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Detroit councilwoman kicks off 'Let Your Light Shine' tour of shelters

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

A Detroit City Council member said she will visit three shelters this week to remember marginalized people amid the pandemic.

The kickoff for Let Your Light Shine Empowerment Tour begins Thursday and continues Friday. It's designed to empower and bring hope to Detroit’s vulnerable people, including those battling addiction, who have fled domestic abuse and have behavioral or mental health issues, said Detroit City Council Pro Tem Mary Sheffield, who is spearheading the visits.  

Mary Sheffield, Detroit City Council Pro Tem.

Sheffield said she will stop by the Mariners Inn at 445 Ledyard, Alternatives for Girlsat 903 W. Grand Boulevard and Covenant House on 2959 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on Thursday to discuss challenges women and men face in becoming empowered and developing leadership skills.

On Friday, she will head to the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter and women's ward of the Wayne County Jail to tell them that their lives  "have purpose no matter where life has landed them." 

At the Mariners Inn, a substance abuse treatment center for men, officials there said the coronavirus has worsened conditions for those already challenged.

“We tend to forget that while we may not all face the same challenges, the reality is we all experience them and the most forgotten group of men, women and children are the incarcerated and the ones living in homes for substance abuse and mentally challenged and those in domestic violence and homeless shelters," Sheffield said.

The YWCA domestic violence shelter leader said they welcome the visit.

“Many of the women who come into the domestic violence program suffer from a multitude of issues and concerns that have contributed to their mental health” said program manager Sandra Jones-Kariem in an email.

“They are experiencing depression, mental confusion, emotional turmoil, financial despair ... and many of the women have little or no family support, friend interaction and extended families because of the isolation and alienation.”

Sheffield cited her own recent challenges in trying to live up to the expectations of a leader on the council and for the city.

“I struggled with having a sense of purpose and worth due to the ongoing battle I had with trying to live up to this perfect image of leadership, and I was in a dark, dark place,” Sheffield said.

Alfonso Andrews, a patient at Mariners Inn for addiction to cocaine, said he is looking forward to meeting with the councilwoman and said it was important for the city's leaders to visit the shelter and acknowledge those who are struggling.

“My addiction got worse after the pandemic," said Andrews, 54. "I am honored, though, in having the privilege to have the councilwoman come in and talk with me and to ask me questions about my life, and my trials and tribulations and what I've been through."