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Best New Year's idea? Sign up to help

Best New Year's idea? Sign up to help

January 10th, 2017 by Mitch Albom in Opinion Editorial

Have you made a New Year's resolution? Did it include helping people in need? Have you made that resolution before, only to discover, halfway through the year, that you kind of missed the boat?
Well, I have a way around that—particularly if you are in the skilled trades fields, like plumbing, roofing, carpentry, masonry, electrical—or if you like to read and be with kids. I know the idea works.
Because I tried it before.
Seven years ago, a massive earthquake hit Haiti. It killed 3 percent of its population and left 10 percent of it homeless. I got involved with a Haitian mission/orphanage, and eventually formed a team of local folks called "The Detroit Muscle Crew," two dozen tradespeople who traveled to Haiti with me numerous times over three years and quite literally rebuilt that mission. A kitchen. Bathrooms. Showers. Roofs. A new school.
Perhaps the best part was the real bonding of those hardworking folks—who took a few days off from their jobs each year to help those less fortunate. They remain connected to this day.
Well, in 2017, I've made a resolution of my own. I want to create a second Detroit Muscle Crew. One whose purpose is to use its skills to help others—in the Detroit community.
Best part of all? The hardest task is already done.
Let's face it. Many people want to help those less fortunate. I hear it on a daily basis. "I really want to do something. My faith is telling me I should get involved. I have talent, but what do I do?"
The hardest part is not desire. The hardest part is the details. Knowing where to go. What to do. How to get there. How long it will take. How big a commitment.
Again, I can help with that. The charities of S.A.Y. Detroit, now entering their 11th year, encompass everything from a day-care center for infants, to a seniors program for elderly people. They include the nation's first medical clinic for homeless children, the refurbished Lipke Rec Center, which is now a sprawling campus of academic and athletic achievement for school kids, veterans' programs, homeless shelters and Working Homes/Working Families, which refurbishes donated houses for families with children, who, if they stay together, keep their jobs and pay the taxes and utilities for two years, are handed the deed.
All of these charities require physical maintenance help. Windows break. Skylights leak. Heating systems fail. Roofs need repair. Electrical panels go haywire. Floors need resealing. You get the drift.
These things, when paid for, eat away the funds that could go toward programming, buying medical equipment, etc. And usually after we pay for them, someone comes up and says, "Gee, I could have helped you with that."
This is where you come in.
I'm looking to create "Detroit Muscle Crew II," a roster of licensed and certified tradespeople (and yes, reading tutors, I'll get to that) who make a New Year's resolution to be part of this team, and agree to be called on no more than twice a year, for no more than four total days, to donate their labor toward various tasks.
In doing so, you no longer have to worry about the where, when or how. Or the why. You'll see the why in the faces of the children, families, veterans and seniors who you help.
You'll be part of a team that will galvanize around projects and get them done quickly. You'll meet other like-minded experts. And we will list and promote your business via social media—and you can put it on your own website—as proud members of "Detroit Muscle Crew II" concerned tradespeople, willing to make a difference.
Now, if you don't swing a hammer, don't worry. Our second-biggest need is for tutors—any age, any background—who are willing to give at least two hours a week of reading instruction during the school year to our amazing kids at the S.A.Y. Play Center at Lipke Park.
Even if you've never taught before, we can train you to make the biggest difference of all—giving a child a chance.
So whatever your talent, or if you have a company that wants to commit workers for a few days a year, here's the deal: If you don't want to regret breaking that "helping others" pledge come the summer, please consider being part of a proud team. All you need to do is contact us at saydetroit.org. We'll take it from there.
Wouldn't it be nice to finally keep a New Year's resolution? And then we can get to that one about the gym.v

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