By Dr. Chad Audi
Here in Detroit, we’re doing something unique and innovative. And I believe it can work in any city or town. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) has partnered with another local non-profit organization, Think Detroit PAL (Police Athletic League), to help each other —and the City of Detroit — this summer.
Think Detroit PAL is a youth sports program that attracts 12,000 Detroit-area children each year. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries is a non-profit that provides shelter, food, treatment, clothing, job training and other services for thousands of homeless, addicted and disadvantaged individuals and families. Together, we are having a huge impact on the community.
DRMM’s vocational training programs include a class on lawn service and landscaping. Clients enrolled in this course learn valuable skills that can help them earn a living or become an entrepreneur. Local businesses have helped us secure lawn mowers and other equipment to enable the men to learn the trade. The course includes hands-on mowing lessons on the grounds of DRMM’s facilities.
The Think Detroit PAL partnership takes the training program to the next level. Earlier this month, we began cutting grass and cleaning up at five parks owned by the city and used by the kids in the Think Detroit program. We will continue to provide this service throughout the summer at no cost to the City of Detroit, which has not been able to keep the parks maintained due to the severe budget crunch we are facing in Detroit.
So in the end, everyone benefits. The city parks look better. Kids are able to enjoy playing outdoor sports in the parks. Detroit Rescue Mission clients gain confidence and self-esteem from their newly-learned job skills, and they get a good feeling about what they are doing to help the kids enjoy the summer. And the City of Detroit gets free lawn service during this depressed economy.
See what’s possible when we help each other out?
By Dr. Chad Audi
Here’s an interesting question: If you had $15.2 million to help the homeless, how would you spend it? That’s the question being posed by the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department to local non-profit organizations and residents. The city plans to use the funds to establish a Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) to assist homeless individuals and families, as well as those at-risk of becoming homeless. Meetings were scheduled to solicit input from organizations serving the homeless about what they feel are the most critical areas of need.
Of course, the most vital needs for the homeless are immediate and adequate shelter and food. Our policy at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) is to never turn anyone away. Even though our beds may be filled to capacity, we still find ways to accommodate the homeless. Sometimes it means having them sleep in chairs, but it gets them off the streets and inside where it’s safe and warm. They receive nourishment for their body, mind and soul. The food, sermons, counseling and medical treatment work together to help get these individuals through a difficult time in their lives.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of expenses associated with providing these services to the thousands of people who come through our doors. Although we rely heavily on the generous donations of goods from our supporters, we still incur expenses for food, clothing and case managers. There are “hidden” costs as well, such as the utility bills for our numerous facilities, janitorial supplies, bedding, and the preparation of thousands of hygiene kits.
But regardless, our eye remains on the ultimate prize: To create productive citizens out of these individuals and get them back on their feet. So we have to find ways to get it done.
What would YOU do with the city funds to help the homeless?
By Dr. Chad Audi
The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) has several facilities in the Detroit area that reach out to as many of the community’s homeless and disadvantaged as possible. Everything that we accomplish is due to the assistance and prayer of the people, businesses and organizations in the area. Without that support, DRMM would not be as comprehensive as it is today, and the less fortunate would not have the option of using our services to get back on their feet.
Our flagship men’s shelter is located in an area known as the Cass Corridor in Detroit. It’s surrounded by homes, schools, apartment buildings, businesses and other non-profit organizations. I’m proud to say we all help out each other in the area. We’re all good neighbors working together for the betterment of the community. And that’s so important these days. Unfortunately, due to the depressed economy, we are experiencing an increase in homelessness and the number of people needing assistance with food, shelter and clothing. That’s why hundreds from the community join us for a free dinner served at the shelter every night. Even some of the residents in the surrounding neighborhood stop by because they need a decent, nutritious meal and can’t afford one otherwise. We know the need for our services will continue. That’s why it’s important that communities band together to help those in desperate need and to help each other. DRMM has assisted the community for 100 years, and we will continue to do so for the next 100 years and more.
A recent Detroit Free Press article reported on a homeless shelter’s efforts to open new offices, a training center and showers in a suburban Detroit church building. A group of residents is threatening to sue to stop the move because they say such an operation does not belong in a residential neighborhood. This objection comes despite the shelter’s assertion that its homeless clients will not have overnight stays in the church building.
Interesting situation, isn’t it? I’d like to hear how you feel about organizations that help the homeless operating in residential neighborhoods, along with your ideas on how we all can work together to help each other as a community.