Events, Giving Back

Won’t you be my neighbor and show the heart and soul of Detroit

By Luther Keith, executive director, ARISE Detroit!

On Detroit’s far west side, Olivia Shakoor and the folks at the Crary St. Mary’s Community Council will gather up their children, organize their baton groups and start prepping for their annual neighborhood parade.

In Midtown, Keith Bennett and Goodwill Industries of Detroit will organize food vendors and community programs for a huge soul food taste fest and more.

Those are only two events that are part of hundreds of organizations taking place during the fifth annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Saturday, August 6. It will be a day to showcase the straight-from-the-shoulder year-round efforts of scores of block clubs, churches, community groups and small businesses that continue to work for a better today and tomorrow for city residents.

You’ll see an amazing sun up to sun down display of community pride and service projects involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of people and volunteers from the RiverFront to Eight Mile Road. They’ll be part of a record more than 200 events and locations including special promotions at most of Detroit’s 84 independent grocery stores in all parts of the city.

“I talk to people at United Ways all over the country and I don’t know if any city anywhere that is doing anything like Neighborhoods Day,” said Randy Dillard, director of volunteer services for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, one of the major sponsors of Neighborhoods Day. “This has really become an incredible event for Detroit and the people in the neighborhoods.”

Father Norman Thomas, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, who will host the church’s annual bazaar during Neighborhoods Day weekend, put it this way … “You need a day like this to remind you of all the good things in our city. It’s like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Christmas and New Year’s. This is a day that reminds us that so much is possible…there are so many great programs out there.”

“This is not just some Pollyanna stuff. This is based on people….good people.”

Among the many partners in Neighborhoods Day are Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, the Detroit Regional News Hub, and Sandy Hermanoff, co-founder of the I’m A Believer Campaign, which launched earlier this year to promote volunteerism in the spirit of ARISE Detroit!

“I have been working to encourage everyone – no matter where you live work or play to volunteer and do something to help our city,” said Hermanoff, who has joined the board of ARISE Detroit!. “Neighborhoods Day is a perfect time to come forward to help make Detroit a great city again. I encourage everyone to please join the hundreds of volunteers on Neighborhoods Day.”

ARISE Detroit! is working with the Mayor’s Cities of Service and Catch the Spirit initiatives, which promote citizen volunteerism to adopt parks, clean lots, plant gardens and other activities to enhance the quality of life in the city.

“It’s very important that we all be involved,” Bing said at a recent news conference announcing Neighborhoods Day events. “My Administration is working to see that every day is like a Neighborhoods Day throughout the year.”

All the events can be found on the website Volunteers are still needed for community service projects. You can register online at or phone, 313-921-1955 or register at

Funded by the Kresge and Skillman foundations, ARISE Detroit! is a non-profit coalition of more than 400 organizations promoting volunteerism, community activism and positive media images to create a better Detroit.

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