(DETROIT) – We’re living in different times as Covid-19 has shut down bars, restaurants, gyms, and many of the places we do everyday life.
In the wake of all of this, many Detroit organizations are stepping up to make sure the needs of fellow Detroiters are met. From health and wellness to child care. Helping fill the needs of those who are low income and marginalized.
In an article by Metromode Media, one of the many organizations stepping up efforts to meet the needs of the community is J&E Community Relief in Hamtramck. Distributing food items in an outdoor “move-and-go-style” of delivery so that families do not have to come indoors and in contact with large gatherings of people. According to the article, Emma Ferizoic, founder and president said they have seen an increase in people needing help. With an estimated 1,000 or more people to serve this month. They serve about 3,000 each month on average… including 130 women and children at the Genesis III homeless shelter.
Ferizoic also said those most affected are one-income families, those who work under the table, and people laid off.
Another organization bringing assistance to Detroiters is the Detroit Friendship House. Creating a distribution service so families can pick-up supplemental food.
In the article, Executive Director Cathy Mahar said, “We are continuing our services while everyone else is closing down because we believe that obviously food is essential at any time, especially times of crisis. We’re committed to staying open in the face of everybody else closing down. It makes a difference for all these people who are talking about going to the grocery stores and there’s nothing on the shelves. So I think it’s probably more important than ever that they have backup supplemental food.”
With the closing of restaurants and bars, many of the working poor are now out of work. According to Mahar, half of Hamtramck’s population is below the federal poverty line. Making this crisis even worse those. Hamtramck is at risk of going hungry to food insecurity. Her client base is 50% Bengali families, 4% Yemeni, and the rest being Polish, Albanian, and Bosnian.
Also affected by this crisis is Detroit’s homeless. At Covenant Community Care, Homeless Outreach Program Manager Jeff Hunt is looking for ways to care for those living on the streets.
“What do we do with someone who’s presenting with symptoms but has no place to quarantine? When you’re unsheltered, or if you’re living in a tent or an abandoned house, you don’t have running water, so hygiene is harder.” said Hunt in an interview by Metromode.
Meanwhile, in Southwest Detroit, a group of organizations are coming together. The Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Congress of Communities, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, 482Forward, We the People Michigan, and more… is analyzing and networking to bring mutual community needs through a Google Form.
According to the article, Community Organizer Gabriela Santiago-Romero who is managing the form; says responses so far are people wanting to offer resources. She anticipates the needs being: food, childcare, water drop-offs, medicine, housing, and helping people access free wifi.
“I think this is a moment where we do everything we possibly can to serve most marginalized,” says Santiago-Romero. “Their health literally depends on it.”
Santiago-Romero said once the forms are reviewed, people will reach out and contact those people and connect to the resources they need.
Another need to Detroiters is access to transportation. That’s where Unity in Our Communities Time Bank in Southwest Detroit comes in. In the article, Alice Bagley, the coordinator of Unity in Our Communities Time Bank, says the time bank is “ideally built” for times like these. What it is a network of support, that people can offer services in exchange for hours they can exchange for something else. Such as a senior can offer sewing in exchange for gardening work.
Detroit therapist Julie Weatherhead suggested doing sessions via video chat on a sliding scale.
Weatherhead says having to self-quarantine is a type of trauma. With all these canceled plans and feeling to have to scrap everything “is a type of loss and grief”.
“I think that my perspective on grief and loss and being a mental health counselor, hopefully, I can be helpful to folks.” said Weatherhead.
One of the hardest-hit businesses amid this crisis are gyms. Which were ordered by Governor Whitmer to be closed. Terra Castro, founder of the community-oriented gym, Detroit Body Garage on Detroit’s east side has gone to offering workouts online.
For now, she’s offering her services for free. Saying “(it’s important to) “help keep our body healthy but also our minds. The live workouts add an element of connection for us all at a time of social distancing and having to stay home. It is free because at this time as a coach I am most concerned about this community — all of us staying well mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”
Detroit has a reputation for reaching out and giving to others. Castro says, “Our heartbeat is for community and now just today (Monday) our workout was used not just in Detroit but in other cities — families, a professional athlete — this is about how movement connects us and keeps us bold to keep going to the finish line. DBG will still be standing — this is Detroit. It is who we are.”
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