Instead of sleeping their Saturdays away, more than 1,100 University students rolled up their sleeves and spent the day cleaning up a northwest Detroit community.
Demolishing abandoned houses, landscaping, planting trees and painting murals were some of the tasks undertaken by the Detroit Project in the community of Brightmoor on Saturday.
LSA junior and site leader Kate Woolley worked at DP Day for the third year in a row and spent Saturday cleaning up an abandoned lot near an elementary school. “We made an unusable space a safe place for kids to play,” she said.
The residents of Brightmoor were grateful for the students’ service, Woolley said, adding that several people stopped their cars to tell the students how much they appreciated their efforts. “The residents were thankful and kept saying, ‘Now it’s just up to us to keep it up’ – we were just here for one day.”
The morning began with an address by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. “He spoke about the importance of service and of giving back to the community,” said executive project director Catie Baetens, an LSA senior.
University students were not the only ones involved in the project. Baetens said about 100 students from other area colleges and universities and about 150 community members participated in DP Day. “It was such a cold day, but they were all troopers,” she said. The volunteers were spread out at over 60 sites and accomplished all their projects by the end of the day.
“It’s easy to volunteer (for DP Day),” Baetens said, “You hear a lot of things about Detroit, and I think people participate in DP Day partly because they want to check it out for themselves.”