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CROWN: August 2021 - For the Record: Inside the Records Center
By Kilian Guensche, Communications Intern
Ordinarily, a record represents an artifact, or a relic of something that once was. Records such as paper documents and photo albums often reveal the complexities and history of things that were, and yet most records themselves lay dormant for the vast timelines of their lives, only to be woken up for brief inquisitive interludes between long periods of rest.
In the MDCR Records Center, however, no document goes undisturbed.
"We touch every case and duly filed charge that comes into the agency," says outgoing Records Center Manager Danita Wimbush, "Every one."
A typical day in the Records Center involves a lot of reading and many numbers. A vast array of story-telling codes - from 23A's to IO2's to M3's - are issued to each duly filed and investigated charge that goes through MDCR to be passed on to one of our federal partners, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, and HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In this role, the Records Center serves as a conduit between MDCR and the feds, summarizing and relaying information about individual civil rights cases in Michigan to the federal agencies in Washington DC for processing.
The Records Center also processes all incoming and outgoing mail. This includes US mail, interdepartmental mail, and "charge receipts" from the EEOC, in the instances when the feds are investigating a case in Michigan. These charge receipts often number in the several hundreds or thousands each year.
Naturally, the Records Department also houses all closed master files, or anything that has been investigated and closed out with a resolution. In the case that an audit letter comes in the mail, the master files are unfurled and queried. Upon digging out all the information relating to an audit request, the master files are closed once again.
Then, the process rolls on.
"We are really the keeper of the records," adds Wimbush. "Anything that goes on in the agency, we touch or we have record or recall of it."
For a team populated by just Manager Danita Wimbush and her team of three, the task of processing so many documents and files may seem particularly burdensome, and it is. "But, we get it done," Mrs. Wimbush will proudly say. "And accuracy is totally key for us, because everything we code or put into writing is telling a story to the legal entities, the Attorney General, as well as our EEOC business partner."
Even during what might be the darkest hour for MDCR in recent memory, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Records Center was one of, if not the only, team to go into the office regularly to process the mail and ensure that everybody received what they needed to help the agency continue its work.
As the pandemic slowly winds down and office spaces welcome back MDCR workers, an open invitation to tour the Records Center stands for anyone who may be interested in having a closer look at the work that the team does for MDCR.
"There's always an opportunity to share in the learning, and I would always encourage people to come back. It's a great place to work."