In December of 2014, we watched our dreams slip through our fingers as the house that we knew and loved went up in flames. In those first days after the fire, it wasn’t easy to find the will to push on. The damage that had been done to the house was so severe that it was unclear if we were going to be able to rebuild at all. But when we shared the news with our loved ones and asked them what we should do – a resounding reply came back, ‘We’ve got to rebuild. We’ll help you!’
And so, in the weeks after the fire, a team of volunteers started gutting the house and a stream of supporters started sending donations. By the end of January, we had raised almost $6000 online, had secured more than $5000 in private donations! With those funds, we were able to pay an electrician to redo all the wiring in the house (the old electrical system being the cause of the fire in the first place). We were also able to pay two local construction workers – Zeek and Mr. Pew – to completely rebuild the walls, ceilings and floors throughout the 3 stories of the house. The transformation was remarkable.
I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to know that in our time of need we can rely on our communities to step up and support us. The support, whether financial, emotional or physical, has been incredible. Thank you all!
This past week, a group of volunteers from Oberlin College came up to Detroit on their Spring Break and put some love into Auntie Na’s House. New murals now adorn the walls, instruments made of found objects sit in the basement, and the interior of Auntie Na’s House has come back to life. In the next week, new windows will be installed through out the house and some of the final interior painting and refurbishing will be completed. As Spring slowly creeps back into the city, life arises anew in Auntie Na’s House.
“By the faith of a grain of a mustard seed, all things can be done.” – Auntie Na, January 2015
All it took was a little faith. We are still holding steadfast to our vision for the future, reaching out to our networks, and putting in some hard work. But we’re sure that the house will come back more vibrant than ever before.
For us, the maxim ‘Out of the ashes we shall rise’ is not just the motto of the city of Detroit; it is more than just a metaphor for struggle; it is a lived reality. It is a prophecy that we act upon in the present to make manifest our dreams for a better world.
For now, we’re gonna keep on pushing. There’s more work ahead of us, but the worst is surely behind. We’re planning on reopening our doors at the end of May. I hope to see you there. Until then, thank you for all you have done.
Can you believe this is the same room?
Auntie Na's House
Over the years, Auntie Na’s House has been many things, but most of all it is a place everybody can call home. It has served as a food pantry, after-school program, clothes distribution hub, community garden, free childcare center, community meals space and temporary shelter. Now we are growing our programs and building up a loving and interdependent village to support our community on the Westside of Detroit.