“She came ready to get to work, with her cordless drill in one hand and a box of screws in the other.”

Vacant and blighted property in Detroit threatens neighborhood health and stability, but also offers the prospect of civic engagement.

The Grandmont Rosedale Vacant Property Task Force is a notable example of residents who are organizing and acting on behalf of the community to combat blight and vacancy. The Task Force, which is composed of exceptionally dedicated resident volunteers from Rosedale Park, North Rosedale Park, Grandmont, Grandmont #1, and Minock Park, meets regularly throughout the year and tackles some of Grandmont Rosedale’s most important needs: foreclosure prevention, education and outreach, deed fraud investigation, community based code-enforcement, demolition advocacy, vacant property maintenance, and vacant lot reuse strategies.

Vacant Property Task Force Holiday Wreath Fundraiser.

As a major fundraiser to continue their indispensable work in the community, the Vacant Property Task Force is selling pre-order wreaths from Korson’s Farms, a family-owned, award-winning and certified tree nursery in Michigan. There are two wreath options available: a 20” plain Fraser Fir wreath with a bow ($20); and a 20” decorated Fraser Fir wreath with holly berries, pine cones, and a bow (only $25!).

You may fill out and drop off your order sheet and cash, check, or card payment at GRDC offices (19800 Grand River Aveune), or contact your vacant property task force representative. Wreath(s) will be available for pickup on Small Business Saturday, November 26th, from 11am-5pm at the lot next to Universal Liquor (19526 Grand River).

Because of all the work we contribute together as the Grandmont Rosedale community, we are seeing the amazing revitalization and redevelopment of our properties. Please help keep the momentum going and, hey, might as well get a little festive with a holiday wreath while you are at it!

Making a Difference

The task force’s organizational power has had real and measurable impacts. Although every Grandmont Rosedale resident has driven past a vacant property or a code violation, not every neighbor is aware of who is behind the scenes, taking matters into their own hands, trimming those overgrown lawns, boarding up open houses, communicating with city officials, and advocating for the demolition of eye sores that you have to see every day.

The scope of their work is not circumscribed by the task force’s official schedule, nor is it confined to the contribution of task force members alone. The group’s operation galvanizes fellow neighbors, bridges resources, and even commits time to impromptu labor. Pam Weinstein, a task force member, recalls a favorite memory, which involved members Jill Laufer, Nancy Bitzarakis, and a surprise helper.

“Nancy, Jill, and I were driving around the neighborhood, going from here to there, when we noticed a vacant house on Warwick that had been boarded up; but somehow the board over the front door had been taken off. The discarded board was lying in the shrubs by the front porch.”

As if by instinct, they pulled into the driveway, retrieved the board, and attempted to lock it back into place. But it wouldn’t fit in its spot properly.

After a moment of struggling with the board, a car suddenly pulled into the driveway and redirected their attention. A woman, whom the three had never met, exited the vehicle with an alacritous leap and joined the team at the front door. “She came ready to get to work, with her cordless drill in one hand and a box of screws in the other.”

The woman had been driving past the property and noticed a potential need for help, so she quickly went home, grabbed her tools, and returned to help finish the task.

Her quick interpretation of the scene reflects a pervasive understanding that property issues affect all residents in a given area; and her adroit response demonstrates the power of sharing time and assets to positively impact the community. Whether you have seen blight and property neglect, experienced foreclosure, or witnessed crime, you have a way to make positive progress. Like the helpful neighbor above you, too, can help improve the place we all call home – and a perfect opportunity for you to do that RIGHT NOW is to place your order for a Holiday Wreath today.

Download the Vacant Property Wreath Fundraiser Form HERE! Or stop into the office to pick one up!

Photo courtesy of Pam Weinstein