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September 05, 2003 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-05

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Cover Story


Young suburban volunteers get back
as much as they give to Detroit.

Staff Writer

Blight Busters, a 15-year-old pro-
program. As volunteer coordinator,
gram, hooked up the group with their
Goldberg is broadening the scope of
projects and is now its central partner.
SITC and moving volunteers into
en and Neil are the volun-
Then, SITC itself branched out to work Detroit summer schools to become lit-
teers who wouldn't go away," with other nonprofits, including
eracy mentors. Goldberg, of Bloomfield
John George says with a
Habitat for
Humanity, Focus:
George's Motor City Blight Busters, a HOPE and the
Detroit nonprofit organization honored
Southwest Detroit
by Presidents Bill Clinton and George
W. Bush, uses volunteers to knock
down crack houses, build homes, paint
More than 120
murals and grow gardens — whatever
SITC volunteers
communities need.
showed up last
And two volunteers who have won
summer and racked
George's praise are Ben Falik and Neil
up 2,000 hours of
Greenberg, both 21 of Bloomfield
service. This year,
Township, who showed up to work
the volunteers dou-
with Blight Busters three years ago.
bled to 240, with
The next year, the duo, friends since
20-40 people a day
nursery school at Temple Beth El,
from age 14 and up Michael Goldberg looks on as Summer in the City volunteers
returned with a plan. They started their
arriving from
Shana Supowit, 16, of Farmington Hills and Korie Mitchell,
own volunteer force called Summer in
Oakland County
22, of Royal Oak prepare to paint the top of the mural on
the City (SITC) and carpooled subur-
pickup points at
Thatcher Street.
ban teens and a few adults into Detroit
Andover, North
(also known by its telephone area code,
Farmington and Groves high schools.
Township, is an education major at
313) to work on projects four days a
Also this summer, Falik, SITC direc-
Indiana University in Bloomington.
week. They made it easy to volunteer:
tor, and Greenberg, assistant director,
So instead of sleeping late or shop-
no need to sign up — just come when
added Michael Goldberg, 21, another
ping at malls over the summer, SITC
you want.
nursery school pal, to help run their
volunteers are picked up at 9 a.m. and


9/ 5



returned four to five hours later.
"But more than building houses and
playgrounds," Greenberg says. "Summer
in the City is about building attitudes."

eriencing Diversity

"It was my first time in a Detroit neigh-
borhood," Shana Supowit, 16, of
Farmington Hills says about her experi-
ence with Summer in the City. "I never
spoke to people in the city before. My
first day, we tore down a crack house.
We worked on a block with nicely kept
houses but for the two abandoned
houses we took care of."
Second-year volunteer Adam Finkel,
17, of Bloomfield Hills says, 'After
working with Summer in the City, you
feel like you've accomplished some-
Mindy Nathan, a Bloomfield Hills
Board of Education member, came once
to volunteer with her daughter, Jenny,
20, and never left. "These kids are
inspiring," she says of Falik, Goldberg
and Greenberg.
"I sense a trend, a need for suburban
kids to explore the city. We've become
so insular in the suburbs and unaware

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