Letter: Finding a sense of purpose in the city

I moved a lot when I was younger, but built a life in Michigan.

I left the country almost immediately after graduating from the University of Michigan for Lima, Peru, where I worked for a developmental nonprofit. Even though I loved living in South America, it took me moving halfway across the world to realize home was right where I left it, in Michigan.

I came across Challenge Detroit, which is a nonprofit that aims to attract and retain tomorrow’s leaders and innovative thinkers to the City of Detroit to live, work, play, lead and give.

When I moved back to Detroit, I entered a new phase of my life: adulthood. I live on my own, pay my own bills, work 40 hours a week (sometimes even more), and I experience all the wonders that Detroit has to offer. Being a part of Challenge Detroit has opened the door to many opportunities within the city. I’ve met change-makers, connected with other nonprofits for meaningful volunteer work, experienced exclusive art exhibits, and established relationships with mentors and personal advocates. It’s helped me establish myself as a young professional within the city, but also as a valued and concerned community member.

Challenge Detroit has given me a whole new perspective. Not only are the Fellows from diverse backgrounds and educational experiences, but the people we interact with every week have varied areas of specialties and a multitude of perspectives. Being a Fellow has made me privy to the many conversations happening surrounding the city’s development and the challenges and controversies that go along with that development.

At the end of August, the Fellowship will end and I will leave Challenge Detroit with not only a greater professional experience, but with the knowledge and skills to continue to contribute to the City of Detroit as an engaged citizen. I will continue on in the mission of living, working, playing, giving and leading in Detroit because I finally feel at home in Michigan.

Clare Lilek, Oakland County fellow

Challenge Detroit