Rebuilding effort to shift focus to Detroit’s east side

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A $5 million community rebuilding effort that attracted more than 10,000 volunteers to renovate Cody High School and beautify 300 surrounding blocks is moving its focus to Detroit’s east side and around Osborn High School this summer.

Life Remodeled, a nonprofit that spearheaded the transformation effort, has received several grants to cover administrative costs including salaries for three full-time and three contracted part-time employees for the new project, Life Remodeled CEO Chris Lambert said.

The grants include $200,000 from the Skillman Foundation, $100,000 a year for three years from the Lloyd & Mabel Johnson Foundation and $75,000 from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“We were so impressed and encouraged by the impact Life Remodeled was able to have in Cody-Rouge,” Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation president and CEO, said. “We’re excited to see the work continue in Cody and also spread to the Osborn neighborhood, where we know they will do great things in 2015.”

Last August, thousands of Life Remodeled volunteers from businesses, the Detroit Public Schools, community organizations in Cody-Rouge and volunteers from dozens of area churches completed several major renovation projects at Cody High and beautified two middle schools.

In Cody-Rouge, three burned-out houses were torn down, 254 vacant homes were boarded up, 25 homes were renovated and 303 blocks were cleared of debris. In-kind and cash donations of more than $5 million made the work possible.

This summer, from Aug. 3-9, Life Remodeled will take on several large projects including a new roof at Osborn High School on Detroit’s east side. Plans call for 12,000 volunteers to board up 300 vacant houses and remodel 21 homes while 20 uninhabitable houses are demolished.

“We are pleased to support the effective work being done by thousands of volunteers and resident to improve life in Detroit neighborhoods with help from Life Remodeled,” Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, said.

Life Remodeled, which started in 2011 with volunteers building a house from the ground up in one week and beautifying a few blocks in Westland, is holding its annual $1,000-per person fundraising gala on March 3 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth to raise money for the effort.

“These grants have made it so that every dollar raised that evening will go directly to the Osborn Project,” Lambert said.