Emanating from the fearless minds of Cass Community Social Services, Detroit Urban Legends Haunted House elicits the yearly jumps, squeals, shrieks, and gasps demanded by Americans tired of only having the reverse extinction of dinosaurs to fear. In a deft blending of two U.S. traditions, Urban Legends combines over-the-top thrills with distinctly unfrightening charity, as ticket sales go to help raise money for programs that provide relief and support for homeless mothers and children. Urban Legends is set inside the sprawling, 2,500-square-foot Cass Community United Methodist Church. Expect all manner of ghoul, ghost, hovering severed limb, and battery-less ringing cell phone upon entering the vast macabre underworld.
During each afterschool-tutoring session, children are given a healthful snack, such as baby carrots and apples, to keep them energized, to promote healthful-snacking habits, and to help keep the students properly nourished. Healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables can improve focus and cognitive function, but many of the program's attendees from low-income families lack ready access to them. For some students, these nutritious snacks will constitute the only meal they'll get that evening.
Students participating in the Junior Coach program learn how to resolve conflicts, lead games, and encourage healthy play among their peers through monthly training sessions and daily check-ins led by Playworks' staff members. During recess periods, junior coaches get the opportunity to put their training into practice, captaining recess activities designed to encourage student leadership, healthy exercise, and fun.
In 2000, Ric Geyer bought an abandoned building in the middle of Detroit, but had no plans to raise another hotel or trendy restaurant. His goal was innovation—or rather incubation. In the following years, he transformed the space into an arts incubator called the 4731 Gallery, a place where painters, photographer, and designers could come together to share ideas, hold parties and exhibitions, and work to further their craft.
When Derek Weaver, who managed the gallery, heard that his neighborhood was labeled one of the 15 poorest in the country, he decided to change public perception. Working with the graffiti artist Sintex and fine artist Sydney James, Derek launched the Grand River Creative Corridor project to create more than 100 murals and outdoor gallery exhibits. Today, more than 50 artists and 300 volunteers have contributed their time and talents to ornamenting a half-mile stretch of Grand River Avenue with colorful designs and playful characters. By the time the project is complete, the artists will have painted murals on 15 buildings, designed an outdoor gallery at a bus stop, and cleaned up overgrown weeds and trash. Each mural is painted with the consent of the local business owners, and installations reflect their line of business to increase exposure while revitalizing the neighborhood.
Every month, Focus: HOPE provides regular food assistance to 5,000 mothers and children and 37,000 senior citizens across southeast Michigan. This means that since 1971 the organization has donated more than 501 million meals to ensure all community members have access to food. To do this, volunteers work alongside staff at four food centers, where people experiencing hunger can shop for nutritious items and produce for free. At Focus: HOPE’s central warehouse, meanwhile, volunteers assemble boxes of food to distribute to homebound seniors. And during the holidays, Focus: HOPE also distributes a special package of holiday food to the seniors in its program.
Yet Focus: HOPE isn't only focused on hunger. The center also aims to end the cycle of poverty through educational programming and career preparation. Since it began down this path in 1981, the organization has empowered nearly 12,000 people to obtain successful, satisfying careers while assisting high-school students in STEM courses and boosting the literacy rate of younger children.
"I pledge allegiance to the world to care for the earth and sea and air. To cherish every living thing with peace and justice everywhere." These words begin each morning at The Greening of Detroit's Camp Greening, inspiring in children a sense of responsibility and ownership for their planet. Yet, the summer camp isn't the only program striving to create a greener Detroit. Urban gardening and agricultural programs, workforce development, tree plantings, and gardening projects help to educate people and transform the Motor City into a verdant, safe environment. The Greening partners with neighborhood groups, churches, schools, and corporations on its mission to improve parks and transform vacant land into useful landscapes.