News & Notes
Whether we are announcing a grant, having fun remembering a fundraiser, keeping you up to date about what’s going on with our volunteers/staff, or letting you know how your donations are making a difference, you’ll find it here.
Let us know what’s new with you!
Bring a friend to Aubree’s Pizzeria in Depot Town for Game Night on Thursday, March 23rd and help us expand our circle of friends!
What? Game Night with Trivia, board games and pool. $5 minimum suggested donation.
Where? Aubree’s Pizzeria in Depot Town @ 39 E. Cross Street, Ypsilanti, MI. 48197
When? Game Night starts at 6:30 PM. Trivia starts at 7 PM sharp!
Why? Friends In Deed is looking to expand its circle of friends, and this is a nice way of meeting new people. Friends In Deed will also receive a donation from Aubree’s equal to 15% of all food purchased at the event. (Be sure to grab a flyer on your way in to submit with your bill.)
We hope you will join us for a fun night of games, prizes, laughs, information & more.
Dine at Aubree’s Pizzeria in Depot Town for lunch, dinner or a snack on Thursday, March 23rd and 15% of your total food bill will go to Friends In Deed.
What? Restaurant Fundraiser
Why? Have a great meal and benefit Friends In Deed
How? Print out the flyer below (or pick one up in the lobby of Aubree’s Depot Town) and present it to your waiter.
We hope you will join us for a nice meal and a great cause!
Faith Williams was homeless and living out of her car for months. She felt hopeless and helpless because no one seemed to want to help or lend a hand. Faith was working simply to keep her car on the road to get back and forth from work.
After months of homelessness, she found out about Avalon housing. Avalon housing was able to provide her with affordable, subsidized housing but did not provide her with furniture. Her Case worker, Greg, referred her to Friends In Deed. Faith was able to get a dresser, dining table, bookcase and chairs for her new home. She came in to pick up her furniture and was amazed at the options she had to choose from.
When asked about some of the challenges she faced, Faith said that overcoming homelessness was a tough battle but she is blessed and thankful for organizations like Friends In Deed that help people in their times of need. “If I were able, I would not think twice about donating to Friends In Deed.”
Article and photo by Esau Davis.
We’ve had a number of student groups volunteer to help out recently, including students from EMU’s VISION Volunteer Center and the Interact Club at Saline High School (shown above). Each group took our truck and picked up and delivered furniture. They also got to meet the families who benefited from receiving the furniture.
We’d like to thank both groups for their help. They did a great job!
The Ann Arbor City Club chose Friends In Deed for its annual Open Your Heart Campaign! The campaign collects items for donation to a local nonprofit. Throughout February in 2017, the club will be collecting bed & crib sheets for Friends In Deed.
We are very grateful that they thought of us. Through their efforts, we will be able to provide sheets along with beds and cribs to our low-income families in need. Like furniture helps make a house a home, a sheet helps make a bed a healthy and comfortable place to sleep.
The Open Your Heart campaign is just one of the many ways the Ann Arbor City Club supports nonprofit organizations in our community. They also provide a cash grant to a nonprofit organization each year, compile gift bags for needy children during the holiday season, knit items for donation to local hospitals, usher at the Ann Arbor Symphony Youth Concerts, and collect school supplies for the Education Project for Homeless Youth.
Thank you Ann Arbor City Club!
We have been twice blessed by the United Way this holiday season because we received two grant awards!
Funds for Utility Assistance
We received $2,000 in grant monies from the United Way’s Basic Needs Fund. The money will be used in support of Utility Assistance. In other words, the monies will be used to help families with the prevention of utility shut offs during the non-crisis season as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as June 1st to October 31st. During this several month period, DHHS no longer assists with utility costs. As you might imagine, we see a huge rise in requests for utility assistance during these months. That’s why monies specific earmarked for this purpose are so needed.
Funds for Assistance with Car Repair / Transportation
We also received $5,000 in grant monies from the United Way’s Financial Stability Fund. The money will be used in support of helping low-income families in Washtenaw County with their car repairs and other transportation needs. Specifically, the funds will be used to increase the number of people we can assist in all household types, as well as the amount of funds we can use in assistance of any one car repair.
Thank you United Way!
Photo: Pam Smith from United Way and Sarah Thornburg from Friends In Deed
Kathy came to our office to pick up a check today to pay her weekly rent. As you probably already know, Friends In Deed doesn’t usually assist with rent. We do, however, consider requests for assistance on a case-by-case basis and found Kathy’s situation fell within our mission.
Kathy takes care of her adult daughter, who receives Social Security Disability after suffering a head injury. Kathy receives a monthly stipend from Social Security for the care-giving service. While the women have some income, its fixed nature has resulted in homelessness in the past and a constant struggle to get enough food. Either their budget was thrown off due to an unexpected expense or it simply didn’t stretch far enough.
The women have been living in their current home for the last year and a half and pay rent on a week-to-week basis. Unfortunately, the way December falls in 2016, the women have to come up with five weeks of rent for the month rather than four and have not been able to do so.
Of course, Kathy was aware this was going to be an issue. In addition to calling around for assistance, she has been actively seeking more affordable housing. She is currently on the waiting list for low-income housing and has applied for several other places to live that are more affordable. Unfortunately, the application fees further burden an already over-burdened budget.
When Kathy called Friends In Deed, our new caseworker, Rhonda, heard her out and starting calling around to organizations in the community to see if she could find some help.
“Rhonda went out of her way to call and be my family’s advocate,” Kathy said. Successful or not, Kathy was most grateful about the fact that Rhonda took the time to listen. “She didn’t have to do that. I really appreciate it.”
Kathy already contacted Housing Access of Washtenaw County about getting into a shelter.
“We don’t qualify because my daughter has special needs and we cannot be separated because of her medications.”
This meant that if assistance couldn’t be found, Kathy and her daughter would have no place to go. Friends In Deed decided to help by covering the rent for the week, which would allow the women to have a roof over their head through the holidays. Without that fifth week to worry about, and through the help of food banks in the area, the women will also be able to afford their rent for months to come.
While Kathy and her daughter ate grilled cheese sandwiches for Thanksgiving and are depending on a food bank for provisions over the coming week, their Christmas is looking much merrier.
First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor has been a long-time friend to Friends In Deed. In fact, we have received grant monies from them every year since 2001. In 2016, the $1,000 in grant monies we received helped five working or medically fragile households with their transportation issues.
For instance, we helped a single mom who had her hours cut at work and couldn’t afford a brake repair, as well as a senior with back and neck pain who needed help with transportation to get medical treatment.
Thank you First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor!
As we approach the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, we at Friends In Deed are optimistic about our organization’s future. Not only are we evolving are programs to better meet the needs of the community, we are growing and evolving as an organization.
AAACF’s Capacity Building Grant
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is instrumental in these efforts. A few months ago,we received $5,000 in grant monies to be used for Capacity Building. In other words, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation chose to invest in Friends In Deed, so that we might improve our effectiveness going into the future.
Conducting an Audit
Through the support of the AAACF, we have selected an accounting firm to conduct an audit of our finances in February. This audit will allow us to find new funding sources as we will be better able to demonstrate the health and stability of our organization to third parties.
Creating a Succession Plan
The grant monies from AAACF will also allow us to create a succession plan. In fact, we’ve already met with Regina Funkhouser, the executive director of the Nonprofit Network, toward developing it. The implementation of the plan is a priority in 2017 and will allow Friends In Deed to continue to run effectively and efficiently should a change in leadership occur — an important need for a small nonprofit.
Thank you Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation!
We made a new friend this past fall: the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. The organization awarded us $2,000 in grant monies to be used toward Friends In Deed’s operation expenses.
Let’s face it, the impact of a grant earmarked for operating expenses does not tug at the heartstrings, but the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors recognized that the number of beds/furniture distributed and shutoffs prevented by Friends In Deed in the coming year will be zero without the kind of support they are providing. Unfortunately, we are not able to keep our programs running without an office and staff. If our lights go off, our programs go down. It is that simple!
Helping Families to Make a House a Home
With the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors support, we are able to continue helping low-income families have healthy places to sleep, eat and go about the daily business of living.
Thank you Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors! Your support is appreciated by Friends In Deed and the families it serves.
With another Thanksgiving now passed, families have returned back to their homes with full stomachs and loads of leftovers. This year’s Cyber Monday is expected to surpass previous years’ records, so we must not forget another important part of this holiday season: Giving Tuesday!
What is Giving Tuesday?
As has been tradition, Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving every year across the country. This day is a day of generous donation and a great opportunity for outreach to causes that are within communities and needing support. This year, Friends In Deed is participating in Giving Tuesday as a way to connect with more people within the community and provide their services with greater outreach. Whether your donation comes in the form of volunteering, gifts/furniture donations, or money, each effort received is extremely valued and appreciated by both the organization and the families within the Washtenaw Community who will benefit from your involvement.
Easy to Give
One of the main facets of the event is the use of social media in order to help connect more individuals with organizations within their community and beyond. Friends In Deed has prepared a multitude of ways in which to organize efforts and make donations this year as easy as possible. With the donation portal front and center on the organization’s website, it is both simple and easy to donate to the Friends In Deed – Bed and Crib Drive that is being run during this holiday season.
Provide a Basic Need: A Place to Sleep
The Beds and Cribs are all going to be used to provide comfortable and safe sleeping conditions for families that are in need and have reached out to the organization. Part of this campaign has been to always keep in mind the need and benefit of a warm and safe place to sleep at night for every member of the family. With the social media involvement and awareness quickly spreading, the organization would like to hold true to the value of providing services that other programs have not been able to provide. #KeepYpsiSleeping is a movement Friends In Deed has started and we would love to call on all of our community members to become a part of this vital and socially important fight against poverty. So we invite all members of the Washtenaw County community to come together to make this Giving Tuesday one of the best and the Friends In Deed Holiday Bed & Crib Drive the most successful it’s ever been.
How Do I Make a Bed or Crib Donation?
The Holiday Bed & Crib Drive is about collecting monetary donations for the purchase of new beds or cribs. If you are interested, you can donate or pledge funds for the purchase of a specific item (crib mattress, crib, bed, bunk beds). Alternatively, you can donate whatever amount feels right; these types of donations will be added together for the purchase of additional beds.
Best of all, for every four (4) beds donated by folks on Giving Tuesday (11/29), Van Winkle Mattress Co. will donate an additional bed!
The Holiday Bed & Crib Drive runs through the end of the year. While donating on Giving Tuesday has the benefit of a matching donation from Van Winkle Mattress Company, donations can be made on any date and time.
By: Kelsey McInerney
Jaime, a mother of four, was living in a shelter in Ypsilanti. She fell upon hard times after losing a job. She was able to get some help with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission(AAHC). The Ann Arbor Housing Commission seeks to provide desirable housing and support services to low-income families on both transitional and permanent bases.
During her time working with the AAHC, a representative told her that when she gets her home she should contact Friends In Deed in order to get help with furniture. This proved to be sound advice because beds for four children is no easy tasks! As soon as Jaime was able to get into a home with her family, she contacted Friends In Deed and the rest is history! It took less than two weeks to schedule her for a furniture pick up!
Jaime says that more people need to know about Friends In Deed. “They truly are a blessing, doing great things for people.”
Interview, photo and profile by Esau Davis
When the sun goes down and the time for sleep has come, where do you go? Do you walk into a bedroom with a comfortable bed awaiting you with warm blankets and pillows? Do you feel safe as you climb under the covers and prepare yourself for the final end to your day? Now, imagine that you don’t have a bedroom to walk into, imagine you don’t have a bed to crawl into, and the end of your day is simply just an onset of another day that will bring the same harsh realities of the missing pieces of your home. Far too often is this the reality for families within the poverty stricken population. In many ways, a comfortable and safe place to sleep is often overlooked by those who are not exposed to such harsh conditions. But, for the families that face the end of their days with little to any comfort it can be quite detrimental to their health and well-being.
The need for beds and cribs within the Washtenaw County community remains a growing and changing reality. In 2016, Friends In Deed continued their efforts to fulfill that need for struggling low-income families. Not only does the organization focus on providing beds and cribs, they also provide other pieces of furniture. Imagine the wonder and excitement that the families experience when they see a truckload of donations come to their house, apartment, or condo and their home changes from just walls and a floor to a warm and welcoming home full of love and promise.
The importance of sleep can’t be stressed enough. One of the first points made by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute makes about the importance of sleep is, “Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.” For children, the effects of lack of sleep can be monumental. Having access to the typical comforts of a home is also accredited with positive outlook and higher confidence levels among children.
Friends In Deed seeks to fill that need for beds and cribs for as many families as possible. With your help, a mother, father, child, and other family members may end their day in a comfortable way, which will give light to a new day of possibilities.
By Kelsey McInerney, an EMU student who volunteered her time working on the 2016 Holiday Bed & Crib Drive
“I have to take one day at a time or I’d go crazy,” Ebony said of her struggle to make ends meet. Ebony is the mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 17, and works seasonal jobs. Her finances are tight and she’s been concentrating on keeping the heat on, which makes getting her girls a better place to sleep than an old mattress on the floor challenging.
Ebony’s sleeping arrangements aren’t much better. She’s been sleeping on a mattress with springs hanging out. “I’m scratched up all up and down my legs.”
Friends In Deed was able to help the family with beds. “Now the girls have a bed that is so high they need a step stool. I’m grateful there are people out there that will help!”
“Obviously, someone had a bed [they no longer need], and now my girls have a bed,” Ebony said, appreciative that someone took the time to donate their bed rather than throw it away.
Back at Friends In Deed to pick up a bed for herself, Ebony decided she wanted to give back. “I have a desk at home. It’s not much,” she mused. “I would like to donate it!”
The SERRV Small World Shop Sale is hosted on the weekend before Thanksgiving by the First United Methodist Church. The annual Sale includes distinctive items from around the world and is a great place to find a unique gift!
What is SERRV?
SERRV and Equal Exchange are nonprofit fair trade programs promoting economic and social justice by just and direct marketing of products from people in developing areas. Your involvement in this event will support artisans and farmers, plus 15% of Shop proceeds will benefit Friends In Deed!
When and Where?
The SERRV Sale is located at the First United Methodist Church at 209 Washtenaw Avenue, Ypsilanti. It is held on Friday, November 18 from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM and on Saturday, November 19 from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM.
See you there!
“Even when you work hard, you can get stuck in a situation with no resources,” Kenya said of the time she spent homeless. When she couldn’t keep up with her bills, she was forced to move into her sister’s house with her five children ages 3 to 14.
“When you’re stuck, people think you’re not trying,” she said. “I know how it feels to not have; as soon as I get in a position to donate, I will.”
Kenya is in a better place now. She’s working as a grill cook and has an apartment. Unfortunately, the apartment is empty of furniture and her children are sleeping on the floor.
“The children will be extremely happy. They finally have their own beds to sleep on!”
A basement of raw sewage resulted in homelessness for Curtis’ family. Not only was their home condemned, but black mold meant they couldn’t take any of their furniture, clothing or personal belongings with them.
“We lost a lot of stuff,” Curtis said.
Not only was the experience traumatic for his fiance April and three kids under the age of five, but his disabled mother was living with him when the sewage seeped in. Losing the family home made taking care of her much more difficult.
Once the family found a place to live, however, Friends In Deed was able to help them replace 90% of the furniture they lost; and Curtis is very grateful. Now the family has much more than just a roof over their head; they have their home back.
Curtis was quick to point out that we helped him two years ago when he was making a fresh start out of prison. “I made my mistakes,” he admits; “but I’ve stayed out of trouble since then. You guys saved us twice!”
Thank You Friends In Deed!
Sonya was very excited that she found a place that would take her barely used mattress.
“I called everybody!” she said of her search for an organization that would take it as a donation.
After finding no place in Wayne County and only one organization in Oakland, she started calling around in Washtenaw. That’s when she discovered Friends In Deed.
Sonya was happy that the mattress wouldn’t be discarded but used. “[Friends In Deed] assists families when they need it, and beds are more important than other things.”
We had some new groups help us out in September. For instance, a group of students from Eastern Michigan University took a Community Plunge with Friends In Deed by volunteering to deliver much-needed furniture to low-income families in our community.
“I take a lot for granted,” said Kailey Vowles after experiencing the excitement of a little boy receiving furniture. “It was really eye opening.”
“They were so genuinely grateful and sweet. They just needed a little help,” Sarah Niese, another of the EMU students in the group, said of the families they met. ” It was nice to help.”
At one time, Harvey was a biology teacher and athletic director for a local school. Unfortunately, things went downhill for him after was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a brain injury. More setbacks followed, whether as a result of bad luck or bad people. Even after everything, Harvey’s spirit is unsinkable. He remains kind and friendly and well regarded in his community even as he struggles a bit and tries to navigate the perilous path between social service organizations.
When he came to Friends In Deed, Harvey was looking for help getting a water heater. While the cost of the water heater is beyond the amount of assistance we could offer, our new caseworker, Tonda Hatchett, decided his search for assistance would stop with Friends In Deed. She took the time to verify his background information, head injury and financial situation, so that she could facilitate his getting help from an agency that could help him.
“You have an advocate [in Friends in Deed],” Harvey said. “The time spent here with you is not only the relief you feel as an individual; the kindness, understanding and support you find becomes priceless.”
Tonda isn’t even done yet, but Harvey stopped by with donuts as a thank you.
Thank You for sweetening our day, Harvey!