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Gaining Momentum in Springwells Village


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With rising temperatures these last few months, Springwells Village took the opportunity to focus on some spring cleaning pretty seriously. Detroit Partnership Day in March and Global Youth Service Day in April brought together over 200 volunteers from 10 different organizations to go head to head with growing eyesores and safety hazards in the community.

Detroit Partnership Day is organized annually by the Detroit Partnership, a University of Michigan student group that seeks to build positive relationships between communities in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Though this was not the first year that UNI partnered with the student group, it was definitely the largest. On March 31, 156 volunteers came together for 700 combined hours of community service in Springwells Village!

Volunteers included students from the University of Michigan, Chrysler employees and their family members, staff members from UNI, and members of the Springdale-Woodmere Block Club, Detroit Southwest Pride, Harms Elementary Parent Group, and Youth Interfaith Dialogues taking place between UNI, ACCESS, and Henry Ford Community College. Together, these groups removed graffiti, cleaned two community parks, laid the footing for a new park sign, and removed over 18 tons of litter and debris from two illegal dumping sites in the community. In addition, the owner of Danto Furniture worked alongside the volunteers with his own crew, boarding up three vacant, open, and dangerous homes directly across the street from Harms Elementary School’s playground.

Three weeks later, for Global Youth Service Day, UNI partnered with the Springdale- Woodmere Block Club, Detroit Southwest Pride, New City Friends, Kalamazoo Collage alums and youth members of UNI’s Youth Advisory Board and the Springwells Village Youth Outreach Team. Though a much smaller group, 40 volunteers gathered on the cold Saturday morning to make a difference in the Elsmere and Lane area of the neighborhood. Weiss Playlot was cleaned, a local community garden was prepared for planting, and two more locations of illegal dumping were tackled. The tonnage reports are not available yet, but two entire dumpsters were filled in a matter of a few hours showing that small but mighty groups can make a difference too. The April event ended in Weiss Playlot with a group cookout and reflection. Looking around, resident Jesse Gonzales remarked, “This is what it’s about, doing the right thing and keeping our park clean.”

Cleanups on their own do not stop illegal dumping, but every time residents and volunteer groups come together to take action, relationships are built, faith is restored, and those dumping are deterred from returning. Through Motorcity Makeover in May and Southwest Housing Solutions Beautification Day in June, UNI plans to be very involved in community cleanup efforts with a goal of no less than one major cleanup taking place during every warm weather month. To get involved in UNI’s next cleanup event or to connect with other cleanup events around the Springwells Village community, contact Kate Solis at ksolis@unidetroit.org or (313) 451-8380.

These cleanup events would not be possible without volunteers to do the work, but many organizations and partners help support that work by lending tools, funding dumpster rentals, and donating supplies and refreshments. Thank you to the Starbucks in East Dearborn, Sheila’s Bakery, the Subway located on Vernor Highway, Harms Elementary School, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Southwest Detroit Business Association, the Southwest Community Access Center, Bridging Communities, Chrysler, the Detroit Partnership, and Kalamazoo College for helping to feed and outfit our many volunteers! 

 Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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