Can I actually #influenceDetroit in some meaningful way?

We have been asked this question for years and can answer it more from your perspective than you might think.  We had to ask ourselves that very question years ago.  We might have been in the very place then that you are today.  Here is our conclusion and it has proven true, at least for us. 

  1. We didn’t initially consider how we could “influence” Detroit.  That would have been a very prideful, naïve thought.  We were simply burdened by the plight of the people of Detroit.  Remember the situation in Detroit 15 years ago.  Unprecedented in its devastation in most every way.  

  2. We had to get our eyes off of what others were doing, and focus on what we might be able to do – where attention was needed.  We were not Dan Gilbert, by any stretch of the imagination.  Our attention was turned to deteriorating Detroit neighborhoods where hopelessness and despair existed.  We had to listen to our own hearts, as God spoke to us, and tune out the voices that would say, “don’t bother”, “you can’t do anything meaningful”, “give your money overseas”, and so on.  

  3. We have believed in our heart for years that everybody can do something and that’s exactly what we did.  Something. Influence? Never occurred to us. What we decided was that we were no longer going to sit in the comfort of our suburban home and watch what was happening.  We took a step of faith and left the outcome to God. 

In my next blog I will share with you how it actually turned out that our step of faith did have an influence in ways we never anticipated.  So be encouraged. You CAN have an influence in Detroit.  You can have it with us or other organizations working in Detroit neighborhoods.

If your interest has been “perked” come back next week and I’ll share with you what happened.   Stay tuned.  Get ready.  You can #InfluenceDetroit by just saying “YES!”.

 

The faces of hope in Regent Park

A couple of weeks ago I drove around the corner from the office to visit with the volunteer group from Pennsylvania that was working on one of our houses. What I witnessed left me speechless, as I saw not only the volunteers hard at work, but countless residents working on their own properties. In 13 years of this work I had yet to see what I saw that day. Let me elaborate just a bit as its so fresh in my mind. One of our tenants was busy landscaping her property, she takes great pride in her work, and rightfully so as her home looks beautiful enough to receive an award.

City trucks were busy repaving Cushing Street, the THIRD street to be repaved in recent weeks.  Down the street, more city trucks were demolishing houses that we had lobbied for many months to have removed. And, of course, the big buzz in the neighborhood is about the community park and the new Early Childhood Education center opening August 6th

A few houses down Eastburn there was a man sitting on his porch waving at me while beaming with excitement.  I waved back while yelling "lots going on today" over noise. He then pointed to the sky and said “I guess blessings are raining down from above”. He then went to visit with another cheerful neighbor a few houses away. As I looked up and down this block, I realized that the reason the residents were all so joyful was because their common vision was being realized. These people stuck it out through the worst of times in this community, and now were seeing the fruit of their perseverance. These people are my heroes.

Just a few minutes later a man was driving by, he stopped to ask if we had any homes for sale because this was a community he wants to be a part of. The neighborhood is looking so incredible these days it is quite apparent that something is happening here that can’t be explained apart from God.
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Hope in our case looks as simple as a smile, sounds like praise to the Lord for all He is doing, and is manifested in residents beginning to participate in the great work God has started.  
God is revealing Himself in countless ways.  With God all things are possible. Today’s Regent Park is a testimony to God’s love and wonder working power in the face of what seemed like impossible odds.  

”lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”   Psalm 121:1

Safe, Affordable Housing IS an Option in Detroit

How our community is setting the standard for community re-development in Detroit.

“I’m constantly reminded as I work in the community of how our work stands out; everything about it,” says Mike Agrusa, LifeBUILDERS Operations Manager. “I’m here because of that high standard. All of us here are about the residents of Detroit. We are committed to restoring dignity and bringing hope where there wasn’t any for such a long time.”

The quality and consistency of LifeBUILDERS’ work has inspired many to invest in us, and our work here in Regent Park. Residents have decided to stay. The vacancy rate is decreasing. There is far less blight. The community is seeing greater involvement by residents. 

The quality and consistency of LifeBUILDERS’ work has inspired many to invest in us, and our work here in Regent Park. Residents have decided to stay. The vacancy rate is decreasing. There is far less blight. The community is seeing greater involvement by residents. 

Realtors are referring to “a newly redeveloped park nearby” as part of this neighborhood’s amenities. The park in the center of Regent Park was restored through LifeBUILDERS’ work. This summer, the work will be completed and that park will come to life as it was 20 years ago. 

Our task is to maintain that momentum we've begun and encourage a “zero” tolerance for anything sub-standard that reflects a lack of respect for our tenants and the community in general. We delight in the City’s new enforcement policy on landlords because we take pride in the work that we’ve done to raise the standard over the past 12 years.

We know it will not be easy and it will take time to enforce these standards on those who don’t believe in supporting the community, and the people who live here, the way we do. All of these efforts are worth it when we see families coming together in safe homes in Detroit once again. The Bible says, “do not grow weary in doing good” and “do all of your work as unto the Lord.” With the help of the Lord, we are doing just that.

We are pressing on. We ask you to join us with your prayer, your financial support, and your involvement. When you read stories about unsettling rental conditions in Detroit, and you feel little hope for our City, tell people about what’s happening here in this Detroit neighborhood.  We are raising a standard of hope.

We’ve done this work with little fanfare and have decided to continue at a manageable pace, giving God all the glory. Our main focus will continue to be on the children and families of the Regent Park community as dignity is restored and hope is revived.

Stay tuned for more information about our Summer Day Camps. We will be announcing tangible ways to offer your prayer support to nearly 150 kids, counselors and volunteers this summer. 

If you’re not following us on Facebook or Instagram, that’s another great way to connect with LifeBUILDERS and see photos and updates throughout the year. 

Our main focus will continue to be on the children and families of the Regent Park community as dignity is restored and hope is revived.

Our main focus will continue to be on the children and families of the Regent Park community as dignity is restored and hope is revived.