Hope Among The Homeless: Volunteer Is Inspired By Those He Helps

Larry Oleinick of Farmington Hills addresses the group of recipients and volunteers

Larry Oleinick of Farmington Hills addresses the group of recipients and volunteers

When a heavy snowfall suddenly appeared at the University of Michigan football game last Saturday, the crowd began to cheer as cheerleaders formed snow angels on the sidelines and fans tossed snowballs in the stands. Winter fun, if only momentarily, had arrived.

About 40 miles southeast of Ann Arbor, in Detroit, that same snowfall signaled something ominous to the roughly 20,000 homeless people in the city: the dreaded, long and cruel winter months were returning, and with it the undeniable reality that their harsh existence was about to get tougher.

Homelessness continues to plague Detroit where about 25 percent of the homeless are children and 20 percent suffer from mental illness. Shelters and warming centers face budget tightening, and reports of harassment and violence against the homeless are increasing at an alarming rate.

On Nov. 21, a nonprofit serving the homeless, Heart 2 Hart – Detroit, held a pre-Thanksgiving event at Hart Plaza. The group distributed new winter coats, socks, hats, hand-warmers, along with lunch and hot soup, courtesy of Mex restaurant in Bloomfield Hills. 

Jodie Gross of Franklin assists in distributing a new winter coat, one of 100 coats distributed.

Jodie Gross of Franklin assists in distributing a new winter coat, one of 100 coats distributed.

Each year during the holidays the group hosts a similar event to help people prepare for winter with this year’s event funded, in large part, by the efforts of two incredible 15 year old girls, Bree Gross and Emma Sable, who solicited support from their classmates at Cranbrook Kingswood School.                           

With Thanksgiving only days away, many of the homeless folks were reflective on the holiday and what it personally meant for them during this difficult time in their lives. But if the volunteers at Hart Plaza were expecting to hear sadness and despair, they were clearly mistaken. Despite facing daily struggles that are unimaginable to the suburbanite volunteers, the homeless folks were surprisingly upbeat, a sentiment that was as shocking as it was inspirational.

There was Coleman, 71, a Vietnam veteran with a warm smile, telling us that he was confident that next Thanksgiving is going to be different and he “can’t wait.”

Or Martha, also 71, who had been living in the streets for the past two years after she left an abusive relationship, had lost two sons to AIDS and now has a third son in prison, but who nevertheless assured us that she’ll be OK since “the Lord gives me strength.”

Bree Gross of Franklin and Emma Sable of Bloomfield Hills distribute socks, gloves and hand warmers to the homeless at Hart Plaza

Bree Gross of Franklin and Emma Sable of Bloomfield Hills distribute socks, gloves and hand warmers to the homeless at Hart Plaza

A 49-year-old man known on the streets as “Knowledge” has a reputation as a poet and a philosopher. Knowledge told anyone who would listen that “Jesus was homeless, too” and that as he looks to Thanksgiving he is “very hopeful” since “things always work out for me.”

Many folks expressed thanks for simply being alive, especially since they all felt an increase in the harassment or violence to homeless people in the past year. Brian, age 54, tells of the time that a group of young adults “threw an M80 at me while I was sleeping” and then took off laughing.

He’s known other homeless people who have been spit on or hit by cars, and recently he lost a friend who had been sleeping in an abandoned building that had been lit on fire. But Brian was not bitter or angry. When I asked what he wishes for, his answer was quick and simple: “I just want some shoes.”

Lee, age 66, is one of the lucky ones. Lee is a college graduate and just recently, with Heart 2 Hart’s help, landed a job as a teacher, which enabled him to get an apartment. He says he is “most grateful” for the ability to “bathe daily.” Lee is quick to express his patriotism, and says that “all Americans should be thankful for the bounty we have.”  

That patriotism was especially on the mind of Manny, age 70, an ex-Marine who says he is “proud to have served my country.” Manny served in Vietnam, just as his father served in WWII and his grandfather in WWI. He says he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Montgomery, which taught him not to hate, a trait that he says serves him well in dealing with homelessness. Manny’s positive inner spirit is contrasted by his scarred face and ragged white beard, which reveals the harshness of his years. Manny grew up in Alabama, and at age 70, when he thinks about the future, his greatest wish is to go back home one day and go fishing.

As the event was ending, the volunteers were packing up, going back to their warm and safe houses in the suburbs, while the homeless folks were scattering throughout Downtown, with new winter coats, a large bag of new supplies and a cup of soup in their hands. Two of them, both deaf, were walking together and smiling at each other.

The scene was, to me, poignant and profoundly sad. But as I stood there, numbed by the thought of what lay ahead for all of these folks, Coleman, the 71-year-old optimist, turned to me, smiled and said, “Remember, we ain’t nobody’s victim.”

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places and the most unlikeliest of people.

By Mark Jacobs, Special to the Jewish News

Local Sophomores Raise Funds For Nonprofit Heart 2 Hart Detroit

Emma Sable and Bree Gross

Emma Sable and Bree Gross

November 8, 2016
Direct link to Detroit Jewish News article

Two Cranbrook Kingswood sophomores are determined to make a difference for people in need this Thanksgiving. They’re not doing it for credit or to meet some volunteer requirements for school. They simply have big hearts and want to change the world one small act of kindness at a time.

Bree Gross, 15, of Franklin, did a dance-a-thon to raise money for Heart 2 Hart Detroit for her bat mitzvah project. The charity remains close to her heart.

Heart 2 Hart Detroit is a small nonprofit that goes out into the streets of Detroit and hands out life-sustaining items to hundreds of homeless Detroiters. The nonprofit also connects homeless people to community service organizations, rehab facilities, estranged family members and even potential employers.

Bree told her friend Emma Sable, 15, of Bloomfield Hills about the charity’s work. Bree and Emma then took on the commitment to provide warm coats, socks and food gift cards for the many homeless people in Detroit to brighten their Thanksgiving.

“Once I heard about Heart 2 Hart Detroit and how they come to the city to feed the homeless, I knew right away that I wanted to get involved and help because these people deserve a second chance. I am just so happy to help support this great cause,” Bree said.

By enlisting their families and friends’ support through social media and a Crowdrise campaign, Bree and Emma are on the way to reaching their goal of raising $10,000 to purchase 100 winter coats, 100 pairs of socks and 100 $10 gift cards.

“Being homeless isn’t a choice and many unsuspecting people find themselves on the streets,” the girls wrote on their Crowdrise page. “They are moms and dads, brothers and sisters and grandmas and grandpas. They are people like us, but somewhere along the way they encountered terribly bad luck.”

With two weeks to go, the girls have raised nearly $9,000. They plan to raise funds annually to “remind all of us at Thanksgiving of all that we have to be thankful for,” Bree said.

On Nov. 21, the girls will go to Hart Plaza with other Heart 2 Hart volunteers and pass out the coats, socks and food gift cards. Also joining them will be Chef Zack Sklar and his staff from Peas and Carrots Hospitality Group, who will be passing out hot soup, lunches and toiletry kits.

To donate to the cause, visit www.crowdrise.com/raise-money-to-help-the-homeless-in-detroit/fundraiser/Emmabree.

Heart 2 Hart Event Raises $30,000 For Outreach To Detroit’s Needy

October 27, 2016
Direct link to Detroit Jewish News article

Peas & Carrots Hospitality recently hosted the fourth annual fundraiser for Heart 2 Hart Detroit, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide food, clothing, hygiene products and hope to Detroit’s homeless and needy population. Nearly 200 supporters attended the event at Au Cochon, the company’s French-inspired eatery in Birmingham, where more than $30,000 was raised. In addition to a large silent auction, guests had the opportunity to hear the success stories of those who have been supported over the years by Heart 2 Hart. This included individuals who are now back on their feet because of the Farmington Hills-based nonprofit’s generosity. Guests enjoyed entertainment provided by Dan Tillery and cuisine by Peas & Carrots Hospitality, led by owners Zack Sklar, Josh Humphrey and Jim Bellinson.

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Katie and Brandon Picard

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Renee and Joel Stillman

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Monica Zeldes, Lisa Zeldes, Kenneth Levy and Karen Larson

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Nancy Lipson, Walter Schram, Kim Schram and Ken Lipson

 

 

A Night of Giggles & Gloves Fundraiser

 

Last night H2HD attended the 6th Annual A Night of Giggles & Gloves Fundraiser benefiting Mittens for Detroit, at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. Heart 2 Hart Detroit has been fortunate to receive gloves and mittens from this amazing organization these last two years. MFD has helped our charity warm the hearts of the men and women we assist in Detroit -two hands at a time. Please help support Mittens for Detroit with their great mission. Thank you!

Peas & Carrots Hospitality’s Launches Project Have a Heart

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Leslie Pardo
Lauren Herrin
248-855-6777

PEAS & CARROTS HOSPITALITY’S LAUNCHES PROJECT HAVE A HEART AT ITS FIVE METRO DETROIT RESTAURANTS

Two-week campaign to benefit Heart 2 Hart Detroit

HaveaHeartBloomfield Hills, Mich., Jan. XX, 2016 – Peas & Carrots Hospitality, which owns and operates six dining concepts in Michigan and Illinois, will host Project Have a Heart at its five metropolitan Detroit restaurants: Social Kitchen & Bar, Arthur Avenue and Au Cochon in Birmingham, Mich., and Beau’s Grillery and MEX in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Benefiting Heart 2 Hart Detroit, the campaign will run from Monday, Feb. 1 through Valentine’s Day, Sunday, Feb. 14.

The company’s philanthropic partner for 2016, Heart 2 Hart Detroit (www.h2hd.org) goes into the streets of Detroit to distribute life-sustaining items, including food and toiletries, to the city’s homeless. In addition, volunteers connect those in need with community service organizations, estranged family members and potential employers.

The public can participate in Project Have a Heart in any of the following ways:

First, during the two week period, boxes will be set up at each restaurant where guests can donate the following new items on the organization’s wish list: men’s or women’s new socks in black or white; men’s boxer brief underwear in medium or large; men’s white t-shirts in large or extra large; women’s underwear sizes six, seven or eight; packs of Wet Wipes or a similar product in 20-30 count; men’s or women’s deodorant; razors; and fiber bars or Clif Bars.

Second, the restaurants will be collecting monetary contributions in the form of cash or check made out to Heart 2 Hart Detroit. These gifts will be matched with a Peas & Carrots Hospitality gift card valued at 50 percent of the donation, up to $50.

Finally, on Monday, Feb. 8, a portion of each restaurant’s proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit.

“We hope Project Have a Heart makes an impact on the quality of life of those undergoing struggles in our own backyard,” said Zack Sklar, owner of Peas & Carrots Hospitality. “Our staff has had the opportunity to go out each week with Heart 2 Hart Detroit to distribute soup to those in need and it has been a life changing experience for all of us. We are pleased to have the opportunity to make more people aware of this wonderful organization.”

Adds Larry Oleinick, founder and president of Heart 2 Hart Detroit, “We thank Peas & Carrots Hospitality for helping us warm the hearts of those we assist. Our team is overjoyed by their ongoing involvement with us and are touched that they are launching Project Have a Heart on our behalf.”

 

Participating restaurants:

Arthur Avenue (www.arthurave.com)
Approachable, classic Italian cuisine
260 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham
248-480-0768
Dinner: 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Au Cochon (www.aucochon.com)
Updated classic French cuisine
260 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham
248-792-7795
Breakfast and Lunch: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner: 4 p.m. to midnight

Beau’s Grillery (www.beausbloomfield.com)
Updated classic American cuisine
4108 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills
248-626-2630
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday; Dinner: 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

MEX (www.mexbloomfield.com)
Innovative, upscale Mexican cuisine
6675 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills
248-723-0800
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; Brunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; Dinner: 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Social Kitchen & Bar (www.socialkitchenandbar.com)
Refined comfort food
225 E. Maple Road, Birmingham
248-594-4200
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; Brunch: 11: a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to close Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday; Cocktail Hour: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

 

About Peas & Carrots Hospitality

Based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Peas & Carrots Hospitality owns and operates Social Kitchen & Bar, Au Cochon and Arthur Avenue in Birmingham, Mich., MEX and Beau’s Grillery in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and Bernie’s Lunch & Supper in Chicago. Led by a team of partners including Zack Sklar, Josh Humphrey and Jim Bellinson, the restaurant group is slated to open Social Kitchen & Bar in Grand Rapids, Mich. this year.

 

# # #

Akebono Makes Charitable Contribution to Heart 2 Hart Detroit

AKEBONO

NEWS RELEASE

$1,400 contribution to aid Detroit-area populations with food, clothing and hygienic products

Farmington Hills, Mich. – Nov. 17, 2015 – Akebono Brake Corporation today announced a donation of $1,400 to a local philanthropic organization, Heart 2 Hart Detroit, whose mission is to provide food, clothing, hygienic products and hope to Detroit’s homeless and needy population.

Akebono held its fourth annual Chili Cook-Off for Charity at its engineering center in Farmington Hills, Mich. recently, where associates tasted over 20 varieties of chili and voted for their favorites via a monetary donation. The chili that received the most money for charity was declared the winner, with all proceeds donated to Heart 2 Hart Detroit.

“The donation from Akebono will provide roughly 500 meals and 250 new clothing items for the homeless men and women of Detroit,” said Larry Oleinick, president of Heart 2 Hart Detroit, who attended the event. “We are grateful for Akebono’s generosity that will directly impact the lives of so many who need a helping hand.”

Heart 2 Hart Detroit was founded in 2012 and is based in Farmington Hills, Mich. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, volunteers go out into the streets of Detroit to distribute life-sustaining items to hundreds of homeless Detroiters. They also work to connect people to community service organizations, rehabilitation facilities and potential employers and reconnect family members. For more information about Heart 2 Hart Detroit, visit www.h2hd.org.

# # #

About Akebono Brake Corporation
Akebono Brake Corporation is a leader in advanced brake and friction material development and production, with a focus on noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) analysis and control. Akebono manufactures a wide range of brake friction materials and foundation brake assemblies, including disc brake calipers and drum brakes. The company’s commitment to innovation, process improvement, quality control and customer service has positioned it as a key resource for leading OEMs, Tier I brake suppliers and the automotive aftermarket. For more information, visit www.akebonobrakes.com.

About Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd.
Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd. (TSE:7238), founded in 1929, is a world leader in advanced brake and friction material development and production. The Akebono Group operates R&D centers and manufacturing facilities worldwide, such as in Japan, the United States, Europe and Asia. Akebono has been supplying and jointly developing brake systems with the McLaren Formula 1 team since 2007. For more information, visit www.akebono-brake.com/english/index.html.

Contact
Jennifer Carlson
Akebono Brake Corporation
(248) 489-7483
jennifer.carlson@akebono-usa.com

 

 

 

 

 

In This Campaign Cycle, Barely a Peep From Candidates About the Homeless

By Mark Jacobs, Deadline Detroit,

article_landing_Screen_Shot_2015-11-04_at_12.20.11_PM_19156Another political cycle is gearing up and once again the candidates are eager to offer solutions to society’s most vexing and elusive issues. And once again, we hear barely a peep about one issue that continues to plague every state in the country: Homelessness.

The homeless population in America is now at about 600,000, roughly the number of U.S. cancer deaths last year.  Every major city in America faces the problem. In many cities, the issue has exploded into a full-blown crisis, with tens of thousands of homeless people literally ‘unsheltered’, living on sidewalks, parks, abandoned buildings or anywhere else. There are now ‘tent cities’ in many cities, which are really just mass gatherings of lost people sleeping in makeshift shelters. It’s impossible to view these scenes and not realize that something is very, very wrong here.

Candidates are barely saying word about it.

On the upside, this past year, there has been a step up in new, aggressive and often creative strategies to combat homelessness. New York City, with a staggering 60,000 homeless population, is proposing a bill to make it the first in the nation to guarantee representation for tenants facing evictions.

Its proponents argue that the measure would save the city money in the long run, as the costs of an attorney in an eviction proceeding are approximately $2,500 compared to the roughly $50K to shelter a homeless family. Hawaii, facing a surge in its homeless population, just recently declared a “state of emergency”, a proclamation that would allow the state to spend over $1.3 million to fund temporary shelters and transitional housing facilities. Last month, the city of Los Angeles, facing a 12% increase in its homeless population in the past year, also declared a “state of emergency”, calling for $100M to find solutions.

Michigan’s Homeless Problem

In Michigan, our numbers are especially daunting – about 100,000 homeless people, roughly half of whom are mentally ill, 30% are “unsheltered”, 17% are veterans, 69% are single mothers with children and the average age of a homeless child is 7.

Michigan now has the highest homeless rate in the Midwest and the 5th in the U.S.

This year has signaled a number of proactive efforts in Detroit combat homelessness.  Mayor Mike Duggan has directed the Housing and Revitalization Department to organize its “Housing First” program which brings together a coalition of aid organizations to locate housing solutions as a top priority, while also addressing the essential support services needed.  The approach is very ‘back to basics’: the solution to homelessness, the simple logic goes, is housing.

At the Detroit City Council, Councilwoman Mary Sheffield has been a beacon of leadership for the homeless, forming the Detroit Task Force on Homelessness, which has had a busy year working with private and government agencies to find safe and stable housing for the homeless.  Councilwoman Sheffield was instrumental in assuring that housing was secured last winter when the residents of Detroit’s ‘Tent City’ were forced to relocate, and she has demonstrated her continued commitment (without seeking publicity) by returning to the area and staying active to get more people off the streets.

Among the state legislature, perhaps the principal champion for the homeless is state Senator Bert Johnson.  Aside from his hands-on efforts at interviewing homeless people, Senator Johnson has formed his own Task Force comprised mostly of homeless activist groups, with the express purpose of drafting a ‘Homeless Bill of Rights’, a concept which four states have already codified into law.

The Homeless Bill of Rights (already drafted in preliminary stage) seeks to assure homeless people the express right against discrimination based on housing status.  National organizations advocating the adoption of a Homeless Bill of Rights have conducted extensive interviews with literally thousands of homeless people and have detailed a regular practice of harassment and discrimination.

A Homeless Bill of Rights would, among other things, offer legal protection for people to seek medical treatment or move freely or seek a job with facing discrimination strictly because of their housing status. Homeless advocate groups regularly hear reports of Michigan’s homeless population facing de-humanizing treatment just because they’re homeless, where it’s beaten, spat upon, arrested, physically displaced and verbally harassed.

Later this month, the week before Thanksgiving, is the annual ‘Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week’, an annual event sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless.   It’s an opportunity to spread awareness of hunger and homelessness in America, as well as to promote future involvement. The Coalition’s message is that ending homelessness is not impossible as long as the public doesn’t see it as someone else’s problem.

To most of us, the holidays are a time of over-eating and excessive consumerism. But to the hungry and homeless, the holidays are just a brutal reminder that they are literally and figuratively left out in the cold. Please consider supporting an organization that helps lift up the most vulnerable among us this coming season.

 


Mark Jacobs, an attorney and longtime community activist, is involved in nonprofit work and is chairman of Heart 2 Hart Detroit, a nonprofit organization committed to feeding and clothing Detroit’s homeless population.

 

 

Art Van 2015 Charity Challenge

Heart 2 Hart Detroit is 1 of 124 organizations taking part in the Art Van Charity Challenge, a fundraising campaign launched by Art Van Furniture.

It all starts on May 18th at 12pm ET and to give back, they’ll be donating $370,000 to local organizations. The charity that raises the most during the Challenge will get a $75,000 donation to their cause. In addition, the charities that come in 2nd through 10th place will also get donations to their causes ranging from $7,500 to $65,000. The Best Part of the Challenge is that even if we don’t win one of the grand prizes, we get to keep the money we raise during the campaign. We’re ready to raise as much money as we can for our cause so we can win the $75,000 grand prize donation.

We really need your help to make it happen!

Please visit our Challenge Fundraising Page:
https://www.crowdrise.com/h2hd-artvan2015

Please share this email link on facebook and with friends and family, and help make a difference today!

Positive Progress for the Homeless in Detroit

We are thrilled to share this very positive sign of progress and hope on this difficult issue —

Residents of Detroit tent city move to housing

Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News 5:34 p.m. EST January 9, 2015

Detroit — The unofficial mayor and others residing at a makeshift tent city downtown have accepted an offer for refuge, officials confirmed Friday.

After spending seven months at the site on Jefferson, Stephon Charles Jones, the “mayor” of the tent community, agreed to a stable housing arrangement. The campers have moved to a private location within two miles of where they had been residing, said Alexis Wiley, the chief of staff for Mayor Mike Duggan.

Wiley confirmed that Jones and about 10 other campers have taken up the offer facilitated by the Neighborhood Service Organization.

News of the move comes one day after Duggan vowed to continue sending social service workers to the tents to try to move the homeless individuals into buildings. The mayor also stressed that the conditions were not safe and that the city could soon take action on the tented living quarters off east Jefferson Avenue, between Rivard and St. Aubin.

“We’re going to have to solve that,” the mayor told reporters as he toured the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center on Thursday.

In a Friday phone interview with The News, Jones said he feels good about taking the help and that it was provided to everyone. Initially, he resisted any offers for housing.

“What basically made me change my mind is everybody got the chance to move, not just one individual,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “Nobody is out in the cold no more.”

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE >>

A Detroit’s Snapshot: From College-Educated to Homeless

DEADLINE DETROIT  | December 8th, 2014, 9:30 AM

Mark Jacobs, an attorney and longtime community activist, is involved in nonprofit work and is chairman of Heart 2 Hart Detroit, a nonprofit organization that feeds and clothes Detroit’s homeless population. It relies on donations and volunteers. This is the first in a series featuring homeless people in Detroit.

By Mark Jacobs

“I am Detroit,” says J.R. Mills, as he gazes at the Detroit River and looks for answers that do not come. If you had met J.R. 10 years ago, you would think – you would know – that this is exactly the kind of man that will be part of Detroit’s turnaround. J.R. was a rising star: college educated, quick-minded, an infectious smile and a passion to serve his community. He was strong and ambitious, with a loving family and a good job. With a natural gift for gab, J.R. could inspire others and it didn’t take long for people to take notice, from employers to city leaders. J.R. was going places, on the fast track, or so it seemed. But that was before it all crashed, and now he spends his days mostly alone, homeless, injured and frightened, staring at the River and trying to collect his thoughts.

J.R. Mills

J.R. Mills

There was a time when life came easy for J.R. He loved to study and learn new and challenging things. He started college at Wayne State before transferring to the University of Michigan, his dream school. He loved engineering, especially electronic graphic engineering, and landed a job at Delphi and collected numerous advanced vocational certificates.

He was all about helping Detroit, especially people who were down on their luck. He got involved in the Detroit Action Commonwealth, an organization that, ironically, fights poverty, homelessness and injustice. He rose through the ranks and became one of its leaders. Soon he caught the eye of a local councilman, and became a media spokesman. He appeared on tv, including a WDIV commercial for the Detroit Rescue Mission. He believed in the city’s rebirth and thought that he, with all his skills and eastside pride, could play a vital role.

J.R.’s crash was sudden. Several years ago, while waiting for his friends to celebrate his birthday, a scuffle erupted and he got shot in the arm. The wound never quite healed and he had no health insurance. He lost his job, couldn’t find other employment, his benefits ran out and had no long-term place to go. Another casualty in Detroit. Just like that.

Today, J.R.’s life is no longer about the promise of tomorrow; it’s about the daily struggle for survival. “The benches are too scary to sleep on,” he says, “and so I usually go from casino to casino until 6:00 am when I can go to St. Peters for a shower.” He gets many of his meals and clothes from Heart 2 Hart, a local non-profit that aids the homeless.

He wants people to know that there are homeless people like him, people who once were educated, determined, going places. We walk by many of these people and may dismiss them as untidy, unambitious, maybe a drug addict or an ex-con. But among the almost 20,000 homeless Detroiters are many people that don’t fit that mold, people who are literally left out in the cold. “I don’t just speak for myself,” he emphasizes, “I am Detroit.”

J.R. stares at the Detroit River every night and prays. Gazing at the cold water, alone, a long way from the University of Michigan and the bright future he was certain was just around the corner, he asks the Lord for guidance and safety.

And he throws in the one wish that he believes can turn his luck around: “I just want a job.”