“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” –Fred Rogers
This February, while romantic love is in the air, I’m popping in to remind you that what the world needs now is love, sweet love! It’s easy to become overwhelmed by hopelessness while listening to the news, but wherever there is disaster, there is also altruism. Now is not the time to lose our faith in humanity, nor is it the time to say, “Not my problem.” If we want the world to be a better place for our children, we have to get out into our communities and be the change.
Our community happens to include a city in constant dire need. Detroit came in as the 6th poorest city in the country last year, according to census information. Where to begin? Here’s your guide to getting started. Volunteer your time, talent, or treasure to one of these awesome charities in 2018:
Make Families & Communities Stronger
Starfish Family Services– Starfish Family Services serves vulnerable families in Metro Detroit through early childhood development starting at home. They provide parenting resources, children’s mental health services, after-school programs, and an emergency shelter for youth in crisis.
YMCA– The Y is an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. More than a mere gym with childcare, the YMCA offers regular community enrichment programs, including early childhood education and youth sports, often providing financial assistance for those who can’t afford to participate.
United Way of Southeastern Michigan – Through summits, town halls and research, the United Way identifies the root causes of the community’s most complex challenges and then works as a liaison of sorts, working with institutions that provide public services to make them better. The United Way pools the resources of their public, private and nonprofit partners to multiply their impact through giving, advocating and volunteering.
Mend on the Move– Mend on the Move sells handcrafted jewelry created by women who have survived abuse and found the courage to begin again. By learning jewelry making skills, survivors can earn an income and grow in confidence and independence while in recovery.
Alternatives for Girls– Alternatives For Girls helps homeless and high-risk girls avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation, and helps them to access the support, resources and opportunities necessary to make positive choices. AFG accomplishes this through three key services: AFG Prevention, the AFG Shelter/Transition to Independent Living Program (TIL) and AFG Outreach.
Wayne County SAFE– WC SAFE provides acute medical-forensic exams and crisis intervention for all ages, in collaboration and partnership with KidsTALK and Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
First Step– First Step provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Recipients benefit from free and confidential programs designed to help them overcome the lack of intervention and support; the feelings of powerlessness, isolation, physical danger and fear; and the financial, emotional and cultural barriers that victims of violence often face when seeking help.
Methodist Children’s Home Society– MCHS responds to the needs of abused and neglected children by providing an array of housing, educational, clinical and therapeutic services, including a 24-hour operating residential home and treatment facility for abused and neglected boys, foster care placement and adoption services for children in Michigan, literacy programs, and transitional housing programs for young men who have “aged out” of the child welfare system.
Provide Education for All
St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center– This community staple provides educational programs, basic skill building and academic enhancement for at-risk children and adults. The programs are designed to build self-sufficiency skills for academic and employment success, personal achievement and dignity.
Mercy Education Project– Mercy Education Project focuses resources on empowering low-income women and girls through education. They improve academic outcomes for girls and women who have experienced educational challenges or failure, and in addressing other life obstacles they face.
Foster Creativity & Problem Solving
Detroit Creativity Project– This unique organization provides a support system for children in Detroit living in poverty who, despite potential, would otherwise grow up and continue the cycle of poverty. The Improv Project specifically offers these young people the tools they need to change that story. Students in the program develop the ability to collaborate, listen to others’ views, build literacy skills, and learn to take risks in a safe, supportive setting.
Arts & Scraps – Arts & Scraps re-imagines recycled industrial materials, inspiring people of all ages (particularly children living in low income areas) to think, create and learn with heavy emphasis on STEM programming. The organization strives to provide accessibility to all, making sure the store and warehouse are fully accessible to people with disabilities since 1992.
Alleviate Hunger & the Effects of Poverty
Gleaners– This organization provides households with access to sufficient, nutritious food, and related resources through collaboration, education, and innovative solutions to achieve a hunger-free community. Gleaners operates five distribution centers and provides food to 499 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other agencies throughout southeastern Michigan.
Focus: Hope – Works in partnership with others to fight racism, poverty and injustice. The organization works to address the problems of hunger, economic disparity, inadequate education and racial divisiveness.
Salvation Army– You may be familiar with the Red Kettle campaign at Christmas or the resale stores, but the Salvation Army does much more for the community from providing rehabilitation services, to safe homes for domestic abuse survivors, to a food truck that feeds the hungry in the poorest neighborhoods in Detroit every day of the year. Those living below the poverty guidelines can also obtain legal assistance through The William Booth Legal Aid Clinic.
Support the Sick or Suffering
Children with Hair Loss – Children With Hair Loss provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss.
Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit – This is a free support community for men, women and children living with any type of cancer, and also for their families and friends. Their innovative program is an essential complement to medical care, providing networking and support groups, education, social activities.
Which Detroit-based charity would you add to this list?