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The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of MichiganThe Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

National Poverty Center helps 'makeover' Detroit

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On a rainy Saturday morning in May, nine National Poverty Center (NPC) staff, faculty, and friends met at Detroit's Bushnell Congregational Church for a day of muddy, but fun, volunteer service. Shawn Pelak, a regular Detroit volunteer and program manager for the NPC, recruited her co-workers as part of the Motor City Makeover, an annual event organized by the city of Detroit during which volunteers clean up local neighborhoods.

The NPC group joined other volunteers in an effort organized by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, a non-profit group of community members dedicated to improving the area's physical environment to help create a stronger and more vital community. The Makeover volunteers were assigned tasks to help beautify the grounds of the church, which hosts a weekly farmers' market. Through the drizzle, NPC volunteers cleaned landscaping beds, dug trenches for mulch, trimmed shrubs, mowed lawns, and pulled weeds.

Detroit has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, and the NPC often conducts research in Detroit and the surrounding areas. As Pelak explained, "this was a great opportunity for us to help a community that our research touches and we look forward to next year."