Detroit family’s tough year gets a little joy

Leonard N. Fleming

It didn’t seem like it was going to be a fruitful Christmas for Willie Henry’s family. His wife died last spring and losing his job as a janitor made it impossible to buy presents for his three children.


But a late-morning door knock on the east side Detroit home Saturday Revealed a blessing only the holidays can bring: bags stuffed full of an assortment of presents and fresh paintings that excited the family that is facing hard times.

Painting with a Twist Detroit teamed with the Neighborhood Services Organization’s YouthLink to provide the gifts to the Henry family and the reaction was joyful.

“I want that one,” said Geneva Henry, 13, pointing to one of several paintings presented to the family.

“Well, you get to have them all,” responded Michelle Lewis, the Detroit franchise partner and owner of Painting with a Twist.

The Henry family was brought the gifts by Lewis and her sister Donna, who are partners in the painting franchise, which has donated gifts to a needy family for the second year in a row for Christmas. The family was chosen by the Neighborhood Services Organization based on Henry’s troubled year and obvious needs.

Henry had asked for coasts, blankets and boots for his family but organizers wanted to do much more, providing a football, soccer ball, food, a DVD player and an assortment of games. The family also received several paintings designed in the Detroit studio of Painting with a Twist Detroit.

“We went out and got a list from the family on things that they wanted for Christmas and we added to it,” said Michelle Lewis. “And we were able to give them today just out of our hearts. We love to give back. So it’s just something from our hearts to a family.”

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