Travel Log: Detroit and Cleveland

Sister Linda Werthman, RSM
October 20, 2018

We woke up at St. Theresa’s convent where five Passionist Sisters serving the Hispanic people of Lansing had welcomed us to stay the night. Our first destination for the day was Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.

The visit was all that we could have hoped for and more. 24 years ago Rev. Faith Fowler and the Cass Community Methodist Church began what has become an amazing array of services to people who are experiencing homelessness. Now, Cass Community Social Services provides services that allow persons to have access to food, recovery, physical and mental health, employment, recycling and even homes in the form of tiny houses! Rev. Fowler stressed that tiny houses are a tool, a tool to provide persons who are “renters then owners” with dignity, economic mobility, sustainable energy, and community.We were privileged to tour and speak with residents who beamed with pride in their homes and the support they give and receive to their neighbors. We left Detroit for Cleveland enlivened and filled with hope on seeing how a vision of home ownership and economic mobility can be a sustainable reality.

In Cleveland we visited Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) where Drew Genszler and the staff of LMM opened our eyes and our hearts to how their services impact people who are homeless, youth at risk; older adults who are vulnerable, people impacted by the criminal justice system and individuals with behavioral health needs. LMM’s unwavering commitment to helping people as they journey towards self-sufficiency was so movingly witnessed by five women in their “Chopping for Change” program. These women shared their stories as well as serving food they had cooked with their newly acquired culinary skills. This innovative re-entry partnership between LMM, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry provide pre-release workforce training and behavioral health services for people who are in the criminal justice system. Since beginning in 2016, 40 women have been released from prison and gained employment through this program.And there has been 0% recidivism!

The women’s stories so powerfully demonstrated that life is about change and, when given the tools, they embraced a second chance. While nationally the recidivism rate is 49.5% in Ohio, because of the policies they’ve put in place, it is 27.5%! Hurrah for such creative private/public partnerships. LMM’s programs are indeed responsible programs that maximize the federal, state, and county revenues raised through taxation. May Chopping for Change not be on the chopping block to pay for the 2017 tax law. What an end to this the second leg for the Nuns on the Bus Tax Justice Truth Tour.

View more photos from this event: Detroit and Cleveland here.

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