(CBS DETROIT) – Inside a historic church on Woodward in Detroit’s north end neighborhood lies a sanctuary. Not only one for parishioners, but for at risk youth.

“The Detroit Phoenix Center, we’re a high impact non-profit organization that provides critical resources, support and a safe nurturing environment for teens and young adults that are transitioning out of homelessness and poverty,” Founder and CEO of the Detroit Phoenix Center Courtney Smith said.

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Smith, a native Detroiter, says she recognized a great need in her community and instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to take charge, she got in the game.

“I saw that there was this narrative being shared about Detroit was coming back and I felt a lot of the young people were being left out of that narrative,” she said.

With the help of a grant in 2016, at the age of 25, Courtney started the Detroit Phoenix Center. To date, the organization has helped over 2,000 Michigan youth between 13 and 24-years-old, by providing multiple resources.

“A young person can walk in off the street and they can take a shower, they can wash their clothes they can access and food pantry a computer lab recreational activity,” said Smith.

Do to COVID-19, some of the in-person activities at the center are limited, but Smith says she’s not going to let a pandemic stop her from serving her community.

“We took our mission directly to the street, we cleared out our food pantry, we got face masks delivered, hand sanitizer delivered we found where they were, we purchased cell phones,” said Smith.

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Smith and staff out delivering care packages to families in need during pandemic.

They’ve even provided rental assistance to families in order to prevent evictions during this time.

Smith says the work she and her staff does, is extremely rewarding and they not only work with the youth in the beginning, they follow them through their process.

“We’ve seen young people literally when we met them living on the street and now they’re in apartments, enrolled in school and they’re really thriving,” said Smith.

The Detroit Phoenix Center operates with donations, for more information visit.

http://www.detroitphoenixcenter.org/

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April Morton