News & Updates from Heart of Detroit

Funding Recovery in the Heart of Detroit

Funding Recovery in the Heart of Detroit


Air Date: March 7, 2019

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.

Mary: Yes.

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.

Making Sister Judie Proud in the Heart of Detroit

Making Sister Judie Proud in the Heart of Detroit


Air Date: February 28, 2019

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.

Friends Read Together in the Heart of Detroit

Friends Read Together in the Heart of Detroit


Air Date: February 21, 2019

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?

Both: Laughing

Mitch: I don’t know why that came to mind

Both: Laughing

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.

Siblings Sharing Special Days at Camp in the Heart of Detroit

Siblings Sharing Special Days at Camp in the Heart of Detroit


Air Date: February 14, 2019

Michigan is home to Special Days Camps, one of the longest running pediatric oncology camps in the world. It’s a unique place where not only do kids with cancer get to be kids, but siblings are also welcomed. An experience that Dawn Cross shared with her brother.

Dawn Rauser Cross: I had a brother diagnosed with Leukemia when he was three and it was my brothers first experience and my mom said he was crying he just wanted to leave with her and a week later when she came back to get him he was hiding in the woods (laughing).

Mitch: Because he didn’t want to come home.

Dawn: He didn’t want to come home (laughing).

Dawn and her brother Michael fell in love with Special Days Camps. It was here that Dawn discovered her passion for nursing and when she is not working at Detroit Children’s she is part of a skilled team of medical professionals at camp – helping to make life long memories for kids with cancer AND their families.

Dawn Rauser Cross When the cancer kids are at camp we hardly ever see them. They don’t want to have anything at all to do with the nurses but the siblings after every meal will be lined up outside the med center because they want that little bit of one on one that full attention on them.

Mitch: I imagine that sometimes they feel like all the attention goes to the sick brother or sister and they feel like they are forgotten.

Dawn: Yeah, yeah absolutely so it’s a connection for them too.

And creating connections is what Special Days Camps is all about.

Dawn Rauser Cross: I understand the siblings I’ve been there I know that it affects them just as much as it affects the person in treatment. Camp is not about having cancer camp is about living with cancer because the kids…

Mitch: And having fun.

Dawn Rauser Cross: Exactly.

Special Days Camps is bringing laughter and joy to kids touched by cancer here in the heart of Detroit. 

Painting with Purpose for the Homeless

Painting with Purpose for the Homeless


Air Date: February 7, 2019

That’s Father Marko and he has organized a mission to keep parks, alleys, neighborhoods and churches clean. His crew – men and women who have fallen on hard times.

Tucked inside Central United Methodist Church is a cozy studio that welcomes homeless men and women to step inside and express them selves artistically.

Mitch: People wouldn’t necessarily think you know the first thing that a homeless person would want to do is to sit down and paint something.

Ann Windley: What we like to do at Art & Soul is we like to create a family atmosphere we like people to feel like its home.

A home where art feeds the soul. Run by Ann Windley, Art & Soul is providing dignity and a sense of purpose to people who are homeless. People like Twiana Odom, once destitute but now flourishing. 

Twiana Odom: We try to be a family down at Art & Soul. Once you come in I think you will hear laughter there’s a lot of bright colors around. People are doing their own thing. Maybe uh a crayon or some pencils sitting by them and they start a doodle project and the next think you know we are framing it and hanging it somewhere.

Art & Soul has exhibited at multiple venues including Henry Ford Hospital and festivals like Art Prize in Grand Rapids. Artists also sell their work throughout Detroit, giving each artist a sense of fulfillment.

Mitch: What is it about art or creativity that is soothing, educational, healing I guess in some way?

Twiana Odom: We all have artistic abilities but to follow through and complete a project is what’s important.

Ann Windley: And we feel good that we have made the day better for our participants and that’s what we love to do.

Bringing art into the hands of the homeless, Art & Soul is painting with a purpose here in the heart of Detroit.

A Better Way in the Heart of Detroit

A Better Way in the Heart of Detroit


Air Date: December 20, 2018

That’s Father Marko and he has organized a mission to keep parks, alleys, neighborhoods and churches clean. His crew – men and women who have fallen on hard times.

Father Marko: And when I look at those homeless persons I don’t see hopeless objects of pity but I see men and women with gifts with a sincere desire to work.

Father Marko provides supplies and labor wages with money raised through Better WAY Detroit – an initiative of the priests of the Detroit Oratory of St. Phillip Neri in Midtown. He has enlisted the help of Marcus Cobb who was once homeless himself.

Marcus: I met Father Marko and he came up with this program and he said I would like to start a program where I can go to the homeless shelters and get at least six or eight guys or women and we go to different areas of the city and clean up.

Mitch: To have the opportunity to have a day’s work for a day’s pay

Marcus: God that’s a beautiful feeling.

Earning an honest day’s wage means something to men like Eric who is getting back on his feet.

Eric: It helps me keep a little money in my pocket stay clean keep all the necessities I need as far as hygiene food stuff like that it helps out everybody.

Father Marko: Always the goal for everyone is to enter a place of self-sufficiency. Giving them the dignity in work offering them the opportunity to partake in something that’s positive.

With hard work comes reward and in this case – opportunity. Father Marko and Marcus Cobb are putting people back to work right here in the heart of Detroit.

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