Fall Fix Up young adult crew supports Detroit’s Delray community.

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Untitled-2On Nov. 10, Jewish Family Service and Repair the World partnered to go where Fall Fix Up had never gone before.

Thirty Jewish young adults — of the 400 volunteers who participated in JFS’ 17th Annual Fall Fix Up — brought energy, inquiry and a 30-yard dumpster to one corner of Southwest Detroit. Delray, a Southwest Detroit neighborhood with a proud immigrant history, faces a host of environmental problems stemming from its proximity to, among other things, Detroit Water & Sewerage, Zug Island and I-75. The neighborhood is also the target of persistent illegal dumping, arson and metal scrapping.

That Sunday, Fall Fix Up volunteers learned about advocacy efforts aimed at curbing illegal activity, marshaling public services and leveraging the forthcoming international bridge for community benefit. Then they removed truckloads of debris and trimmed trees with kids from the neighborhood near the Delray Community Center.

“The community organizers were familiar with the patterns of dumping in their neighborhood,” said Michael Evers, a Repair the World Fellow now living in Southwest Detroit. “We strategically cleaned up parts of the neighborhood and not others on the advice of the organizers. The way they walked the fine line between taking direct action and agitating for the city to deliver municipal services was impressive.”

Volunteers got involved through JFS and Federation’s NEXTGen, Birthright Next and the Becker All-Star Mission. Many live or work in Detroit, but few were familiar with Delray, a community whose Hungarian Jewish community dated back to 1900, before the village was annexed by Detroit. (First Hebrew Congregation of Delray is now the church known as “House of God Which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy.”)

“Fall Fix Up is a great opportunity for people of all ages in the community to donate a couple hours of their time on a Sunday to work side by side” said Darrien Sherman of Royal Oak. “Fall Fix Up has always worked to support people in the Jewish community, and the project with Repair the World gave us the opportunity to learn about and serve another community.”

For everyone, it was a chance to get warm and dirty, cleaning up on a cold day.

Fall Fix Up was made possible by sponsors Home Depot, DTE Energy, Professional Parent Care, Eddy’s Landscaping, Bright Star, Assured Home Nursing Services, ABA Home Care, Universal Bearing Company, Quality Kosher Catering and Congregation Shaarey Zedek.

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