Solutions for Detroit (to start the day)

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Anytime a thousand Detroiters get in a room, there’s the hope for good energy.

This morning, it was great.

Gathering for the annual “Solutions At Sunrise” fundraising

breakfast for Southwest Solutions at the Masonic Temple, Mayor Dave Bing¸Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, State Rep. Rashida Talib (D-Detroit) and about 997 students, administrators from nonprofit groups, private business do-gooders and others learned about the work the southwest Detroit company is doing.

A tear-jerking video highlighted three of Southwest Solution’s programs: the veterans’ support effort at Piquette Square that opened last summer; Detroit GreenWorks Solutions, a workforce development program that focuses on “green” jobs; and a family literacy program that works with children, their parents and caregivers to get entire families more involved and invested in education for all members.

Lizette Brandt spoke about what it’s been like to be a part of the literacy effort. The 30-year-old mother of four said she had never addressed a crowd nearly that size and she was nervous. But in a speech interrupted by applause, she talked about how she’s learned the value of education.

“I tell my kids I feel very stupid for dropping out of school,” she said. “I joined this program because I don’t want this to happen to my kids.”

At Southwest Solutions, she spends about an hour at midday in one of her children’s classrooms. “I see what she’s doing in class and I am not going to confuse her at home with her homework,” Brandt said.

Then she spends the afternoon developing her own skills including English language and parenting. It’s made a difference, she says. She was struggling to promote better behavior from her son, who she describes as “very active.” A counselor suggested giving him an index card. His teacher writes how he acted each day, and he takes it home to his mother.

“He knows he’s going to bring me the card every day and then he knows he’ll get in trouble with me if he wasn’t good,” she says. Now I know how to better deal with my son and not get frustrated right away.”

The event was expected to raise up to $500,000 for the organization and also recruited new volunteers, said organizer Mary Madigan.


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