By Luther Keith, executive director, ARISE Detroit!
The spirit of ARISE Detroit!’s Neighborhoods Day is reflected in the dozens of block clubs and groups large and small that join forces all over Greater Detroit on August 6. It’s a time when people come together to help make Detroit a better place and meet and greet their neighbors.
Downtown, Josie Campbell and business groups will pull together the Gratiot Splash on the site of the old Joe Muer’s restaurant with a symbolic “funeral” to bury violence, community information programs and pony rides.
On the far east side of Detroit volunteers with a Masons Lodge plan to work with scores of other volunteers and Habitat of Humanity for Detroit to help build new housing.
In Rosedale Park in northwest Detroit, Tom Ridgway will be assembling volunteers to board up vacant housing and use mowers to bring down overgrown grass.
In southwest Detroit, Tracey Lewis and the Chadsey Condon Community Organization will host a Family Fun Day to bring families together and to offer resources for neighborhood residents.
“Neighborhoods Day brings everybody in the city together,” said Diane Barnes, owner of the business Granny’s Place, one of the Neighborhoods Day participants. “It’s what we need to help make a change.”
Some volunteers will spend more than a day helping make that change. Handyman Ministries will adopt a Detroit city block and spend a week doing renovation repairs including carpentry, electrical and plumbing work. “We are also going to have a barbecue and make the commitment to meet and work with residents once a week for a year,” said Tim Addy, founder of Handyman Ministries.
There will also be numerous health fairs, back to school events, community cleanups and more.
- At least seven major community festivals of various kinds including productions at Focus Hope, the Belmont Shopping Center, the Gratiot Splash, a Paradise Valley Festival at the Virgil Carr Arts Center by the Arts League of Michigan that will include a program by the Black Storyteller’s Association.
- The Health Alliance Plan will celebrate 50 years in Detroit with health screenings and entertainment at Wayne State’s Matthei Stadium including a free concert by the legendary Contours. At historic Fort Wayne will hold a Telling Our Story three-day program involving reenactments of the history of African Americans.
- The Accounting Aid Society will offer free tax help.
- The Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Michigan will participate in community service with a neighborhood church.
- The Hollywood Golf Institute will host a pee wee golf tournament at Palmer Park. The Detroit City Chess Club will have an exhibition chess tournament featuring students who have won national and state awards.
- The Center for Literacy and Creativity will host a Knowledge Bowl that tests the knowledge of students in math, science, history and more. High school students can sign up for college scholarship with the Detroit College Promise at the Belmont Shopping Center event with the group Community United for Progress.
Participating churches include Rose of Sharon, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and the W.M. Ford Memorial Methodist Church which will host an anti-violence rally for young people. Other Participants include the Palmer Woods Association, Historic Boston-Edison Association, Ravendale Community and the Warren Conner Development Coalition.
The day’s activities will conclude at Hart Plaza at the Ribs and R N B Jazz Fest at the ARISE Detroit! Renewing the Village Ceremony honoring three community figures who have made contributions to improving neighborhoods in Detroit. They are Eleanor Josaitis, co-founder of Focus: Hope; streetscape artist Tyree Guyton, founder of the Heidelberg Project, and Grace Lee Boggs, longtime crusader for social justice.
There will also be entertainment and performances by the Detroit Children’s Choir, poetry by young people with the Peace Project, the Motown-themed band Impact Seven and singer JRenee who will give her rendition of a new song for Detroit. The Hart Plaza event will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Aug.6.
All the events can be found on the website www.arisedetroit.org. Volunteers are still needed for community service projects. You can register online at www.arisedetroit.org or phone, 313-921-1955 or register at www.believeindetroit.org.
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.