A History of Serving Dignity & Hope

SAY Detroit improves the lives of Detroit’s neediest citizens through shelter, food, medical care, volunteer efforts and education. It serves as the umbrella organization for ongoing major projects, such as Working Homes / Working Families and the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic, servicing a population from infants to senior citizens, and veterans. It also supports dozens of likeminded charities in the Detroit area through funds raised at Albom’s annual December Radiothon, broadcast live on WJR (760 AM) from Somerset Collection in Troy, MI.

About SAY Detroit 1

Mitch Albom, SAY Detroit Founder (left) and Chad Audi, CEO of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (right).

About SAY Detroit 2

1997: Giving is Living

Mitch Albom begins forming charities the same year that his best-selling memoir of all-time (Tuesdays with Morrie) is published. He creates A Time to Help as a means of inspiring Detroiters to volunteer on a regular basis. Since then, more than 200 monthly projects have been completed by thousands of volunteers.

About SAY Detroit 3

2006: Super All Year

More than $300,000 is raised by generous readers of a column written by Albom after spending the night at a homeless shelter. The column pointed out that the city was providing a three-day “Super Bowl party” for its homeless while the tourists were in town, only to return them to their former circumstances come Monday morning.  After Albom goes public with a plea to do as much for the homeless all winter as the city was doing over Super Bowl weekend, the non-profit SAY Detroit is formed in partnership with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. Initial projects included:

  • a new kitchen for homeless veterans at the Michigan Veterans Foundation;
  • supplying milk to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit for a year;
  • buying 200 mattresses for clients at Cass Community Social Services;
  • extending vital programs and services at the DRMM, and creating Bright Beginnings Child Development Center (together with Ilitch Charities).
About SAY Detroit 4

2008: Expanding Umbrella

The SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic opens its doors, becoming among the nation’s first free health clinic devoted to homeless children and their mothers.


2009: Have Faith

A Hole in the Roof Foundation is formed to help faith and relief groups of every denomination who care for the homeless and/or victims of disaster in Detroit and beyond.

About SAY Detroit 5

2011: A Hand Up

The Detroit Dream Scholars is established, awarding four-year scholarships for young people to study the arts at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The same year, Working Homes / Working Families is formed to help working families secure housing in refurbished homes in an effort to strengthen city neighborhoods.

About SAY Detroit 6

2012: All-day Radio for Better Days

In 15 hours of live broadcasting, the first ever Radiothon raises over $400,000 to help the poor, the homeless, families without homes, children without medical care, students hoping to reach the college of their dreams and veterans who have hit hard times.The day’s entertainment brings together all parties—the people who benefit from these charities, famous folks who wish to call attention to them, and generous supporters who wish to help.

About SAY Detroit 7

2015: Nice Ice Baby

The Detroit Water Ice Factory opens in downtown Detroit, while the SAY Play Center at Lipke Park kicks off its first year on the city’s northeast side. Bolstered by volunteers serving as reading mentors, the center offers a first-rate tutoring program along with athletics, music, robotics and the arts to after-school students.


2016: Happy Anniversary

SAY Detroit celebrates 10 years, and the December Radiothon raises over $1 million dollars in just 15 hours for the second year in a row.

About SAY Detroit 8

2017: The Future

The Tomorrow Fund, a fund created to be a catalyst for a new stage of growth at SAY Detroit, launches.


2019: EAT Detroit

SAY Detroit launched the first of a now annual foodie experience and fundraiser. EAT Detroit lets patrons wander between the city’s hottest restaurants, tasting chef-created small plates and specialty craft cocktails, all in a festive atmosphere featuring area musical acts at each restaurant. The event was run with the support of volunteers from A Time to Help and local nonprofits who work with SAY Detroit in programming or receive funding from the Radiothon, providing an opportunity for patrons to learn more about SAY Detroit and the broadened scope of its outreach through community partners. The second annual event will be held June 24, 2020.


Our new expanded leadership will better serve our programs, provide governance and steer the nonprofit toward a sustainable future by ensuring that it has adequate resources to advance its mission.

Board of Directors

Rob Orley, O2 Investment Partners
Arn Tellem, Detroit Pistons
Cynthia Ford, Philanthropist
Charlie Rothstein, Beringea
Dennis Archer, Former Detroit Mayor
Al Papa, Cambridge Consulting Group
David Provost, Chemical Financial Corporation
Chad Audi, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries
Mitch Albom, S.A.Y. Detroit
Carmen Harlan, TV Broadcaster
Ben Carter, Trinity Heath
Honorable Damon J. Keith, Emeritus

Advisory Board

Dave Bing, Former Detroit Mayor
Jack Aronson, Artichoke Garlic Foundation
John Prosser II, Health Partners
Faith Fowler, Cass Community Social Services
Dr. Richard Keidan, Medical and Surgical Oncology, Beaumont Hospital
Keith Stephenson, Cooper-Standard
Carole Kowalczyk, Michigan Center for Fertility and Women’s Health
Paul Glantz, Emagine Entertainment
Dave Scott, Motown Digital
Linda McIntosh, Somerset Collection
Walt Wheeler, Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation

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