Participants drive through and fill out forms or collect paperwork to register to vote or participate in the census at the Foot Locker in Eastpointe, which hosted a voter registration event Sept. 10.

Participants drive through and fill out forms or collect paperwork to register to vote or participate in the census at the Foot Locker in Eastpointe, which hosted a voter registration event Sept. 10.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Eastpointe hosts voter registration event

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 18, 2020

 Residents could also get free personal protective equipment and back-to-school items donated by local businesses and nonprofits.

Residents could also get free personal protective equipment and back-to-school items donated by local businesses and nonprofits.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE — A special voter registration event took place Sept. 10 at the Eastpointe Foot Locker located at Eight Mile and Kelly roads.

The event was held to encourage people to register to vote and take part in the census, and organizers gave out free items to those taking part.

“Any cars who come through today can stop next to one of our tents and they can register to vote, find out their status if they are already registered, they can get information on absentee voting and get some different things we’re giving away like school supplies and (personal protective equipment),” explained Don Dudley, a marketing manager for Foot Locker Detroit. “We wanted to do this in a way that was socially distant, so we made it basically a drive-thru.”

The event was started by Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens and funded by Foot Locker and other community businesses and organizations. It did not endorse any particular candidate or party, but rather was designed to get the general public more engaged in the democratic process.

“It’s important because voting is important in general. We’re not telling anyone who to vote for or what to vote for; we just want people to exercise their right to vote,” said Dudley. “Use your voice, change is real, change happens, but it takes everybody doing their part and voting is an easy way for people to do their part.”

Owens said she was glad to see so many businesses and organizations in the community turn out to support the event.

“Foot Locker and other sponsors from Eastpointe came down and provided a lot of things to give away,” she said. “We have Fresh Choice and Blessed Helping Hands and other stakeholders in the community who want to see it grow coming out today; 107.5 is here playing music. I’m glad to see so many people coming down from all over, because voting isn’t just an Eastpointe thing, it’s an everybody thing.”

Blessed Helping Hands is a nonprofit started by Eastpointe resident Jerbina Sturdivant. The nonprofit gives back by helping single parents, the less fortunate, underprivileged children and others by giving out needed items such as food and clothing.

“Today we are giving out face masks, USB drives, folders of information, hand sanitizer and pens,” she said. “I wanted to give to this event because I was happy to work with the mayor and give back to the community. I moved here in 2005 and I always wanted to give back here.”

Many who attended voiced their appreciation for the event.

“I thought this was a good thing with the book bags and the information that they are putting out into the community. My cousin told me about it,” said Jocelyn Robinson, of Harrison Township. “We need to vote and we need to make our voices be heard. It’s very important. If you don’t, you shouldn’t complain about what’s happening.”

“I was already registered to vote, but I came to do my census. The census gives our communities money from the federal government,” added Lamont Brooks, of Detroit. “It’s a way to support our community. Now registering to vote, that’s crucial. Our ancestors died for our right to vote. You’re supposed to take advantage of having a right to vote. (At) 7 a.m. on Election Day, I’ll be out there and I’ll be taking people (to the polls) with me.”

Owens said participation in the census can be just as important as voting.

“I wanted to do everything all at once: giveaways for the kids, voter registration and the census,” she said. “The census is so important because the money (distribution) determined by the census is used in local communities. This goes toward things like roads and schools. It’s important to know how many people are in your house so we know how to serve your household and so the government knows how many people it can help provide funds for in each community.”

Owens said she was inspired to start the event due to her own experiences in the political process, and her hope is that more people will become involved and feel that their voices matter.

“I’m the first African American mayor here in Eastpointe, so it’s important to me to let people know that they have a voice — especially minorities. I want to use my platform to give other people a voice and give them a chance, because they gave me a chance,” she said. “I didn’t get this kind of outreach growing up. I want others to have it.”

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