Sunday, May 10, 2015


It seems like just a couple days ago I was picking out what I wanted to pursue for my 20 Time Project.  This was surprisingly very difficult for me because never in my education experience had I been given the opportunity to do what legitimately whatever I wanted.  The thought of this project lasting a whole year and dedicating part of my life to it was somewhat overwhelming.  I didn't even know where to start! Mr. Provenzano just kept telling us to do whatever we are passionate about, and that's what I did.  I knew from the start, and after hearing about some of the projects from the year before us, that I wanted to do something for other people, like charity or giving back in some way.  I finally chose to help the people of Detroit and give back to them and the city.
I was so excited to start my project.  There were so many ideas floating through my head and every day I was so eager to do the next thing.  After doing research, setting up events, and most of all, waiting for emails back, I realized what a huge commitment this was.  I loved going down to Cass Community Social Services, exploring the city, and donating supplies, but it was all becoming very stressful.  Constantly, I had to put my project on hold in order to wait for responses from people, usually just to hear a month later that I was being rejected or the programs I tried to get involved in were all shut down.
The excitement wore off.  Honestly, 20 Time became a burden.  I tried so hard to find new things to do or get involved in but it started to seem like, to the real world, a sophomore in high school is not going to fix a whole city or help a whole community of people.  On off weeks when I had to write a blog post about my accomplishments, I felt like a failure when I had to say that I am still "waiting for responses" or "trying to switch gears" or even "haven't made much progress".  (Yes, we can be told a million times that failure is an option, but it will still always make you feel like a failure).
I was no longer excited by the possibilities of my project.  I just felt like a high school girl that already had so much on her plate with school, sports, social life, family time, etc.  There wasn't much time for my 20 Time Project and I was not willing to sacrifice the other things in my life for this project.  Life is crazy enough at this age and one more thing to think about can really stress kids out.  Also, we are have our whole life ahead of us to find out what we are passionate about pursue that and at this age, we don't really know what that "one thing" is.  To add, the whole school year I was constantly thinking about the 8 minute speech I had to give at the end of all this.  Quite frankly, I just wanted to learn Honors American Literature, without the 20 Time twist.
Although, just because I had some rough patches within my project and didn't necessarily agree with the idea, that does NOT mean that I didn't learn anything.  I truly learned a lot about the world while doing my project.  Exploring the streets of Detroit and seeing people in need was extremely humbling and showed me that the world does not all operate like the suburbia of Grosse Pointe.  I will never forget the chills that went through my body as Willie from Cass Community Social Services told me that just because I came in to volunteer, over 1,000 homeless people of all ages would be served lunch and dinner that day and a couple days worth of food would be sent to feed a prison.  I have learned from this project, as cliché as it sounds, anyone can make a difference.  Volunteering, charity, and giving back is what we need to see more of in this world and what seems like a little thing to us, to someone more fortunate, it makes all the difference.
This is what I want to focus my talk on.  I am so nervous, stressed, and scared for my talk.  I know I have a lot to say but, for me, vocalizing my thoughts in an out-loud, speech like setting is hard.  The thought of memorizing an 8 minute speech makes me cringe, knowing that if I forget something or mess up and have a mind blank, my whole speech will become a joke and my project and what I learned from it will be disregarded by the person listening.  I understand that public speaking will always be part of our lives and it is good to get practice, but I just think that it seems like a lot and it is very overwhelming.  I am going to give my speech my best effort and really try to spread my ideas successfully.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Switching Gears

Over the last several months, my 20 Time Project became a huge part of my life.  Whether it was planning events, doing research, exploring Detroit, doing charity, or emailing influential people, I was kept very busy.  I was extremely successful with my project but, needless to say, this success came with some frustration, hardships, and failures along the way.  
One of the best parts of my project was getting involved with Cass Community Social Services.  Going in to do charity at CCSS for the second time was one of the most exciting parts of my journey. Being able to serve lunch and dinner to a couple hundred homeless people is something that I will never forget.  Then, staying involved with CCSS to help feed a jail that was low on supplies, and collecting supplies and donating to CCSS throughout the long, cold winter was also very humbling and kept me busy.  My experiences with CCSS were just one of the many things I did for my project, but probably helped me learn and accomplish the most.  
Of course, I do have some regrets and failures.  I wish I could've moved on faster when things were not going my way, instead of lingering on these ideas and wasting time.  Sometimes, I had ideas for what to do next in my project but it was not working out for whatever reason, such as when I tried to get involved with Detroit Public Schools and join the tutoring program and walk in their 5k to raise money for the schools.  It would've been great to get involved with the schools in other ways than just these.  
For my talk, I want to best represent what I learned.  I am still deciding what I want the topic to be.  The most obvious idea would be talking about the value of charity.  I have learned more than I ever thought possible about how important it is to give back to the communities around you and the people that are not as fortunate as you.  The whole experience has opened my eyes and been very humbling for me and I know I could talk about how I learned this lesson for hours.  Also, I could talk about Detroit in general.  I have fallen in love with the city and I am very intrigued since I have researched its history, present, and future.  I am still deciding what to talk about but I know, no matter what, I will be able to deliver a strong talk because I have learned so much.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Giving and Receiving

Since my last blog post, a lot has happened with my project.  My favorite thing that has happened is the annual Empty Bowls Event.  This event is organized by my good family friend, and also my mentor for my 20 Time Project, Bonnie Mellos.  She has helped me a lot in getting in touch with Cass Community Social Services and done a lot of volunteer work in Detroit, because helping others is one of her passions, too.  Empty Bowls is something she organizes through Assumption Church where, basically, people volunteer to decorate, paint, and create glass bowls. Then, a couple weeks later, these bowls are bought by people and you get to eat soup, from local businesses that donate their soup for the event, out of the bowls you paid for.  Some bowls are even autographed by famous people or designed by famous artist.  These bowls get auctioned off for huge prices.  All of the proceeds of this event go to homeless people and soup kitchens in order to help feed people in need.  Empty Bowls is an amazing way for people and businesses all around the community to help out our neighbors in need, while also having a great time and eating some tasty soup!  I look forward to this event every year and I know how much of a difference it makes for those who have nothing.
Also in news, Cass Community Social Services sent me a whole catalog brochure on CCSS and other ways to get involved and show their business.  I think it is kind of like a "Thank you and come back soon!" kind of gift.  I love seeing these because the booklet really represents how CCSS works in helping those in need.  Along with this, they sent me four coasters with famous landmarks in Detroit pictured on them, including a Heidelberg house and the GM building.  I absolutely love this gift because it goes hand in hand with what I am focusing on in my 20 Time Project and connects all my passions about Detroit together in one gift.  The people at CCSS are amazingly generous and kind hearted and I hope I can go back to volunteer again as soon as possible.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Frustration and Success

In the past weeks, I have had success, but also a lot of frustration.  It is already March and I hoped that I would have been able to get involved with Detroit Public Schools by now.  I tried very hard to get a tutoring position in their Reading Corps Program and help kids that struggle with reading and writing, but they have not notified me or gotten back to me in any way.  There's not much else I can do but abandon that goal.  Despite their failure to allow me to get involved, I hope the Reading Corps Program is still active because it truly is a great way to help children of Detroit become more successful in school and bring up low test scores in Detroit's schools.
In news, Cass Community Social Services contacted me, knowing a was a volunteer willing to help in any way I could, saying that they were running short on crucial supplies from the lasting, cold winter.  These supplies included toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towel.  I spread the word and tried to collect as much of these supplies as possible.  I got a good amount of supplies together, my own donations plus donations from friends and family, but I did not get as much as I expected.  I am still proud of the donations given to Cass Community Social Services and I know that any amount will help the workers provide for the people in need.
Also, I have been exploring the shoot-off project within my project that is just learning more about Detroit itself and enjoying all the culture and hip things happening in the city.  I have loved going downtown and eating in new restaurants and seeing new things pop up all the time.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mid-Winter Break

Although I did not have any big events planned for my 20 Time Project over break, I made the most of my time off and got creative with things I could do to further pursue my project. Because I have not heard from Detroit Public Schools and I do not have the next date set at CASS Community Social Services, I did not have much on my schedule. I decided to move on with my project in a different kind of way and take a new spin on my project.
I knew that I was very interested in the modern and hip parts of Detroit that overcome the barrier of poverty and hardships throughout the city and create something cool and beautiful. First, I visited the Heidelberg Project. I have been to this site before and I wanted to visit again. The Heidelberg Project is full of unique and modern art, making a creation out of random object and colors. It is one of the most beautiful things Detroit has to offer and it is cherished by many people. Many look at the project as a sign of creativity, hope, and passion that is instilled in the city of Detroit and its people. I just drove through parts of the project but I will soon go back again to take a closer look, take pictures, research, and enjoy the art. I hope to be able to donate or get involved in the Heidelberg Project as well.
I also researched some of the newest restaurants in Detroit with high ratings. I found one called the Mercury Bar and I decided to go with all my friends. The ratings did not lie---they have all kinds of amazing burgers, French fries, and milkshakes. I aslo found a coffee place that is very modern called Great Lakes Coffee. The drinks were so tasty, the atomosphere was cozy, and the free wifi and computer outlets showed its hip, modern technology feel.
I absolutely love exploring new places in Detroit and seeing new things that are happening in the city. The positive and inspiring energy from the people that love the city of Detroit truly creates amazing and successful things in the city.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pursuing Goals

I am disappointed to say that another two weeks have gone by and I still have not heard back from the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Reading Corps tutoring program. I have emailed them multiple times attempting to get a tutoring position and get involved in the schools. This opportunity was so perfect for what I'm looking to accomplish in my 20 Time Project. I do not plan to give up that easy, though, and I am going to keep trying to get ahold of DPS and try to get into the Reading Corps program.
I cannot put my whole 20 Time Project on hold even though I am waiting for this response. I plan to keep moving forward and achieving other goals that I have established for my project.
It has been about a month now since I visited Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) to help feed people in need. Because it was such a positive experience at CCSS, I definitely want to go back soon. Again, I will get back in contact with Sue Pethoud at Cass and work towards finding the next possible date I can go in.
Also, I want to begin to learn about the the history, art, and personality of the city of Detroit itself. One of my favorite places to visit in Detroit is the Heidelberg Project. This project shows teamwork, soul, personality, and the hope in Detroit through artwork. Their team decorates houses, cars, parks, etc. in crazy patterns and colors representing modern art in Detroit. It is a symbol for the hope that is instilled in Detroit, even when the city is going through rough times. Though some people are against the project and their creations, the people at Heidelberg do not stop. I think their art is so beautiful and amazing and truly shows the modern potential in the city of Detroit and how its people still love their city. Although I am obviously not on the Heidelberg team, I want to get involved. I did some research and found out that the Heidelberg Project takes donations of objects, supplies, etc.- considering that they make art out of almost anything. I am going to try to get in touch with some of their members and see if I can collect donations for their project, making sure that their beautiful symbol of hope and modern art lives on in Detroit.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Off Week

In the past two weeks, I have not done much work on my 20 Time Project.  I have been very busy with everything including preparing and non-stop studying for all of my midterms. There was hardly a minute to spare! I wish I could've done more and made more progress on my project.
I am still waiting on a response from Detroit Public Schools with regard to their tutoring program. I emailed DPS Reading Corps a while back, giving them my information and asking if it was possible that I could get involved in their tutoring program. The way this program works is that you go to one of the Detroit Public Elementary schools at least once a week and help the little kids read and do their homework. This program came about when Detroit Public Schools tested with very low percentiles in reading. Studies show that if a child cannot read before third grade, they can be permanently behind in learning and reading abilities. The DPS Reading Corps has helped many kids and gotten many volunteers involved in the schools. This opportunity can help thousands of kids get a better education in Detroit. I would love a position there and be able to help out while developing a relationship with the kids. Hopefully, DPS Reading Corps will email me back soon so I will know if this could work for me, and, if not, I will try to pursue a different one of my goals for my 20 Time Project.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Over the Holidays

There is no better time of the year to give back to those in need than the holiday season! I am so happy with the amount of work I did on my project over winter break.  My friends, family, and I did things such as going downtown to volunteer at Cass Community Social Services and handing out candy canes to homeless people downtown.

I'm very excited about the amazing experience we had at CCSS when we went in to volunteer. I had been in contact with Sue Pethoud, who is in charge of talking to and scheduling volunteers, and she helped me set up a date that would fit my schedule and hers. I got a group of my family and friends together and went down to CCSS at about 8:30 am on Friday, January 2. We met many people that work at Cass by feeding and helping the less fortunate every day. Of these people, Willie was the man that helped us the most. He put us to work until about noon. Us girls started out in the pantry where we cleaned out and restocked the huge refrigerator to prepare for that night's dinner. After, we made the dinner! While there was music playing and people laughing, we chopped more onions, peppers, and celery than I have ever seen in my life! We finished a meal consisting of mashed potatoes, steaks, hamburgers, and much more. The food had many places it would go to such as first floor dining, second floor dining, and mother and children dining for their housing building. Cass also prepares food for the jail in Detroit.  All around, it was a great day volunteering at CCSS. I made friends with many people there and they are staying in contact with me. I know they can help me a lot with my 20 Time Project and keep me involved in ways to help out Detroit and its people, considering that that is their job. I know I will be going back to Cass soon (hopefully on a Saturday so I can serve the people myself, as Willie suggested). It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience and knowing that you helped feed hundreds of people in need is an amazing feeling.

Also, just for fun, when I was downtown over break, my family and I handed out candy canes to people that looked like they were homeless or in need. Although one candy cane can not change someone's life drastically for the better, it may at least make their day. It was just one small way to spread Christmas spirit throughout the soul of Detroit and brighten the day and Christmas season for the people of Detroit.

I did, however, have one failure over Christmas break. One of my main goals was to raise money for K-mart's Christmas Layaway in order to pay off the layaways of people in need and help the children and families of Detroit have a better Christmas. My family has done this many times in past years and planned to go again this year, but I would just raise money this year and bring a lot more than I have in the past so I could make a bigger impact. Long story short, my ways of raising money were not working out in my favor and the craziness of Christmas time caught up with my family and we missed our time we planned to go. It was a huge disappointment to me just because in the past, it has been an extremely humbling experience and makes you realize everything you should be grateful for just by helping other people have a better Christmas and receive things they would otherwise not be able to have. I hope I will be able to pay off some K-mart layaways next Christmas.

Overall, I made a lot of great progress over winter break and I am motivated to keep going with my project because I have felt how great it is to complete the tasks I have prepared for. I am in contact with the people at Cass and hopefully will go back in soon, in addition to everything else I have planned. It was an inspiring and successful holiday season!
Us at Cass with Willie!