One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Ladies Who Lunch -- And Get Things Done

A few months ago, the women behind “I'm a Believer,” the campaign to promote volunteerism in Detroit, got a big push with major media coverage. We even debated the idea here on the Blog.

Since then, we haven't heard a lot. So it was good to get an update from the organizers Wednesday as part of the COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter) “Detroit's 100 Leading Ladies Luncheon,” a networking and social event at the Gem Theater in Detroit.

Here's the latest: The Web site is up. Mayor Dave Bing is behind the campaign. Fund-raising efforts are progressing (but a lot more is desperately needed). Ads are close to being produced. And volunteer opportunities will be organized and ready for filling by the end of this month.

Paige Curtis, one of the city's Leading Ladies, gave the update, noting: “It's our feeling there really is a pent-up desire to help Detroit. (The greater community) may not have a lot of money, but we do have the manpower.”

Curtis also added: “It's not OK to dump on Detroit anymore, or to ignore the city's problems. … If we all do something, we can do anything.” The latter phrase is the cornerstone of the “I'm a Believer” campaign.

One of the campaign's goals is to raise an army of volunteers – people who can help in the schools, in neighborhoods and anywhere else the city needs them. If everyone in the city – and the suburbs – volunteers, then the city has a fighting chance, Curtis said. And those who don't volunteer? Well, it's time to find out who really has Detroit's best interests…and those who just don't give a damn. And there are far too many of those folks all around.

Sidebar: I've noticed in conversations lately that some suburbanites really don't care what happens in Detroit -- they feel like the city has gotten enough money, wasted enough opportunity, failed too many times. All this may be true. But I say it is never right to just walk away from something that was so beautiful and still has potential.

Some background on the event: The event also included comments from Yvette Bing, first lady of the city of Detroit, Monica Gayle, news anchor at the local Fox affiliate, and Cheryl P. Johnson, head of COTS. I was proud to be invited to attend, and it was great to meet some wonderful women and say hello to some old friends.

Johnson reminded the ladies that taking care of themselves also means taking care of the city; that what they do everyday affects the health and welfare of the whole community. She also encouraged all in attendance – and elsewhere! – to remember who COTS help: Everyday people in everyday jeopardy.

“We are in a crisis,” Johnson said, adding that COTS has aided more than 400 families in finding permanent housing so far this year.

Bing, the event's honorary chair, talked about the mayor's decision to move back into the Manoogian Mansion – something we also dissected here. She said the “First Couple” felt the mansion was “a great asset to the city” and she and Mayor Bing wanted “to keep the tradition going.” She also noted that they have had their first wild party – a fundraiser for the Detroit Institute of Arts. Now, that's a lot better than some Kwame-fest.

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