Air date: February 5, 2015 http:///www.theheartofdetroit.org —–
Many families across Metro Detroit live at or below the poverty line. Many are homeless. 34 years ago Shelly Penzien (Pen-Z-En) saw first hand the effect homelessness had on the children at the Macomb school where she worked. Shelly: Kids coming to school without the necessary things; shoes with holes in them, not adequate winter gear type of thing, no socks. Shelly began helping one child at a time and soon her family members – friends – and people from the community joined in. Today Macomb Charitable Foundation aids children and their families by providing financial assistance for everyday needs. The demand is so great that the Foundation receives 17 requests a day from agencies and schools for assistance. Julie: We have a lot of kids that ask for toilet paper, diapers. Those are things that we take for granted and a lot of these kids don’t have it. Mitch: Are almost all of your clients from homeless families? Shelly: Most of them are yes. I would say 90% Mitch: And yet the kids are in school. Shelly: They absolutely are and the difference is they are changing clothes early morning having slept in their vehicle overnight. Friends, neighbors, inner city or suburbs – homelessness can happen anywhere. Shelly: “My mom couldn’t pay the storage bill so we lost everything. We have spent the night in our car, showered in fast food places, lakes and so forth.” These are things that are happening right here in our community. It has become who I am and it does define our lives and I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t do this. Reaching out to children and families in need Shelly Penzien and Macomb Charitable Foundation are providing the necessities of life here in the heart of Detroit.