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Coalition helps ‘the homeless, the helpless and the hurting’

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 28, 2011

 Adrienne Springsteen and Gloria Bathe, both of Madison Heights, give each other a “Hi,” “Good to see you” and loving hug at a community dinner at Landmark Community Church, 24520 N. Chrysler Drive, Feb. 16. The dinner, open to everyone as part of the Hazel Park Community Development Coalition, is every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Admission to the home-cooked meal is $3. No money? No problem. You will still be fed, so long as supplies last.

Adrienne Springsteen and Gloria Bathe, both of Madison Heights, give each other a “Hi,” “Good to see you” and loving hug at a community dinner at Landmark Community Church, 24520 N. Chrysler Drive, Feb. 16. The dinner, open to everyone as part of the Hazel Park Community Development Coalition, is every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Admission to the home-cooked meal is $3. No money? No problem. You will still be fed, so long as supplies last.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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HAZEL PARK — There’s a new force for good in the neighborhood.

Over the past few months, volunteers from all sectors of the city — church, civic, government, school and nonprofit — have been building a database-driven coalition of services to meet the needs of Hazel Park and its residents.

It’s still growing, but the hope is it will become a reliable safety net for residents.

“We must join our hands, open our hearts and strengthen our resolve to do together what we cannot do separately,” said Archie Hensley, pastor of community development at Landmark Community Church, 24520 N. Chrysler Drive.

Hensley and LCC took the lead in whipping the concept into shape. Dubbed the Hazel Park Community Development Coalition, the group has already collected donations for victims of multiple house fires that occurred around the new year — fitting, as Hensley is the local fire chaplain — and supplied new hats, gloves and scarves to kids in the Hazel Park Head Start program, as well as to police to be given to people on the streets.

In addition, LCC opened its gym to the community for such activities as pickup basketball and other after-school activities, though now they’re trying to find a means of transportation to get kids there, like a school-provided bus or parent-volunteered carpooling.

LCC also opened an emergency response shelter for victims left homeless by catastrophic events, as recognized by police or fire departments. The church also runs a warming shelter for the homeless and functionally homeless, i.e., those who own a home but lost power.

The warming shelter is not a dormitory, though the goal is to make it one when they meet all regulations. Currently, it offers an escape from the snow and cold, as well as a washer and dryer, men’s and women’s showers, and inventories of essentials, such as food.

“It’s to help people regain their sense of dignity,” Hensley said. “The goal is to help the homeless, the helpless and the hurting.”

Members of the HPCDC are tutoring kids through LCC, with a focus on ages 12-16, though they’re open to help as many as they can. What they can do depends on how many volunteers they have to do it.

LCC will open a computer lab, with 18 computers for students in the community to utilize. Presently, they’re trying to secure a free Internet deal through Comcast or Wowway so that schoolchildren can do homework.

Already a great deal of good has been accomplished, and much of it has been accomplished through LCC. Imagine, then, all the good that will be done as more and more wheels start spinning in other sectors of the city.

It all started last October when 29 city leaders and volunteers — among them Mayor Jack Lloyd, City Manager Ed Klobucher, Mayor Pro Tem Jan Parisi and over two-dozen others — met at LCC to discuss logistics.

Their aim was to establish a network of coalition members who can share manpower and resources to help the less fortunate. The idea is there would be a database tracking residential needs and the means to fulfill those needs.

“The coalition appears to be making steady progress,” Klobucher said. “I think the coalition has the potential to do a lot of good for the Hazel Park community.”

Right now, volunteers are needed to assist with day-to-day management and administration of the program. Klobucher said business leaders are also encouraged to “give back to the community” by getting involved with the coalition. All churches in the city are also invited.

Ongoing events include a community dinner at LCC at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Admission to the home-cooked meal is $3, but “if someone (in need) comes in and they don’t have the three dollars, we still feed them, so long as supplies last,” Hensley said.

Meetings for the HPCDC will be held at LCC at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month. The meetings, open to all in the community, solicit volunteers and input on how to solve challenges facing the coalition and the city.

Landmark Community Church is located at 24520 N. Chrysler Drive in Hazel Park. For more information about the Hazel Park Community Development Coalition and how you can help, call the church office at (248) 545-8800.
 

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