Raised in the suburbs, Ben Falik, a third-year Law student, has always been interested in Detroit. After doing community service with friends in the city, he decided to start Summer in the City as an undergraduate (at Columbia) with another friend to serve as a flexible and fulfilling way for students and residents to help the broader community in rewarding ways.
He began recruiting volunteers at local high schools in Oakland County, coordinating projects for Detroit that involve construction, demolition, painting and working with inner-city children.
For nine weeks each summer, you can find the Summer in the City’s orange bus at six parking lots throughout Oakland County communities. The bus transported volunteers from mid-June until mid-August last summer.
Each day has a unique project to offer the volunteers, varying from painting murals downtown to gardening around Belle Isle. Anyone can participate in Summer in the City – high school students, college students and residents. Volunteers can simply come when they have a free day to give. Last summer, an average of 90 people volunteered each day, including many students from the University. They contributed more than 11,000 hours of community service to Detroit.
The final day of Summer in the City, held in August, brought all of the volunteers together for one last day. Families and local residents attended, and there was free food, live music, awards. A completed mural was also unveiled.
Summer in the City remains an active program. To get involved, go to its website at www.summerinthecitydetroit.org.