DETROIT – A new initiative is working to get a network of community hubs in neighborhoods on Detroit’s eastside.
Thursday, (May 25), the Detroit Resilient Eastside Initiative kicked off.
The Kresge Foundation, General Motors Climate Equity Fund, Urban Sustainable Directors Network, and Clean Energy Group’s Resilient Power Project committed $2.7 million for work at the Stoudamire Wellness Hub, The Brilliant Detroit Chandler Park site, and three additional sites to be named later.
The Stoudamire Wellness Hub is named after community leader Marlowe Stoudamire who died of COVID early into the pandemic.
The community center located at 4401 Conner Street in Detroit is the largest of the hubs and opened its doors in 2021.
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Now the goal is to have a network of similar hubs.
“I think it is going to provide a lot of hope,” said Meghan Richards, who lives in the Morning Side neighborhood.
The value of hubs like the Stoudamire Wellness Hub is personal for Richards. She went to the center in 2021 when she lost everything in her basement to flooding.
“Someone told me like, ‘Hey, there’s a place down the street from you, they’re assisting with applications for FEMA, blah blah blah’ and just coming here to having someone to talk to, like in that moment, having someone to give you that support, and it wasn’t like black and white,’” Richards said. “I was treated like a real person.”
They even helped clean and sanitize her basement. The wellness hub also serves as a community center with fitness classes and meeting rooms and is the headquarters for the nonprofit Eastside Community Network.
Eastside Community Network president and CEO Donna Davidson gave Local 4 a tour of the facility and said there is nothing like Stoudamire Wellness Center.
“We do have a couple of spaces where people can work out, but access is limited,” said Davidson. “People can’t afford them, so if you can’t afford it, it might as well not be there. We really think this is a model program that links the city with nonprofits like ours and with several grassroots organizations to go about making a change to ensure that everybody in this community has a place to be safe; to shelter in the event of a climate crisis, energy blackout.”
Elevate, a nonprofit that ensures people have clean and affordable heat, water, and power resources, is offered at the Stoudamire Wellness Hub. They’re also a partner of the Resilient Eastside initiative.
“We’re trying to get nonprofit partners and government agencies, city partners to share in emergency preparedness, to share in providing services so we have like this public-private partnership, and then we can really maximize the benefits,” said Tim Skrotzki, associate director of strategic consulting. “There are tax foreclosure support that they can come here for. There are weatherization programs that we can connect them with that exist. We’re just trying to connect residents with all the programs that they can have and create hubs where they can do that in their neighborhood so they don’t have to go downtown to get a service.”