Focus: HOPE marks 45 years of making a difference in community

Organization says it seeks residents' remembrances

(Focus: HOPE)

DETROIT – Focus: HOPE, a nationally-recognized civil and human rights organization, says it will mark its 45th anniversary on Friday.

The organization says it was formed in the aftermath of the Detroit riots and tackled some of the most racially charged issues facing the area in the 1960s and 1970s.

From those beginnings, the organization says it has grown into one of the community's most effective non-profits, developing pioneering education, food and community development programs.

Focus: HOPE says March 8th begins a year of anniversary events that will include a fall homecoming, and culminate with a March 2014 gala benefit.

The Detroit-based organization is asking people to post messages, photos and/or videos about Focus: HOPE and its impact on them or the community.

Those messages can be posted to focushopeblog.com in the 45th anniversary section, or by email to 45years@focushope.edu. Messages will be shared throughout the year on Focus: Hope's Facebook page and through other social media.

"Over the last 45 years, Focus: HOPE has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in southeast Michigan," said CEO William F. Jones, Jr. "For our anniversary year, we would like to reconnect with many of those who participated in our food program, graduated from our education and training programs, or who benefited from our community development initiatives. We hope to hear about their experiences, invite them to a homecoming and share their stories as a tribute to the vision of our co-founders."

The organization was founded by two civil rights activists, the Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, who were determined to address the root causes of the 1967 disturbance. One of their first actions, according to Focus: HOPE, was conducting a study with Wayne State University that demonstrated that urban grocery and drug stores were charging more for food and prescriptions than suburban stores.

"The HOPE 68 food study laid the foundation for Focus: HOPE. It was the beginning of our efforts to provide food to the vulnerable and open job opportunities for people of color," said Jones. "We have a rich history here and owe much to the passion and persistence of our co-founders. Today, we are fully committed to continuing to address the issues of racism, poverty and injustice that continue to pervade our society."

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