Detroit Athletic Club Donates Executive Clothing to Focus: HOPE

For the past 6 years, the Detroit Athletic Club has collected professional clothing among its members and donated them to our organization. We have been able to give these pieces of clothing to our students who are soon entering the professional workforce.

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“I have a history of working in the Detroit community, and the DAC is proud to work with Focus: HOPE and this particular initiative that helps create self-esteem and self worth for for the people returning to work,” said Brenda Schneider, DAC Community Outreach Committee Member.

In total, the Detroit Athletic Club donated 776 items of executive clothing for our students.

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In order to prepare our students for the workforce, we enforce a dress code. Students who are unable to meet this dress code are able to find clothes in our student clothes closet, where these items will be going. Thanks to organizations like the DAC, our closet contains sports coats, dresses, pencil skirts, suits and more of all sizes for both male and females.

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Thank you Detroit Athletic Club, from everyone at Focus: HOPE.

As you know, we are a nonprofit organization that relies on generous donors like you to keep our doors open for those we serve. Please consider making a donation today and remember that one donation to Focus: HOPE, changes an entire generation.

Click here to make a donation 

 

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Meet Carol Daniels

As you may know, each month, our Food Program provides more than 13 million meals to 41,000 seniors who live on less than $16,000 per year.

Gifts from generous donors have helped ensure the more than 40 year legacy of this vital resource for low-income seniors in metro Detroit.  Seniors like Carol Daniels.

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Carol Daniels grew up 60 years ago in the shadow of the wall at Eight Mile and Birwood that separated blacks from whites in northwest Detroit.  The image still haunts her.

“I remember as a young black girl being told you can’t go behind that wall.” said Carol Daniels.

After raising her sons as a single mother, she enrolled at Wayne State University in her 50’s to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Then, at the age of 65 she earned a master’s degree in education.

After the effects of glaucoma took her eyesight in her 70’s, Mrs. Daniels struggled with maintaining her independence. Then her sister told her about the Focus: HOPE Food Program.

“The whole program to me is beneficial – from the healthy foods, to the respectful volunteers, to Mr. Frank, the Program Director, who calls me to let me know when the food will be delivered and by whom.” said Carol Daniels.

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The Focus: HOPE Food Program provided more than 496,000 boxes of foods to seniors throughout the metro Detroit area last year.

“After being taught as a child to be self-sufficient, it hurt to be in a place of needing from others. I never accepted food stamps.  But this resource helps assure I can make ends meet on my fixed income, with dignity.” said Carol Daniels.

Since 1968, Focus: HOPE has dramatically transformed thousands of lives through its three key areas of focus: food, careers and community.  Continue to support Focus: HOPE by donating today.

Donate 

 

 

26th Generation of Promise Class Graduates

The below is a social contract written on behalf of Focus: HOPE, Generation of Promise Class XXVI.

Division is another form of discrimination
Long past the time of scorching, sun soaked Southern
segregation,
Separation has been centered into the streets of our
home
We have let asphalt borders breed apathy
and in our indifference our city was consumed by
flames—
Flames of hate and rage
Flames intended to burn down systemic subjection
But they only stoked fears of change.

From the streets and divisions, we have risen
From cinders and ashes, we have risen
right along the rebirth of a city and a nation,
A generation of promise:
Minds and eyes open,
searching for education
seeing our diversification
We have learned the value of cooperating over
competing,
dreaming over despairing,
embracing over excluding
loving over loathing,

Divided we may have come but united, despite it, we
stand
We are more than what separates us
We are one
One whole heart beating with hope for humanity,
focused on a future we will change
We are the youth of today, sure, but we are also the
promise of the past, and the solution to the future
Our aim is to fulfill our society duty to seek justice,
diversity, equity, peace
We will not accept silently that which must be changed
silence begets not but isolation, ignorance, and
intolerance
we will act, for others over self, to rectify injustices
Gone long witnessed and long unchallenged

Let this be our illuminated manuscript, letters aglow,
message aglow
Let our full hearts be set ablaze, impassioned and
enlightened
lighting Prometheus’s verdigrised torch;
He sits crossed legged, holding our spirit in one hand and
knowledge in the other
Knowledge given to all not just the few
Be you black, white, or brown—the flame will burn the
same
And brighter than any one pin prick of light is a sea of
lanterns radiating truth,
setting the city aflame once more;
This time a fire built from love and acceptance,
burning anew with the heat of salvation
burning down not but barriers
We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.

GOP Graduation 2017

Generation of Promise brings together high school students from different backgrounds, races and ethnicities across the metropolitan area to build community and leadership skills. Students are encouraged to challenge stereotypes or misconceptions they hold and work to build relationships across divisions.

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Sunday, May 6, 2017, more than 50 high school students successfully completed Focus: HOPE’s 26th Generation of Promise program. Fun fact; last year’s Harvard University’s Valedictorian was a Generation of Promise Graduate.

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Congrats to all of the Generation of Promise Young Leaders who showcased their leadership and community building skills through this 10-month curriculum. Click here for more information about the program.

Proud to be an Ambassador for NEideas Challenge Grant

New Economy Initiative Seeks Applicants for $400,000 in Awards through the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge

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We are a proud Ambassador of the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge and welcome all applicants to our information session on May 8, 2017.

What’s the challenge? Challenge to award $400,000 in cash prizes to existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park for their ideas for growth. Application period is open May 1-June 1 (11:59 p.m.).

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) announced today that it will begin accepting applications on May 1 for its fourth annual NEIdeas: Rewarding Ideas for Business Growth challenge, which will award a total of $400,000 to more than 20 existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park for their ideas for growth.

Applications can be submitted online at NEIdeasDetroit.org between May 1 and June 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Small business owners can learn more about NEIdeas and receive tips on filling out an application at our information session on May 8, 2017!

– 5/8, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Focus:HOPE (1400 Oakman Blvd., Detroit, MI 48238)

Make sure to mention you were referred by Focus: HOPE! 

Click here to Register for the Information Session

Click Here for Program Guidelines

Want to know more about our information session? Contact Judith Williams, Manager, Neighborhood and Economic Revitalizations at judith.williams@focushope.edu or 313-494-4351.

Our Employees Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Alison Gala, Focus: HOPE Communications Volunteer 

“There is a need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964. “Man must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

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This mission is one we hold close. The 1967 Detroit Race Riot was one of the most violent urban revolts of the 20th century. Rioters smashed windows and looted stores. Fires spread rapidly and raged out of control, covering 12 square miles. Gunshots echoed through the streets. The violence lasted an estimated five days and nights. Forty-three people were killed. Over 1,000 people were injured and over 7,000 were arrested. The overall property damage totaled about $32 million.

Several important political, economic and social factors triggered the unrest. Key factors included police brutality, lack of affordable housing, segregated schools, wealth disparity and demographic changes. The outlook was bleak.

“Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate,” MLK wrote in his book in 1968. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Father William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE in 1968 in response to the Detroit Race Riot the year before. Cunningham was a visionary leader and civil rights activist who marched alongside MLK in Selma, Alabama after “Bloody Sunday”. In the beginning, we were a series of volunteer  projects aimed at restoring the Detroit community. Eventually, with assistance from Eleanor Josaitis, Cunningham’s project turned into the multi-million dollar nonprofit that we are today.

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Focus: HOPE founder, Father William Cunningham
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Focus: HOPE, co-founder Eleanor Josaitis preaching to a crowd on civil rights issues

Our logic was simple: to minimize violence, increase opportunities. Since then, we have worked to provide career training, education, advocacy and support to empower individuals to overcome racism, poverty and injustice in a meaningful way.

On MLK Day, 220 of our employees celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering at organizations like the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Bottomless Toy Chest, Boys & Girls Club, Forgotten Harvest, Cass Community Social Services, Humble Design, Mariners Inn, St. Vincent DePaul, Detroit Rescue Mission and Arts & Scraps. Together, we provided more than 560 hours of service to the metro Detroit community.

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“It was really special to see all of Focus: HOPE donate their MLK Day to serve others in our community,” said Jennifer Presley, Event & Cause Marketing Manager, Focus: HOPE. “It was an amazing MLK Day and was a reminder as to what MLK Day should really be all about.”

As an organization, we have laid a foundation for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. We have given people the tools they need to rise, and have provided what was so desperately needed all along: hope.

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Thank You! To our Volunteers & Sponsors for Helping Spread Holiday Cheer to 1,400 low-income seniors.

With the holiday season upon us, it is a reminder to us all to practice gratitude. Millions of individuals around the country are not as fortunate to make the holiday season magical for their families. In Detroit specifically, many households struggle with food insecurity and are not able provide a holiday meal on their own.

With the help of over 400 volunteers from all over Southeast Michigan, and our community partners, we were able to deliver holiday food boxes to 1,400, low-income seniors as a way to spread cheer to those who need it most. Our annual Senior Holiday Delivery Event supports senior citizens in four counties — Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw. The special holiday packages included fresh fruits and vegetables, turkey, stuffing, non-perishable items and dessert, as well as gifts for those homes who have young children living in them.

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Focus: HOPE Director of Development, Ashleigh Dunham delivering a holiday food box to Gracie Anderson.

“Focus: HOPE has truly been such a blessing in my life,” said Gracie Anderson, Focus: HOPE Food Program recipient. “Without Focus: HOPE, I wouldn’t have a holiday meal to enjoy with my family. If I ever win the lottery, I’d give back to Focus: HOPE.”

The seniors who were visited on December 17 are current recipients in our food program, and receive monthly, non-perishable supplemental food boxes. We feed 41,300 low-income seniors on a monthly-basis and have delivered over 24 million food boxes since 1971.

holiday41-1-of-1Focus: HOPE Director of Development, Ashleigh Dunham and Focus: HOPE Volunteer, Drew Patrick delivering a holiday food box to a food program recipient.

All of this would not be possible if it was not for our dedicated volunteers and community partners who sponsored our event, volunteered when it was needed and supported Focus: HOPE. Thank you to everyone who came to our Senior Holiday Delivery Event and went out in the crazy weather to ensure that our seniors, who should be enjoying their golden years, are set up with a complete holiday meal to enjoy with their loved ones.

interview1Interview of a Senior Holiday Delivery Volunteer 

interview-2Interview of a Senior Holiday Delivery Volunteer 

A special thanks to our presenting sponsor, DENSO, who is helping to double the impact Focus: HOPE is making this holiday season by matching all online donations made to our organization by December 31, 2016! You can double your donation today by going to: http://6718.thankyou4caring.org/FocusHopeDonations

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“Connecting with our community is important to our company and our people,” said Bill Foy, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, DENSO International America, Inc. “DENSO is committed to building a strong community where our employees, family, friends and neighbors can grow and prosper.”

holiday3-1-of-1Focus: HOPE CEO, Jason D. Lee; DENSO, Program Manager, Community Affairs, Melissa Smith; and Melissa Smith’s daughter at Focus: HOPE’s Senior Holiday Delivery Event

DENSO has been a Focus: HOPE partner since 1999, supporting with monetary donations, the annual Focus: HOPE Walk, food program and workforce development programs. The matching online donations provided by DENSO will support our numerous programs that open opportunities for brighter futures.

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DENSO, Program Manager, Community Affairs, Melissa Smith on why DENSO is sponsoring our Senior Holiday Delivery Event 

“During the holidays, we want to make sure that our seniors are able to enjoy a special meal in their own home,” said Focus: HOPE CEO, Jason D. Lee. “Although the monthly food boxes they receive contain plenty of nutritious items, this annual holiday box provides them with a holiday meal that allows them to celebrate with their loved ones in their own home.”

15493622_10154857237399294_1868293112851901276_oVolunteers from Oakland University’s Hockey Team loading up cars to deliver holiday boxes to low-income seniors.

For the Senior Holiday Delivery Event, volunteers packed and picked up the food boxes between 8-10 a.m. on December 17 at our Food Warehouse. There, they were provided with addresses to deliver the packages to, and other staff and volunteers helped load their vehicles for the deliveries.

interview4Interview of Senior Holiday Delivery volunteers

Monetary donations can be made online by clicking on this link!  and will be matched by DENSO $ for $ through December 31, 2016.

15590795_10154854383989294_2953301134239834265_oThe Motor City Cruisers and Professional Lady Riders, who have been coming out to help seniors in need at Focus: HOPE’s Senior Holiday Delivery Program for 12 years

15540612_10154857236689294_476090690842279317_oUnited Way and GM Volunteers at Focus: HOPE’s Senior Holiday Delivery Program.

For a full gallery of photos from the event, please Click Here!

Thank you again to our volunteers, presenting sponsor DENSO, and our other sponsors and supporters for helping us spread holiday cheer to 1,400, low-income senior citizens throughout 4 counties.

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15493604_10154857237554294_4859464138490324335_oFocus: HOPE employees & volunteers helping out during the Senior Holiday Delivery Program

Wishing you and your families a Happy Holiday and prosperous New Year!

Op Ed post Election November 17, 2016

by Focus: HOPE CEO, Jason Lee

Regardless of our individual political affiliations, we can all agree that the rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential Election has deeply polarized this country in ways not seen since the 1960’s. The spirit of America has been wounded by an exceptionally divisive approach to the political process – a process that many in this country fought for and some even gave their lives to protect.

We are the United States of America…the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Is our conduct with respect to one another reflective of these words that we sing so often at sporting events and school assemblies? Are our children learning the values of respect, racial tolerance, religious freedom, civil political discourse and non-violent protest?

Focus: HOPE was founded as a solution to the institutional and racial ills that plagued Detroit and our nation. We stand for equal justice and opportunity for all, from every race, creed, color, sexual orientation and religious doctrine. We believe in the beauty and dignity of each person, and the power of people working together to make positive change.   We believe in the United States of America, and in its power to overcome the great evils of racism, poverty and injustice.  Join us in healing the soul of this great country by spreading the message of good will, peace and understanding. Only by Standing Together will we Make America Great.

Jason D. Lee, CEO Focus: HOPE

Congratulations to our Earn & Learn Graduates of Fall 2016!

13 individuals on path towards pursing their dreams

Everyone we know wants to be happy, but what does being happy really mean? It means something different to almost everyone. For many, being happy is being able to go to school and study the field of their choice, raising a family and giving them the best life possible, being able to make enough money to travel and see the world, following your dreams, making your family proud, but most importantly, making yourself proud. Many people wish for the things that they know will make them happy but are stalled in advancing their dreams due to some of life’s unfortunate circumstances.  For example, HOPE Village, the neighborhood surrounding our 32-acre campus, has a population where 50% of residents live at or below the poverty line; and fewer than 10% have an associate’s degree or higher. As part of our HOPE Village Initiative, our goal is to that by the year 2031, 100% of those residents will be educationally well-prepared, economically self-sufficient and living in a safe and supportive environment.

Here at Focus: HOPE, we make sure that no matter where you are in life, educationally, economically or socially, you are being provided opportunities that will better your future and lead you on a path towards happiness and independence.

Our Earn & Learn program, which is one out of our many Workforce Development & Education programs, is designed to help individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 in the Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park areas, obtain work skills, set and achieve education goals, and gain work experience. Students who complete the program can expect to obtain skills and education that prepares them for careers in information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics/distribution or construction based on their personal interests. Students are not required to have a GED or High School diploma to enroll. The fields that Earn & Learn focus on were chosen based on the Metro Detroit economy, numbers of jobs in those fields, and the fact that they offer a salary that provides a good life with opportunity for advancement.

Just a few weeks ago, we had 13 individuals from the Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park area graduate from our Earn & Learn program. These individuals are now on a path to ensuring that their future is bright by reaching their full potential and being empowered to pursue their dreams.

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Since graduating, they all have plans to, or have already begun, furthering their education.

1-1-of-1Gemarro McDaniel started his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

“The skills that this class taught me, I will use for the rest of my life.” said Germarro McDaniel.

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Antuan Mitchell is starting our Fast Track program this coming January, 2017. The coursework in Fast Track stresses academics, time management, teamwork, workplace ethics, and conflict resolution.  Students have the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized certification from the International Business Training Association in Customer Service.

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Robski Neal began Construction Readiness Training at Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation on November 14, 2016.

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Martin Nelson will begin training at our Machinist Training Institute this coming January, 2017.

“I leaned things here that I never expected to learn from Focus: HOPE,” said Martin Nelson. “The things we have learned from the staff are priceless.”

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Paul Peddy has already begun our Tech Hire program. Tech Hire is a partnership between the City of Detroit, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, Grand Circus, Southwest Solutions and Focus: HOPE. The training includes soft skills, academics, computer and career exploration. It is 300 hours of IT-career specific training over a 10-week period.

“Once I am finished with Tech Hire, I am going into the ITC program at Focus: HOPE that will start this coming January,” said Paul Peddy.  “I had a vision for what I wanted to do after high school, but the staff here helped me further that vision and build out a plan to put it into action, thank you.”

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Siara Sellers began Construction Readiness Training at Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation on November 14, 2016.

“I was the only woman in this class,” said Siara Sellers. “Thank you to the staff and students for making it so comfortable for me and allowing me to pursue my dreams.”

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Shaquille Williams began his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

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Markese Greer also began his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

“Thank you to the staff for all of the wisdom you shared with us,” said Markese Greer. “Everyone, including my class mates, pushed me to reach my full potential and the staff even helped me fix my credit score.”

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Bilal Bell-Muhammad is beginning the Grand Circus Experience IT Program through the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation this January, 2017.

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Raynard Phillips is also beginning the Grand Circus Experience IT Program through the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation this January, 2017.

“What I have learned through Earn & Learn, gave me confidence that I never had before,” said Raynard Phillips. “If this class is a view into our future, I know we are all going to be successful.”

Not Pictured:

Gregory Holden started his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

Mystical Williams is training at our Machinist Training Institute this coming January, 2017.

Malik Lyles began the Diesel Mechanic Repair Program at Detroit Department of Transportation on November 14, 2016.

We are so proud of our Earn & Learn graduates and can’t wait to watch them succeed and pursue their dreams. If you wish to find out more information about any of our Workforce Development & Education programs, please go to www.focushope.edu or contact 313.494.4300.