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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.

Two Types of Pipe for A Time to Help at the Senate Theater

Two Types of Pipe for A Time to Help at the Senate Theater

Saturday’s A Time to Help project at the Senate Theater in Detroit featured a little bit of everything: Cleaning, organ playing, and water spewing from a burst pipe.

A burst pipe?

More on that in a minute, but suffice it to say, our volunteers put forth a top-notch effort making the grand old movie house a whole lot spiffier. We spruced up the lobbies, wiped down every single seat in the theater, along with scrubbing two bathrooms, the stage and the auditorium floor.

Jim Murdock of Troy, who has volunteered with ATTH for the past 10 years, said “making a difference’’ in the lives of others is the main reason why he drove down to southwest Detroit on Saturday to join the group.

“I just got tired of writing a check; I didn’t know where my money was going,” he said. “I decided that I’d rather do something with my back than with my wallet.”

The project also featured SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom taking a break from cleaning to try his hand playing the theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, which used to be housed at the Fisher Theater until it was moved to the Senate in the early 1960s.

The project, however, was halted about 45 minutes early when a frozen pipe burst under the sinks in the women’s restroom. Fortunately, a shut-off valve was located and a plumber was able to repair the pipe in the afternoon.

Longtime ATTH volunteer Joan Brown, who’s a member of the theater’s nonprofit Detroit Theater Organ Society, was grateful for the volunteers’ efforts that day.

In an email to SAY Detroit, Brown wrote in part: “Well, I know A Time to Help has saved many lives and families through its efforts, but today we literally saved a historic theater and its irreplaceable contents. Had we not been in there, (as) no one else had planned to, the burst pipe would have continued to leak until the wet plaster ceiling collapsed. So ATTH saved more than they know.”

ATTH’s next event is set for March 16 at Motown Soup. Registration will begin in mid-February. Follow us on Facebook for those details.

A Time to Help The Senate Theater

A Time to Help The Senate Theater

Volunteers will be performing general maintenance tasks — including cleaning — at the Senate Theater, home of the nonprofit Detroit Theater Organ Society. Please bring cleaning supplies if you have them, such as buckets, rags, mops and brooms. Write your name on your items.

Event Details

Date: Saturday, February 2

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where: 6424 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, 48210 (west of Livernois) | Map of area

Volunteers Needed: 30

Sign up:


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.

Kids and Pets Learning Together

Kids and Pets Learning Together

Air Date: December 13, 2018

Amy Johnson took her compassion for unwanted dogs and paired it with her desire to help at-risk youth. The result, Teacher’s Pet, where she offers a stepping-stone to a better life.

Amy: At our detention facilities the kids come in with a therapeutic mindset. Here are the goals that we want to have here are the goals that we need to have to be successful in life and we are paired with a dog to meet those goals and at the homeless shelter that program is slightly different because those kids they needed job skills so they learn dog training, dog walking, dog handling and they get paid so they actually have a job.

A chance for these kids to better themselves with the help of “hard to adopt” dog – a shared stigma that the kids understand.

Mitch: So you found that dogs paired with the rough experiences of some of the juvenile kids actually makes for like a simpatico relationship?

Amy: Absolutely it does they both have been unwanted or felt unwanted and they have both lived on the streets so the commonalities make them bond and connect in a way that we couldn’t do with just traditional therapy.

The bond benefits both youth and dogs. But the long-term goal is for each to work together and find their way to a happier life.

Amy: We want the dogs to be adopted so we try not to keep them for too long. These kids who have already experienced so much loss in their lives and how do you make them say goodbye to the dog’s too but that’s something that doesn’t have to be something that is painful let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective where he is getting into a home or going into a family that will treat him well and sometimes that altruism is the piece that makes the difference.

With a “sit” and a “good boy”, Amy Johnson is offering a brighter future for her trainers and canine trainees here in the heart of Detroit.

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