If you do not believe in miracles, read this, it might convince you.
On a very cold Monday I received a call from the Detroit VA’s homeless veterans program. They said there was a critical need for Detroit and upper Michigan, about 100 veterans will need deposits shortly. That day we began strategizing.
Our model is to try to find a local celebrity anchor and raise funds around that anchor. At the top of the Michigan list was Mitch Albom, because his compassion, love and commitment for the unhoused are as deep ours. I heard that someone from my church might have gone to Haiti with Mitch and could be a conduit for an approach. That Sunday I was going to find that person and follow that path.
On Wednesday of that week I got a call from a Dr. Chad Audi, who runs the Detroit Rescue Mission. He had been told to call me by Michael Stoops with the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington DC. Michael thought I might be able to help Chad with some strategy related to DRMM’s pending decrease in Federal funding.
Any friend of Michael’s is a friend of mine, so I cleared my schedule and spent the next hour or so brainstorming with Dr. Audi. He is an incredible man and great mind, I learned much. At the end of the call he asked what we did. I told him briefly about Veterans Matter and how we had actually gotten a call two days before about the critical need in Detroit, and that someone from my church knew Mitch Albom and was going to try to connect us to see if he could anchor Operation Michigan.
Then, incredulously, Chad said, “I help Mitch with his charities; I think we might be able to help.”
Miracle? I surely am convinced. You?
Mr. Albom quickly agreed to co-chair Michigan and we were off.
Then, this past Monday I get an email from the good Doctor, “Hello Ken. Hope all is well. We are giving up the money on Wed at 10:00am in a press conference. Would you be able to attend?”
I had surmised the words “giving up the money” had to do with the federal funds, so I replied that I was not sure how useful I could be, but if he wants me there, I am there.
It took a couple more emails for me to finally change gears and register that he and Mitch were having the press conference to distribute the funds from his annual SAY Detroit radio-thon, and Veterans Matter – Operation Michigan would be one of the recipients.
The next thing I know I was driving to a pres s conference on Wednesday at the WJR studios in Detroit and having no idea what to expect. I found myself in a room full of the most incredible people, true freaking heroes. I was awestruck.
They really are the fabric that is holding Detroit together.
They were miracles themselves.
I mean, like the guy sitting next to me Kevin Ramsby, who was stabbed 37 times and left for dead. So when he recovered, he decided to move into that neighborhood to help create Hope Village Detroit – a better environment for that community.
Or Faith Fowler, with Cass Community Social Services, an awesome spirit! COTS, the shelter we took John Mellencamp to, received $25,000 for their child care program.
All are incredible spirits, incredible miracles. Click here to see the rest.
So between Mitch Albom, who takes a very significant amount of time out of his life to NOT just write checks, but to get involved at ground level with his charities, to the room full of heroes; for one of the first times in my life I was awestruck, and believe it or not, even tongue tied.
So goofy me, having had nothing prepared, went to the microphone and said my usual opening line followed with, “and I have no idea how I got here,” and then shared the story, including the call that morning about 15 Detroit veterans meeting that day to get housed.
Right after getting the big check and shaking the hands of Mr. Albom, and Dr. Audi, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. It was Battle Creek VA staff wanting to house two Battle Creek veterans.
So now we are setting out to raise the balance of the money needed to help the remaining 80 homeless Michigan veterans. If you want to help too, we have set up a special text line; Just text “mitch” to 41444 to donate any amount on your credit card. Michigan really does take care of its own.
We got a call this week from the Austin, Texas, VA. There was a fire in a housing complex and the building is being condemned and twelve veterans will be displaced. Though they are not technically “homeless,” they asked if this would be something we could help with? It took the Operation Texas funders less than a minute to respond “Hell ya!”, AND they want to help the veterans replace their furniture and personal belongings. Texas really does take care of its own.
Latest Tally: 200 Veterans Housed to Date YES—TWO HUNDRED!
Here is the breakdown.
Operation Hometown: 65
Operation Texas: 114
Operation New England: 9
Operation Indiana: 9
Operation Michigan: 3
Home Again – April 6th , Forrester’s on the River, 2 pm to 7 pm