12028 Yellowstone St. has been a cornerstone of this community for half a century. Over the years, many people have called this place home. The roots of the tree of life and community grow deep in this soil. In the recent months and weeks, through the patient nurturing of Auntie Na’s family, friends and volunteers, we’ve been reaching out and developing new programs – growing new shoots and flowers that bear new fruit.
From January of 2013 to October of 2014, we’ve transformed many rooms throughout the community center, bringing new vibrancy and color to this old house. We’ve worked hard to create a Reading Area, Music Room, Computer Lab, Kid’s Room, and a revitalized Front Porch, Kitchen, Dining Room, and a Food and Water Storage Pantry. (See Photo section to view the transformation of the house). We’ve also dedicated time to creating a community garden in the backyard. This summer, our community garden grew onions, eggplants, tomatoes, okra, collard greens, ground cherries, and and many herbs and spices. Thanks to many generous donations from crowdfunding campaigns, and our community partners of the Godmother’s association, Oberlin Community Services, the Detroit Water Brigade, Keep Growing Detroit, and several local food pantries we’ve been able to keep this community center running. Thanks to the hard work of Auntie Na’s family, community members in Detroit, volunteer work teams from Oberlin, and a handful of international volunteers – we’ve been able to fix up the house and support the outreach programs. I can’t express my gratitude enough for all of those who have shared their time, resources, and energy with us. Your generosity is the lifeblood of Auntie Na’s House – where the spirit of giving guides us on the path towards freedom.
Let’s be real for a moment – the city of Detroit is in crisis. The flight of the auto industry decimated the economy. The predatory banks have foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of families. The city is run by a dictator, the emergency manager Kevyn Orr. In many neighborhoods, the majority of the houses stand vacant, most storefronts are boarded up, schools are closed, and it’s near impossible to find a grocery store that sells affordable healthy food. On top of all of this, the city is implementing a plan to SHUT OFF THE WATER FOR 40% OF THE CITY RESIDENTS. This is a crisis of capitalism, that impacts the communities of color living in the inner city hardest of all. People are living in this city without access to basic resources like water, food, clothing, and shelter.
And yet, throughout all of this, people have been able to find refuge in our little house on the Westside of Detroit. And this is not the only place. Community institutions throughout the city have been providing for people, building alternatives to the systems of oppression that exist, and fighting for empowerment and human rights. Our network of community centers has been growing, and a broad-based social movement is forming. The struggle continues.
In the past 3 months we’ve seen the rapid development of new programs at Auntie Na’s House. In the throes of the Detroit Water Crisis, Auntie Na has opened up her heart and turned on her spigot, giving out free water to many people in the neighborhood. Because of generous donations, we were able to acquire 2 new computers and are now providing computer access to youth and adults that visit our community center. Also, we have several new athletics programs that happen after school and on the weekends, with regular basketball games, soccer practice twice a week, and karate lessons. In addition to all of this, we’ve been continuing our regular food and clothing distributions, providing temporary housing for young mothers, and have been opening up our doors to any and all that need assistance in the neighborhood.
Please consider donating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us continue our work.
This Winter we hope to continue our Christmas programs, where youth receive warm clothing, boots, coats, and Christmas gifts. In addition, we need money to help pay for heating, electric, water, and Wifi bills – operating expenses to keep the community center open. Lastly, we are trying to raise the funds to purchase the abandoned lot that sits next to Auntie Na’s House, so that our athletics programs and community gardens can expand. Thank you all so much!
This past weekend, we had a very successful barbecue and block party that brought together friends, family and supporters, as well as folks representing their own organizations that are doing amazing work around the city. I believe that it was a beautiful kickoff to a summer of opportunities at Auntie Na’s House.
This summer, starting June 1st, Auntie Na’s House will be opening up and will be maintaining a regular schedule of programs all summer long. This is so exciting because it signals the end of construction, repairs, and remodeling that has been done to revitalize Auntie Na’s House over the past year and half. We’ve worked hard to make the community center functional, beautiful and vibrant, and now we want to open it up as a resource that organizations and community members can use for projects, programming and events.
Currently, Auntie Na and a crew of regular volunteers are running several community outreach programs. These include Weekly Food Distributions, where food is picked up from various pantries around the city, reorganized and delivered to families in need. There are also Clothing, Toys and School Supply Distributions organized regularly with support and donations from The Godmothers. Every couple of weeks or so, Auntie Na’s House hosts Community Meals, or barbecue cookouts if weather permits, bringing families, volunteers, and outside supporters together as a community to celebrate our work, plan for the future, and enjoy each other’s company. Lastly, Auntie Na’s House offers Emergency Temporary Housing for those who are houseless, whether it is due to eviction, foreclosure, a dangerous situation at home, or chronic houselessness among Detroit’s destitute population.
With the completion of the new renovations of Auntie Na’s House, we are proud to say that we are going to be hosting new programs at Auntie Na’s House. After recently remodeling the second floor and transforming it into a Reading Room, this summer we plan be hosting a Youth Literacy Program under the mentorship of Shanel Adams, a Detroit-native writer and the creator of the Progressionista program. This program is open to girls age 8-12 who would like to read, write and discuss literature once a week, to develop their English language literacy skills. At Auntie Na’s House, we hope to cultivate a passion for reading, writing and creative arts that kids can carry with them for the rest of their lives. This summer, we will also be hosting a Housing Assistance Program once a week with Laquinda from Creative Housing Solutions. This program is geared towards preparing and educating young people about how to get good deals on apartments and houses, how to recognize a good lease from a bad one, how to deal with landlords, and generally how to budget funds and keep up with payments. Lastly, we just put in work on constructing and planting our community garden in the backyard of Auntie Na’s House. We hope to grow and expand our Gardening Program so that Auntie Na’s House can continue to be supplied with fresh vegetables and so children and adults alike can acquire new skills around working with the land, and learning about urban agriculture.
Be sure to contact us if you would like to be involved as a volunteer or participant in any of these programs. I will post new updates as these programs progress and evolve.
After a loooonnnngggg, cold Winter it seems like Springtime is finally here!
At Auntie Na’s House we’re wrapping up the last of the repairs that the building needs in order to be a fully functional community center. In the upcoming week, we hope to put the finishing touches on a refurbished Kitchen and Food Pantry, the downstairs Music Room, the Kids Room, the Living Room, and a brand new Reading Room on the second floor! We’ll be doing construction, plumbing, painting, and cleaning over on Yellowstone all week.
We’re having official construction volunteer days Thursday, May 15th and Friday May 16th. Oh, and did I mention we’re building an awesome and beautiful community garden at Auntie Na’s House…?!? We’ll be constructing new raised beds, filling them with soil, and planting seeds/transplants Saturday, May 17th and Sunday the 18th. Hit me up if you want to help out – 617-894-8755, firstname.lastname@example.org
But really, it’s all about the cookout. Join us for some delicious food and a good time in the afternoon on Saturday. Folks who have been come through Auntie Na’s House over the years will be coming by and we’ll get the chance to connect, hang out, and make some plans for the future.
Hope to see you there. Much love!
– Jackson (aka Josh)
We’ve just set up a crowdfunding campaign on Rally.org to help sustain Auntie Na’s Community Outreach Program. Check out the campaign here:
How does this campaign support the mission of Auntie Na’s House?
The point of this campaign is to keep the doors open at Auntie Na’s House, so that we can continue to help meet the basic needs of community members while providing a location to gather and build relationships. By organizing with people of all colors from diverse backgrounds to build a center for community self-sufficiency, we are attempting to combat the effects of generations of austerity, racism, and economic inequality in Detroit. Ultimately, we are working for a more just and equitable world, but we realize that there are tangible needs that have to be met immediately in order to assure the long-term survival of this community.
Why does Auntie Na need a crowdfunding campaign to keep the outreach programs running?
Auntie Na’s house has always been a community-run organization and has never had institutional funding or support. In part, this is because Auntie Na seeks in her community work to transcend the bureaucratic boundaries imposed by traditional government or 501c(3) social-service providers. Nevertheless, for decades, she has been struggling to pay the bills, keep the doors open, and keep the programs running. Because many houses in her neighborhood are abandoned, Auntie Na has to pay higher bills for water, gas and electric to cover her entire block. The city also continues to raise taxes on its lowest income citizens in order to combat massive municipal debt. For these reasons, Auntie Na needs some funds to help pay for the cost of keeping the doors of the community outreach center open.
We are asking for money to help defray the costs of taxes and utility bills and to purchase much needed materials for the house. Keeping up with these bills has been an incredible strain on the family and Auntie Na has been threatened with the imminent shutoff of gas, electric, and water. Auntie Na’s House already operates on a shoe-string budget, and thus far has been supported by the sheer will power of her family for many years. As a community center that supports so many others in this neighborhood, keeping the doors open and the house livable will help many families survive the hardest of times.
What else are we doing to raise funds for Auntie Na’ House?
Paying for taxes and utilities is a struggle month to month. We recognize that the long-term sustainability of this project necessitates many sources of funding. This crowd-funding campaign is only one part of a multi-faceted strategy to obtain financial resources. We are in the process of applying for several government assistance programs, attempting to obtain grants, and establishing a network of supporters. Your donation will help push along the process of reviving of Auntie Na’s House, enabling it to serve Detroiters for generations to come.
What will your contribution do?
A contribution to Auntie Na’s house means that a person without a home will not freeze on a cold winter’s night, that a family can get a box of groceries for free every week, and that a child will have a place to go after school to do their homework, play the drums, paint a picture, and eat a healthy snack. By contributing to this campaign, you will do more than pay the taxes, help us obtain construction materials, or purchase a refrigerator–you will contribute to the development of a community center that will serve as a home for those most in need of respite.
What, specifically, are we raising money for?
Taxes and Utilities: $3,000
(We have been falling behind on paying the taxes and utilities and are being threatened with the eminent shutoff of water, gas, and electric. The house is also incurring additional fines for every month that goes by without full payment of taxes. If we square up on payments now, we will be able to keep the center open for months to come.)
(The plumbing in the kitchen and the bathroom are in need of some work in order to be fully functional. A local plumber has quoted us this price.)
Windows for the front room: $200
(Two large windows in the front room are broken, leaving the space drafty, uninsulated, and without much natural light. By purchasing new windows and installing them, we will save money on heating costs and make the space more beautiful.)
(We have a freezer and a lot of pantry space in the house for food storage, but we are lacking a refrigerator. We hope to be able to purchase one that is energy efficient, so that it does not strain the electric bills too much and conserves energy for environmental reasons.)