Erica Wright (Season 2, Episode 31) » Mitch Albom
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Category : Heart of Detroit
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Air date: June 26, 2014

Sometimes the soul of a neighborhood can be found on a front porch. Nearly 40 years ago, Erica Wright was watching her son play ball across the street. Some other kids started throwing rocks. Erica: So I went over to the other side and I said, “what’s going on?” [They said] “we want to play too,” so I asked the coach, “can I get a couple of gloves and a ball,” and I took them on the other side of the playground and that is how it began. The next day I came home from work they were on these steps. They wanted to know what time was practice…so that was the beginning. Mitch: You had just become a coach. Erica: Yes. From there, she started after-school programs: sports, art, mentoring. It was so consuming, she quit her job at the IRS and went full-time as a neighborhood blessing. Thousands of kids have been touched by her caring. Girl: She’s that one person in life who you can depend on. Erica: I love you and you know it. Boy: She is the most wonderful person in the world, ever. Mitch: If you had to give a title for what you do or what you are in this neighborhood what would you be comfortable with? Erica: Surrogate mother…surrogate grandmother. I was held hostage. Every time I get ready to think about quitting, you know, here comes another smiling face, and, “Erica, are we going to practice today?”; “Erica, what are we getting ready to do?”; “Are we doing anything this weekend?” It all starts with a simple belief. Erica: They want somebody to love them, somebody to care about them. We have some good kids if they are just given a chance. Mitch: But you want them to dream? Erica: Yes exactly. Without dreams we have nothing. Erica Wright sacrificed many things to be a force in the neighborhood. But what she got back can never be measured. Because it’s part of — and as big as — the heart of Detroit. Group: We love Erica!

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