Why I followed in my family’s footsteps…
By Eric Mally
Special to the Jewish News
Growing up in Huntington Woods — yes, I’m a suburbanite who identifies himself as a Detroiter, but we’ll get into that later — I was constantly reminded about my familial ties to the city of Detroit.
After all, my family established working ties in Downtown Detroit beginning in the early 1900s. My great-great-grandparents owned a kishka factory called Goldberg Casings near the Eastern Market area from 1917 to the mid-1930s. My great-grandparents owned Durable Laundry and Cleaners on the corner of Livernois and Joy from the 1930s to the 1970s, and my paternal grandfather was a co-owner of New Modern Bakery on Linwood Avenue. My father was a research scientist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan for 26 years, and my mother worked for 30 years as a speech pathologist in Detroit Public Schools.
Combined, we have nearly 100 consecutive years of working experience in Detroit, so I guess you can say working in Detroit is in my blood.
An opportunity presented itself to work downtown at Quicken Loans back in April 2011, and I jumped on it — not only to carry on the tradition of my family, but because I want to tell my children and their children how the Detroit that they will know was not necessarily the Detroit that I knew growing up.
Dan Gilbert’s contributions to the revival of the city of Detroit have been well documented over the past two years. From building purchases to moving thousands of team members Downtown, why wouldn’t I want to be a member of this team?
Detroit is on the rise yet again, and I am happy to be an advocate for its rebound.
I left a more-than-decent job working at my family’s ACT and college prep tutoring business (Mally A.C.T.) to work in Detroit. The hours were great, I loved working with high school students, and nothing beat working with my family, but all along, I knew it would be a bridge until my next opportunity.
That bridge led me south, down Woodward to Campus Martius.
Working Downtown has been an amazing experience thus far. Sure it has its differences between working in the suburbs, but I have been more amazed with the similarities between the two.
Great restaurants? Detroit has 140 restaurants in one square mile. You can find anything from Cuban to Korean, within walking distance.
Need your coffee fix? Not only is there a Starbucks in Midtown, but Chez Zara will also deliver your coffee right to your desk for you.
Looking for something to do at night? Detroit is full of nightlife activities and is home to the second-largest theater district in the United States with more than 13,000 theater seats spread over nearly 30 venues.
See, that’s the beauty of this little slice of paradise that we have by the river — it is full of the unexpected.
One such example that I am extremely proud to have taken part in was the first annual Menorah lighting event at Campus Martius. Who would have thought that 450 Jews would come to Downtown Detroit for a Menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate the first night of Chanukah? It was an unexpectedly amazing sight to see.
Along with the unexpected has come the astonishing rally around the city. More and more people want to come downtown to work, live and play. On top of that, the influx of people wanting to help Detroit get back on the right path has been astounding. From college kids to retirees, workers to the unemployed, Michiganders from all over are rooting for Detroit to rebound.
In my eyes, that is the definition of a Detroiter. You do not need to live Downtown to consider yourself a Detroiter, nor did you need to grow up in the city: if you support this tremendous rally to rebuild our city, you are a Detroiter in my book. That’s what Detroiters do nowadays — we don’t wait around for things to happen, we’re making it happen now.
There are plenty of opportunities to contribute to the revival of Detroit. CommunityNEXT is a sensational group powered by the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. They have put on great events geared toward young Jewish Metro-Detroiters and are on the quest to foster a “vibrant Jewish life” in Detroit. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities through JARC, Kadima and Yad Ezra to get involved.
How will you contribute?
There is something truly spectacular happening in Detroit right now, and I cannot wait to tell my children and their children that I was a part of this revival.
Eric Mally is a 24-year-old Jewish team member at Quicken Loans working in the marketing side of the company.