Schuster Family Fund for Listening Ear
The Schuster Family Fund for Listening Ear was created to provide support to Listening Ear Crisis Center for the treatment groups for Adults Molested as Children, the Child Abuse Treatment Program and the 24-Hour Crisis and Information/Referral Program.
At 20 years old, if director of Listening Ear, Don Schuster, had been told he would spend most of his life in Mt. Pleasant, he would not have believed it. Schuster grew up in Bay City, and later completed his undergraduate degree at Central Michigan University in Journalism with Business and Political Science concentrations. As a student, he frequently volunteered at many organizations, but never considered pursuing a career with any of them. Schuster worked in photography after graduation and quickly realized he instead wanted to spend the rest of his life helping others.
Schuster took a job in Ann Arbor working for Family Group Homes, an organization that served the inner-city children of Detroit. While working, Schuster completed his Masters in Social Work Administration at the University of Michigan. After graduation, he moved back to Mt. Pleasant to serve as the director of Listening Ear. Under Schuster’s leadership beginning in the late 1970’s, Listening Ear has grown from an organization with two employees, into an organization with 370. Listening Ear now offers a full array of human services in addition to the 24 hour crisis hot line. Schuster feels that the success of the organization is a prime example of the character of the Mt. Pleasant area community. “I see here a wonderful spirit to help one another. If agencies or people need support, others choose to extend themselves,” he said.
Although Listening Ear has other funds housed at the Foundation, Schuster felt that as a Foundation board member, he should serve as an example by starting his own. He started the fund and he and his daughter, Rebecca, agreed to build it into Schuster’s will. The two are social justice advocates and hope the Fund makes people aware of sexual abuse and the power of treatment. The goal is to break family cycles of abuse and deal with the trauma of sexual abuse quickly. Schuster is in love with Listening Ear and what they stand for. “I love this agency and community. This fund is one way to share part of myself forever,” he said.