Best New Years Idea? Sign Up to Help Others

by | Jan 8, 2017 | Detroit Free Press, Comment | 1 comment

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 work with kids. I know it works.

Because I tried it before.

Seven years ago, a massive earthquake hit Haiti. It killed three percent of its population and left 10 percent of it homeless. It was a terrible tragedy that moved many people to take action. I got involved with a Haitian mission/orphanage, and eventually created a team of local folks called “The Detroit Muscle Crew.”

They were great. Two dozen tradespeople who travelled to Haiti with me numerous times over three years (thanks to the generosity of a few prominent businessmen with private planes) 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 to help those less fortunate – and 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 – right here in our community.

Best part of all? The hardest task is already done for you.

A way to give

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 will it 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 the elderly. 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 Familes, 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 towards 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.

Part of a team

I’m looking to create a new “Muscle Crew” roster of licensed and certified Michigan tradespeople (and yes readers, 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 towards various tasks.


Have you made a New Year’s resolution? Did it include helping people in need? Here’s how you keep it:

Join Detroit Muscle Crew II

as a skilled tradesperson to help with physical maintenance projects for various S.A.Y. Detroit programs

Become a Tutor

at S.A.Y. Play and change the game for Detroit’s youth


More Ways to Help »

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 that 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 involvement 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.

And you can proudly tell your fellow workers “Today we’re going to do something simply because it’s the right thing to do.”

Now, if you don’t swing a hammer, don’t worry. Our second biggest need is for readers – any age, any background – who are willing to give two hours a week during the school year to help 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 that “helping others” idea come the summer, please consider being part of a proud team. All you need to do is contact us at

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…

Contact Mitch Albom: Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom. To read his recent columns, go to

1 Comment

  1. Theresa Ramus

    That is a good idea to get some trades people to help out with repairs. I can imagine the upkeep of everything.Your programs are always good to volunteer for.


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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