News + Updates | SAY Detroit Serving Detroit's neediest with dignity and hope. Mon, 20 Jul 2020 14:11:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Group Gardening at Big Glen Brings ‘A Time to Help’ Together Again Mon, 20 Jul 2020 13:57:54 +0000 HIGHLAND PARK, MI — It felt almost like normal. Except it wasn’t.

Donning face coverings and staying physically distant from each other, volunteers from A Time to Help gathered for their first project since early March — as in, pre-COVID-19 — on Saturday morning (July 18) at Buckets of Rain, a non-profit urban garden that provides thousands of servings of nutritious produce for the homeless and hungry each year.

As temperatures soared into the 80s, volunteers worked for nearly three hours under the direction of Buckets of Rain garden manager Michelle Lutz. They cleared weeds and grapevines from the fence line and removed spent green beans and cucumber plants from the garden beds so they could join “compost heaven,’’ she said.

“Eighteen super heroes,’’ Lutz said of the ATTH team after the project. “It was tough work, but a couple of hours into it, they were feeling like champions. I have to say, they were honestly the nicest and hardest working group. They were able to help us accomplish a goal. You should see it now. It looks so beautiful.”

The Buckets of Rain “Big Glen’’ garden, which is located across the street from the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic, relies on volunteerism from spring to fall. But because the number of helping hands has fallen over the past four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday’s effort by ATTH came at just the right time.

“In our situation, we’re trying to serve a community that is extremely compromised to begin with,’’ Lutz said. “The amount of homeless people in need of a nutritious meal is increasing.

“We are putting out at least 1,000 pounds of produce a week, so we always need the extra hands.”

SAY Detroit Executive Director Marc (Rosey) Rosenthal greeted the volunteers at the beginning of the project. Rick Kelley, the nonprofit’s new Chief Development Officer, also worked in the garden with the ATTH team.

Although physical distancing protocol prevented the volunteers from gathering for their trademark “team’’ photo at the start of the project, it didn’t matter as protecting everyone’s health and safety was paramount.

“Really, it was just so great to be back, to be helping,” said longtime ATTH volunteer Chris Johnston, the program’s assistant coordinator. “We had two families (of volunteers) who came and they were incredible. Everybody was conscious of trying to stay away from each other. People were very respectful in maintaining social distancing 100%. We so appreciated so many people coming out on a hot summer day.’’

A Time to Help’s next project will be determined in the coming weeks. New volunteers are always welcome. Please register at

A Garden Oasis Helps Combat Food Insecurity Thu, 25 Jun 2020 22:15:00 +0000 Nestled in Detroit’s North End neighborhood is three acres of land filled with three hundred different varieties of produce, two hundred fruit trees and a number of structures on the verge of development.  It is a sight to see.

Mitch: What is it about urban farming that has particular appeal especially in a city like Detroit?

Quan: Greenery in an urban place is something that you don’t get too often but it is something that is very unique to Detroit. We help tackle the food insecurity that is in Detroit by providing fresh produce to people who don’t have it.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative has been in the North End since 2011.  It is the vision of founder Tyson Gersh.  Through the support of grants, fundraising and thousands of hard-working volunteers, MUFI is able to provide all produce to the neighborhood, free of charge.

Quan: Eighty percent of the produce gets back into the community and that other twenty percent goes to churches or food pantries, which also might be in the neighborhood. 

This oasis has become quite the destination for locals and international visitors.  All who walk the grounds quickly realize that the benefit of the garden goes beyond just fresh produce.  

Quan: Just being in this open space with the plants I think its very calming and therapeutic but then the other half is just meeting all these interesting people and so just to see the people taking the produce the tomatoes specifically really puts a smile on my face.

Mitch: So as it goes away “so there goes one of my prized tomatoes.”

Quan: Yeah that’s, “hey I know that tomato.”

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, MUFI, is cultivating the land for the people, right here in the heart of Detroit.

Season 8 of Heart of Detroit is wrapping up a little earlier this year, but you can catch up with the whole season’s playlist here.

A Time to Help Buckets of Rain Thu, 25 Jun 2020 04:27:24 +0000 Adhering to social distancing protocol at all times, A Time to Help will join Buckets of Rain for our first outdoor project of 2020.  We’ll be working in the vegetable garden at the nonprofit’s one-acre lot in Highland Park.  In 2019, Buckets of Rain, a charity partner of SAY Detroit, provided 11,000 servings of vegetables for its Clinic to Farm to Patient program, including for clients at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic.

Date: Saturday, July 18

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Project Description: A total of 20 volunteers will work in the Buckets of Rain “Big Glen’’ garden, weeding, picking vegetables, and helping clean-up the fence line around the property.

Where: Across the street from the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic, 211 Glendale Ave., Highland Park, MI., 48203 | Map

Parking: Available in SAY Clinic’s main lot, and on Glendale.

Other Info: Each participant is asked to bring their own work gloves, face covering and bottled water.  Long pants recommended but not required. Buckets of Rain will provide all tools, which will be sanitized before the project begins. Volunteers will work  6-to-10 feet apart. Unfortunately, there will be no ATTH group photo, but pictures of all volunteers will be taken and posted at, the Monday after the project. Individually wrapped snacks will be provided. Please refrain from joining the project if you’re ill. If so, please unregister through your CERVIS account here so your spot can become available for someone else. 

Volunteers Needed: 20

Sign up:


1,000 Turkeys for Higher Hopes in Detroit Thu, 18 Jun 2020 22:15:00 +0000 Back in 2014 Bill Birndorf volunteered to work at the Say Detroit Radiothon along with the Detroit Recue Mission.  Bill had always been charitable with donations but not as charitable with his time.

Bill: That’s really the first time that I’ve ever volunteered to do anything I was always a little nervous about volunteering because I didn’t know what to expect and I knew there was something that I wanted to do. Low and behold a few months later the idea popped into my head to go  buy 1,000 turkeys and pass them out in the city of Detroit.  

And twelve months later Bill and his non-profit Higher Hopes! turned that 1,000 turkeys into four tractor-trailers filled with everything from turkey to dessert.  With the money left over from donations, Bill partnered up with Gleaners to create a mobile program to distribute meals throughout the year at organizations like Focus Hope.

Mitch: Now you give out 1,000 meals a month?  

Bill: Every month.  Meal kits not meals but meal kits.  Each meal kit makes ten to twenty meals and this year we will have a continuous run of food every single month going forward.  

Mitch: So for a guy who said he never really gave any of his time now sounds like this must take up a great deal of time?  

Bill: There are so many people out there that are food insecure I just look at things and realize how lucky I am. How many people you just don’t know that you touch along the way.  It’s really what I think about.  

Bill may have started by answering the phones but now he and Higher Hopes! are answering their call to provide meals to families in need, right here in the heart of Detroit.

COVID-19 Mobile Testing Center Opens at SAY Clinic in Highland Park // UPDATE Thu, 04 Jun 2020 18:16:00 +0000

**UPDATE: The mobile testing center is now closed. Patients looking for free COVID-19 testing can make an appointment at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic.

A new, free Covid-19 mobile testing center opened to the public on Tuesday, April 28th on the grounds adjacent to the SAY Detroit Family Clinic in Highland Park, MI. The testing center is the result of a collaborative effort led by SAY Detroit and made possible with the experience and resources of Dr. Chad Audi (Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries), Dr. Richard Keidan (EVO Detroit / Detroit2Nepal Foundation), Tawana Nettles-Robinson (Trinity Health, which manages the SAY Clinic), and Michigan Healthcare Professionals. Vibra Health Lab in Troy is overseeing the lab work.

The first testing site in the Highland Park area is one of six focused responses to needs created or exacerbated by the pandemic in an effort by SAY Detroit called “Detroit Beats Covid-19!” The center will be open three days per week for nasal (or nasopharyngeal) swab testing. Patients are accepted by vehicle and by foot, and results are typically available within 24 – 48 hours (but may take up to 14 days). Specific details for patients about availability and access to the testing center are available below

The Highland Park neighborhood is a particularly underserved area of Metro Detroit. SAY Detroit’s Family Health Clinic is part of a “mutual aid” collective of nonprofits in the area – including Buckets of Rain, The Avalon Village, and EVO Detroit – pooling energies and talents to connect their efforts and reach more people. The free testing center enables community members to overcome many of the common barriers that diminish access to care: testing is free and available to patients without doctor referrals, without insurance, and without vehicles. The initial testing phase is prioritizing efforts toward local residents before expanding access to the larger Metro Detroit area.

How to get tested at the SAY Detroit Covid-19 Mobile Test Center

The center is currently closed. COVID-19 diagnostic testing is now available by appointment at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic (211 Glendale Ave, Highland Park. Please call (313) 758-6100 to make an appointment.

How do I qualify for a test?

Testing is available for adults aged 18 and over who display symptoms. Clinic staff will screen patients upon arrival to determine if testing is appropriate.

How do I prepare for a test?

Identification / Contact Information

Please bring with you a state ID or city of Detroit ID. Please bring your mobile phone or have a telephone number to provide to staff if you do not have your own so you can be contacted with results or other necessary follow up.

Personal Protective Wear

To help protect yourself and medical personnel, please arrive wearing a mask or other face covering such as a scarf or bandana covering your mouth and nose. If you access the testing in a vehicle, ALL occupants must be wearing a mask as well. If you do not arrive wearing a mask, a handmade mask from volunteers at the Hospital Mask Task Force! may be supplied to you.

When You Arrive

Waiting Areas

Waiting areas before and after testing procedure are designated by signs and bright orange cones. When you arrive by vehicle, please stay in your car with windows rolled up until you are directed to drive up and roll down windows by staff. If you approach on foot, please follow instructions provided by signs and staff regarding safe social distancing.  

Testing Procedure

Before you receive a nasal swab test, you will be screened by staff who will take your temperature, measure your blood oxygen level, and discuss your symptoms. The procedure takes approximately 10 minutes to complete in full.

When do I get my results?

Results are available within 2 – 14 days. You will receive your results by telephone at the number you provided at the time of testing.

Please note we are not providing return to work letters at this time.

Mobile Test Center at SAY Detroit Play Center at 19320 Van Dyke Ave, Detroit, MI 48234, May 18 – June 4:

Mobile Test Center at SAY Detroit Clinic, at 211 Greendale Ave, Highland Park, MI, Apr 28 – May 15:

Originally published April 29 | Updated May 18th, June 4th

Collaborating with the City of Detroit to Keep First Responders Safe Wed, 22 Apr 2020 16:00:00 +0000 Responding to a request from the City of Detroit, SAY Detroit has provided gap funding for the purchase of 135 no-touch infrared thermometers for use by first responders at the Detroit Fire Department (DFD) and front-line municipal employees at the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). A $5,000 donation was made to the Detroit Public Safety Foundation this week.

In order to ensure the continuing operation of critical infrastructure, the CDC guidelines recommend regular health monitoring for essential workers. A vital first step is temperature pre-screening before entering facilities, particularly after potential exposure to COVID-19 positive patients.

 “I would personally like to thank SAY Detroit for stepping up and stepping in to ensure the health and safety of Detroit’s first responders,” Detroit City Councilmember at Large Janeé L. Ayers, who brought the need to SAY Detroit’s attention. “In an effort to procure 135 thermometers for use by our frontline employees we ran into a shortage and Say Detroit answered the call. I am proud to have partnered with Say Detroit on previous events but I must say that in these perilous times I am ecstatic to know that our community has amazing partners that go above and beyond to pay it forward.”

Two thermometers will be distributed to each designated location, which include 38 DFD engine houses, the DFD apparatus building, and DDOT facilities.

Sharing the (Radiothon) Giving Goes Digital Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:30:34 +0000 Funds totaling more than $1.3 million were distributed to Detroit area charities today from donations received last December at Mitch Albom’s eighth annual SAY Detroit Radiothon.

The distribution ceremony, originally scheduled for March 18 at the Fisher Building but postponed to this morning due to the coronavirus pandemic, premiered on Facebook with nearly two dozen area charity recipients and hundreds of others expected to tune in.

“As the economy tightens, we worry that nonprofits will see their funding evaporate, which makes our annual distribution from the SAY Detroit Radiothon more vital than ever,’’ said Albom, who founded SAY Detroit in 2006. “We are proud this year to support so many worthwhile agencies and individual groups. We know they will continue to make a huge difference in the lives of our city’s neediest citizens, who, especially now, must be protected and kept in our hearts.”

Share the Giving: The Radiothon Fund Distribution Ceremony is Digital

For about one hour, one day every year in the springtime, a room in the Fisher Building is the happiest place on Earth. While circumstances prevented us from gathering in-person this year, generosity and the spirit of community won’t be cancelled. On behalf of Mitch Albom, founder of SAY Detroit, and Dr. Chad Audi, President of the The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, we invite you to join us for a virtual presentation of our Radiothon fund distribution ceremony, as we award more than $1.3 million to nearly two dozen area charity recipients.

Posted by SAY Detroit on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Today’s distribution announcement featured a tribute to Tyrone Chatman, the Michigan Veterans Foundation’s longtime CEO who died in February. More than 20 nonprofits and programs which partner with SAY Detroit received donations, including first-time recipients Detroit Hives and the St. Patrick Senior Center, which was awarded funding to repair a hole in the roof of its building that services the homeless and needy. Funds were also distributed to the programs of SAY Detroit which serves thousands of Detroiters each year, including the SAY Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park and the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic.

Late last month, SAY Detroit announced it had donated $55,000 in funding from last year’s Radiothon to assist three community-based organizations with deploying resources to those most-affected by the COVID-19 outbreak: the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and the Hospital Mask Task Force!

Broadcast live each December over 15 straight hours on WJR (760 AM) and, along with broadcast partner WDIV/, the Radiothon has raised over $7 million since 2012 to help Detroit’s neediest citizens. This year’s Radiothon is Dec. 10 at the Somerset Collection in Troy. To learn more about SAY Detroit, please go to

2020 Radiothon Distribution Charity Recipients Announced Today:

(From funds raised at the 2019 Mitch Albom SAY Detroit Radiothon)

* Denotes 1st-time recipient

Doing Our Part with Emergency Funds to Help COVID-19 Impact Fri, 27 Mar 2020 12:55:21 +0000 How SAY Detroit and founder Mitch Albom are aiding coronavirus impact and recovery efforts.

In response to the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the greater Detroit community, SAY Detroit is donating $55,000 from funds raised at last year’s Radiothon to assist community-based organizations with deploying resources to first-responders, families and individuals most affected by this crisis.

“Our mission at SAY Detroit has always been to ‘give a hand up in times of need.’ Well, this is our greatest time of need. We hope these efforts will make a small dent immediately, and inspire organizations to give in whatever way they can to those on the front lines of this pandemic.”

Mitch Albom, Founder of SAY Detroit

SAY Detroit will immediately make the following donations of:

$30,000 to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries

To address crucial needs at its new Woodard Avenue facility housing quarantined clients and to fund food programs that have been stretched to the limit by an overflow of new homeless clients seeking aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

$20,000 to Detroit Area Agency on Aging

To cover the costs of feeding 2,000 seniors and adults living with disabilities for the next two weeks. The DAAA is committed to improving the quality of life for those in its region who face more challenges with fewer resources.

$5,000 to the Hospital Mask Task Force

To purchase materials to make more than 1,100 face protectors being distributed free to health-care workers, first responders, home-care providers, and other agencies across the state. The Hospital Mask Task Force, a grassroots organization served by over 70 volunteer sewers, has received order requests for over 10,000 masks.

“These contributions will help some of our neediest right now. Clearly more needs to be done and SAY Detroit will continue doing all it can. We have also pledged to continue paying our full-time staff at the SAY Play Center at Lipke Park and our SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic, so their families don’t suffer hardships during this difficult time.”

Mitch Albom

Throughout the crisis, SAY Detroit remains dedicated to the services it provides to the low-income and vulnerable populations it serves via its own programming, including the SAY Play Center, the SAY Clinic and Working Homes/Working Families.

Help Shield’s & SAY Detroit Feed First Responders in COVID-19 Crisis Wed, 25 Mar 2020 19:17:49 +0000 Peter Andoni, co-owner of Shield’s and longtime donor to SAY Detroit, has launched a fundraiser he calls “Help Shield’s Help Those in Need.”

For every $100 collected on this GoFundMe page, Shield’s will donate — and deliver — $125 worth of food to local police and fire stations, health care facilities and charitable organizations, in an effort to nourish and assist those on the front lines who are keeping us safe from COVID-19.

Shields announced the fundraiser on The Mitch Albom Show on WJR, and Mitch Albom kicked off donations with a $1,000 commitment to the cause. The contribution was soon matched by Paul W. Smith.

Listen to their conversation:

The Mitch Albom Show, Peter Andoni interview, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus Response at SAY Clinic Wed, 18 Mar 2020 17:56:36 +0000 The SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic is committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment for all patients, volunteers, staff and visitors while continuing our essential services. As such, we have outlined our efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and ask that you please note the following:

General Services

Our primary care visits are currently active. However, we have suspended our health education, physical therapy, and nutrition classes until further notice.

Patient Instructions

Unless you have been contacted otherwise, any previously scheduled appointment will still be held. It is recommended that you call ahead to schedule an appointment before visiting the Clinic. Upon your visit or before scheduling an appointment, Clinic staff will conduct a screening to best determine your next steps if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or have traveled to areas within and outside of the U.S. currently having widespread, sustained transmission of COVID-19.

Volunteer Instructions

Please stay home if you are feeling ill and notify us immediately so we can work with you and other volunteers to find a replacement for your scheduled hours. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness or fever, it is recommended to stay home until you are free of fever, signs of fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). 

Sanitation Protocols

While the clinic maintains strict protocols for ensuring thorough sanitary conditions for exam rooms, common areas, and waiting rooms, cleanings will be increased with greater frequency between clinic sessions. In adherence with guidelines, chairs in the waiting room will be spaced to ensure recommended distances between patients.

Information about this outbreak is changing rapidly. You can stay informed by regularly visiting and

Note, particularly, the current best practices individuals and households can take in helping to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water (a minimum of 20 seconds) or use hand sanitizer;
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
  • avoid handshakes;
  • regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, and light switches;
  • learn about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing;
  • avoid contact with people who are sick;
  • stay home when you are sick. Call your health care provider’s office in advance of your visit;
  • access services as much as possible online or by phone; and
  • be prepared if there is COVID-19 in your household or a disruption of daily activities in your community. For example, maintain a supply of medications, food, and other essentials in your house. Consider alternative shopping options such as curbside pickups or online deliveries.

This post is subject to change at any time. Please check back frequently for any changes.