Monday, April 25, 2016

Lending a Helping Hand at Focus: HOPE

Volunteers at Focus: HOPE
"Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice. And to build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection. Black and white, yellow, brown and red from Detroit and its suburbs of every economic status, national origin and religious persuasion we join in this covenant." --Focus: HOPE Mission

Since its founding in 1968, Focus: HOPE has striven to fulfill the above mission. It offers the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, career training programs, and the HOPE Village Initiative (a collection of community-based programs to help children, families, and neighborhoods succeed) to the Detroit area.

Focus: HOPE established the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in 1971. The program serves nearly 40,000 seniors and about 5,000 mothers with small children in the Detroit area each month with canned and packaged food. Most of the program's participants pick up their food from one of its four food centers, but Focus: HOPE also delivers food to homebound seniors.

On Saturday, I played a minuscule part in fulfilling Focus: HOPE's mission by taking part in a volunteer event through the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit. We met at the food warehouse on Focus: HOPE's main campus on Oakman Boulevard. The main campus has several buildings covering three city blocks, including the warehouse, training centers, a children's center with childcare programs, and a food center.

Rows and rows of food.
When I entered the warehouse, I was astonished by the volume of packaged food that was waiting to be delivered to the food centers and homebound seniors. Rows upon rows of pallets of boxes containing rice, canned goods, juice, and more were a sad reminder of how many people still need help to put a decent meal on their tables.

The Focus: HOPE staff was friendly and efficiently showed our group how to pack the boxes of food using an assembly line. A few other volunteers and I were at the end of line and had the job of loading the boxes onto pallets. Even though I literally had the heavy lifting, I figured a couple hours of hard work was only a small act to help others.

Boxes of much needed food for seniors
In the end, we loaded more than 1,400 boxes of food for delivery. Despite providing only a fraction of what is needed to feed those in need in the Detroit area, it felt good to be a small part of the solution to our metro area's problems. We all have our own lives to live and our own problems to deal with, but I hope we all take some time throughout the year to take ownership of our communities' problems by lending a helping hand.

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