Such a group is transforming a neighborhood in Detroit, but it needs help.
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the many churches in a struggling section of Southwest Detroit, but it is one of the few to actively serve its neighbors. Its tiny congregation, about 30 people, is part of an outreach program housed in its community center, which many of the neighborhood’s residents see as a second family. Each Sunday, they enjoy a free meal, get free clothing and hygiene kits, and, most importantly, interact with their neighbors, many of whom they would not know otherwise. The meals are prepared and served by community groups, most of which come in from the suburbs, but who ultimately form strong, personal bonds with the people they serve. The outreach center thus connects Detroit and suburban communities and fosters friendship, understanding, and mutual growth.
The church once had a school, which stood vacant for many years after the congregation began to dwindle. Since 2000, however, the building has been home to a bilingual Head Start program, which serves the largely Hispanic local community. As such, it fills an important need in the area; it also makes the outreach program possible by paying to rent the space.
Last October, the fate of this entire community was put in jeopardy. Thieves climbed onto the roof of the school and stole the copper pipes from the air-conditioning units. What they took was worth no more than a few hundred dollars; however, they completely destroyed the units and the security system, which will cost the church over $16,000 to replace. If the units aren’t replaced by May with the necessary security measures, the school will close, and with it, the church. Several of the church members are directly involved with running the outreach program, so it, too, would be negatively affected if the school and church close.
Before this tragic event, the church and outreach program were already operating on a shoestring. Financial challenges have not daunted this small group of thoughtful, committed citizens, who have given their time and energy for years to bring back life and community to a struggling neighborhood, but this final blow may be fatal. If you can help them to more securely replace these damaged HVAC units, your contribution will have long-reaching, significant effects on the lives of people who desperately need it. Any amount will make a difference.
- Richard Winkel
- Matthew Vasilakis
- Gregory Bucken
- Richard Winkel
Organizer and beneficiary
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