Aliza Durack


Get to Know our Neighbors: CARES in Farmington Hills

I recently connected with Todd Lipa, executive director of CARES, a nonprofit next door to Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. Todd shared his story of how he began his work with CARES, what that work means to him, and where he and his staff hope for CARES to go in the future. We are incredibly lucky to work next to such a dedicated group, that has been and will continue to help the community with the leadership of Mr. Lipa. Read more below to learn about this organization, and the work they do in Farmington Hills! 

How did you come to your work at CARES and how long have you been working there?

“In 1995, I became the Youth and Family Services Director for the City of Farmington Hills. Over the years, we had families using the food pantry housed in the former Catholic Church of St. Alexander’s in Farmington Hills. When I heard it was closing in December of 2014, myself and others knew we had to do something to keep this much-needed resource available to the families of our communities. At the time, the church was serving between 125 to 150 families.

The team we put together made an offer to the Archdiocese to purchase the entire 10.5 acres and the three buildings on the property. It took until July of 2017 for the Archdiocese to accept our offer.

From the very beginning in 2014, I know we had to save this property and all it gave to the community. As a young man, this was the church I grew up in. It was the church that at times supported my own family when times were tough.”

What does CARES primarily do? 

“I remember when we first started to develop CARES in Farmington Hills, and the families would come in and wait to receive their food for their family. It was a “come in and get a box of food pantry” in the beginning. By September of 2018, we had decided to change to a self-serve pantry. The grocery pantry and our guests picking their own food was a game changer for our families.

After switching to our self-serve style pantry, our number of families grew to 400-plus families monthly during COVID-19. Unfortunately, we have had to change to a drive-through distribution, and we saw our number of families grow to over 500-plus families a month. With job loss, businesses closed for weeks at a time and families falling on hard times, I was honored to have CARES up and ready to serve our hungry neighbors.”

What do you find most meaningful about working with CARES? 

“What inspired in the beginning is what still inspires today, and that is knowing that we can be there for an individual or family that may have fallen on hard times. We never truly know when life could make a turn that we might not be prepared for. I would hope that if life turned upside down for me someone would be there to lift me up. 

I am excited and encouraged to breathe life into CARES in Farmington Hills every day. The people I work with, the guests we are blessed to serve and those that we will serve in the future are a part of our human family. It is an amazing inspiration every day we can encourage and breathe life into those we come across if we are willing to do so. Kindness Compassion and Caring is the gift that is so easy to share.”

How has COVID impacted the work you have done?

“I will never forget March 13, 2020. Life as we knew it changed for each one of us – from our youngest to our oldest. At CARES in Farmington Hills, we witnessed things I never thought we would see in my lifetime.

In March of 2020 many plans for CARES changed and new plans started so we could be ready to serve close to 800 families and those families that would join CARES. Over the next months we would begin to serve upwards of 1200 families through our distributions and special food drive through with our partners. We are now serving over 500 per month.

The negative that we all witnessed was how many families were hit by this pandemic and how life changed for all of us almost overnight.

Out of a negative you always need to work to find the positives, and we did just that at CARES. Food vender’s from all over Metro Detroit made food donations to us. Thousands of pounds of food came to us, refrigeration and freezer trucks loaded with food were dropped off, produce suppliers donated goods, and individuals, companies, community organizations, faith groups, and businesses large and small made contributions to support families.

It was and has been an amazing experience to see just how great people truly are. As people we need each other, it is times like we have all had to live through that should remind us what is important in life.

Covid-19 impacted so many people in so many ways. I have not spoken with anyone that was not impacted in some way. We still are serving many families at CARES, and we do not think that will change much in the next months. All of us will be ready to make changes as needed as we go forward.

The future changed quickly because it needed to. CARES now has the first Food Market open to the public based in the same building as a free pantry. We are also the first to open the market with a focus on those that hold a government issued Bridge Card. Our Bridge Card guests receive a discount on their purchased items and can also earn give away items they cannot buy with their card. The real beauty of our market is all the proceeds go right back into our nonprofit to support our free pantry.”

What are you most excited for in the future of CARES?

“We all believe that the future will be bright for CARES in Farmington. We still believe that our “Campus of Hope” will grow and be a vital piece to our communities. It is due to the amazing partners we have on our campus. Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan is one of them. Having them as a partner allows us to send individuals and families across our campus to receive the support they may need. ANOTHER Day RESOUCE is another wonderful partner. They go out to the streets and give from their hearts what people need. It all starts here on the campus where their offices are. We have gone from one recovery program on our property to now having three. We feel this will grow as it becomes safer to do so. Other partners that we look forward to welcoming back when it is safe are WIC (Women Infants and Children), our Veterans from Oakland and Wayne Counties that are here to answer important questions and our veterans and their families.

We also have plans on expanding our Campus of Hope to soon include a couple offices that will support families when they come in need of services outside of food. We are working with a partner on a Health Clinic, a gym so our local communities can have a place to enjoy indoors, a community/education center is on the plan to support CARES in holding meetings and education programs, a walking track is in the making so we have a safe place for everyone to walk, a couple new gardens will be coming this spring and our baseball field is being refurbished later this spring / early summer.

We look forward to being a Campus of Hope to all. As I have learned myself over the past for years as I have been blessed to be the Executive Director of CARES in Farmington Hills, it’s not only those that may need a little support at times that appreciate CARES, but many others do also. I have witnessed donors, volunteers, community members, neighbors, large and small businesses and many others loving and enjoying our campus. It truly is becoming a place of hope where everyone is made to feel welcome no matter the reason you walk on to our amazing 10.5 acres. ”

If you would like to learn more about and connect with CARES in Farmington Hills, find there website and phone number here:




A Reflection on 2020 & My AmeriCorps Term-Aliza’s Experience

In my undergraduate career, I found that I had a passion for helping people in sustainable ways. I found that working in the field of nonprofits was something I wanted to explore, and while searching for a job after graduation in 2020 had its challenges, the opportunities offered with an AmeriCorps term at Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan were unique and I was lucky to be afforded the opportunity to learn from the staff and homeowners in this program.


As this year winds down, I reflect on my term so far and I find myself feeling incredibly grateful to the staff who have cultivated an environment where we are encouraged to learn and try new things. I think one of the most important things you can do when you graduate college is to push yourself to learn new things and find what inspires you the most. I am lucky to work with and encounter people who support and want the best for this organization and it’s staff. Some of the most important lessons I have learned so far are from the homeowners we serve through our program. There is a distinct vulnerability that comes with understanding someone’s financial and emotional hardship, and I have learned that extending empathy to people is a skill in this line of work. It is something you can use to make each homeowner we serve more comfortable and accepting of the help we provide, and that is a very special thing.


As I think of all the conversations in the office, the phone calls to homeowners and strategizing about the organization and it’s goals for the new year, I find myself feeling incredibly grateful for the experiences I have here. I recognize that as I speak with homeowners in Oakland county and am able to offer them an application for free home repairs, that is privilege. That privilege is something I will always be grateful for, and I will continue to extend empathy to those who deserve it most, and myself as I learn more about what inspires me most throughout my term. I find that I am learning more about the community I live in, and appreciate that I can see the world through not only my perspective, but the perspectives of those who need help. That is something I will always carry with me, and I know I will learn more about in the remainder of my term.


Oakland and Wayne County Holiday Assistance Guide

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone struggling financially, and the pressure to provide gifts, and meals is certainly difficult anytime and especially this year. With so many families struggling, we did some research into organizations that may be able to help your family get through the holidays. 

Oakland County:

Lighthouse of Oakland County: 248-920-6060,

Services offered: Gifts for Seniors and “Adopt A Family Christmas Program”.  Matches families with donors and then helps distributes donor gifts to adopted families in December.  Also Thanksgiving meal items, baby, household and personal care items and medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.

Rochester Area Neighborhood House: 248-651-5836, 

Services offered: Holiday Food Baskets, RANH’s Christmas Shopping Days program designates a time for those in need to select gifts for their children.  These gifts are donated by the Rochester community specifically for this event.

South Oakland Shelter: 248-546-6566,

Services offered: Provides shelter, meals and other services including holiday help to homeless men, women and children.

Open Door Outreach: 248-360-2930,

Services offered: Offers programs to assist low and moderate-income families during holidays and other special occasions who live in Waterford, White Lake, West Bloomfield, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, Commerce, Walled Lake and parts of Wixom.

Troy People Concerned: 248-528-9199,

Services offered: Holiday baskets 

Grace Centers of Hope: 248-334-2187,

Services offered: Serving dinner to homeless and needy people at two seating’s, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the center. Women need to enter at the Perry Street entrance; the men’s entrance is on University. 


Wayne County:

Toys for Tots:

Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.

Senior alliance holiday meals:

This program provides hot festive meals to homebound seniors age 60 & over OR disabled people

on Christmas

Detroit Area Agency on Aging:

Same as above program

Holiday Meals on Wheels: 313-446-4444

Lighthouse Ministry: 734-467-7540

Food boxes, holiday baskets, clothing

Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit and Wayne County: (586) 775-6139

Offers free holiday gift boxes, which include candy, warm clothing, free toys, books, games and more.

Detroit Lions Club: 313-272-3900

The non-profit gives back to the Wayne County and Oakland Community. Some holiday help, Christmas gifts or trees, parties, and other giveaway events may take place.

Free toys from USMC and charities: 586-205-0851

Children and infants from lower income families may be assisted; offer free gifts, clothing, winter attire, and more.

Salvation Army:

Many locations offer various seasonal holiday assistance




Moving Forward and New Models of Care: Chandler Park Revitalization

Our very first annual Healthy Housing Harvest Party event was a success! As the pandemic pushes all nonprofits to pivot their model of care, Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan’s staff and board did the same. In addition to doing individual homeowner projects this fall, we wanted to focus on revitalizing communities. We kick-started this effort by holding a park clean up event in Chandler Park of Detroit. With only a month to put the event together, we moved efficiently to partner with Chandler Park Conservancy. The central idea behind the event was to create larger and more engaged volunteer base for our organization, and be present in the community of Detroit during these tough times. While expanding our model of care, we also wanted to keep healthy homes at the forefront of our minds for this community, so we planned to have 150 safe and healthy home kits distributed to the homeowners in the area that same day.

Each kit included a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, window insulation kit, damprid, ant traps, and a first aid kit. These items are essential to keeping a home safe and healthy. By providing the tools for people to keep their homes safe, without entering their homes ourselves, we were able to fulfill our mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities, and rebuilding lives. 

Being at the event itself provided a new, hopeful perspective for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. Seeing all the volunteers and community members at this event, wearing masks and social distanced throughout the park, and making such a significant impact in this community, reminded us of how much an organization can accomplish if it is willing to be creative in the hardest of times. Sometimes the toughest conditions can lead us to see the best in new things, and that can help to improve prior ideas and offer a new way forward.


Fire Safety in Detroit

The city of Detroit has had a history of fire safety issues, noted in a study done in 2017 that showed the disproportionate rate Detroit residents were experiencing fires in their residences, 18% compared to the 13% national average at the time. 

Since then, the city of Detroit and organizations within the city have taken initiatives in order to help to prevent fires in resident’s homes as well as structural building fires. One of these initiatives were spurred by a grant given to Wayne State University’s College of Urban Studies by State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program. This grant allowed Wayne State to partner with Detroit Fire Prevention and Safety program to install smoke detectors and CO detectors, visit Detroit homes, and educate residents in fire prevention and best safety practices. Beyond this, the city of Detroit now has a “Mobile Fire Safety House” program wherein they educate children on the importance of fire detection, evacuation and safety by exposing them to hands-on methods. Most of these programs are at early childhood facilities, and Head Start programs with a fee associated. 

Detroit continues to evolve everyday, to become safer for residents and improve the social safety net for those most at risk. Rebuilding together is continuously thinking of how we can better serve Detroit, and have been selected to be in a grant contest from State Farm. We hope to use the funds from this grant to continue working on fire safety in Detroit by passing out fire safety kits to homeowners. By equipping residents with fire extinguishers, (OTHER MATERIALS HERE), we are helping homeowners to feel safer and more confident in their homes. Many materials associated with fire safety have a high price tag on them, and for low income residents fire prevention and safety may not feel like a priority. These kits intend to bridge that gap and give these necessary materials to homeowners who need it most. 

If you haven’t voted for us, please click the link below. You can vote 10x a day until October 3rd and if you screenshot your screen after voting and tag us on social media with your screenshot you will be entered into a raffle for a free Rebuilding Together t-shirt! 



Wayne State University-Center for Urban Studies article:


Understanding and Advocating for Mental Health Awareness

TW: Suicide and mental health 

Today, we want to take a moment to recognize that it is suicide awareness month. We understand that mental health is important to all communities and can also contribute to the health and safety of your home. As we focus on veterans as a main population we serve here at Rebuilding Together, we want to raise awareness and provide resources to those who may need them. The mental health of veterans has statistically been a growing problem in this country. 

The National Council for Behavioral Health shows some shocking statistics on their website stating that 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment yet less than 50% of those people get the treatment they need. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day. While these statistics are concerning, it is important to stay informed. Mental health affects all of our lives whether it’s personally or you know someone who’s struggled with mental health and these resources may be able to help you.

Listed here is a resource to those struggling with thoughts of suicide or who need immediate help. For the National Suicide Prevention Line call 1-800-273-8255. To get to the Veterans Crisis Line dial and Press 1 or text to 838255.

We recognize that a huge contributor to mental health is your surroundings which can include your home. Especially in times like today with COVID when people are spending a lot more time inside their home, there is a greater need to make sure it is a safe and healthy living environment physically and mentally.

 If you are not taking steps to take care of both your mental and physical health, it can be detrimental. While staying at home is helping you to stay safe, it is important to understand how to keep your home safe. Rebuilding Together has 7 principles of safe and healthy housing that are a part of every project we do, and could be something for you and your household to keep in mind while you’re spending so much more time at home. Attached you’ll find those seven principles on a printable postcard, you can check in monthly to see if your household is ensuring that these seven principles are being addressed. While taking care of your physical home is important, it is also important to take care of your mental health. These contribute to one another, having a healthy home gives a safe environment to pay attention to mental health, and proper mental health care helps to provide a stable household practices, like taking care of your home. Here are some best practices for mental health that our staff have taken on during these times!

Practicing mindfulness: This can look like a lot of different things, something that you could try is downloading Headspace, an app that helps you to connect with yourself and meditate wherever you may be! This can help to ground you and stop negative thoughts before they become detrimental to your day to day mental health. 

Taking time to be outdoors when you can: This could be a short walk around your neighborhood, or going to a park. Taking a break from work or being in the same place for too long can help you to distance yourself from day to day anxieties!

Practice drawing boundaries with yourself and your work/household: Sometimes when you have to stay home for too long, it can feel like everything blends together and the responsibilities never end. Take some time to draw boundaries, set certain times for work, household chores, and taking care of yourself.

Be kind to yourself, you deserve it! It can be challenging to prioritize your mental health in times like these, but it can help you to better take care of your household and home, as well as prevent future problems.


Inequities and Trends for Female Heads of Households

The number of female heads of household has consistently risen over time. Just 10 years ago, the Center for American Progress put out a study noting a new trend in rising female heads of household. Now, that number has increased even more, making single mothers the primary source of income in 41% of homes, earning at least half of the income for the household. The increase in female heads of household has taken a steady increase from 1997 to 2017, when the Center for American progress put out another study. See below, the figure from the Center for American Progress details the increase of bread-winning mothers from 1967 to 2017.

While these numbers have been rising, it is important to note the economic state of these households which affect working women who are trying to support a family. Although the number of bread-winning women has steadily increased in the past 20 years, the work-family model remains systemically unsupported. Paired with that, full time working women still only make 81% of what full time working men make on average. This affects the state of the household and the home, creating a disparity for female heads of household.

This makes it harder for these households to support themselves on a day to day basis, let alone be able to take care of their home properly. Rebuilding Together has affiliates across the United States that work to provide healthy homes for those who need it the most, including female heads of household living in low-income homes.

The Center for American Progress also found that mothers in low income families are more likely than their high-income counterparts to be the breadwinners. This illustrates the point that women as heads of household are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be working the minimum wage jobs, and having to take care of their families on their own. This disparity is socioeconomic and cultural, as our culture perpetuates a standard for women that does not include single working mothers and often overlooks the struggles that are inherent in this role.

Creating an environment that is safe and healthy for every home should be inherent, and easy to attain. And yet, single female head of households have to work twice as hard to provide for their families and often live in residences that need the most work done.

Rebuilding Together works to help the households and homeowners who need it most, and strives to make housing more equitable in the areas we serve. The work we do will always strive to meet the needs of the homeowner and help make their home healthier and safer. In 2019, 71% of the homes surveyed after being served by Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan were owned by women.

Today, we wanted to make this blog post and recognize National Women’s Day and the work that all women do to take care of themselves, their homes, families and communities. Every time work is done in the area of recognizing socioeconomic inequities for women, it is a reminder that we all can support women in different ways in our respective roles. Supporting organizations that prioritize the health of low-income families and keeping ourselves educated on the struggles of women are all great ways to stay engaged and connect with the communities across the US that are affected by these inequitable practices every day.

Article link:


My Beginning-AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator Oakland County

Hi, my name is Aliza and I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to the Rebuilding Together community. I started my service here two weeks ago as an AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Oakland county. Before beginning this position, I graduated from Wayne State University in May with a degree in political science. I am very interested in urban design, community organizations and building, and nonprofit service work, which is how I came to this position at Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. I look forward to learning more about the nonprofit sector, how Rebuilding Together contributes to the communities of Oakland and Wayne county, and help residents in these areas. Through the direct communication I am responsible for with homeowners, I hope to gain the experience of working empathically and practically through homeowner inquiries and projects. I am incredibly excited to continue working and learning alongside these communities, and making sure the resources Rebuilding Together provides are accessible to Oakland and Wayne county!



27840 Independence Street

Farmington Hills, MI 48336


Oakland County : 248-482-8061

Wayne County :  313-766-4010


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