DETROIT — It was spring cleaning, A Time to Help style.
For nearly three hours Saturday, more than two dozen A Time to Help volunteers worked to help transform Cass Community Social Services’ cluttered warehouse into a more-organized space.
The end result was a site to see; the group had filled a massive dumpster with debris. Other items were sorted for recycling and future projects to benefit the nonprofit.
Under the direction of Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass Community has been fighting poverty and creating opportunity for Detroit’s most at-risk citizens. ATTH, SAY Detroit’s major volunteer arm which tackles monthly projects to assist fellow charities and community organizations, traditionally commits to helping Cass Community with at least one project a year.
The previous two years, Fowler and Sue Pethoud, Cass Community’s volunteer coordinator, organized events with ATTH to benefit its Tiny Homes neighborhood. This time, ATTH was asked to assist with a major clean-up job, and the volunteers happily responded on a beautiful spring morning.
SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom was at his orphanage/school in Haiti over the weekend and was unable to attend. Ken Brown, Albom’s radio show co-host, led the event.
“We rely on volunteers every single day and we couldn’t do what we do without volunteer support,” Fowler said. “Without volunteers we’d be a quarter of what we are. To see people coming in to help you, it really lifts your spirits.”
ATTH’s next project is tentatively scheduled for May 18. Details will be announced soon.
Production is underway at the Downriver Detroit Student Film Consortium where young creative minds are learning the art of filmmaking. Retired police Detective Scott Galeski founded the group.
Mitch: How does one go from being a cop to running a film consortium?
Scott: Well you know you have a childhood dream and mine was to be a filmmaker and around 2009, I made a little independent film and it took off and it started my film career.
With some 30 films under his belt, Scott is using his experience to educate the next generation.
Scott: We draw from Detroit schools Downriver schools most of our kids are disadvantaged, at risk, some of them have been in trouble. I have honors students – an eclectic mix. I like angry kids. I like kids that made bad decisions: they’re always edgy, they’re all critical thinkers.
The Consortium meets at the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte. Students work with volunteer instructors on script writing, acting, cinematography and directing – all free of charge – all taught by professionals. At the end of the season they show their projects at a formal premier held at the Trenton Village Theater. Several of the projects have gone on to win awards at film festivals around the country.
Scott: It’s more than just making films.
Mitch: It teaches them how to work together be creative together how to collaborate.
Mitch: Something tells me that a former police detective for 25 years at the top may keep things in line?
Scott: I’m the mean guy but I still love them.
What better mentor could a kid ask for? Scott Galeski is turning a childhood dream into the Hollywood dream right here in the heart of Detroit.
Brother and sister team, Jason and Chrystal Ridgeway, understand a little something about striving for excellence. Both top athletes in college, the pair wanted to come back to their community and support other rising stars.
Jason: We started off doing seminars we went out and spoke to kids high school and college kids about how to stay in school graduate if they received a scholarship how to retain it.
Mitch: And nowhere in that process did you talk about food.
Mitch: And then all of a sudden you saw something that changed your mind.
Chrystal: We were at one of our schools and the kids were pretty lethargic so we started talking to the teachers and the counselors and we said what’s going on and they said well they are waiting for lunch. A lot of the kids don’t eat breakfast so I talked to Jason I said we are giving them skills to handle social situations but let’s give them the skills to make good decisions about their diet as well.
Grow Green, Live Clean is their newest initiative. Their goal is to educate and provide access to nutrient dense foods through self-contained tower gardens.
Chrystal: And many of the kids never correlate what they eat with what is grown and I asked them well what is in a salad and they go ranch dressing.
To get them thinking differently, the students grow and harvest collard greens, mustard greens, herbs and salad greens like spinach and romaine. They even make their own salad dressing.
Jason: We want to feed the kids you know mind body and soul. We want to make well-rounded young people that can go off go to college and go to get a trade and then come back and give back the same way that we’re doing.
Harvesting good decision making, Jason and Chrystal Ridgeway are providing a healthier future here in the heart of Detroit.
Representatives from nearly two dozen area charities received checks today totaling more than $1.25 million from donations raised at the seventh annual SAY Detroit Radiothon, broadcast on WJR-AM last December.
The distribution ceremony at the Fisher Building, an annual event since the Radiothon’s inception, included several first-time recipients, including Avalon Village, FoodLab Detroit, Yad Ezra, A Beautiful Me, and Building Better Men.
Mitch Albom, who founded SAY Detroit in 2006, presented the checks with Dr. Chad Audi, president of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, as well as representatives from several major donor organizations. Members of SAY Detroit’s Board of Directors also participated in celebrating the efforts of various local charitable organizations.
“Today we share the generosity of the wonderful people and companies in Metro Detroit,” Albom said. “Thanks to them, we broke our previous Radiothon record. This enables us to operate our numerous SAY Detroit initiatives. And, as per our tradition, we share a chunk of this generosity with other organizations, large and small, who, like us, are dedicated to helping Detroit’s neediest.”
Since its first broadcast in 2012, the annual Radiothon has raised over $5.7 million to help the poor, the homeless, families without houses, children and mothers without medical care, students hoping to reach the college of their dreams, and veterans who have hit hard times.
The 2019 SAY Detroit Radiothon will be held Dec. 12th at The Somerset Collection mall in Troy.
Edee Franklin had a tumultuous past – one filled with drugs and alcohol. Now 31 years in recovery, she has a successful real estate business and just over a year ago opened the doors to her biggest housing project yet.
Mitch: It is not often that people in real estate world sideline in helping victims of human trafficking how does that happen?
Edee: I was hearing all this information about human trafficking and awareness and what was going on in our communities and I started to talk to people at the Michigan Human Trafficking task force and there were no long-term treatment facilities for survivors after they were rescued. I had been in a long-term treatment facility myself and I knew that the way to healing is long-term treatment so I set out to put one together.
Sanctum House is the first of its kind in southeast Michigan. The two-year program focuses on mental and physical healthcare in addition to life skills training and education and employment opportunities. Residents work closely with a team of caseworkers, therapists, physicians and social workers in an environment that feels like a home.
Edee: We can house 12 women and it’s fun to see women start to succeed we have one that just got a scholarship to college we have two that are getting their GED they are starting to go back to work. I wasn’t trafficked but I had been a victim of sexual assault and drug addiction and alcoholism and when someone looks at you and says what would we have done if you had given up and I think wow nobody gave up on me and I thought I could be one of them and I am not giving up on them either.
Using her past to open the door to the next step in recovery, Edee Franklin is saying If I can do it, you can do it right here in the heart of Detroit.
A Time To Help volunteers have long considered Motown Soup one of their favorite projects of the year. Saturday was no different.
The Utica-based all-volunteer nonprofit, which produces and packages dry soups and other mixes to raise funds for the needy, hosted more than two dozen ATTH volunteers in their kitchen and assembly area at Trinity Lutheran Church. In three hours, the group produced and packaged 1,420 soup mixes (about $10,000 worth of product), which beat last year’s ATTH effort of 1,200.
A terrific number, considering the project started late because of the icy commute many volunteers faced on the drive in.
“Getting groups like this to come in to help, it gives us a big boost,” said Dan Kennedy, one of Motown Soup’s volunteers who helped coordinate the morning. “The timing is perfect; we had an almost empty store room. Your efforts gave us an opportunity to replenish in a big way.”
There was even some friendly competition that brewed between the groups of volunteers. By mid-morning, judging from their pace, some were wondering if “chicken pot pie’’ would edge the “white chicken chili’’’ team for the most assembled soup mixes. And the winner was….
White chicken chili (419), followed by mini-tomato (392), chicken pot pie (364) and cheeseburger (245).
“Everything about the morning — it really went great,” Kennedy said.
ATTH thought so, too.
ATTH’s next project is set for April 6 at Cass Community Social Services. Registration will begin this week at atimetohelp.org.
A Time To Help was established in 1997 as a means of galvanizing the people of Detroit to volunteer on a regular basis. Click here to learn more.
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