DETROIT. - “I saw it last year, and I said I want to be a part of it this year,” said volunteer Ronald Merritt.
Merritt is one of 2,000 volunteers from across Metro Detroit on a mission to clean up and remove blight from a west side neighborhood, through Life Remodeled’s six day project.
“I instantly jumped on board to make a difference in my community,” Merritt said.
Many of the volunteers are from corporate America, like Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, but Merritt said he wants to motivate change in his own community.
“You’re only as strong as your community,” Merritt said.
“We’ve got volunteers with lawn mowers, weed removers, heavy machinery, removing debris and putting it in dumpsters where it belongs,” said Chris Lambert with Life Remodeled.
The blight removal project kicked off Monday and will continue for 6 days.
In previous years, nearly 10,000 volunteers were on board, but with COVID-19 restrictions, that number was cut down to 2,000.
But the creator of the project was determined to keep his mission moving and he realized the pandemic took away necessary funding from the city’s budget to remove blight.
“So, the work of volunteers is really important to continue moving Detroit, safe, inspiring and beautiful,” Lambert said.
Removing blight is not just a beautification project.
“So by lowering blight, we actually are reducing crime by a 40% reduction in homicides,” Lambert said.
In fact, volunteers are working on a playground for kids to go out and enjoy, because as crime and blight disappear, residents can reclaim their neighborhood.