Society: NSO celebrates 60 years of serving Detroit

Chuck Bennett
WWJ’s Vickie Thomas, left, NSO board chair Ray Johnson and WDIV’s Rhonda Walker.

Neighborhood Service Organization celebrated its Diamond (60th) Anniversary on Saturday with a heartwarming fundraising gala, “60 Years of Building Brighter, Stronger Futures.” Held in the grand ballroom at Motor City Casino Sound Board, the room was smartly decorated with shimmery linens, antique candelabras and elevated crystal ball centerpieces.

Nearly 600 guests came out for the event, enjoying a lavish duo entree dinner (petite filet and herb-baked salmon), cash bar and a silent auction. WDIV’s Rhonda Walker was mistress of ceremonies, and DJ Fingers provided old-school recorded music during dinner that had many guests singing and dancing in their seats.

As part of the evening, NSO honored seven individuals and organizations who have shown tremendous support during the years: WWJ Newsradio/950 reporter Vickie Thomas; Laura Trudeau from the Kresge Foundation; Southwest Solutions; the City of Detroit; the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority; Dr. Kathiravelu Thabolingam, an psychiatrist and former NSO medical director; and Ray C. Johnson, NSO board chair. A special tribute, the President’s Award, was bestowed upon former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who attended with his wife, Yvette.

NSO was founded as a nonprofit, multiservice agency in 1955 in response to the needs of low-income families and communities in Detroit. Today NSO is changing lives of the homeless, older adults with mental illness, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, individuals in crisis, low-income youth and other vulnerable citizens with innovative human services.

NSO President/CEO Sheilah Clay, left, with husband Harold Clay.

“After 60 years, we are still working to meet the unmet needs of low-income families,” said Sheilah P. Clay, NSO president and CEO. “This celebration is our way of honoring everyone — past and present — who has been touched by our organization and given their time and service to help enrich the vulnerable citizens of Detroit and its surrounding communities.”

After dinner and the awards presentation, guests were directed across the hall to the Sound Board for desserts and dancing to the music of the 313 Band. Tickets to the gala were $100 per person, with proceeds providing support for NSO program services and consumer needs.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of the Social Metro. Visit