SW Detroit church, school could close after thieves break in

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Thieves target a Detroit church which also serves as a school - now, the building could be forced to closed.

At the Saint Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral in southwest Detroit, there is cooking in the community center, teaching in the Head Start and preaching in the church.

They are meeting many needs in this economically challenged neighborhood.

"We're committed to this neighborhood, we're not moving to the 'burbs," said Janet Damian, coordinator, Outreach Academy. "We want to stay in this neighborhood and serve the people in this neighborhood."

Which Damian and others have been doing for years - but their plans were interrupted in October when their 10 air conditioning units were the target of copper thieves.

"A well-oiled machine of thieves who hopped out of a van, got up on the roof, broke into the air conditioning units - stole all the copper and the Freon and left within five minutes," Damian said.

Quick and dirty leaving behind a monstrous bill for an already struggling parish.

"We didn't realize how vulnerable we were until this happened," said Father Paul Albert.

"You just did $55,000 worth of damage for what - $100 dollars’ worth of copper," Damian said. "You know - it's just very sad."

Sadder still what could happen next.

Desk seats with the names Angel, Darren and Alejandra from this Head Start. If the air-conditioning is not fixed by May, they won't have anywhere to go.

"We may be out of business," Damian said. "We may not have a church here anymore - and we definitely will not have a Head Start here anymore."

This Head Start program run by Matrix Human Services, serves 60 children, is bilingual and it's the only Head Start in this zip code.

At the community center, the homeless and others are helped each week.

"We've got about 120 neighbors that walk to our community center on Sundays for our soup kitchen," Damian said. "We have a small food bank, we have a small clothing bank and we have an organized children's activity over there."

All of it now is in jeopardy. Insurance will replace the air conditioning units but to upgrade the security with cameras and lighting that's going to cost another $16,000.

"We need to raise some money to make this happen, to get this repair done by May," Damian said.

They have set up a GoFundMe to get this done to keep these amazing programs going - to continue to serve this community.

"There's a lot riding on this," said Father Paul Albert. "We take care of one thing and try to be smart about it and faithful to our mission here. And we are faithful that God will provide what is needed."

To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/matrix-head-start-ac-recovery