By Dr. Chad Audi
My decades of work and community engagements have shown me how generous people of Michigan can be.
Even teenagers who have not yet started earning a living find it necessary to organize fundraising campaigns – collecting money and materials from friends, family members and neighbors – to support social causes they believe in.
Isn’t that amazing?
I always doff my hat for those who give, not because they have enough for their own needs but because they care enough for the needs of others, especially the poor and weak and helpless around them.
I have seen people on social security benefits share the little they have with homeless veterans.
I have seen those under the heavy weight of terminal illness carve out time and other resources to help needy teen moms who are non-family members.
I have seen physically challenged persons giving their fairly used items to those who are not only physically challenged but also glaringly financially handicapped.
I have seen formerly homeless and drug addicted persons helping men and women overcome homelessness and drug addiction right here in metro Detroit.
Kindness is indeed wonderful to behold but rewarding to practice.
But for understandable reasons, people tend to be more charitable in winter months than in summer months. Yes, summer is a time to travel with family, work in the garden, remodel the home, catch up with friends, fire up the grill, do more walks and runs around the neighborhood, and take part in elaborate community events.
Those are all good things to do. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to remember that though there is no sub-zero temperature that could easily choke the life out of a homeless person on the street or the live-alone but handicapped senior citizen next door, the homeless and the drug addicted still need rehabilitation and our senior citizens still need attention and care this summer.
In fact, unlike summers of yesteryears, our homeless shelters are almost filled to the brim. More working but homeless families are turning to us for help. It is becoming harder and harder for them to meet their basic needs, though the economy is said to be booming and fewer people are believed to be unemployed. I simply go by the number of people that seek our services now – and it is instructively high.
Solution options are as wide as The St. Johns River.
For instance, Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, has suggested livelihood insurance to encourage young people in “more risk-taking in career choice,” and inequality insurance which is all about “a plan for automatic increases in the progressiveness of the income tax in response to increases in income inequality.”
Will his ideas ever see the light of day? I don’t know.
But I know that Detroit Rescue Mission will continue to not only offer all-year-round emergency shelter, counseling, case management, detox and treatment but also skills development and job placement services that will help once homeless and drug-addicted persons become stable and self-reliant members of the community, fulfilling their obligations to self, family, church and state.
Why not? After all, life is as precious in winter as it is in summer, and our God-bestowed nature as social beings knows no seasonal limitation.
Dr. Chad Audi has been president and CEO of Detroit Rescue Mission since 2004. Deploying his extensive financial, organizational and relationship building skills, Audi has built the 1909-founded nonprofit into America’s largest rescue mission, providing daily services to 2200 women, children and men and serving 4500 meals each day. Learn more at http;//drmm.org