HIGHLAND PARK, MI. — Even Alexis Harvey had trouble finding the right words to describe the impact that retired WDIV-Channel 4 news anchor Carmen Harlan had on the overflow crowd that attended Wednesday’s Wellness Wednesdays’ event at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center.
As facilitator of the monthly women’s support group, Harvey said she noticed that many in attendance were visibly moved to have Harlan as guest speaker because “we all grew up knowing her through the televisions in our households — and now here she was, standing with us.’’
Standing with them, indeed.
As the theme of Wednesday’s group session was “Women’s History Month,” Harlan, a member of SAY Detroit’s Board of Directors who retired from Channel 4 in 2016, spoke of her childhood and the influential women and adults in her life — her warm personality reminiscent of her three decades in broadcast news television.
As a child, Harlan, who attended Detroit Mumford and the University of Michigan, marched alongside her parents and Dr. Martin Luther King in the early 1960s in the Detroit Walk for Freedom.
Asked how she knew she had “made it’’ in broadcast news, Harlan deadpanned: “My first mortgage. I pulled into the driveway and said, ‘I’m really in it now!’’’
When a Wellness Wednesdays’ participant shouted, “Thank you for coming to Highland Park!’’ — Harlan responded: “We all know there were always two cities in Detroit — Highland Park and Hamtramck.’’
Harlan said she never takes for granted when people remark that they miss her and appreciate her years on TV.
“When I’m out in the public and get that kind of reception, when people always make me feel appreciated — you can’t fake that,’’ she said. “It means more than any awards.’’
After the event, Harvey, who is also a Community Health Worker at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic as well as the coordinator of SAY Detroit’s First Year program, beamed along with her participants, many of whom embraced the opportunity later in the program to talk about the female influencers in their life.
“It was a great chance for them to share stories about the women who impacted and shaped them,’’ Harvey said. “It was great giving them the time and space to express themselves.’’
Wellness Wednesdays’ next session is April 19 (11:30 am – 1:15 pm) at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center. The topic: “Letting it Go — Don’t Let Anger & Resentment Hold You Back’’ will feature guest speaker Dr. Shantalea Johns. Registration is required; reservations can only be secured by calling 586-345-0225.