DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) The Detroit Lions are expanding their reach beyond the sporting world with an expansive plan to improve the health, development and overall community well-being in metro Detroit.
There’s even a jobs initiatives in the mix.
The “Living for the City” program, announced Tuesday morning in a press event attended by team President Tom Lewand, Mayor Dave Bing, Police Chief Ralph Godbee, Lions players Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, among others, will provide space for healthy, locally grown foods at Ford Field through a partnership with Eastern Market.
It will also encourage entrepreneurship to revitalize Detroit neighborhoods through Hatch Detroit, and help fund jobs training for unemployed workers with the “Dollars for Jobs: Pay It Forward” campaign with Goodwill Industries.
“It is a new focus, a new identity for the Detroit Lions in the community,” Lewand said, adding that Stafford inspired the effort with his much-praised ESPY speech that talked about playing in Detroit, which is on a “comeback of its own.”
“You know, the people here are fantastic and that makes me want to give back and help out,” Stafford said at the event. “And I’m just lucky enough to, you know, play for an organization like the Lions that’s willing to give us a platform like ‘Living for the City’ that makes it easy for players to go out and give back and … that’s a fun part of it for us.”
Specifically, these are the elements of “Living for the City:”
*Lunch with the Lions will provide vouchers for fresh food from Eastern Market and cooking lessons at Ford Field for students at the Detroit Lions Academy and Detroit public schools. Events will be held every Tuesday through October 30.
*The Lions will hold special on-field events for Lions Play 60, a partnership with Playworks Detroit, which encourages 60 minutes of exercise a day and uses play as a way to teach kids how to make the right choices. Program coordinators will work with students at the Detroit Lions Academy and at Detroit public schools.
“Partnering with Playworks helps promote not just the physical activity, but also using play to teach respect, teach inclusion, and fill the voids left by some of the budget crunches in our school system,” Lewand said, adding, “The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.”
*Hatch Detroit will work with Detroit neighborhoods that are a critical component of the revitalization of the region to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs who contribute to the community, keep their surrounding community safe and clean, and are an asset to their neighborhood, and to the growth of their neighborhood.
*Then there’s the “Dollars for Jobs” initiative that runs through Sunday, Sept. 30, to assist the unemployed. It features envelopes that can be filled with dollar bills and passed from person to person until reaching 25 people. Once an envelope has $25, it can be turned in at local Biggby coffee shops in exchange for a discount.
Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Nate Burleson is the spokesperson for the campaign.
The Lions are also encouraging fans to donate gently used items at the Goodwill “Donate for Jobs” truck in front of Ford Field at every home game this season. High quality items will be sold at a new 15,000 square-foot retail space at 22451 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. Sales will fund job training, education and placement programs that help the region’s unemployed overcome employment challenges and earn jobs.
Overall, Bing, a former pro basketball player, praised the team and its players, most of whom don’t hail from Detroit, but have decided to make improving it a personal mission.
“So many people look at athletes and look at the stardom that they bring to the table, but they forget we’re real people,” Bing said. “We come from the same kind of background and circumstances we’re now trying to support for our young people in the city of Detroit … We can make a difference in the lives of a lot of our young people. … The only way that we solve the problems in the city of Detroit is we do it together.”