Livernois Corridor SOUP Winner – June 2013

When Gaston Nash moved to the Livernois area back in 2011, he had no idea there was a community center right there in his own neighborhood. He first heard about Maggie Lee’s Community Center last year when a group of University of Detroit Mercy students approached him about a project they were doing about the area. They told Nash about the community center and how it provided an avenue for youth to participate in various activities.

Nash checked out the space and upon learning the owner’s story he was immediately inspired to help the facility move forward in its mission to serve the community.

“Anybody who sees the building, they end up wanting to help out and anybody who talks to Maggie and hears the story ends up wanting to help out,” says Nash.

Located on Puritan Street in Detroit, right between Livernois and Wyoming, Maggie Lee’s Community Center was founded in 2009 by community activist Maggie Williams-Hinton. The building where the center is housed was previously the Detroit Teacher’s Credit Union and the Michigan First Credit Union. When the business moved out of the building, they planned to offer it to the community and of the six bids that were put in to purchase the property, Hinton won and put her life savings toward her dream of creating an educational facility for children and seniors to enjoy.

The center houses a multitude of resources including a Head Start program, youth classes, karate classes, and it is also a meeting place where community members can hold events.

Since its opening, the center has struggled to obtain funding to keep the programs afloat. Nash, who is a board member of the community center, has been actively involved in aiding the center to build a solid foundation.

When he heard that Hinton needed a sign for the building, he decided to apply to present at Detroit SOUP.

The Livernois Corridor neighborhood is a part of Detroit SOUP’s neighborhood initiative and the community center was among the three contestants that pitched ideas for the micro-grant competition.

Maggie Lee’s Community Center was the first Livernois Corridor SOUP winner in June 2013, and the win was a complete surprise to Hinton, who didn’t know that Nash has applied for the grant.

The winning project was titled “Help People See Maggie Lee’s” and she was presented with a check for $947, which went towards getting a sign created to put on the building.

After winning the grant, Nash invited future Livernois Corridor SOUP events to be held at the community center.

He also says that Livernois Corridor SOUP has definitely brought more attention to the community center.

“The sign we were able to purchase with the SOUP funds has definitely given us more visibility.  We were able to get the word out to other community members who didn’t know about the center during the first Livernois Corridor SOUP event,” says Nash.

As one of the winners, the community center was also able to compete at a citywide Detroit SOUP event to try and obtain even more funding.

Since winning the grant, Nash says the board members have been working to create more opportunities for the center where youth can be engaged. Those resources include mentoring and job training programs.

“Our main goal is to give the community a place where they can come and feel welcome,” says Nash. “There is a not a lot for children to do, so that’s been our focus, to find things for kids to do and be interested in, and that helps the city and helps this area.”

For more information about Maggie Lee’s, call 313-397-3539.

– Veronica Grandison