The annual report: Your giving worked

by | Dec 18, 2011 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

It’s time to report back.

This year, in this column space, we made efforts to help those less fortunate by starting or boosting several charities.

I wrote their stories. You came to their aid.

Here’s progress you should be proud of:

Mother Batie’s Soup Kitchen: I told the story of a woman who, 40 years ago, heard God tell her to buy a building and start a soup kitchen. She did – even though she didn’t have a job. That small, loving place was on its last legs in October, about to close due to funding cuts.

“Be careful when you close the door on poor people,” Maude (Mother) Batie, now in her 80s, had cautioned, reminding us that they bleed just like everyone else.

You responded, giving enough money through our new charity, the Heart of Detroit, to keep the kitchen open for at least two or three more years! Plus our volunteer group, a Time to Help, descended on the place, and now it has newly painted walls, newly tiled floors and a whole new optimism.

Mother Batie nearly jumped from her wheelchair. She has asked me to say, “God bless all of you.”

I second that.

To continue to help, call 313-993-4700 or go to

Have Faith Haiti Mission: Incredible strides have been made at our “little-orphanage-that-could” in Port-au-Prince. Begun decades ago by Detroit pastor John Hearn, the place has been rebuilt since the 2010 earthquake, and under our operation has admitted 13 new children, all of whom were living in tents. This autumn, a new school opened on the grounds, taught completely in English.

Your funding has made the school, a kitchen, a dining room, showers, toilets and dormitories possible. Having just visited last week, we now are concerned about a dangerous wall that threatens to collapse by a pathway the kids use daily.

We need to raise $14,000 to deconstruct and reconstruct this wall. If you’d like to help, call 313-993-4700 or go to

Detroit Dream Scholars: In late summer, this column issued a challenge to provide a dozen of Detroit’s most talented but underprivileged high schoolers with a scholarship to the prestigious College for Creative Studies. I pledged the first to get it going; since then, six of you have responded with equal pledges of $60,000 over four years, including Charles and Shelley Baker, Jayne E. Sabo, Sally and William R. Wildner and others who wish to remain anonymous.

As part of the scholarship, the students must contribute original art each summer to some visible place in downtown Detroit.

I think our city is about to get a lot more colorful.

To continue to help us reach our goal before Christmas, call 313-664-7864 or go to

Working Homes/Working Families: Two things Detroit has too many of: empty houses and struggling families. The idea of this new charity was to bring the two together. So far, three homes have been awarded – after being donated by generous individuals and fixed up by volunteers – and this week, a fourth family will be surprised with a place to live. The premise is simple: As long as you work, pay the taxes and upkeep, and hold your family together, the house is yours. Next year, we plan on half a dozen pairings of families and once-empty residences.

This is called good matchmaking.

To help, call 313-993-4700 or go to

S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic For Homeless Children: Celebrating its three-year anniversary this weekend, the S.A.Y. Clinic was the first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week clinic in America devoted to homeless children. As the problem grows, the need for a place where homeless kids can get health care without worry is acute. Your giving got it started; the clinic is now in the midst of a fund drive to secure its operation for the next three years. To do more: 313-993-4700 or

A Hole in the Roof Foundation: Inspired by the story of “Have A Little Faith,” the foundation has helped in Haiti and Detroit. Thanks to donations, it is funding new stained-glass and more than 100 replacement windows for the I Am My Brother’s Keeper Ministries/Pilgrim Church, which this week marks the sad anniversary of the passing of Pastor Henry Covington, dear friend to so many, including me.

If you’d like to help: 313-993-4700 or

This is but a snapshot of your generosity. If I could give you all one Christmas gift, it would be the look on the faces of the good souls you have helped.

Take a bow. You are the kindest, most charitable readers in the nation.

The proof is in the giving.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or


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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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