Youth mentor tries to rehab Detroit houses into place for kids to go

Denise Lomax calls herself Lady Grateful. Grateful she says, to be able to help kids in our community who have fallen through the cracks.

It started a few years ago when she found about 15 kids living in an abandoned house on Indiana Street in Detroit.

"This is the first house we started to board up," she said. "When we got here, (there were) no windows, no doors. But they were sleeping on dirty clothes, dirty carpet.
"That left a whole in my heart - and I knew I had to do something. That's how the safe haven was born."

Lomax is now taking on a massive mission. The District 7 community leader and youth mentor says she's purchased a total of five dilapidated homes on Indiana Street to create a safe loving place for kids to go.

With the help of volunteers and kids, they have started clearing out the structures - but more work clearly needs to be done. Her nonprofit Diamondz House of Care is collecting donations and asking people to help them transform each house.

Plans are in the works for an academic game house, a talent house, coffee house and resource center and daycare for children who have nowhere to go.

Kyra Carrol is an Eastern Michigan University student heard what Lomax was doing and wanted to be involved.

"As a kid I never had anybody come to me as a mentor and I think the opportunity to be that for someone is awesome," Carrol said. "I truly believe in her vision; I am all for it."

"This is going to be kitchen area, the juice bar because we want to teach kids about being healthy," Lomax said.

Lomax says some organizations have committed to helping to fund this project and she has used a lot of her own money to hire neighborhood kids to help renovate these houses.

"They have to know they are appreciated for what they do," she said. "They have to know that this block is not just a place where you’re going to come and have fun, you are going to learn to build."

But now Lady Grateful is looking beyond helping hands. She knows she has a long way to go - but is hopeful with the help of her caring community and some generous contractors - Diamondz House of Care will continue to grow and one day her dream of developing this block will soon become a reality.

"If I can just get one person or one million people to donate $1 on Indiana Street," she said. "We would love it."