Not many people take the opportunity to stop and smell the roses. Particularly, when you are the gardener sometimes gardening tends to become more of a job then anything else. The same goes for residents of a city sometimes. People become so busy going about their daily lives (chores) that they don’t get an opportunity to stop and enjoy their surroundings. As a resident of Detroit, someone who was born and raised in the city, I have seen more of Detroit in the past two months then I have in probably the last five years and it amazes me how little I know about the city that I’ve grown up in. I knew more about the Metro-area suburbs then I did about this city I’ve called home.
These past eight weeks have been just an eye opening experience for me. I’ve learned so much. The pride I have for my city has grown by leaps and bounds of the Superman variety. Each day for me, whether I was working on a project site with a group or going on an “excursion” with my fellow interns has been filled with new experiences and discoveries as well as the development of new relationships. Sure, there have been some difficult days, and I’ve had to do the particularly difficult job of balancing work and play. There have also been days that I’ve said to myself, “What we’re doing is not enough, we can do more,”. But I have to remind myself daily there is only so much that one person, one group, one small start-up organization can do and that change takes time. And I’m not using this as an excuse to do as little as possible. What I’m saying is that we’ve got to have patience. We’ve got to know that as an individual at times our impact may seem insignificant, but the little that we do in a particular moment, allows us (or someone else) to come back later and do more work thus facilitating a larger impact.
It’s truly inspirational when your boarding a house or cutting down an overgrown empty lot and an entire family (mother, father, children, etc) immediately comes outside to help and pledges to keep that space from becoming decrepit again. There have been multiple times that, no sooner then we have finished our work, younger children run outside because they are finally able to ride their bikes now that mom and dad can see down the street.
The work that is getting done at Motown Mission is just awesome. Not only does Motown Mission help heal a wounded community, it does so in a way that enables young people to learn life lessons and develop skills valuable to the workforce.
- Ephraim Tolbert