The first time I drove down Third Avenue in Detroit, I noticed there was a large group of people gathered around in a vacant lot. There were tents up and a few shopping carts. I looked to my right and saw the homeless shelter. That’s when I put two and two together and realized the group of people were homeless and this was a place where they made a temporary home.
At the time, I was coming back from a photography event at the Detroit Masonic Temple. It was my first time being in the area, so all of this was new to me. As I drove past the homeless shelter, I slowed down just a little to make sure I was seeing right. It reminded me of Tent City in Nashville, Tennessee (I am originally from Middle Tennessee).
I instantly felt shock and sadness. I wished there was something I could do to help. It just didn’t sit right with me that as I drove back to my suburban home, there were people who did not have a home. But what could I do? Where could I even begin to help my fellow brothers and sisters in need? I remember praying for a way I could use my talents to serve God and give back.
And along came the GIVE Club…
A couple of weeks ago Keiona Turner, founder and president of the GIVE Club, emailed me to invite me to attend her group’s community service project. I was so excited to receive an invite to document a Detroit-based organization’s community work. This is why I started blogging about living in Detroit. I want to share good stories about Detroit and my family’s experience living here. I want people to see the other side of Detroit– the good.
But when I arrived to the GIVE Club’s service project event, I had no clue that the location of the event was going to be the exact same spot I had drove past a few months ago. The exact same spot where I had silently prayed for God to show me how to use my talents to help others.
As I parked my van across the street from the same vacant lot I had seen months before, I knew right then this was a God thing, or as my son likes to call it, a “God-incident”. Elijah (16) believes there are no such things as a coincidence. He believes what would normally be called a coincidence is truly a God thing. A God-incident. And that’s how I knew my prayer had been answered.
When I pulled up to the event location, there was a large group of people. Some were crowded around a vehicle where people were handing out bags. I could tell the bags were filled with goods for the homeless. As I stepped out of my van and a woman turned around and walked toward me and asked, “Are you giving something out, too?”
At first I was a little confused, but I quickly understood what she meant. She wanted to know if I was giving out any items to the homeless. Elijah was with me and he told her we didn’t have anything to give out, but we were here to meet another organization who is giving out items. She nodded her head and turned around and walked down the street.
As I watched the woman walk down the street, I spotted a group of women and children standing in front of a car with an open trunk. They were handing bags to people. “That must be them,” I said to my son. And we headed over to the group.GIVE Club serves local Detroit neighborhood on #makeadifferenceday ! Click To Tweet
GIVE Club include their families with their community service projects.
Turns out I was right and it was the GIVE Club ladies. Keiona greeted me with a welcoming smile and introduced me to the members of GIVE Club. Everyone was so friendly. They were very happy happy to serve the community. It was really cold that day, but the GIVE Club didn’t let that stop them from serving. Even their children were all smiles and eager to serve. This really touched my heart. I found myself wishing my 14-year-old daughter would have been able to join us. I think she could have really benefited from the experience.
Elijah immediately started talking to the boys and jumped right in to help hand out “Blessing Bags”. People were very happy to receive the Blessing Bags. Each bag was filled with hygiene kits and nonperishable food kits. It made me think of when I do my routine grocery shopping and I buy hygiene products for my family and myself. What a great privilege it is for me to have the means to buy what I would normally consider the routine stuff! But to someone who is homeless, they may not have the money to buy hygiene products, let alone a home to use the products.
GIVE Club distributes 60 hygiene kits and 80 food kits.
The GIVE Club distributed 60 hygiene/toiletry kits with socks, hats, and gloves. 80 food kits were also given. Along with the food and hygiene kits, the GIVE Club handed out 60 hot breakfast sandwiches donated from McDonald’s. They went fast! “We got special requests for socks and hats,” Keiona told me. “It’s just doing the right thing. We definitely just want to do the right thing.”
As I was talking with Keiona about the GIVE Club, a gentleman came up to her and asked if they had anymore hygiene products. A member shook her head and apologized to the man. She said she was sorry they were all out, “but we’ll be back!” she said with great confidence.
Stay tuned for part two!
Who are the GIVE Club and what is their story? Well that my friends, I will have to share on Friday for the second part to our story.
How do you give back to your community?
Special thanks to Keiona Turner, founder of GIVE Club, and the GIVE Club members! Thank you for inviting Good Life Detroit to your service project event.