own choices be considered first. For some persons who have benefited from this project, it was the first time in their entire adult lives that they were able to go out to shop and self select needed items for themselves, such as a coat or a radio, and in the color or style that they themselves wanted. This is a simple life experience and opportunity that other adults in our community simply take for granted.