Since homeless shelters can be closed on holidays, those in need might sometimes go a full day without food. Programs like Hot Dogs for Hope, which took place on July 4, help combat that problem.

Since homeless shelters can be closed on holidays, those in need might sometimes go a full day without food. Programs like Hot Dogs for Hope, which took place on July 4, help combat that problem.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Nonprofit gives back on Fourth of July

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published July 5, 2018

 Event volunteers from the Youth Community Agency and several of its community partners hosted the Hot Dogs for Hope program July 4 to give out free food and water on the holiday.

Event volunteers from the Youth Community Agency and several of its community partners hosted the Hot Dogs for Hope program July 4 to give out free food and water on the holiday.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

DETROIT — While the Fourth of July is often a day of celebrating and fireworks, a Detroit nonprofit called the Youth Community Agency was using the day to give back to those in need with a program called Hot Dogs for Hope.

The program gave away free hot dogs and water to those who needed a good meal, particularly the homeless population.

This was the fourth year that the Youth Community Agency has hosted Hot Dogs for Hope. The group’s president and founder, Rodnesha Ross, said that many people don’t realize that holidays can mean an extra strain for those living on the street.

“While we get to go home and have a barbecue, they might have to go a full day without a meal,” said Ross.

Youth Community Agency Vice President Devin DuPree said that giving people a meal when they might not be able to get one elsewhere is a good way to not only give back to those in need, but to also encourage people to cherish what they have.

“It’s a way to pay it forward,” said DuPree. “I had a fire a few years ago, and if I didn’t have insurance, my son and I could have ended up on the street. It can be that easy to lose everything.”

The program took place at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Third Street. Several other organizations pitched in and lent a hand or donated resources  including the Detroit Fire Department, local nonprofit CONSCIOUS and the More Than a Pretty Face youth group. 

Karin Givens, the leader of More Than a Pretty Face, said a number of the high school students who take part in the youth group were eager to take the chance to help people have a happier holiday.

“Some of our seniors who are leaving for college in the fall are volunteering today,” said Givens. “We try to instill in them the idea that giving back should be like breathing to them. … We hope to see even more volunteers out here next year.”

The Youth Community Agency also was joined by Jai James and Rob Griggs, the co-owners of Juicin’ with Jai, a local juicing business. The pair were giving out water and fresh fruit to help beat the heat on the hot holiday.

“Tomorrow’s my birthday, and instead of spending money on myself and frivolous fun, I wanted to give back and invest it in people,” Griggs said. “We don’t know when the last time some people were able to get fresh fruit was, so we wanted to do something about that today.”

“Everyone was very pleased,” James added. “I think a lot of people were really happy to get a cool drink and a healthy snack on such a hot day.”

Those who attended the event expressed their gratitude for the act of kindness.

“I thought it was very nice,” said Linda Perdue, who got a free hot dog, fruit and water from the program. “We get others coming down here about once a week or so, but it was nice that they came out today. … I want to say thank you to them.”

Ross hopes this program will inspire others to pitch in and do their part to make the life of someone else better.

“I think, for me, donating an hour of your time on a holiday can be a great gift that people will appreciate so much,” said Ross. “Giving people a gift at a time when they really need it can be very special.”