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.
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.
Twenty-one years ago Charlie and Mary Parkhill were a carefree couple on vacation in Mexico.
Charlie Parkhill: I was taking a swim in the morning and a wave came up behind me picked me up dropped me on my head and that’s what compressed my spinal cord. I was totally paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Charlie was medevac’d back to the States and underwent several surgeries. The doctor’s were not optimistic about his recovery and delivered a grim prognosis to his wife Mary.
Mary Parkhill: When I finally got to see him the next day he just looked at me and he said I’m going to get better.
Charlie began intensive therapy and with time managed to walk more than 100 feet, unassisted. He was defying the odds but when he heard another patient’s treatment was ending due to insurance cuts he knew he had to do something.
Charlie Parkhill: This family was devastated and I went home to Mary and I said this could be our cause if we could find a way where people wouldn’t have to hear that.
So began the Mary and Charles A. Parkhill Foundation, which grants money to people with catastrophic injuries for continued therapy when other funding has lapsed. So far they’ve raised close to 600 thousand dollars.
Mitch: So you raise the money and then you give the money away essentially.
Charlie: We give it all away. Over 80 grants so far in the 12 years we have been doing this.
Mitch: That’s 80 people.
Charlie: 80 people.
Mitch: Whose lives have been affected by your generosity.
Mary: I wish we didn’t have to have this foundation because you don’t know what its like until you’re in that world so if we can if we can help someone it’s the best.
Charlie and Mary Parkill are turning a tragedy into hope for others with catastrophic injuries here in the heart of Detroit.
Sister Judie always knew she wanted to be a nun. Widowed and with her six children grown she followed her calling and joined the Felician order. Then she met a young mother in need.
Grace Bayer: She saw a woman eating out of a dumpster feeding her child and she said I need to do more.
Sister founded the Sisters of Christian Love with a mission to feed the hungry. Grace Bayer was a volunteer.
Grace Bayer: She was just so kind and loving and I was really impressed with her and how she was so selfless.
Sadly, Sister Judie passed away in February of 2018 but those that she served continue to receive the love and support she provided thanks to Grace and the team of volunteers at Sister Judie’s Outreach.
Grace Bayer: We make between 125 and 150 lunches every day Monday thru Friday and deliver them to people in the Eastern Market area of Detroit and then we also give out underwear socks, t-shirts, hats gloves, coats.
Mitch: And what’s been the most rewarding part of it for you?
Grace Bayer: People telling you you know thank you so much you don’t know what this means to me um God bless you and it just kind of makes your day you know just knowing that you’re helping someone.
Mitch: If you could talk one more time with the real Sister Judie what might you say to her or ask her?
Grace Bayer: I would say are you proud of me?
Mitch: What do you think she’d answer?
Grace Bayer: I think she’d say yes
And we would agree. Carrying on the blessing of a Godly woman, Grace Bayer is feeding the less fortunate here in the heart of Detroit.
Every week a group of avid readers meet at the Bean and Leaf in Rochester to discuss their latest book club selection.
Deb Motley: The group is made up of seven individuals who have various disabilities or abilities that are different
Beth Monroe: Our members rarely miss a week and for five years they have been steadfastly attending so it means a lot to them it’s a highly anticipated social event every week.
This in demand social event is The Friends Book Club. The club was founded five years ago by Deb Motley, Beth Monroe and Beth’s daughter Emily who has Down Syndrome. The club has read over 20 novels – from classics to current titles.
Beth Monroe: My daughter who is a member has become a better reader she chooses to read on her own time frequently now she remembers what she read and can discuss it and it has also taught her to have opinions about something that took place in a book.
Mitch: And what was your first book that you selected?….Tuesdays with Morrie?
Mitch: I don’t know why that came to mind
Maybe they haven’t read Tuesdays with Morrie yet but they have tackled Oliver Twist, Harry Potter and Secret Garden just to name a few. The best part of the book club is the members are making lasting friendships.
Deb Motley: These group of people didn’t know each other very well before the book club. Just seeing the enjoyment that everyone has being together and reading together and discussing the books and having a relationship with each other I think that’s what really makes me come back every week.
Learning through reading and prospering every week, Deb Motley, Beth Monroe and The Friends Book Club are sharing a good book with a special community right here in the heart of Detroit.
The Heart of Detroit is a groundbreaking public service initiative that shares inspiring stories of metro Detroiters with heart and everyday people who step up to help make our community a better place to live. You can learn more here.
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