News & Updates from A Time to Help

A Time to Help Delivers Buckets of Sunshine

A Time to Help Delivers Buckets of Sunshine

July 13, 2019/HIGHLAND PARK, MI. — It was the perfect day for playing in the dirt: Sunny skies, not a drop of rain on the horizon, and a garden filled with produce to harvest.

A Time to Help volunteers on Saturday did that and more at Buckets of Rain urban garden, located across the street from the SAY Detroit Family Medical Clinic. They pulled weeds. They delicately picked green beans and pulled onions out of the dirt. They planted carrots. They pulled weeds.

Boy, did they pull weeds — wheelbarrows full of them.

Under the direction of Buckets of Rain operations manager Tony Johnson and garden manager Warren Brantley — affectionately know as “King of the Garden’’ — ATTH’s July event was filled with projects aimed at nourishing the nonprofit’s neediest citizens. It’s an effort that can’t be done without the help of volunteers, Johnson said.

“For us at Buckets of Rain, with the amount of food we’re trying to grow, we need about 4,000 volunteer hours to sustain what we need,” he said. “They’re so important.”

A Time to Help will be back in Highland Park on Aug. 24 to assist at a community health fair. Details will be posted in the coming weeks. The health fair will involve several nonprofits, include the SAY Clinic, Avalon Village and Buckets of Rain. Avalon Village and Buckets of Rain are partner programs of SAY Detroit this year.

“We’re excited about the coalition we’re trying to build in the community,” Johnson said. “”We’re trying to create solidarity in Highland Park to promote each other and make sure people get the most out of all of the services. There are people who want to create positive change here, and it can’t happen without everybody’s input.’’

Clean-Up At Cass Community Refreshes, Lifts Spirits

Clean-Up At Cass Community Refreshes, Lifts Spirits

DETROIT — It was spring cleaning, A Time to Help style.

For nearly three hours Saturday, more than two dozen A Time to Help volunteers worked to help transform Cass Community Social Services’ cluttered warehouse into a more-organized space.

The end result was a site to see; the group had filled a massive dumpster with debris. Other items were sorted for recycling and future projects to benefit the nonprofit.

Under the direction of Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass Community has been fighting poverty and creating opportunity for Detroit’s most at-risk citizens. ATTH, SAY Detroit’s major volunteer arm which tackles monthly projects to assist fellow charities and community organizations, traditionally commits to helping Cass Community with at least one project a year.

The previous two years, Fowler and Sue Pethoud, Cass Community’s volunteer coordinator, organized events with ATTH to benefit its Tiny Homes neighborhood. This time, ATTH was asked to assist with a major clean-up job, and the volunteers happily responded on a beautiful spring morning.

SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom was at his orphanage/school in Haiti over the weekend and was unable to attend. Ken Brown, Albom’s radio show co-host, led the event.

“We rely on volunteers every single day and we couldn’t do what we do without volunteer support,” Fowler said. “Without volunteers we’d be a quarter of what we are. To see people coming in to help you, it really lifts your spirits.”

ATTH’s next project is tentatively scheduled for May 18. Details will be announced soon.

Assembling Hope At Motown Soup

Assembling Hope At Motown Soup

UTICA — Another project. Another record.

A Time To Help volunteers have long considered Motown Soup one of their favorite projects of the year. Saturday was no different.

The Utica-based all-volunteer nonprofit, which produces and packages dry soups and other mixes to raise funds for the needy, hosted more than two dozen ATTH volunteers in their kitchen and assembly area at Trinity Lutheran Church. In three hours, the group produced and packaged 1,420 soup mixes (about $10,000 worth of product), which beat last year’s ATTH effort of 1,200.

A terrific number, considering the project started late because of the icy commute many volunteers faced on the drive in.

“Getting groups like this to come in to help, it gives us a big boost,” said Dan Kennedy, one of Motown Soup’s volunteers who helped coordinate the morning. “The timing is perfect; we had an almost empty store room. Your efforts gave us an opportunity to replenish in a big way.”

There was even some friendly competition that brewed between the groups of volunteers. By mid-morning, judging from their pace, some were wondering if “chicken pot pie’’ would edge the “white chicken chili’’’ team for the most assembled soup mixes. And the winner was….

White chicken chili (419), followed by mini-tomato (392), chicken pot pie (364) and cheeseburger (245).

“Everything about the morning — it really went great,” Kennedy said.

ATTH thought so, too.

ATTH’s next project is set for April 6 at Cass Community Social Services. Registration will begin this week at

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.

Kicking Off Holiday Season With A Magical Party For The Salvation Army

Kicking Off Holiday Season With A Magical Party For The Salvation Army

DETROIT: What do you get when you gather 175 children, 65 volunteers, limitless activities filled with nothing but fun — and a surprise visit from Santa Claus?

Why, it’s the annual SAY Detroit/A Time to Help Christmas Party to benefit shelter women and their children at The Salvation Army Harbor Light.

Hosted by SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom and his radio show co-host Ken Brown, the 21st edition was a smash hit Saturday (Dec. 1), brightening the day for dozens of mothers and their children who are in need of holiday warmth and cheer this time of year.

“It was wonderful, the best ever,” said Elaine Marion, director of shelter operations at Booth’s women and children family shelter. “Some of them don’t have family to go to, some of them are grieving. This party gives them a space to enjoy themselves; we can be their family. It’s important to make everyone feel close, welcomed and wanted – and they had a great time. Great music, great games and great fun.”

A holiday store staffed with volunteers assisted the mothers in shopping for new clothing. Guests and children were treated to snacks in the morning and a pizza party sponsored by Shield’s at lunch. Other activities for the children — all run by volunteers — included games, dancing, face painting, caricature drawings and performances by 12-year-old Isabella the Magician. Moms were treated by massages and manicures — just enough time to relax before Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived to deliver presents to the children.

Longtime ATTH volunteer Joanne Steele has helped at more than a dozen parties over the years; this year she worked the registration/info area helping check in volunteers, pass out T-shirts and name tags, and answer questions.

“The parties embody everything ‘Christmas’ for me — happy smiles and love over simple things: dancing, Santa, a meal, cake, presents,” she said. “I especially love seeing the moms smile when I ask to see their newly manicured nails or their beautiful face-painted face. I volunteer to share the blessings God has given me; I do it for others. Selfishly, I also do it for me because it makes me feel so good.”

SAY Detroit is grateful to so many companies and individuals who sponsored the party, including Peter Andoni, Paul Palozzolo, Costco, Kroger, the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation, Southfield Pediatrics and UPS.

SAY Detroit would also like to thank its army of ATTH volunteers who hosted the party and donated items, including the “captains’’ of the activities. The nonprofit sends a special shout-out to Elaine Marion and Capt. Jamie Winkler for their support and hard work in making this year’s event so special for so many.

See you next year!

Decorating A Holiday Hit

Decorating A Holiday Hit

Detroit — We’ll know for sure on Saturday, but the preliminary results were more than encouraging.

For the first time ever, A Time to Help added a second event (aka pre-gamer) in advance of SAY Detroit’s annual Christmas Party to benefit The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Detroit: a decorating party to get the Ellen A. Thompson Center all gussied up before Saturday’s big day for shelter residents and their children.

The reason was two-fold. The first was because registration for the Christmas party traditionally fills up quickly; having another event offered ATTH to include more volunteers during the holiday season. The second was to catch the volunteers who want to be involved, but are unable to help on the day of the party.

Sue Schuldeis and Leslie Reaser were in the second category; scheduling conflicts prevents both from volunteering Saturday.

“I’m so glad I came,” Leslie said. “This has really put me in the holiday spirit.”

A Time to Help is glad she came, too. Nearly 20 volunteers worked Friday afternoon to ensure that Saturday’s party will be a  success for The Salvation Army’s clients and shelter residents. Holiday tunes blared from speakers as volunteers strung lights, hung wall decorations and set up the stage and tables.

“This was a great idea,” said Elaine Marion, director of shelter operations at Booth’s women and children family shelter. “It takes a lot of the pressure off for tomorrow, and gives everyone more time to have fun.”

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