Blog - Rebuilding Together
Today marks 3 years since Hurricane Harvey swept through Southern Texas producing $125 billion in damage. With nearly 135,000 homes destroyed and 13 million people affected, Harvey was the second most costly and damaging hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1900. Because of the large impact this storm had, many are still recovering from the devastation that struck. Today, we take a moment to remember those deeply affected by losses from August 25th, 2017, the beginning of a horrible disaster.
With around 60,000 people dying a year due to natural disasters of many kinds, it seems like there should be more resources to help those in typically affected areas prepare for such events so they can not only stay safe but try to retain their homes so less are homeless in the aftermath. Wanting to put more efforts toward disaster relief, Rebuilding Together created a new program designed specifically for disaster resiliency. Initially, the main focus was on recovery and rebuilding after a natural disaster strikes. Within the last year, Rebuilding Together decided to expand its scope and include four major aspects when looking at disaster resiliency and what that means – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Through this came the disaster resiliency fellowship that is now offered to AmeriCorps members in certain locations. They work to not only pick up the pieces after a storm but help that area prepare beforehand so the aftermath is less devastating. Initial mitigation and preparedness are huge steps that are often lacking so we turned our efforts in that direction in hopes that it will lessen the damage repair needed to be done in the last stage of responding to the crisis.
Rebuilding Together, as a national organization, works to not only provide safe and healthy homes but also strives to be a resource for many in horrible situations like those who have lost homes due to a natural disaster. While we continue to grow our services, we also always encourage communities to stick together. There is a lot of power behind neighbors helping neighbors.
Link to article referred to in this blog post:
For many years, there has been a clear issue in the city of Detroit – there is an increasing number of older adults with chronic illness and no sign in sight of increasing resources to fit their needs. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging and Wayne State University Medical School teamed up to examine the death rate demographics in Detroit in comparison to surrounding cities and the evidence was quite shocking. The article states, “the death rate is 122% higher for people ages 50-59 in Detroit and the neighboring suburbs in comparison to those of the same age in the rest of Michigan.” One of the driving factors behind this statistic is the poor quality of life for many. With unhealthy living conditions in homes and little access to affordable resources to fix these issues, many homeowners are not living in a safe space.
An even more shocking figure in the article shows “the average life expectancy of Midtown Detroit residents is 69, which is 13 years shorter than residents of the Grosse Pointe area, a few miles away.” How can there be such a gap in the health of these city’s residents with just a few miles separation? To take a closer look into this, about one in five older adults in Metro Detroit live in poverty, more than double the state rate. Comparing this to Grosse Pointe where the poverty rate is only around 6%, below the state rate, you can see the difference in the ability to access resources needed to live a fully healthy life therefore extending the life expectancy rate.
Seeing how prevalent these issues are reminds us of the need for more organizations to exist to provide necessary resources to the many that never receive them. While Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan tries to reach as far and wide as we can to provide maximum service, we are still very limited in our own resources. However, we try to take this information and use it in determining who and where there is the greatest need for service. In our home repair efforts in 2019, 46% of the homes we worked on had at least one older adult resident. Moving forward, we remain dedicated to seek out this population and we are always looking for outreach opportunities to expand our abilities so that we are truly working to live out our mission. Repairing homes, Revitalizing communities, Rebuilding lives.
To read the full article this information was drawn from, click the link below:
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!
Hello! I am Lindsey Johnson, one of the newest AmeriCorps members with Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. A few things about my background that led me to start this journey: I graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in December 2019 with a degree in Hospitality Management. I took a job right after graduating but due to COVID-19 I became one of many that were laid off. In the hunt for a new job, I came across the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps, something I had never heard of prior to then. I really enjoyed the idea of being able to take a degree and work experience that is much different than the work done in a nonprofit like Rebuilding Together and be able to bring a unique perspective to it. I am most looking forward to learning as much as I can about the nonprofit world during my time here and see where that will lead me going into a new career in the future. I believe this experience could greatly shift my career focus which is a huge excitement for me. I am thrilled to embark on this journey as an AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Wayne County!
This service year has been a rollercoaster, full of highs and lows. With every new movement I felt a sense of growth and achievement. Throughout the year I have had the pleasure to travel to travel to; Tacoma Washington, St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana. I have interacted with 300 or more Homeowners from processing applications, meeting them in the office, assisting at outreach events and answering the phones. Working with homeowners has been beyond humbling and emotional. Some homeowners have brought me to tears with their words of advice, their stories and their commitment to community. Talking with volunteers has reminded me that no matter how successful I become I will always make time to give back. The beginning of my term went from spending each day around inspirational people, to working from home every day. In this pandemic I have come to see that Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan does very well with supporting its staff and making sure to never stop serving the community, even when the office is closed.
The staff at Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan has become an extended family who have helped me become a more professionally rounded person. Working under the leadership of Halie Black has been amazing and inspirational. Halie is innovative, knowledgeable and full of passion, she has inspired me to stay involved in the nonprofit sector and eventually begin my own in the far future. Working under the supervision of Chris Perkins has improved my research skills, broaden my resources in the city of Detroit and inspired me to be more knowledgeable. Chris has been the most knowledgeable, patient and trusting supervisor. His ability to assign new task to challenge and also improve our skills in the office was impeccable, especially in the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally working under Mike Hurst was exciting, I honestly felt like Mike kept everyone on their toes in the office. With his overall expertise, and patience to not just show the final product, but to teach how to do new task, has definitely made me feel as if I need to love whatever work that I do, so when I do that work it is always done well.
I think one of the most important parts to mention about my entire service year was working alongside Emma Steele. We both came into our service year fresh from college graduation and were in similar spaces in life. Emma was someone I could confide in, bounce ideas off of and just relate to in general. So, to everyone I had the pleasure to meet and learn from thank you for this experience.
Being the AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan (RTSEM) was my first “grownup” job. I started the position right out of college and I had never worked full time or in an office environment before. Due to this being a relatively new experience for me, at the cusp of my term, I honestly didn’t have many expectations. All I had was the hope I’d get to do meaningful community service and become more involved in the community around me. Looking back at my experience, I would say that my expectations were met although not necessarily in the ways I thought they would be. Even though my term didn’t go entirely how I thought it would, I can certainly say that I got to be involved in meaningful community service.
Out of everything I did in the past 10 and a half months, I take the most pride in my service project. I created and led cultural awareness training with our house captains. It’s something I feel will hopefully stay around at RTSEM after I’ve moved on and it makes me glad to know I may have left some impact behind. Aside from my own personal work, other amazing highlights of my term were working with and getting to know my co-workers, attending outreach events, meeting community members, and being able to travel to new places and meet fantastic and inspirational people. Some of my favorite memories in the past year of my life happened on Rebuilding Together sanctioned trips with my fellow CapacityCorps members. I feel so thankful to have met all of them and that I know I have a network within them moving forward.
Like most people, I didn’t expect a massive global pandemic. In terms of my job, that resulted in me serving from home for just under half of my term and that most of RTSEM’s build days were canceled. While I can’t lie and say that it wasn’t disappointing, these changes forced me to learn new things and focus on tasks that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t working remotely. I was able to grow my knowledge and ability to manage our social media accounts, create outreach literature that can be used in the future, and research demographic and outreach data in our service area.
Overall, I am grateful for the experience I had, the skills I gained, and the people that I met along the way. I will be leaving AmeriCorps with a greater understanding of non-profit organizations, housing security, and a great network of people that I know I can reach out to. The lessons I learned throughout these past 10 and a half months will definitely stick with me for a long time.
Although being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of us uncertainty, what we know for sure is that hope is still alive and well within the communities of Southeast Michigan. Individuals, businesses, and organizations alike are working together to provide people with the resources they need during a difficult period in time. We are actively searching for these resources and will be compiling a list of them below as we find them. Please follow the links provided to find more detailed information on these programs.
If you know of any resources that should be added to this list leave a comment or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Last Update: April 2, 2020 11:30am
Breakfast & lunch programs for all children 18 years and younger:
- Berkley Schools: https://www.berkleyschools.org/about/covid-
- Farmington Schools: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YY8Til4G9Tog6AvDN7gG3ScFZ8_2vKr5UNYUVCPVH10/edit
- Ferndale Schools: https://www.ferndaleschools.org/district/food-services/
- Hazel Park: https://www.facebook.com/HazelParkSchools/photos/a.1874597226143923/2599459636991008/?type=3&theater
- Huron Valley Schools: http://www.hvs.org/Core/News/Article/32280/
- Lamphere Schools: https://www.facebook.com/thelamphereschools/photos/a.486688158094417/2962315553864986/?type=3&theater
- Oak Park Schools: https://www.facebook.com/OakParkSchools/photos/rpp.1437952806472776/2542903742644338/?type=3&theater
- Royal Oak Schools: https://www.royaloakschools.org/Core/News/Article/14026
- Troy School District: https://www.facebook.com/TroySchoolDistrict/photos/a.10150143057050127/10158167427060127/?type=3&theater
Breakfast & lunch programs for children 18 years and younger or adults with disabilities who are under 26 years old:
- Bloomfield Hills Schools: https://www.bloomfield.org/about-us/safety-security/coronavirus-information
- Clawson Public Schools: https://www.clawsonschools.org/downloads/_news_/clawson_schools_free_breakfast_-_lunch_program_flyer.pdf
- Southfield Schools: https://www.southfieldk12.org/downloads/transportation/attachment_a_meals_on_wheels_drop_off_times.pdf
Breakfast & lunch programs for students of the district:
- Detroit Public Schools: https://www.detroitk12.org/covid19#Grab-n-Go%20Breakfast%20&%20Lunch
- Pontiac School District (Paused for spring break week of 3/30): http://www.pontiacschools.org
- Walled Lake Schools: https://wlcsd.org/downloads/district_news/food_distribution_flyer.jpg
- West Bloomfield: https://www.wbsd.org/
Other Food Resources:
- Cares of Farmington Hills (Drive-up food pantry): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YY8Til4G9Tog6AvDN7gG3ScFZ8_2vKr5UNYUVCPVH10/edit
- Food for Seniors, Detroit: https://www.focushope.edu/food-for-seniors/
- Pontiac Community Foundation (Large variety of food resources): https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ba1cbfcf93fd4d12fc9d955/t/5e6d47bf6f379e18588ed5c1/1584220095503/PONTIAC+COVID.pdf
- Gleaners Food Bank: https://www.gcfb.org/community-distribution-sites/
Resources for Non-Food Goods:
- Farmington Schools Giving Boxes (toiletries, hygiene items, etc): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YY8Til4G9Tog6AvDN7gG3ScFZ8_2vKr5UNYUVCPVH10/edit
- Detroit Water Restart – Restart running water at your home if it has been shut off due to non-payment.
- Call (313) 386 – 9727 to inquire.
- The $25 restart fee will be waived & you won’t have to pay back payments until the pandemic is over. You only need to pay for the current months.
- Free Detroit Department of Transportation services (fees are waived) – Effective as of March 18, 2020
- Oakland County Help Hotline: (248) 858-1000
- Call for help with non-health related needs such as food or housing assistance.
- Hours: Everyday, 8am-8pm
- United Way Hotline: 2-1-1
- Call if you need help accessing essential resources during this time of crisis.
- Hours: 24/7
- COVID313: https://covid313.org/
- Online guide for Detroit families in response to COVID-19.
- Beaumont COVID-19 Health Hotline: (248) 551-7000
- Call if you are experiencing symptoms before seeking in-person help.
- Hours: M – F 7am-7pm, Sat/Sun 10am-6pm
- DMC Afterhours Hotline: 1 (888) DMC-3370
- Call with any questions you have about the virus.
- Hours: Everyday, 5pm-8am
- Wayne County Information Hotline: (734) 287-7870
- Call for information about COVID-19
- Hours: M-F 8am-5pm
- Mental Health tips during the COVID-19 Outbreak by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-uncertainty/
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The legacy left behind by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a legacy of selflessness and impact. AmeriCorps MLK Week of Service embodied the legacy through providing us the opportunity to work on homeowner’s projects, introducing us to local politicians, allowing fellowship, sharing the history of New Orleans and making us feel a part of the community that we were serving. To experience culture, community, and connection at The MLK Week of Service with my AmeriCorps family was an eye-opening experience that expanded my horizon.
Last week, all of the Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps members had the unique opportunity to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana and complete a week of service in honor of MLK jr. Day of Service and Solidarity. All of the AmeriCorps members that began their terms in August were reunited in a new city after not seeing each other since orientation. It was a week of food, friendship, new sites, and of course, service.
In 2018, Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan was evolved from Rebuilding Together Oakland County as part of a multi-year strategic plan to include Wayne and Macomb Counties to our service area. Starting small, we were welcomed into the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood where we completed our first Detroit projects. Today, we are incredibly excited to announce that we will now be accepting applications from all of City Council District 4 in Detroit. Our vision of service area expansion is growing and we couldn’t be happier.
On the weekend of November 14th, the entire Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan (RTSEM) staff had the privilege of attending the 2019 Rebuilding Together Training Institute (RTTI) in St. Louis, Missouri. RTTI is a national progressive training where all of the Rebuilding Together affiliates throughout the nation get the opportunity to learn, network, and grow together through special workshops and programs chosen by the Rebuilding Together national office.
October 19th, 2019 was a very busy day for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan and Christ Church Grosse Pointe. Simultaneously, volunteers from both organizations worked together to rebuild not one, not two, but three homes in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood of Detroit.