Carla White-Smith visited other expos, taking notes on what worked and what didn’t, where visitors gathered, and which vendors were popular with whom. Then she decided to chair a committee to host Grandmont Community Association’s Youth Expo on Saturday, March 16 from 11 am – 3 pm at Christ the King Church, 20800 Grand River. She had “been thinking about a putting together an expo for years.” She thought it would be a terrific way to get young people involved in their community. She believes the right vendors will draw young people, and with the line-up so far, it looks as if there will be something for everyone at the Youth Expo. The Girl Scouts will be there (along with a craft project), the PAL League, Rosedale Soccer, and Kidz Kingdom. Carla discovered a vendor at an expo she was scouting who made “these really cute homemade hair bows,” and so Carla got another idea for a vendor. Chaney Library will be there, Grandmont’s own Cora the Clown will be there, there will be a face painter, food, and, in order to draw older kids, Carla is working on getting Wayne County Community College District to be there as well. There is no fee for the expo, and everyone is invited, “from birth to college age.” Carla hopes that the expo turns into an annual event that “involves the other Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods.”
DEDICATED TO COMMUNITY
This event is sponsored by Grandmont’s Youth and Education Program, of which Carla is a member. With this group, Carla has also donated hats, gloves, and even uniform pants to students in need at Edison Elementary, the Detroit Public School in Grandmont. Carla has also planted flowers with the Garden Club, cleaned up Ramsay Park, and volunteered as a tutor at Chaney Library. Carla works at Michigan Rehabilitation Services, equipping people with special needs with vocational skills and then helping them find employment. Before that, Carla was a special education teacher at Redford High School, where she often came in early and stayed late to be sure her students had the attention they needed. Carla even coached the cheerleading team at Redford without knowing a thing about cheerleading, “but I studied it, found that I enjoyed it, and then got really excited to do it.” Clearly, meeting the needs of her community, no matter who that community is, has been a part of Carla’s life all her life. “I’m just being me. I just know I’m supposed to help,” she says. Her dedication to her community inspired her husband to coach softball for years.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
Carla has lived in Grandmont for 15 years and loves the community. She loves “how quiet it is, how peaceful,” but sometimes that calm worries her that the kids are not outside playing or getting involved in the community, and so her idea for an expo dedicated to the young people of Grandmont Rosedale was born. One day, with the help of all five Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods, Carla hopes to establish a neighborhood place “maybe along Grand River, along the bus route,” where kids could come after school for tutoring, mentoring, even therapy. “It would be for everybody,” she says. For now though, she’s pretty busy with the Youth Expo. Her ideas for a permanent space for young people in the community will have to wait. Patience is another one of Carla’s gifts. “I’ll keep trying,” she promises. She knows that it’s important to “show the kids just how big the world is and how many opportunities there are out there for them.”
If you’d like to donate to or volunteer at the Youth Expo, contact Carla at 313.220.8530 or Carla515@hotmail.com.