Saturday, July 2, 2011

Diaries from Detroit, vol. 1: Catching Up

This much belated post comes with my most sincere apologies. My first two weeks in Detroit were hectic, and, until now, computerless, so communicating via blogs, facebook, etc has been quite challenging. But alas, we're up and running again and I will make my best effort to keep this thing going.

First, a little background. Two weeks ago, my flight from Little Rock got into the "D" at about 12:30 Sunday night. Work started at 7:30 the next morning. It was the first day of the Summer Day camp (ages 1st grade through 6th, held at Metropolitan UMC in the North End neighborhood of Detroit), and we had about 50 kids registered with only 4 leaders set to be there each day. The gym at the church was unusable due to a burst pipe, there was no playground to speak of, and no known number of volunteers that would show up: our challenges seemed daunting. Meanwhile, I had landed in Detroit in the middle of the night, moved in with 10 interns I had never met, and had to make my way around Motown without a car of my own. (Believe it or not, the Car Capital of the World has no mass transit to speak of).

Two weeks in, though, and things are really cooking. We had to cut off registration on Wednesday, with a little over 70 kids registered. We have had an amazing number of volunteers turn out each day and the kids have really seemed to be enjoying the camp. I have been leading music for them on my guitar, along with a world-renowned organist Andrew Galuska, the Music Director at MetroUMC . We went on our first field trip the other day, showing the kids an organic local food store and their community gardens, and have a great list of trips planned for them. The camp is only costing each child $5 a week, field trips included, and there is a scholarship fund available for those that need it.

So that's the extent of my employment here. I worried at first that it wasn't enough; that my job was a little pointless, especially in light of my fantastic training in Little Rock. I didn't think that this was really effective charity or justice work, and that I might be wasting my time. But by the end of the first week, I had a parent come up to me and say that "Mr. Matt" had been the talk of the household all week. When we closed registration on Wednesday, I had the terrible duty of turning mothers, fathers, and grandmothers down from bringing their kids to the camp. We've received great feedback from the church and neighborhood communities and I'm really excited about what more we'll be able to do this summer.

All my love to everyone back home and around the country. I'll keep you all posted on the goings on of the D.

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