HIGHLAND PARK, MI — For more than two hours Saturday (Sept. 16), the parking lot just outside the doors of the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic was transformed into a vibrant gathering spot for the community.
Called “Healthy Food = Healthy Women,’’ S.A.Y. Detroit hosted its first women’s health fair and open house to increase its outreach and visibility in one of metro Detroit’s most-challenged neighborhoods while also celebrating the good work the clinic has done for the community for the past nine years.
The S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic, which is located at 211 Glendale Avenue, between Woodward and Hamilton, was established in 2008 by S.A.Y. Detroit founder Mitch Albom as the nation’s first free medical clinic for homeless and uninsured women and children. Operated by the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, the clinic records more than 4,000 patient visits annually.
Area residents who attended the free event – which was run by 20 members of Albom’s A Time to Help volunteer team — were treated to a continental breakfast sponsored in part by Avalon International Breads and Forgotten Harvest. Henry Ford Health System provided free blood pressure and BMI testing, while SASHA Center had a booth set up to distribute information about its sexual assault services nonprofit.
In addition to those donations, S.A.Y. Detroit would also like to thank Dr. Joel Kahn’s GreenSpace Café in Ferndale for distributing free vegetables; My Community Dental Centers for its free giveaways; Smiggins the Clown for entertaining and painting children’s faces; Dr. Richard Keidan of Detroit2Nepal Foundation for his assistance in organizing the event, and the Cooper Standard Foundation for its longtime sponsorship of the clinic.
“Today was a fantastic meeting of our staff, our volunteers, some previous patients and a lot of potential new patients,” Albom said. “We were amazed at how many people still didn’t know about our little gem here, but we’re really pleased at how pleased they were once they found out what it was and I think this will spread the word about our clinic. We also spread the word about healthy eating, and we introduced a lot of people who had never met each other before to one another, which is the best thing you can do.”
Dr. Peggy Richardson, the S.A.Y. Clinic’s medical director, and Dr. Keyshia Covington took residents and guests on tours of the clinic. Chris Skellenger of Buckets of Rain — an urban garden nonprofit — also informed visitors of its program, which provides homeless shelters with free produce and other food, and has one of its main gardens across the street from the clinic.
“We are trying so hard to let people know in the neighborhood and beyond what we are doing at the clinic,” Richardson said. “We have specialty care for our patients who do not have insurance. Everything that we have is free of charge for them.’’
Albom added: “We were blessed with great weather and this is exactly the kind of outreach that we want to do. We just don’t want to be inside our clinic, inside our doors, we want to be outside our doors telling our community that we can help them and we’re here for them — and we accomplished that today.”
Mitch Albom was on hand to represent S.A.Y. Detroit at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries graduation ceremony on August 25th. The annual graduation ceremony is for DRMM residents who have successfully completed their program. At this year’s event, two families were surprised with new homes, and another two families were surprised with new vehicles. Albom presented one of the families, the Jenkins family, with a plaque of their new address.
Catch up on the event:
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.
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.”
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.
S.A.Y. Detroit is proud of its partnership with the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation. That’s why a friend of the Michigan Masons is a friend of S.A.Y. Detroit!The staff and students at the S.A.Y. Play Center at Lipke Park this week were thrilled to receive a flat screen television and sound system that was donated by retired U.S. Navy Capt. Doug McDonald and his wife Kathy. McDonald is president of the Motor City Veteran’s Village. Check out the full story at sayplay.org »