Growing up in suburban Buffalo, NY, my summer vacations always included going to beaches to escape the cold. While this was always nice and a good break from what that region had to offer me, I never really had the opportunity to do big city travelling and exploring. In fact, this past April was the first time I’ve been to Chicago and I’ve never really been to New York or Los Angeles (let alone anywhere overseas).
That trip to Chicago combined with a summer of working and living in Washington, DC have really given me an itch for big cities. I’ve been able to observe the challenges people face living in a big city and the benefits it can bring. In DC especially, I was able to look around and observe homelessness and poverty extremes for the first time in my life. It changed my vantage points on certain areas and really put my life into perspective. After seeing homeless people sleeping on steam-emitting sewer grates during 90 degree summer days, I knew that at some point in my life, I wanted to assist with this homeless problem that big cities have.
Returning to Ann Arbor this fall, I decided that one of my high-ranking goals for the year was to do something in Detroit, lend a helping hand. I’d been observing homelessness and poverty in DC and reading about homelessness and poverty and economic despair in Detroit and it just made sense. I didn’t know enough about the community culture of Detroit and helping out is a good way to feel a part of the community, if nothing else.
I’ve spoken to a few classmates and we’re running a service project this year that totally inspires me. We’ve contacted an organization that operates out of a housing project in Detroit to provide necessary and wanted services to the members of the development. Every year, they run a Secret Santa, where the children living in the project must research the one thing that they really want for Christmas. Members of the community, knowing that the guaradians and parents of these children cannot afford gifts, “adopt” them and buy, wrap and deliver the gift that this child really wants. Depending on the community’s will, many children go unadopted each year.
I’ve personally went to the center running the project with one of my classmates, met with the organizers, and it has inspired me to help out. My classmates feel the same way. Because of our class-wide eagerness to help out, this year, HMP will be doing what it takes to “adopt” many children and pleasantly surprise them this holiday season.