At the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit, we learned from experts in CSR, volunteer engagement, technology and program administration. In this series of blog posts, we’ll share with you the valuable insights offered at each session. Today’s special post highlights the tour we took of Detroit and why the city proved to be a great choice of location.
“Why did you pick Detroit for this year’s Client Summit?”
This was the question posed to me many times during the Wednesday night reception at this year’s VolunteerMatch Client Summit. And it’s a good question. Detroit isn’t your typical conference destination anymore, but it is rooted deep in America’s history. In response to the question, I shared the goal of our destination choice: To draw attention to a city on the rebound and show the importance of communities and companies working together for local benefit.
More than just explain this, we wanted our clients to see it firsthand. So, we loaded up a bus on Thursday morning for a city tour put together by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan. As we drove through the different neighborhoods, it became clear that Detroit is not as vibrant as it once was. Yet, signs of rebirth were everywhere! We saw and heard about a thriving artist community taking hold in various neighborhoods. There are new industries and a growing foodie scene. Investors such as Dan Gilbert are putting their money and resources toward rebuilding the city’s business district.
The story of the old Detroit Tigers baseball stadium was my favorite from the tour. Our guide explained that for years after the stadium was torn down, the city didn’t have the money to maintain the open space. It was destined to become yet another area of blight in the city. So, residents took matters into their own hands. Every week, they would mow the lawn and maintain a field. Today it’s a baseball field open to the public.
Inspiring stories like this are common in Detroit. Detroit is certainly filled with challenges and uncertainty, but the people are committed to a common goal of restoring it to a prominent and thriving U.S. city. We finished our tour at a local school that equips Detroit’s youth with the skills they need to create a thriving future. With their impressive dedication, it won’t be long until the people of Detroit have achieved their goal.