Volunteers needed to clean up Detroit schools and neighborhoods Aug. 6

Shawntay Lewis
The Detroit News

Volunteers are needed to support school beautification efforts at Detroit Public Schools and at community empowerment events for this year's Neighborhoods Day on Aug. 6.

Established in 2007, the goal of Neighborhoods Day is to improve Detroit neighborhoods and shed light on volunteers, community groups, and other organizations that work year round.

"We felt that it was a day that we needed to remind people that the heart of Detroit beats in the neighborhood," said Luther Keith, executive director of Activating Resources and Inspiring Service and Empowerment (ARISE) Detroit. "That's what Neighborhoods Day is all about." 

ARISE Detroit, a nonprofit for community activism and involvement, is partnering this year with the school system to honor the day through the beautification of school buildings and hundreds of neighborhood events. 

The partnership is looking for volunteers to prepare school buildings for back-to-school on Aug. 6, the 16th annual Neighborhoods Day.

"What's more important than getting the schools ready for our kids? The kids are our future," Keith said. "Our hope is that as many people as possible step up and want to be engaged."

Volunteers for school beautification efforts will paint fences, plant flowers, wash windows, clean outside areas, among other tasks to clean up school buildings. 

School district Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said efforts will be made in part to improve the communities they serve.

"To rebuild Detroit communities, we need to continue rebuilding the traditional public school district and its schools. Everyone can play a role in that effort on August 6th by ensuring that our schools are welcoming to families, students, and staff for the first day of school," Vitti said in a statement.

Potential volunteers or community groups that are interested in school beautification efforts can contact ARISE Detroit to be assigned to a school building. The Back to School EXPO is also on the same day, encouraging families to enroll for the school year and pick up school supplies at community schools. 

With beautification efforts planned for the 106 school buildings in the district, hundreds of events will also be held across Detroit, from Belle Isle to Eight Mile the same day. Some events are still in need of volunteers.

Keith said there will be events organized by community members in virtually every neighborhood in the city. Events include health fairs, school and food supply giveaways, beautification projects, art fairs and block parties for families.

He said he plans on the day of events to bring change to Detroit neighborhoods.

"I like to say that Neighborhoods Day is a day that literally changes Detroit. . .because if I beautify the neighborhood, give somebody some food, or help someone get their health checked out, these are tangible real things that change," Keith said.

ARISE Detroit is encouraging all volunteers for Neighborhoods Day projects to be vaccinated or wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

The list of Neighborhoods Day events can be found on the ARISE Detroit website.