An International House of Volunteers in the Heart of Detroit

What started as a rehab has turned into a labor of love, Karen Cherven created an International Home right here in the heart of Detroit.


Air Date: April 5, 2018

Karen Cherven turned the purchase of a distressed house in Detroit into an international phenomenon.

Karen: I heard about the Detroit Land Bank and I thought it was a really great program that the city was doing to put distressed housing in the hands of people who could rehab them and I said to my husband hey lets go by this house its up for auction and that was the start of something great.

Before rehabbing the home, Karen turned to Work Away, a website that connects people from around the world with opportunities to visit the US and work for their stay.

Karen: So my very first volunteer was a young man named Ryosuke.

Mitch: He was Japanese?

Karen: Yes he was Japanese

Mitch: So was he any good with a hammer?

Karen: I taught him a lot. That’s the great thing about this program is that people learn a lot.

Now complete, The Detroit International House has played host to close to 30 volunteers from countries like Italy, France, Peru, Taiwan and Russia. The volunteers explore the city; study English but most importantly they give back to Detroit through community service that Karen organizes.

Karen: All of my volunteers have been amazing and I have learned so much from them and exposing my family to them and exposing them to Detroit and exposing people in Detroit to these people.

Mitch: You bought a house on a whim thinking ok I will fix this up and it turned into an international charitable effort.

Karen: (laughing) I get a lot of out it because I get exposure to the internationals. It’s really a cultural exchange.

What started as a rehab has turned into a labor of love, Karen Cherven created an International Home right here in the heart of Detroit.

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