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.

The Joseph Project

As society grapples with COVID-19, Nate Knapper, Founder and CEO of The Joseph Project continues to serve the legal needs of human trafficking survivors.   

“Legal needs don’t disappear with the onset of a pandemic.  We’re committed to leveraging every resource to address these needs and confront the vulnerabilities that create them.”

Even in the midst of crisis, arrest warrants are being recalled, charges are being dismissed, and fines are being waived so survivors like Mary and D’Lynn can move on with their lives.

D’Lynn, Mary, and Nate Knapper

“Victimization occurs where vulnerability exists.  When you support organizations that address addiction, hunger, homelessness, and legal disparity, you help eliminate the exigencies that lead to exploitation.”

Click here to support The Joseph Project

Keyon Clinton

Keyon Clinton is an Execution Coach determined to help Detroiters make a change.

With Michigan leading the country in obesity rates and also one of the states hardest hit by COVID-19, Keyon Clinton created the 1% Better Nation, a virtual gym that is dedicated to helping people get physically fit, stay active, and boost their immune system during the pandemic. 

“During this challenging time, I felt like it was my calling to help people get into a better space both physically and mentally.”

Keyon hosts a free live workout every Monday through Saturday from 11am to 12pm via Instagram live. Tune in @keyonclinton.

Keyon Clinton, 1% Better Nation

“I am grateful to do my part and lead people to better health and better lives.”

Click here to join the 1% Better Nation. 

Elisa Malile, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Mike Duggan

In March 2020, in response to Detroit emerging as a hotspot for coronavirus, Elisa Malile, the Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Mike Duggan joined the City’s COVID Task Force, charged with launching a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site to divert traffic from hospitals and screen thousands of the region’s high-risk patients.

“We had studied drive-through testing sites across the country and knew we had to overcome stress points. How do we identify an all-weather location, eliminate long lines and inefficient processes while ensuring a smooth appointment process, enough testing equipment, lab resources, and PPE for medical staff and volunteers?” 

Drive-Thru Testing Site at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse at the State Fairgrounds

After consulting with the General Services Department, Detroit Public Works, Office of Mobility and Detroit Police in a matter of days, the wooden canopy at Joe Dumars Field House at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds location was identified and transformed to an operational testing site reserved for people who were experiencing symptoms. 

Concurrently, Quicken Loans and Rock Connections were enlisted to staff a call center to schedule drive-thru appointments and the task force on-site positioned hundreds of Detroit residents, trip-county residents, critical workers that needed to go back to work to safely test 700-1,200 patients a day while they remain inside their vehicles.

Elisa Malile, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Mike Duggan

“What’s been so amazing is to see people bond together. COVID-19 has affected everyone across the board. We’ve seen so many people come through the testing site and ultimately it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of car you drive – it proves we’re all in this together.”

Click here for more information on the drive-thru testing site at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse at the State Fairgrounds.