Amy Johnson took her compassion for unwanted dogs and paired it with her desire to help at-risk youth. The result, Teacher’s Pet, where she offers a stepping-stone to a better life.
Amy: At our detention facilities the kids come in with a therapeutic mindset. Here are the goals that we want to have here are the goals that we need to have to be successful in life and we are paired with a dog to meet those goals and at the homeless shelter that program is slightly different because those kids they needed job skills so they learn dog training, dog walking, dog handling and they get paid so they actually have a job.
A chance for these kids to better themselves with the help of “hard to adopt” dog – a shared stigma that the kids understand.
Mitch: So you found that dogs paired with the rough experiences of some of the juvenile kids actually makes for like a simpatico relationship?
Amy: Absolutely it does they both have been unwanted or felt unwanted and they have both lived on the streets so the commonalities make them bond and connect in a way that we couldn’t do with just traditional therapy.
The bond benefits both youth and dogs. But the long-term goal is for each to work together and find their way to a happier life.
Amy: We want the dogs to be adopted so we try not to keep them for too long. These kids who have already experienced so much loss in their lives and how do you make them say goodbye to the dog’s too but that’s something that doesn’t have to be something that is painful let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective where he is getting into a home or going into a family that will treat him well and sometimes that altruism is the piece that makes the difference.
With a “sit” and a “good boy”, Amy Johnson is offering a brighter future for her trainers and canine trainees here in the heart of Detroit.
For the fourth year in a row, the SAY Detroit Radiothon broke the $1 million dollar mark in funds raised during a marathon 15-hour broadcast. Held Thursday, December 6 in the North Grand Court at the Somerset Collection in Troy, the radiothon was broadcast live on WJR 760AM and streamed across the web at www.mitchalbomradiothon.com, clickondetroit.com, wjr.com, freep.com and on Facebook. In its seventh year, the Radiothon has raised over $4.5 million, including a record $1,261,000 in donations in 2017.
“The thing that strikes me the most is the continued kindness that surrounds this effort from the people who let us use Somerset, to the volunteers who work the phone banks, to all the celebrities, sports figures and entertainers who agree year after year to come on, to all the people who continue to donate,” said Albom, who founded SAY Detroit in 2006. “As a result, we’ve been able to do some amazing things at SAY Detroit. We took a quantum leap this past year, with a deep and experienced new board of directors with a vision towards cementing the efforts that we do in the city right now and securing their future long term.
This year’s list of guests included Hugh Jackman, JK Simmons, Jane Pauley, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Hank Azaria, Paul Stanley, Lily Tomlin, Will Arnett, John Pizzarelli, Grant Hill, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Bradley Whitford, Sawyer Fredericks, Billy Bob Thornton, Tim Allen, Dave Barry, Adam Schefter, KEM, and Howard Schultz.
Closer to home, Mike Duggan, Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire, Pistons Coach Dwane Casey, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Gibson, Tom Izzo, Jim Harbaugh, Dave Bing, Blake Griffin, and many local news personalities including Roop Raj, Amy Lange, Brad Galli, Carman Harlan, and Bernie Smilovitz.
Hourly sponsors included The Suburban Collection, General Motors, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Michigan Center for Fertility & Women’s Health, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Cooper Standard, Michigan Masonic, Charitable Foundation, Art Van Furniture, St. Nicholas Troy Ladies Philoptochos, Artichoke Garlic Foundation, Emagine Entertainment, Somerset Collection, Health Partners Inc., and the Singing for Change Foundation. Additonal sponsors include Diamabrush, Toyota, W.K. Kellogg, and Trinity Health.
For those who missed the opportunity to donate, bid on auctions, or buy incentive premiums during the broadcast have the opportunity to make donations and purchases through the weekend at www.mitchalbomradiothon.com.
DETROIT: What do you get when you gather 175 children, 65 volunteers, limitless activities filled with nothing but fun — and a surprise visit from Santa Claus?
Why, it’s the annual SAY Detroit/A Time to Help Christmas Party to benefit shelter women and their children at The Salvation Army Harbor Light.
Hosted by SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom and his radio show co-host Ken Brown, the 21st edition was a smash hit Saturday (Dec. 1), brightening the day for dozens of mothers and their children who are in need of holiday warmth and cheer this time of year.
“It was wonderful, the best ever,” said Elaine Marion, director of shelter operations at Booth’s women and children family shelter. “Some of them don’t have family to go to, some of them are grieving. This party gives them a space to enjoy themselves; we can be their family. It’s important to make everyone feel close, welcomed and wanted – and they had a great time. Great music, great games and great fun.”
A holiday store staffed with volunteers assisted the mothers in shopping for new clothing. Guests and children were treated to snacks in the morning and a pizza party sponsored by Shield’s at lunch. Other activities for the children — all run by volunteers — included games, dancing, face painting, caricature drawings and performances by 12-year-old Isabella the Magician. Moms were treated by massages and manicures — just enough time to relax before Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived to deliver presents to the children.
Longtime ATTH volunteer Joanne Steele has helped at more than a dozen parties over the years; this year she worked the registration/info area helping check in volunteers, pass out T-shirts and name tags, and answer questions.
“The parties embody everything ‘Christmas’ for me — happy smiles and love over simple things: dancing, Santa, a meal, cake, presents,” she said. “I especially love seeing the moms smile when I ask to see their newly manicured nails or their beautiful face-painted face. I volunteer to share the blessings God has given me; I do it for others. Selfishly, I also do it for me because it makes me feel so good.”
SAY Detroit is grateful to so many companies and individuals who sponsored the party, including Peter Andoni, Paul Palozzolo, Costco, Kroger, the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation, Southfield Pediatrics and UPS.
SAY Detroit would also like to thank its army of ATTH volunteers who hosted the party and donated items, including the “captains’’ of the activities. The nonprofit sends a special shout-out to Elaine Marion and Capt. Jamie Winkler for their support and hard work in making this year’s event so special for so many.
Detroit — We’ll know for sure on Saturday, but the preliminary results were more than encouraging.
For the first time ever, A Time to Help added a second event (aka pre-gamer) in advance of SAY Detroit’s annual Christmas Party to benefit The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Detroit: a decorating party to get the Ellen A. Thompson Center all gussied up before Saturday’s big day for shelter residents and their children.
The reason was two-fold. The first was because registration for the Christmas party traditionally fills up quickly; having another event offered ATTH to include more volunteers during the holiday season. The second was to catch the volunteers who want to be involved, but are unable to help on the day of the party.
Sue Schuldeis and Leslie Reaser were in the second category; scheduling conflicts prevents both from volunteering Saturday.
“I’m so glad I came,” Leslie said. “This has really put me in the holiday spirit.”
A Time to Help is glad she came, too. Nearly 20 volunteers worked Friday afternoon to ensure that Saturday’s party will be a success for The Salvation Army’s clients and shelter residents. Holiday tunes blared from speakers as volunteers strung lights, hung wall decorations and set up the stage and tables.
“This was a great idea,” said Elaine Marion, director of shelter operations at Booth’s women and children family shelter. “It takes a lot of the pressure off for tomorrow, and gives everyone more time to have fun.”
Today 4th and 5th grade girls at Carlson Elementary School in Warren are learning what it means to be their most beautiful self.
Karen: When I would watch my girls go through third grade I saw this shift happening they didn’t value themselves the way they did in second grade and I thought what happens if our kids our girls don’t ever find their value and don’t ever see that they have worth and purpose.
Karen Palka is the founder of A Beautiful Me. Her after school workshops focus on empowerment topics like “What Makes you Special” and “Words Can Hurt”.
Karen: We watch these girls grow right before our eyes. We give them what we would call conflict resolution ideas of how to handle situations and understand that they are valuable enough to approach someone through iMessages.
It is this “tech” twist that keeps the workshops relevant.
Karen: Ten years ago girls in 8th grade had phones now girls much younger have phones and I thought I can’t get rid of the phones so how do we use that for a good vehicle.
With the help of partners and close to 30 volunteers, each year A Beautiful Me reaches around 1,000 girls, 3rd grade and older.
Mitch: And all of that just came from your idea that you wanted to give your kids a little bit more of a positive
Karen: It was supposed to be a hobby
Mitch: Many good things start as hobbies
Karen: Laughing…These young ladies want to work together and that’s I think really really rewarding.
Showing what it truly means to love yourself, Karen Palka and the girls from A Beautiful Me are screaming…NAT “I Am Beautiful” …right here in the heart of Detroit.
Nearly two dozen Masons from Michigan Masonic lodges across the state, including members of the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation, spent part of the afternoon at SAY Detroit’s after-school academic enrichment center on Detroit’s northeast side. They joined the students at a pizza luncheon, with pizza generously provided by Little Caesars, and observed and participated in a robotics demonstration, where our FTC and FLL teams walked the Masons through this year’s robotic challenge: identifying a human, physical or social problem faced during a long duration space exploration, and their solutions, as well as their robotic design and programming.
The day concluded with the Masons’ presenting SAY Detroit with its third installment of 10-year, $5 million pledge for continued support of the nonprofit. SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom hosted the festivities, and later some Michigan Masons members on his radio show on WJR.
S.A.Y. Detroit (which stands for Super All Year Detroit) is a fully formed 501(c) (3) charity and operates as an umbrella organization for charities dedicating to improving the lives of the neediest, Click here to learn more.
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