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August 19, 2010 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-08-19

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ticipate. In this, our ninth summer, that
together. And we had an idea how to bet-
Flash Back
daily average reached 200 SITC volunteers
ter meet the needs of both volunteers and
Ten years ago, I would have traded just
from the city and suburbs. They painted
community organizations.
about anything to leave Detroit. I gradu-
murals, planted community gardens and
Then I went back to New York and,
ated from Bloomfield Hills Andover High
mentored elementary school students at
two weeks later, was on campus in upper
School in 2000, went to Wisconsin to be a
a dozen project sites around Detroit every
Manhattan when the World Trade Center
camp counselor for the summer and then
was attacked. Like everyone, I experienced Tuesday through Friday from mid-June to
took off with my mom in a Saturn station
mid-August.
the shock, grieving and solidarity that
wagon filled with my worldly possessions
Summer in the City, a nonprofit 501(c)
followed 9-11. Yet, more and more, my
for Columbia University in New York.
(3) organization, has deep Jewish values,
thoughts, ideas and aspirations gravitated
Like many before me, I fell in love with
strong Jewish personalities, generous
toward Detroit — Detroit where I was
New York — so much so that I didn't find
Jewish donors and an impressive Yiddish
from, Detroit that was a much bigger part
the time to make any plans for the sum-
vocabulary, and yet it draws as diverse a
of me than I had realized, Detroit where
mer and found myself back in Bloomfield
group of people as you will find anywhere.
my friends and I could come together to
Hills. Determined to bring my new-found
Judaism permeates SITC and mixes with
make tikkun olam a real part of our lives
urban sensibilities and sophistication
all variety of faiths, cultures and ideals to
and of our future.
home with me, I spent the summer
leave an indelible impact on both Detroit
Neil, Michael and I created Summer
exploring and experiencing Detroit with
neighborhoods and volunteers from Metro
in the City (SITC) in the spring of 2002
my childhood friends and partners in
Detroit and beyond.
and were shocked when, far exceeding
crime Michael Goldberg (then Bloomfield
Hills, now Ann Arbor) and Neil Greenberg our expectations, about a dozen people
Gung-Ho Volunteers
showed up at Andover each day to par-
(then Bloomfield Hills, now Detroit).
Volunteers have always
Our takeaway from
been the engine that
that summer was this:
drives Summer in the
Metro Detroit has a large,
City. Brooke and Danielle
growing demand for
Isaacs of Farmington
volunteers and a virtually
Hills, identical twins and
limitless supply of those
North Farmington High
volunteers, yet it is persis-
School seniors, painted
tently difficult for volun-
murals and, occassionally,
teers to find meaningful
each other, always staying
service opportunities and
positive, in spite of this
for Detroit organizations
summer's grueling weath-
to tap into sustained vol-
er. To avoid confusion,
unteer support.
they eventually started
As volunteers, we had
wearing "Not Brooke" and
experienced firsthand
"Not Danielle" hats.
that when it works, ser-
Ethan Perlman of
vice has a profound abil-
West Bloomfield turned
ity to empower under-
14 a day after joining
served communities,
Opposite page: Summer in the City co-founders Michael Goldberg of Ann
Tigers mascot Paws with
bring people together and Arbor and Ben Falik of Huntington Woods. Top: End of the year photo
Summer in the City at
nurture an undeniable
with participants spelling out "2010!!" Above: Paige Hamburger, 14, of
St. Hedwig Park. In spite
optimism for our future
Birmingham and Alvaro Aguirre, 6 of Detroit.

of being one of our youngest volunteers,
Ethan earned one of SITC's coveted Silver
Mallet Awards for his energy and endur-
ance over the summer. He was a fixture
at the Ford-LaSalle Park basketball court,
down the street from Focus: HOPE, and at
Friday "After Parties:' a chance for volun-
teers to unwind and enjoy Detroit at the
end of each week that included trips to the
Detroit Institute of Arts, Good Girls Go to
Paris Crepes (owned by SITC-alum Torya
Blanchard), Palmer Park, Belle Isle and
Marygrove College.
Summer in the City has evolved and
expanded year after year thanks to our
"Crew," an extraordinary group of college
students and recent graduates who run
every facet of the program — and do it
with boundless creativity, charisma and
compassion. Most of the Crew members
are former volunteers and, for that matter,
remain unpaid volunteers, even as project
leaders.
Ilene Crane of Farmington Hills
began volunteering after her freshman
year at Central Michigan University and
returned on this year's Crew. A member of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield,
she led a mural project on Dexter Avenue,
just blocks from the old Shaarey Zedek
building.
For her fourth year with SITC, Allison
Knoll of Bloomfield Hills joined the Crew
fresh out of Birmingham Groves High
School and led mural projects all over
Detroit, including one at Harry Laker
Playground. Next week, she heads off to
the University of Michigan to study art
and design. Ilene and Allison both had a
hand in painting the vibrant SITC mural
in Palmer Park in July.
Kevin Pearlman, who is going from

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August 19 • 2010

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