Freedom House, a temporary home for survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada, was met with much uncertainty in late 2016 and early 2017. They learned that their federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding, which makes up at 60 percent of their funding, might be taken away from them due to changes in the administration.
Freedom house has been operating since 1983 and the nonprofit organization came to be in response to terrible reports of political torture and murder in El Salvador. Refugees were arriving in Detroit due to its closeness to Canada, where many were headed for safety and a new life, looking for somewhere to stay and take shelter.
Homeless shelters weren’t able to meet the legal, medical, language and resettlement needs that the refugees had, so together, residents of Windsor, Ontario, and residents of Detroit joined to form the Detroit/Windsor Refugee Coalition.
Since the 80s, Freedom House has been finding ways to best serve this population. The organization advocates for systemic change and recognizes the rights of those seeking asylum. Freedom House saw refugees from El Salvador in the 80s, refugees from the Middle East and Somalia in the 90s, and today, the majority of Freedom Houses’ residents come from sub-Saharan Africa.
About 95 percent of Freedom House residents are victims of torture, said TJ Rogers, program manager at Freedom House.
Because of this statistic, Freedom House is always trying to provide OBGYN services for women, orthopedic help, dermatology help and neurological help, in addition to behavioral, mental and nutritional help.
Many of Freedom Houses’ residents are victims of PTSD and a lot of them are inflicted with survivor's guilt and anxiety.
“Mental health is huge,” Rogers said. To help residents walk through the process of finding mental stability and comfort is one of the most important parts of the work done at Freedom House, in addition to the legal process, he said.
Staff and volunteers at Freedom House try to look at the resident wholistically while incorporating formal health components, Rogers said. They incorporate yoga and meditation to bring residents back to the present to help ease their mental state and they partner with the YMCA to work on diet and nutrition, too.
Rogers said that Freedhom House wants residents to know that people do care about them and that they have not been forgotten about. It’s important for the residents to know that people at Freedom House and in the community are welcoming them and want them to be here, Rogers said. “It speaks volumes,” Rogers said.
A majority of the entertainment coordinated for residents at Freedom House happens onsite, including movie nights, game nights and speakers from local organizations and universities who talk about music in the area and American slang.
When Freedom House and the rest of the community found out about the possible stripping of funds, the community jumped into help mode. In a few months of fundraising, Freedom House raised about $330,000, collected from fundraisers by other organizations, private groups and individual donations.
“We were blown away,” Rogers said.
Freedom House found out that their funding from HUD goes up until March of 2018 and then their future with that funding source is unknown.
The silver lining in all of this is that there was an explosion of awareness that was created about Freedom Houses’ work and mission and their need for help, Rogers said.
About 40 to 45 individuals are able to stay at Freedom House at a time and they’re almost always at capacity with about 24 months being the maximum time of stay. They also have a handful of off site apartments, allowing additional individuals to receive assistance. Freedom House works to provide pre-employment opportunities for residents to put the individuals in a better position for the future.
Freedom House is very grateful for what they have and what they provide to residents and they’re looking to become less reliant on government funds due to the unpredictability in today’s world, Rogers said.
“There’s an outpouring of love at Freedom House,” he said. Last year, Freedom house was able to help 136 people- 118 adults and 18 children. At the end of the day, Freedom House is trying to end homelessness and value all individuals. If you’re unable to donate funds but want to get involved, you can volunteer your services, like grant writing, educational opportunities and pro bono medical assistance.
Freedom House is located at 2630 W. Lafayette Blvd. They can be reached by phone at 313-964-4320 and by email at email@example.com.
You can donate easily by texting FREEDOM83 to 41444 or you can visit their website at www.freedomhousedetroit.org.
~Erica N Rakowicz
Detroit area residents can learn more about the history and architecture of the Eastern Market area during Preservation Detroit Eastern Market walking tours at 10 a.m. each Saturday May through September.
The Eastern Market tours are just one of several walking tours put on by Preservation Detroit to celebrate Detroit’s history.
Preservation Detroit board member Jennifer Ruud said the group started in the 70s as “Preservation Wayne” when a group of Wayne State University students wanted to save the David McKenzie house, named after the first dean of the college, from demolition. The group later expanded its mission to preserving historic structures throughout the city, changing its name to Preservation Detroit.
Then, in 2001 when Detroit was hosting celebrations for Detroit’s 300th birthday, Preservation Detroit board members decided that Detroit shouldn’t be the only large metropolitan area in the Midwest without a walking tour. Since then, the group has hosted a variety of tours with different themes, including arts and culture and bicycle tours, but the Eastern Market walking tour is a favorite.
Tour leader Lisa Rush says they try to cap the tours around 20 people so the experience is more personalized.
“We talk about the history of the market and the fact that it is the oldest and largest open-air market in the U.S. We’re always thrilled to point out that the record for that is held by Detroit,” Rush said. She also talks about what was going on in the city before the market was established, including the fact that a cemetery, several breweries, and a large German community, including German churches and German-owned businesses, were located in the area that is now Eastern Market. Rush said the tours don’t actually go through the middle of the market, because it would be too chaotic and they’d likely lose people from the tour group as they stopped to browse. “We talk to them about what the market has planned for the future and tell them how to shop at the market, with specifics for each season,” Rush said. “Then we let them go shopping or give them recommendations for lunch or further shopping.”
Participants meet a volunteer guide at the Welcome Center between Sheds #2 and #3 at 1445 Adelaide. Tours last about two to two and a half hours, cover about a mile, and are held rain or shine. The cost is $12 for Preservation Detroit members or $15 for non-members.
For more information about Preservation Detroit, visit preservationdetroit.org. To purchase tour tickets, visit shop.preservationdetroit.org.
~Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, prior to a meeting downtown, I thought I would treat myself to breakfast at the Hudson Cafe. It turned out to be a very wise decision. They are mainly a breakfast and lunch place. They have an extensive breakfast menu, plus many different sandwiches and salads. That day, I chose the traditional eggs Benedict. It was perfect! The English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce were everything I have come to love and expect from eggs Benedict. Also, my friendly waitress kept my coffee full and hot. The atmosphere was upbeat and appropriate for many different needs, such as casual dining to a convenient meeting place. They even had a lounge area in front for the coffee and muffin crowd. Located at 1241 Woodward Ave., downtown Detroit, they sit across from their namesake, the old Hudson location. They are open for lunch and breakfast. There is ample street and structure parking in the immediate area. I can't wait to get back and try some of the other menu items!
St Pat Irish Festival: June 11 in Midtown Event Supports 1400 Members at Detroit’s Largest Senior Center
The 40th annual St. Pat Irish Festival on Sunday, June 11 is a great day for the entire family and a chance to support St Patrick Senior Center – Detroit’s largest activity center for people over 55.
“There’s no place like St. Pat’s,” says executive director SaTrice Coleman-Betts. “And we want Detroit to know it!”
Here are just a few reasons to come to the festival, which runs from 1 to 9 PM:
St. Pats is continually expending its offerings, too.
So far this year, the company has launched its first-ever Saturday programs – which so far include dance and exercise classes, in addition to lunch. Also, via a sponsorship from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the center is working with Rising Stars Academy of Centerline to focus on healthy nutrition – including classes and meals.
For information about the center or festival, contact St Pat’s at 313-833-7080. Or visit www.stpatsrctr.org.
Here’s a 45-second video about the festival: https://vimeo.com/212073627
40th Irish Festival at St. Patrick Senior Center - 58 Parsons, Midtown Detroit.
Sunday, June 11, 1 to 9 PM. For tickets or to volunteer, call 313 833-7080.
We are at the half-way point of the year and activity in the downtown “D” is in high gear. Schools are almost out for summer recess and graduation day are upon us. What the future holds for these countless bright young people is anyone’s guess. Only God alone knows the answer. I think they will find as the years go by, that the work-a-day world is altogether different than what they may have thought. Experience is really the best teacher.
Our June brides, from what I have learned, now seem to think getting married later in the year is a better idea. I think our Michigan weather is part of it. One minute it’s hot next it’s cold. If it’s 85-90 degrees and the church has no AC there is a big problem. Especially for the bride in her heavy satin wedding gown or the groom in a hot suit with a tight shirt collar! I would like to share briefly a true wedding from Hades story. A couple I knew wanted to get married in their special park where he proposed. There was a barn-like structure with open doorways, big open windows (no screens) and plain wooden benches. No AC. It was 85 degrees and 7 o’clock in the evening. Among other nighttime bugs buzzing around were mosquitos the size of small pigeons with needles six inches long. Needless to say the minister had a short service and when the couple said “I do” the guests said “I don’t” and there was a mass exit! It was the quickest wedding I’ve been to.
June 18th, Father’s Day. Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. It requires a lifetime of learning with smiles, frowns and a whole lot of ups & downs in between. The nations first Father’s Day was celebrated in the state of Spokane Washington on June 19, 1910. However, it was not until 1972 (58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official) that the day honoring Father’s became a nationwide holiday in the United States. The third Sunday in June. The amount spent on Father’s Day is still less than what American’s spend on Mother’s Day - $21 billion. A note to all dad’s – anytime you hear, “Oh Dad!......” be prepared for anything.
April 2017. Another Detroit Historic landmark is sold. Busy Bee Hardware put up a sign that advertised something new for the 100-year old store – Going Out of Business. The undisclosed new owner(s) future plans for the site include retail, office and residential. Some of the most interesting and colorful history of old Detroit can be found at Eastern Market. A lot of it is centered around the old hardware store during the Prohibition era in the 1920’s when the Purple Gang operated out of the Hastings Street neighborhood know as Paradise Valley. In the store was a rope-operated elevator. At the bottom of the shaft there was a tunnel connected to the basement of the building next store which was a maze of dead end hallways and doors that opened on to brick walls. It was speculated that there was a distillery down there and the tunnel had a secret walk-way over the alley connecting the two buildings allowing bootleggers to escape into the store and pretend to be shoppers if there was a police raid. There was even a hidden fourth floor over the key shop next to the hardware store. It could not be seen from outside.
There are so very many more stories connected with Eastern Market but I cannot write them all here. Check your internet for more information.
For the summer season check events at Campus Martius. The Tigers will be here to play the White Sox at the beginning of June. For other things to do check the internet.
Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dad’s from “Daddy’s Little Girl”.