DETROIT, March 27, 2018 — Representatives from 22 area charities accepted checks totaling nearly $1.25 million on Tuesday from donations raised at Mitch Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon last December.
The ceremony at the Fisher Building, which included six first-time recipients, has become S.A.Y. Detroit’s favorite day of the year, said Albom, who distributed the funds to the benefitting charities with Dr. Chad Audi and representatives from major sponsor organizations, and supporters. Audi is president of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, which is S.A.Y. Detroit’s operating partner.
“It’s really the generosity of the people who gave to our Radiothon — some even $5 or $10 contributions, all the way up to large corporate gifts — that we are sharing with worthy charities around Detroit,” said Albom, who founded the S.A.Y. Detroit nonprofit in 2006. “It’s our honor and pleasure to do so each year.”
Funds were distributed to the following charities:
- S.A.Y Detroit Play Center, $565,000
- S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic, $300,000;
- Working Homes Working Families, $100,000;
- S.A.Y. Detroit Tomorrow Fund (endowment), $100,000;
- College for Creative Studies/Detroit Dream Scholars, $30,000;
- Cass Community Social Services, $25,000;
- Bing Youth Institute, $10,000;
- Humble Design, $10,000;
- Westside Cultural & Athletic Club, $10,000;
- COTS/Bright Beginnings, $10,000;
- SASHA Center, $10,000;
- Michigan Veterans Foundation, $10,000;
- LA SED INC., $10,000;
- *Notes for Notes, $7,500;
- Real Life My Music, $7,500;
- *D2N/EVO Detroit, $7,500;
- United Sisters of Charity/Mother Batie’s Kitchen, $6,000;
- Hole in the Roof Foundation/*Grace Episcopal, $5,000;
- Veterans Matter, $5,000;
- *Art Road, $5,000;
- *Friendship Circle/Farber Soul Center, $5,000;
- JVS, $5,000;
- *Buckets of Rain, $3,000.
(* Denotes 1st-time recipient).
Albom also announced the expansion of S.A.Y. Detroit’s Board of Directors. The 11 members are: Dennis Archer, Cynthia Ford, Carmen Harlan, Judge Damon Keith, Rob Orley, Al Papa, David Provost, Charles Rothstein, Arn Tellem, Albom and Audi. A new advisory board will be announced soon.
“We’re so pleased to form the expanded board of S.A.Y. Detroit, which reflects a wide range of backgrounds, expertise and history,” Albom said. “I’m proud to be working with them and have great confidence that they will help steer S.A.Y. Detroit into the future and even greater level of effectiveness to help the needy in our city.’’
The 2018 Radiothon is Dec. 6 at the Somerset Collection in Troy.
Broadcast live for fifteen hours from The Somerset Collection in Troy, MI, the annual tradition once again proved—with every call, guest interview, and click of the “donate” button—that giving truly is living.
The funds raised help the poor, the homeless, families without homes, children without medical care, students hoping to reach the college of their dreams and veterans who have hit hard times through a daycare center, a free clinic for homeless children and their mothers, a veterans center, a motivational learning center, scholarships, and a housing program for working families.
As Mitch Albom wrote in his recent column, “It’s easy to get cynical at the holidays. We mock how we can care so much a few weeks each December, and be so callous the rest of the year. I don’t see it that way. I see December as who we really are, and the rest of the year as the time we need to remind ourselves of it.”
Thank you for showing us who you are—generous donors, caring volunteers, and a grateful community who have a vested interest in seeing things improve in Detroit.
Erica Wright’s eyes were rimmed with tears as he spoke.
S.A.Y. Detroit was visiting Wright’s summer session for a lunchtime pizza party at her Westside Cultural & Athletic Club nonprofit on a recent Thursday when Derrick R. Coleman paid her a surprise visit.
Nearly 40 years ago, Coleman was a 6-year-old boy on Detroit’s west side — “growing up around heroin addicts,” he said — when he found solace, support and love in the form of a woman who had created a youth program out of her home to keep children on the straight and narrow.
That woman was Erica Wright, who founded the Westside Cultural and Athletic Club in 1976.
Today, Coleman, 45, is superintendent of the River Rouge school district. Earlier this year, he was a finalist for Detroit’s superintendent position; Coleman is also working on his doctorate.
“Each one of us has a story to tell,” Coleman told Wright’s 22 teen leaders assembled that day at West Side Academy. “How could I become a district superintendent when my mom didn’t graduate from high school and I didn’t know who my father was? A big part of why I went into education was because of Ms. Wright.”
He looked over at Wright, who was standing to his right in the classroom at the school, where food was being distributed to the needy one floor below outside its doors.
Wright and her grass-root’s nonprofit, which S.A.Y. Detroit supports through funding from Mitch Albom’s annual S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon, received statewide recognition in 2013 when she was recognized with the Governor’s Service Award.
Coleman said he can’t emphasize enough what Wright and her program did for him during his youth.
“I had a good family, but this woman sheltered a burden for the entire community,” he said. “I was a kid who dealt with self-esteem issues. I never played a down of high school football, or basketball. I needed someone to breathe life into me.
“Everything I do in life now is to be of service for others. She quit her job at the IRS and became, (essentially), the mother of an orphanage. I’m here in my Gucci loafers, but that doesn’t qualify as success. She sacrificed for other people’s kids. If money didn’t mater, what would I do? I’d be Erica.”
When Coleman’s talk was finished, he was swallowed up by Wright’s loving arms in a long embrace.
“I am the one who’s grateful,” she said.
Today marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a campaign to increase awareness about the realities of sexual assault and violence, and to educate about how to prevent it.
Mitch Albom andS.A.Y. Detroit have taken a very visible stand on this and support organizations that help survivors of rape and sexual assault, and take active measures in the education about and prevention of such crime. At last month’s press conference distributing the funds raised during the 2016 Radiothon, three organizations were featured that directly work in this area. While many of the issues surrounding rape and sexual assault are intersectional, it is vital to fund and support programs that are particularly focused on supporting survivors.
A first time recipient, the SASHA Center is a sexual assault services center for rape survivors in Detroit. A former adjunct professor at Marygrove College — and a sexual assault awareness consultant to the NBA — Kalimah Johnson opened the SASHA Center in 2010 after working for 15 years in the Detroit Police Department’s victim assistance program. She noticed there was a big difference in how women got serviced based on how they looked and what their background was. Kalimah created SASHA in part to take shame and guilt away for survivors of sexual assault.
“This gift of $10,000 will assist us in creating sacred and safe spaces for survivors of sexual assault throughout Detroit and add more sessions to our calendar for survivors of sexual assault,” Kalimah explained.
“Particularly, this funding will go towards helping us run our peer educational support groups including transportation to and from group locations, snacks for our meetings, space rental, facilitator training and payment, art supplies for group, and group programs for survivors to learn the significant historical relevance for the full integration of the traumatic experiences they have had as a result of sexual assault. The possibilities are endless!”
For the second-straight year, S.A.Y. Detroit is supporting Vista Maria, which has been helping young people for more than 130 years. This year we’re pledging funds to help support their Lost Voices program, which offers girls in Vista Maria’s residential care the support to express themselves through music, songwriting and performance. Eminem kick-started their fundraising with a $2,500.00 donation. S.A.Y. Detroit doubled that amount with a $5,000.00 grant.
According to Nicole Lewis, chief marketing and fund development officer at Vista Maria: The Lost Voices program offers two, five-day expressive therapy workshops for approximately 40 girls receiving residential treatment and care at Vista Maria. Many of the youth served in Vista Maria’s residential treatment programs come from impoverished backgrounds and have limited exposure to fine arts and musical education. Most of them are there to escape lives of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Bringing the Lost Voices program to Vista Maria’s campus vastly expands their ability to work through their prior trauma and express themselves through music.
Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries’ Dignity Project
Just over two years ago, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries launched an important program called The Dignity Project to help victims of human trafficking. This program provides safe shelter and loving care to victims, giving them time to address their legal, medical and emotional needs. They received a gift of $10,000.
Representatives from 20 area charities accepted checks totaling more than $1 million on Tuesday from donations raised at Mitch Albom’s fifth annual S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon last December.
The ceremony at the Fisher Building included several first-time beneficiaries, including the Bing Youth Institute — a mentoring program for urban youth created by former Detroit Mayor and NBA legend Dave Bing.
Albom, who founded S.A.Y. Detroit in 2006, presented the checks to the benefiting charities with Dr. Chad Audi, president of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, along with representatives of several major donor organizations. (more…)