News & Updates from A Time to Help

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.”

Filling Buckets of Hope

Filling Buckets of Hope

Perhaps the best thing about Saturday’s (June 9) A Time to Help Project at Buckets of Rain was that the weather didn’t live up to the name of the nonprofit we were helping.

Sure, there was a sprinkle here and there — enough to postpone the painting portion of the project at Founder Chris Skellenger’s four-acre urban garden on Glendale Avenue in Highland Park, across the street from the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic. But Buckets of Rain made sure our 20-member group kept busy.

Happily joined by two first-time ATTH volunteers, the team picked and sorted produce, planted seeds, cleaned garden beds, cut the grass, weed-whacked, picked up trash — everything associated with helping the nonprofit in feeding the homeless and needy in the community.

Karen Gilbert and John Magnuson of Motor City Paint-Shelby Paint & Decorating even delivered freshly picked vegetables to a shelter after their shift.

Once again, S.A.Y. Detroit is grateful to Motor City Paint for donating the paint needed for the shipping container; eventually it will be transformed from bright orange to green. Chuck Schaeffer said the company plans to work with Skellenger next week to get the project completed.

Buckets of Rain provides 100,000 servings a season of produce; 95 percent of the donations it receives are used to maintain the Highland Park garden.

ATTH’s next volunteer project is scheduled for July 14 at Cass Community Social Services. Details will be announced in the next week or so.

ATTH Teams Up With Lighthouse of Oakland County

ATTH Teams Up With Lighthouse of Oakland County

Pontiac — Unload, sort, package. Repeat.

In assembly line fashion, more than 20 A Time To Help volunteers joined S.A.Y. Detroit founder Mitch Albom and radio show co-host Ken Brown on Saturday (May 19) at Lighthouse of Oakland County for one of the largest one-day food drives in the country.

For nearly three hours, the volunteers unloaded a semi-truck filled with donated food items and prepared the goods for distribution at Lighthouse, which since 1972 has been serving residents of southeastern Michigan who face economic hardship by providing the support and resources they need to move toward self-sufficiency.

The project was joined by several first-time ATTH volunteers, including Dolores and Bob Harris of Bloomfield Township.

“I so admire the mission of S.A.Y. Detroit and the mission of Lighthouse,” Dolores said. “What I like most about today is the opportunity to work with others on a team project to help the community.”

James McQueen, pantry manager at Lighthouse, said that the group unloaded and boxed more than 2,000 pounds of food.

“They did an excellent job,” McQueen said. “Helping families in Oakland County to provide meals during the summer, which the students always get when school is in session — this will increase our inventory, which will better enable us to serve them.”

ATTH’s next project is scheduled for June 9 at Buckets of Rain, a nonprofit urban garden which provides fresh produce for the needy and homeless. More information on the project will be posted when registrations opens later this week at

A City in Service on Comcast Cares Day

A City in Service on Comcast Cares Day

It was double the fun — two volunteer events in one.

Nearly 20 volunteers from A Time to Help joined more than 100 others for Comcast Cares Day, a national day of service on Saturday (April 21) at the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park.

The event drew dignitaries near and far, including David Cohen, Sr. EVP and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation, who flew into Detroit that morning from Philadelphia to participate in the project.

Partnering with the City of Detroit and Cities of Service, Comcast used the S.A.Y. Play Center as a staging area for a number of beautification and safety projects around the northeast Detroit neighborhood. At a pre-event rally that was attended by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Comcast presented S.A.Y Detroit with a $20,000 donation to go toward continued improvements at the three-year-old Center.

WATCH: Comcast Cares Day Kickoff:

Before the ceremony, S.A.Y. Detroit founder Mitch Albom thanked the ATTH crew before the volunteers fanned out to work inside and outside the facility. Their work included sweeping gravel from the parking lot and cleaning walls in the cafeteria and hallway.

“I grew up kind of near here, at 7 Mile and Gratiot,’’ said Ann Hurrish of Oxford, who has participated in ATTH events for the past five years. “It’s a nice feeling to help your old community.’’

ATTH’s next project is scheduled for May 19 at Lighthouse of Oakland County. Information and registration will be posted this week.


View photos from Comcast Cares Day at S.A.Y. Play:

Painting With A Mission For Women in Recovery

Painting With A Mission For Women in Recovery

DETROIT, March 26, 2018 — In a span of three hours, the walls of the main hallway of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries’ women treatment facility were transformed from stark white to pretty in pink.

Actually, the official name of the paint color was “Flowers of May’’ —a soothing pinkish-lavender hue that operations manager Sonya Bailey and the staff at Genesis House III chose to brighten up the building’s interior for its residents. On Saturday (March 24), S.A.Y. Detroit’s all-volunteer team of A Time to Help was more than happy to help make it happen.

Thanks to Motor City Paint Company, which donated paint, supplies and employees for the event, more than two dozen volunteers were able to tackle the large project — which included painting three foyers — in three hours.

“Our involvement with the community is one of our core values,” said Chuck Schaeffer of Motor City Paint Co. “We don’t need to do it for exposure. Our store is a close-knit community, and this is just part of what we do. To be involved with Mitch (Albom), S.A.Y. Detroit, and DRMM, it’s in the wheelhouse of what we do.”

Although Albom, founder of A Time to Help and S.A.Y. Detroit, was unable to attend the project, he spoke to the volunteers on speakerphone to rally the troops. Ken Brown, Albom’s radio-show co-host, kicked off the event. The Saturday crew included several first-time ATTH volunteers.

“This is so new to me,” said Kimberly Sims of Detroit, who volunteered with two other employees from work. “I’m finding it so motivating. I’ll be back.”

A Time to Help’s next project is scheduled for April 21 at the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park. Event details will be posted later this week.

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