News & Updates from A Time to Help

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.”

Working Inside & Out For A Future Family

Working Inside & Out For A Future Family

Detroit — It was a stunning transformation, from beginning to end.

Where there was overgrown shrubbery and vines, a fence line emerged. Where there was once an attic filled with debris, the possibility of a future bedroom appeared.

For three hours Saturday, two dozen A Time to Help volunteers embraced and tackled a major clean-up project at a house that SAY Detroit will soon donate on Detroit’s northeast side to benefit its Working Homes/Working Families program.

Led by SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom, the volunteers worked to clean up the property, inside and out, to prepare the house for rehab before it’s awarded to a family in October.

“The project completely changed the home from overrun and overgrown landscaping to something out of ‘House Beautiful,’’’ said Chris Johnston, SAY Detroit’s lead volunteer liaison for ATTH. “The team just pitched in trimming and removing many years of neglected landscape and even planted spring bulbs for the deserving family to enjoy.”

ATTH’s next project will be Oct. 13; details will be posted later this week.

Braving the Heat for a Tiny Home Neighbor

Braving the Heat for a Tiny Home Neighbor

DETROIT — As always, it was a team effort from the start.

One group assembled on Richton Street, another on Monterey. A third tackled the area near the John C. Lodge Service Drive.

For three hours on Saturday (July 14), more than 30 volunteers from A Time to Help weeded, weed-whacked, swept, shoveled, raked — and much more — to help beautify the area around Cass Community Social Services’ Tiny Homes neighborhood.

It was a robust effort on a hot and humid morning; the group consumed three cases of water by the end of the project. SAY Detroit founder Mitch Albom said he profoundly appreciated the work of the volunteers, especially under the circumstances.

SAY Detroit’s ATTH program has participated in volunteer activities at Cass Community for years, including the last two with projects to benefit the nonprofit’s Tiny Homes: In 2016, ATTH helped create the blueprint for the homes by taping measurements on the floor of Cass Community’s warehouse; in 2017, ATTH painted a tiny home and cleared an area of debris to prepare it for construction.

On Saturday, ATTH made it three in a row with a landscape project spearheaded by Sue Pethoud, Cass Community’s church and community relations liaison.

“Tiny Homes are for poor people, and it’s not just a temporary move, but a chance for economic mobility,”, said Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community.

Nearly a dozen volunteers who participated Saturday were ATTH first-timers, including Jane and Terry LaFlamme.

“I love this,’’ Jane LaFlamme said. “I love the camaraderie, that we’re making a difference. We’re trying to give back because we’ve been so blessed.”

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