Volunteers clean up discarded tires in Detroit while homeless and disabled turn them into mats

Workers and volunteers were hard at work turning old tires into mud mats at Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.

Between 30 to 40 volunteers from AT&T pulled tires from behind a building where they were been dumped illegally.

"Well we see Detroit turning around and we want to be part of the process and part of it is cleaning up the city and caring about the city so we want to be right there with it," said George Mrla, AT&T director of network services

It's all part of the company's Believe Detroit initiative and volunteering with Cass means taking tires back to the warehouse where the homeless and developmentally disabled are working, getting a paycheck by turning those discarded tires into something useful.

"I love my job. I love what I do. I really like it," said Brandon Carmichael, who is supervising mat making.

Carmichael teaches people how to make the mats.

"Now that I have the opportunity to work, I have never stopped. I've been coming here everyday working, so that is amazing," he said. 

Putting people to work is just part of the goal here. Cass has been turning tires into mud mats since 2007. It's the brainchild of Reverend Faith Fowler.

"It's a good sturdy product. It will last for a while. We say it will be good for a 100,000 miles," she said.

It's all part of the vocational program, helping the planet by keeping those tires out of the landfill and employing people like Carmichael.

"I like to say they're at the forefront of the green revolution - that they're the leaders and I think they like it when I say that," said Fowler.

It's really a win all around. They're cleaning up these tires, people are being put to work making mats and the building is going to be redeveloped as well as a gym for kids in the community. 

And it sure is a lot easier to do when a bunch of volunteers pitch in to help.

"They're slopping tires, drenched in water and mud and said, 'Can I go out again this afternoon?' How do we clone them?" said Fowler.

"It's just a great cycle. We're able to clean the community up, create an opportunity for those to be employed and actually have an end product that everybody can be proud of and enjoy," said David Lewis, president of AT&T Michigan.

It's one Carmichael and his co-workers invite everybody to be a part of, encouraging more volunteers to get involved.

"We have a good time here. I have the pleasure of working with everybody," he said.