Make a Difference Day in Detroit!

By Lindzy Conley on November 1, 2013 in AmeriCorps, HIV/AIDS Awareness Days

Every year on the fourth Saturday in October, the nation’s single largest day of community service takes place, inspiring people nationwide to help improve the lives of others through a day of service. On October 26th, 2013, AIDS United AmeriCorps Team Detroit chose to answer Make a Difference Day’s call to service by volunteering with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) was founded in 1909, and is charged with the task of providing food, shelter and addiction recovery services to those impacted by homelessness and substance abuse. On average, the DRMM touches the lives of more than 1,400 men, women and children daily.

team detroit

For Team Detroit’s day of service, we served at DRMM’s Oasis house which provides emergency, transitional and permanent shelter to homeless men in the Detroit community. As the shelter provides three meals a day for shelter residents, preparation of these meals is no easy task. With that, Team Detroit was able to lend a hand both with preparing and serving the midday meal. We first helped by prepping a wide variety of cakes and pies to be served as dessert with the meal, and then were able to help prepare the main event, homemade pizzas. We had a pretty great assembly line going for this task, with Rose handling the sauce, myself handling the cheese, and Grace and Kamran handling the toppings. With the assistance and guidance of the kitchen staff, we had lunch ready to go in record time.


Team Detroit was responsible for serving the lunch to residents, with Rose, Grace and myself preparing the plates, Jerome on dessert detail and Kamran in charge of cutting the pizzas hot and fresh from the oven. The kitchen staff was intentional in considering those who do not eat pork or those who may be vegetarians in preparing the meal. Getting to interact with residents as they came through the line was an interesting experience for the team as a whole, with Team Detroit AmeriCorps Member Jerome describing the experience as humbling. Most of us were able to identify someone in the group that appeared to be a similar age as ourselves, which definitely had an impact on each of us. Additionally, while the kitchen staff goes to great lengths to provide meals that will appeal to most, as a team, we felt that it must be difficult for shelter residents to have someone or something determine what they will eat and how much. Homelessness is certainly an area of concern for the city of Detroit, as thousands of homeless individuals can be found on the streets of Detroit on any given night. While this project did not directly solve the problems related to homelessness in the city, it did allow us to serve a small portion of this population, and inspired each of us to consider the current state of need in Detroit.

team detroit

One of the things I think I most appreciated about this experience was the opportunity to see a different side of the homeless epidemic in Detroit. In my work at my agency, I do weekly prevention outreach shifts in the city in an effort to connect with commercial sex workers, many of whom are often homeless. Our Make a Difference Day project allowed me to see that the issues facing the city in regards to homelessness are complex and quite varied, spanning across men, women, and children of all ages and races. Additionally, volunteering alongside the DRMM staff was a pleasure, as they were all so grateful and appreciative of our service. The care and concern that the staff had for the residents shined through their work, and enabled AIDS United AmeriCorps Team Detroit to have both a positive and enlightening day of service.

357 days to go until Make a Difference Day 2014!

“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.” ~Unknown


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