South Oakland Shelter partners with more than 60 area religious institutions to provide housing opportunities for displaced people. Its guests receive a place to sleep at the partner congregation, warm meals, and opportunities to plan housing situations with case managers. The shelter also organizes targeted homelessness-prevention efforts including direct financial assistance, career-development and financial-literacy workshops, and support groups. Because of its work with more than 8,000 volunteers annually—who interact with guests and arrange sleeping spaces—SOS was named Outstanding Volunteer Program by the Michigan Governor’s Service Awards in 2009.
Humble Design helps low-income families create new lives after transitioning from homelessness by furnishing their homes with repurposed furniture and supplies. It conducts home makeovers largely with donated and used items, creating thrifty and eco-friendly home designs for families in the Metro area, including many single-parent families and victims of domestic abuse. Reusing cleaning products and large pieces of furniture simultaneously help families create comfortable living spaces, and keeps these items out of Detroit’s overflowing landfills.
Though Treger Strasberg and Ana Smith, the co-founders of Humble Design, spent nearly two months on their first house, they now handle as many as seven a week, according to an interview in the New York Times. Their team starts each redesign by giving family members beds for sleeping, pots for cooking, kitchen tables for family meals, and dressers to store clothing. The volunteers pick up the furniture from homes with excess supplies and deliver them to the families for free. They then undertake a full home makeover, cleaning the space and supplying rugs, lamps, and flowers to create a warm environment.
Within a private, boutique-style gym exuding a familial vibe, Bodymorph Gym takes its clients back to workout basics. The personal trainers on staff prize simplicity over an abundance of doodads and gimmicks, exclusively leading private sessions and small group boot-camp classes. The elasticity of the programs, however, stretches to accommodate each participant's various goals, from weight loss to enhanced athleticism to improved posture to healing.
During indoor classes, trainers eschew the all the shouting and court-martialing of traditional boot camps. They help sculpt physiques with modern equipment—such as strength machines, stability balls, and free weights—from the cozy confines of a homey studio. Diet plans can supplement exercises on the side, and music and a disco ball lend a festive atmosphere to workouts.
Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan aims to improve the quality of life for underserved individuals across the state through philanthropic programs. These programs include Link to Creative Teaching, which provides funding for special classroom projects, and Assault Survivor Kits, which distributes toiletries and new clothing to survivors of abuse or sexual assault whose personal items have been retained as evidence. Additionally, Wee Help supplies low-income mothers with infant-layette kits. Since 1994, the organization has distributed more than 3,150 kits to hospitals and birthing facilities throughout Michigan.
To supplement donations, corporate grants, and annual fundraising events, volunteers raise money for these programs by selling new and gently used items at the group's resale shop, the ReSale Connection.
Animal Aid Foundation works each day to place lost or unwanted pets in permanent homes through rescue and community-outreach programs. One day, the organization hopes to open a no-kill shelter to help reduce pet overpopulation and provide an alternative to shelters that practice euthanasia.
On a typical day, Animal Aid Foundation volunteers might review pet-adoption applications, transport shelter animals to the veterinarian for vaccinations, or remove animals from shelters with high euthanasia rates and place them in foster care. Volunteers also deliver pet food to low-income families and help run community-outreach programs that provide necessities such as bedding and doghouses.
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