News & Updates from News + Updates

Touring a Special Center Devoted to Michigan’s Veterans

Touring a Special Center Devoted to Michigan’s Veterans

One of the first projects funded by S.A.Y. Detroit after its founding in 2006 was a new commercial kitchen at the Michigan Veterans Foundation. Eleven years later, Mitch Albom joined MVF Executive Director Tyron Chatman on a tour of the new Detroit Veterans Center (4626 Grand River, Detroit), home to 104 veteran residents. In addition to a state-of-the-art kitchen, the center boasts a computer learning lab named and dedicated in Albom’s honor for S.A.Y. Detroit’s longtime commitment to the nonprofit. The learning lab – which is set to open soon — will enable formerly homeless veterans to learn computer literacy and will include job search activities.

S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center Awarded FIRST Grant

S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center Awarded FIRST Grant

S.A.Y. Detroit is proud to announce that the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center has again been chosen as a recipient of a FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant. The annual grants are given to underserved and underrepresented communities to support the development of new, innovative approaches to address equity, inclusion and diversity inequalities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The grants are directed to facilitate hands-on learning and problem-solving opportunities

One of 17 winners, S.A.Y. Play will expand its robotics programs to include its first FIRST LEGO League Jr. team and add additional FIRST® Tech Challenge teams. The grant will also allow S.A.Y. Play to recruit additional coaches and host robotics competitions in its community.

S.A.Y Play initiated its first robotics program in September 2016 with five teams: Steam Team, Robot Warriors, Panthers, Jaguars, and Huskies. Steam Team and Robot Warriors are FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams are middle and high school-aged students (grades 7-12) challenged to design, build, program, and operate a robot to play a floor game against other teams’ creations in an alliance format to develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles. Their participation grants them access to college scholarships. Our three FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams range grades 4-8 and are tasked with researching a real-world problem and design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, then compete on a table-top playing field.

Volunteers from Frog Force 503 of Novi High School provide invaluable FIRST program and technical expertise as mentors and coaches. Drawing from our experience as a partner with Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Frog Force helped design a build space, purchase tools and equipment, register teams and apply for grants. Frog Force also provided pre-season workshops, an open house, coach training, mentor support and team mentorship., work collaboratively with other organizations to add STEM learning as a natural extension of the center’s mission to help at-risk students graduate from high school, go on to college, and ultimately compete for great jobs.

In addition to participating in their first qualifying events in the Fall of 2016, our FIRST teams hosted “Warriors Revenge,” their first invitational at S.A.Y. Play in May of 2017. S.A.Y. Play will join Frog Force 503 in hosting the 2017-2018 Detroit Kickoff event on September 9th. FTC teams will learn the challenge game and attend key workshops. Details and registration here.

FIRST®, which stands for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.

Electrician Lends a Hand At Detroit Water Ice

Electrician Lends a Hand At Detroit Water Ice

DETROIT — Doug Watson isn’t a carpenter by trade—he’s a longtime electrician at The Conti Corporation—but he raised his hand anyway when he heard that S.A.Y. Detroit needed some work done at its Detroit Water Ice Factory in downtown Detroit.

The request: Install a third row of trim designed to hold a slew of celebrity photographs at the frozen dessert store at Campus Martius, where all profits benefit Detroit’s neediest citizens under Mitch Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit umbrella of charities.

“I’ve been in the business long enough that I know how to do a lot of different things,” Watson said. “I’m glad that you contacted me, but I’m especially glad that it worked out well.”

The project, which was completed last week, was Watson’s first since joining the Detroit Muscle Crew II last spring after Albom formed the all-volunteer team of skilled tradespeople to help with S.A.Y. Detroit’s physical projects and endeavors. (You can sign up to become a member here.)

Watson said that he had so much fun, and that Albom was so grateful, that he decided to donate the materials for the project himself, a value of $143.

“It was great teamwork all the way around,” Watson said. “Bedrock (which provides the DWIF space for the store) even sent a guy over to help me, because it was a two-person job.”

Praise for Westside Cultural’s Erica Wright

Praise for Westside Cultural’s Erica Wright

Erica Wright’s eyes were rimmed with tears as he spoke.

S.A.Y. Detroit was visiting Wright’s summer session for a lunchtime pizza party at her Westside Cultural & Athletic Club nonprofit on a recent Thursday when Derrick R. Coleman paid her a surprise visit.

Nearly 40 years ago, Coleman was a 6-year-old boy on Detroit’s west side — “growing up around heroin addicts,” he said — when he found solace, support and love in the form of a woman who had created a youth program out of her home to keep children on the straight and narrow.

That woman was Erica Wright, who founded the Westside Cultural and Athletic Club in 1976.

Today, Coleman, 45, is superintendent of the River Rouge school district. Earlier this year, he was a finalist for Detroit’s superintendent position; Coleman is also working on his doctorate.

“Each one of us has a story to tell,” Coleman told Wright’s 22 teen leaders assembled that day at West Side Academy. “How could I become a district superintendent when my mom didn’t graduate from high school and I didn’t know who my father was? A big part of why I went into education was because of Ms. Wright.”

He looked over at Wright, who was standing to his right in the classroom at the school, where food was being distributed to the needy one floor below outside its doors.

Wright and her grass-root’s nonprofit, which S.A.Y. Detroit supports through funding from Mitch Albom’s annual S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon, received statewide recognition in 2013 when she was recognized with the Governor’s Service Award.

Coleman said he can’t emphasize enough what Wright and her program did for him during his youth.

“I had a good family, but this woman sheltered a burden for the entire community,” he said. “I was a kid who dealt with self-esteem issues. I never played a down of high school football, or basketball. I needed someone to breathe life into me.

“Everything I do in life now is to be of service for others. She quit her job at the IRS and became, (essentially), the mother of an orphanage. I’m here in my Gucci loafers, but that doesn’t qualify as success. She sacrificed for other people’s kids. If money didn’t mater, what would I do? I’d be Erica.”

When Coleman’s talk was finished, he was swallowed up by Wright’s loving arms in a long embrace.

“I am the one who’s grateful,” she said.

DETROIT film stars scoop FREE water ice

DETROIT film stars scoop FREE water ice

In town for the world premiere of the new movie, DETROIT, actors and starsPeyton ‘Alex’ Smith, Nathan Davis Jr., Joseph David Jones, Ben O’Toole, Tyler James Williams, and Ephraim Sykes made a special appearance at Detroit Water Ice Factory to celebrate Detroit’s 316th birthday. After receiving some fast training from Mitch Albom, the film’s stars scooped free water ice for the first 316 people who stopped by, and gave away a pair of tickets to the film’s premiere that night at the Fox Theatre.

 

DMC Update #5 from St. Anthony’s: Completed Thanks to One-Step Home Solutions

DMC Update #5 from St. Anthony’s: Completed Thanks to One-Step Home Solutions

There’s above and beyond, and then there’s WAY above and beyond.

That sums up the dedication and commitment of Detroit Muscle Crew II members Mike Stephanoff and Ron LaBarge of One-Step Home Solutions.

We are happy to report that our first major project of the DMCII is completed at the Cathedral of St. Anthony (5247 Sheridan Street, Detroit) largely because Mike and Ron continued to step up to the plate and make sure that the food and clothing pantry, and the entrances to the 100-plus year-old church, received the necessary improvements they sorely needed.

The final phase of the project consisted of installing two new steel entry doors; the first phase (completed a few weeks ago) included the installation of 18 new glass block windows. You can read our previous posts to learn more about the contributions of Mike, Ron and other DMCII team members on that part of the project.

“We accomplished an awful lot thanks to you guys,” Jim Penrod, St. Anthony’s clothing and food director, said Monday. “When we started our second project (the new doors) and no one stepped up to the plate, they handled everything. It looks great. It really looks good. You don’t know what a help you’ve been to us.”

Mike, who served as the manager of the St. Anthony improvements from beginning to end, logged a total of 60 volunteer hours on the projects over the course of the past few months; Ron totaled 54. Materials were purchased via funds that Bishop Karl Rodig’s church received from the Hole in the Roof Foundation via Mitch Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit 2016 Radiothon. The church’s food and clothing pantry assists thousands of residents each year.

“I think they’re a wonderful group of people, and you also realize the battle they’re engaged in,” Mike said. “That building requires so much tender loving care and maintenance; I’m glad I was able to help them.”

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