Welcome to Local Heroes, our new series featuring Detroiters working during the COVID-19 pandemic to take care of one another. We hope you’ll check in to meet and support these men and women who are truly making a difference and restoring our faith in humanity.

Renee Jefferson, a former pianist with Julie Verriest at the Brown Program pre COVID-19

During quarantine, Julie Verriest, Manager of Senior Adult Services at JVS Human Services and Jewish Senior Life brings joy to the lives of those living with dementia.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, confining seniors to their homes, Julie shifted the in-person program online. It was imperative this vulnerable group with dementia who regularly attend the activities, music, companionship, and physical exercise that the Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program provides could still connect virtually.

Attendees of the Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program at JVS Human Services and Jewish Senior Life

“Connection is what is keeping all of us afloat during this time, and it is so important for this population to maintain their connections and routine and have a positive structure to their day.” 

To see Julie in action, check out the Brown’s Program’s Facebook page.  For more information on the Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program click here. Donations may be made through the JVS Human Services and Jewish Senior Life donation page here

Carl Skanderup and Greetings for Good designs

Cindy and Carl Skanderup are the creative directors and co-founders behind Bliss & Bone, a design agency that creates custom wedding invitations and websites, and branding and web design for fashion, lifestyle brands, and individuals. 

When the pandemic hit, Cindy and Carl wanted to find a way to give back. It seemed natural to launch Greetings for Good, a digital greeting card platform that allows a sender to connect and spread love during this difficult and isolating time.

“When everything shifted and events were no longer happening, we wanted to pave a way for people to connect and celebrate the good things in life, no matter how big or small. It’s a bonus that we can raise money to help healthcare workers at the same time!”

Send a free card or make a donation and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to DIRECT RELIEF, which provides personal protective equipment and essential medical items to health workers globally.

Godwin Ihentuge

Godwin Ihentuge the Owner and Chef at YumVillage is on a mission to keep his business operating, pay employees, and feed those in need during the pandemic. 

“We wanted to be able to help an at-risk group and monetarily help keep local Detroit businesses operating through COVID-19 all at the same time: this does both.”

Godwin and a few friends launched the Pay it Forward: Power a Business & Feed the Homeless campaign to raise money to pay Detroit minority-owned restaurants to feed homeless and high-need residents associated with the Neighborhood Service Organization and Alternatives for Girls. To-date, the campaign has raised over $50,000 from 500+ donors and is powering restaurants across the city feed those in need seven days a week.

Godwin Ihentuge

“People are ordering take-out, tipping, and contributing to efforts like this, all helping me, and other local businesses keep our doors open.”

Click here to support the crowdfunding campaign.