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Communicative Disorders’ McMicken Gets Friendship Award

Published: June 1, 2009

Betty McMicken, an assistant professor in the Communicative Disorders Department at CSULB was recently honored with the Friendship Award presented by the Celebrity Action Council of the Anne Douglas Center. She was given the award by three-time Academy Award-nominated actor Kirk Douglas at the 2009 Women Helping Women Luncheon held at the Bistro Garden at Coldwater in Studio City.

McMicken received the honor for her outstanding service to the center, the Los Angeles Mission and the Los Angeles Christian health centers. She was recognized for her speech pathology work with the men and women at the mission and those living on Skid Row, where she has personally had a great effect in the day-to-day lives of individuals served by the centers.

“It is quite apparent to me that at least 50 percent of the individuals who are homeless probably have a communication disorder that has either put them on the street or kept them on the street through the co-mobidities which often accompany this way of life,” said McMicken. “Untreated delayed speech, language, and cognitive disorders in a child can cause a lifetime of failures that often lead to substance abuse. Treating these disorders, even at a much later stage can be the difference between a productive and dependent life. This is the most rewarding work I have ever been involved in, and I need all the help I can muster. I have a full summer program for students at CSULA and CSULB. We will make a difference, and I hope that is one way of thanking Anne Douglas for her outstanding contributions to this country and the city of Los Angeles.”

Established at the Los Angeles mission in 1992, the Anne Douglas Center is a women’s residential facility located in the heart of Skid Row and funded entirely by private donations. Women suffering from addictions, abusive lifestyles and homelessness are challenged and counseled daily to improve the quality of their lives as they prepare for their future.

McMicken’s work at the centers is a direct result of her relationship with the 92-year-old Kirk Douglas, whose speech was affected by a 1996 stroke and who had been working with speech therapists for a decade before meeting McMicken at a 2006 Christmas party. She told Anne Douglas, Kirk’s wife, that if there was ever a need for help they could give her a call. Several months later, she received a call and has worked with Kirk Douglas ever since.

McMicken’s involvement with the center began in October 2007 when she was invited by Anne to a luncheon held by The Friendly House, a substance abuse program in Los Angeles. During the luncheon they played a video showing the Anne Douglas Center. The following week she was invited to the center and has been deeply involved ever since.

Betty McMicken (r) is presented her award by Kirk Douglas.

She became a volunteer speech pathologist for the Los Angeles Mission, specifically for the Anne Douglas Center, spending up to 20 hours a week there in addition to her university commitments. She is also involved in the L.A. Christian Community Clinic located across the street from the mission.

After serving as chair and full professor in the Communicative Disorders Department at Cal State L.A, McMicken retired in the mid-1990s. She came to work part-time as a lecturer at CSULB and within a year was full-time.

“Our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Betty for all she does to help those in need from the wealthiest among us to the least,” said Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission. “Her kindness and determination know no bounds.”

Most recently, McMicken and Cal State L.A.’s Cari Flint began the Speech and Hearing Clinic at CSULA, providing services at the campus for L.A. Mission/Anne Douglas Center clients.

“We began this partnership for identification and care of communication disorders in the homeless population which will truly make a difference in the quality and opportunity of the lives of these individuals,” said McMicken.