When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State, she worked at a nearby farm to earn extra school money. That’s where she met a young girl named Casey.
Molly: I noticed this young girl who was evidently going through cancer treatment when she was at the barn she was there to experience you know (Mitch: Being a child) normalcy exactly. So Casey passed away about a year and a half after I got to know her we all got together and said lets do something to honor Casey’s life and we will call it Camp Casey.
Camp Casey was a day full of horseback riding, crafts and fun for children going through cancer treatment.
Molly: It was supposed to be a one time thing but about a week later I received a letter from a little boy that said thank you for the best day of my life and he was 4 and I remember thinking oh well we have to do this again.
Camp Casey became a weekly event. But bringing a group of immune suppressed children to a farm became an issue, so Molly found a solution – Horsey House Calls.
Mitch: You literally bring the horse to the house.
Molly: Yes we have been to apartments we have been to condos we have been to trailer parks you name it if a child is living there we will show up. Seeing the look of utter shock surprise and sometimes fear that we help them conquer I think that’s where parents would be able to witness their child not as a cancer patient but as a child again. I think that’s where my battery gets recharged and I’m really proud of the work.
Through Camp Casey and Horsey House Calls, Molly Reeser is honoring her friend Casey, right here in the heart of Detroit.
That pretty much sums up the longtime partnership Cooper Standard has had with SAY Detroit.
As one of the nonprofit’s major supporters, Cooper Standard has invested and contributed heavily in SAY Detroit’s projects and programs over the years, from the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic to Working Homes/Working Families.
But Cooper Standard’s commitment also includes another major component: its workforce.
On Tuesday, 40 Cooper Standard employees were on the grounds of Cass Community Social Services turning several acres of green space into a playground for children who are housed in the shelter at the nonprofit. The project was under the guidance of Michigan Recreational Construction.
The playground was made possible after a conversation SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom had with Reverend Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community. Albom was volunteering at an A Time to Help event over the summer to benefit Cass Community’s Tiny Homes neighborhood when Fowler told him of her wish list for a nearby parcel of land.
“He came to view the park area and asked if we could use a playscape, and I almost fell down,” Fowler recalled Tuesday. “We had over 500 homeless children at Cass Community last year, and all kids need fresh air, recreation, a place to play. We thank SAY Detroit and Cooper Standard for all of this today.’’
Patrick Clark, vice president of business development at Cooper Standard, said: “At Cooper Standard, this is part of our culture — to give to the community we’re in. This is the third project we’ve done (for SAY Detroit) this year. We have a good partnership and from our side, the partnership continues to grow.”
SAY Detroit Play Center’s Tutoring Program and Have Faith Haiti Mission’s The Chika Fund are the prime beneficiaries of a book launch event at the Detroit Opera House on October 14, 2018, celebrating the childhood influences who have made us who we are as adults. Volunteers will be helping with a major piece of the event – the books for attendees included with every ticket purchase.
Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018
Time: 10 am – 1:00 p.m.
Project: Volunteers will be fastening autographed bookplates onto more than 2,000 books that will be distributed on October 14 as part of Mitch Albom’s charity benefit for the children of Haiti and Detroit at the Detroit Opera House. We will then re-box the books and move them to storage in preparation for the event.
Where: The Detroit Opera House is located at 1526 Broadway St., Detroit, 48226. The project will take place in the Smith Lobby. Please enter the building through the “Stage Door’’ entrance on Madison, where all registered volunteers will check in before being escorted to the project. Only volunteers who have officially registered at atimetohelp.org will be allowed into the building. Map of area
Parking: The Detroit Opera House surface lot at the corner of John R and Madison. The entrance to the surface lot parking is off of John R.
Detroit — It was a stunning transformation, from beginning to end.
Where there was overgrown shrubbery and vines, a fence line emerged. Where there was once an attic filled with debris, the possibility of a future bedroom appeared.
For three hours Saturday, two dozen A Time to Help volunteers embraced and tackled a major clean-up project at a house that SAY Detroit will soon donate on Detroit’s northeast side to benefit its Working Homes/Working Families program.
Led by SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom, the volunteers worked to clean up the property, inside and out, to prepare the house for rehab before it’s awarded to a family in October.
“The project completely changed the home from overrun and overgrown landscaping to something out of ‘House Beautiful,’’’ said Chris Johnston, SAY Detroit’s lead volunteer liaison for ATTH. “The team just pitched in trimming and removing many years of neglected landscape and even planted spring bulbs for the deserving family to enjoy.”
ATTH’s next project will be Oct. 13; details will be posted later this week.
Working Homes/Working Families was created by SAY Detroit and the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries to provide needy working families a decent, clean place to live while continuing to work. Nearly 50 families have received a fully-refurbished Detroit house through the program since it was established in 2011.
Date: Saturday, September 22, 2018
Time: 9 am – 12:00 p.m.
Project: Volunteers will be working at one of the houses that will be awarded to a needy family this fall. We’re primarily in need of volunteers who can perform landscape duties such as eliminating blighted areas in the yard, trimming bushes, weed whacking, pulling weeds, etc. Please bring equipment to complete those tasks (and we’re always in need of a ladder or two). In addition, some inside work — mostly cleaning and washing windows — might be needed on the day of the project. ATTH will advise on that possibility before the event.
Where: The house is located near Outer Drive and Ryan in northeast Detroit (48234 zip code). SAY Detroit doesn’t publish the addresses of our WHWF houses; an email revealing the location of the project will be sent to all registered participants two days before the event. Map of area
Detroit — The SAY Detroit Muscle Crew II was at it again.
On the heels of Albaugh Masonry’s gift of labor in replacing the concrete entrance to the SAY Play Center two weeks ago, another marked improvement took place on Wednesday.
Dennis and Tami Caren, owners of D&T Signs in Wyandotte, outfitted three SAY Detroit passenger vehicles used to transport the children with signage that promotes the nonprofit’s slogan: “SAY Detroit. . . And SAY Something Amazing.”
Tami and Dennis Caren have been members of the Muscle Crew since SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom started a local chapter in 2017; the “original’’ crew helped rebuild an orphanage/school in Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake. The orphanage eventually was renamed the Have Faith Haiti Mission, which is operated by Albom’s A Hole in the Roof Foundation.
The Muscle Crew is a team of skilled tradespeople who volunteer their labor for projects that benefit SAY Detroit.
The Carens said they’re proud Muscle Crew members who love to give of their time.
“We were looking for a way to volunteer and this is a really good organization,” Tami Caren said. “It makes us feel good to help these kids.”
Mike Tenbusch, SAY Play’s executive director, said he’s beyond grateful for the signage.
“We’re trying to be like a family here, and having the Muscle Crew is like having an uncle who can come in and fix anything,” he said. “Like Dennis (who’s also an electrician) is now trying to help us fix a lighting problem that we have.”
As for having new signage on three of the four formally all-white vehicles, Tenbusch said their members can now ride with more pride in the city.
“Our kids have been riding around in anonymity, and now, well, it truly is amazing — it reinforces who we are,’’ he said.
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