There was a True Value hardware store on Gratiot near E. Outer Drive.  The Hardware store was vacant for over 12 years and it was not only an eyesore, but it was a hot spot for crime and illegal activity.  The men and women of Redeem Detroit volunteered to clean the place up, paint it, and remove the graffiti.  After this, our board members raised the money needed to buy some materials for rehabilitation. Ten men who were returning citizens started their hands on training in our VIP program.  They learned basic welding and they welded metal steps to replace those that were missing.  They learned how to frame a wall, drywall, and paint, and with those skills, they created an office.  They learned brick masonry and they repaired and secured the missing doorway.  They learned about flat roofs, how to install a drain pipe, and a number of other skills.  As they were learning, the instructors and the students began having conversations about manhood and staying out of trouble.  Relationships were formed and mentorship began to take place.  It was more than a program now, it was a family. The participants were able to put their training experience on their resumes and they were able to get other jobs and resources because of the program.  For community service, we cleaned up Burns Park for the children to play and to eliminate an overgrown eyesore in the community.  With the help of Redeem Detroit, 100% of the participants stayed out of prison: 60% are working at jobs and the other 40% are working for themselves.  One of our participants even started his own T-shirt business, went back to school, and he’s working a full time job!

We have renamed the building the Eastern District Development Center.  Right now there is no illegal activity around the building and the neighbors love us for it.  We are using the first floor of the building to help train high school dropouts, 16-19 years old, automotive technology.  We are also mentoring them and encouraging them to go back to school or get their GEDs.  We teach them math skills, responsibility, employment skills, and other social skills.  We are in the process of creating a factory that will give jobs to those who come through our VIP Program.