Studies show the number of homeless youth in Detroit is on the rise, but a young woman who once was a homeless teenager is determined to change their fate.
Courtney Smith is the definition of an All Star. Not only did she overcome homelessness herself, but she is dedicating her life to breaking the cycle of poverty for youth here in Detroit.
Her blood sweat and tears became a reality as she opened the Detroit Phoenix Center this week.
It’s a labor of love, tucked inside Bethel Community Transformation Center on Woodward: a resource center for homeless and transient youth.
“It’s greater than just meeting basic needs, its meeting human needs and I think when we meet human needs the community are met,” says Smith.
They’re needs she once longed for, spending her teenage years homeless and searching for guidance.
“It didn’t get real to me until I actually got the keys and signed the lease, so when I did that I was crying for like three days,” Smith says.
Courtney has spent the last 10 years researching, planning and working to make the Detroit Phoenix Center a reality.
“They’ll have access to food, they’ll have access to showers, they’ll have access to a washer and drier, they’ll have access to computer, educational and life skills programs, they’ll have access to a supportive community and I think that’s the most important thing,” Smith says.
It’s a partnership the church is excited to join.
“We’ve got this beautiful building, it’s got 55 offices and classrooms, lots of space and to me it would be a tragedy if we didn’t take and utilize this space for opportunities to better the community,” says Pastor Aramis Hinds.
Now 26-years-old, Courtney has a full time job and is pursuing her masters. Even through her struggles she says she’s grateful for her journey to success.
“When I was younger I wasn’t grateful for the experiences I had, some of them was very traumatic but now as a young adult and I’ve seen all the things that I’ve overcome and the position that I’m in right now to be able to support that – it makes it so much worth it, it makes me feel like everything was worth it,” she says.
Now she’s able to give advice to the kids, knowing what it’s like to be in their place.
“Be strong, to keep your head up, that things are not going to always be dark, you’re going to bare the light and just to be strong,” she says.
If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to the Detroit Phoenix Center, you can call 313-228.0294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can drop off donations at Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bamboo Detroit is located at 1420 Washington Blvd., Detroit 48226.
The Detroit Phoenix Center has a wish list of needs:
1. Bathroom/Shower Room – Youth will have access to showers and shower essentials
Bath towels and washcloths for adults -Toilet Paper, Cleaning Supplies, Shower Gel
2. Laundry Facility- Laundry Baskets, Dryer Sheets and Laundry Detergent
3. Resource Center – Lounge Area
Youth will have access to a space that will be respite from the cold and daily challenges that they are facing.
Cots, Clean area rug, Lamp, Artwork, Books for ages 13 and UP, Blankets, Board Games or Game Systems, Craft Supplies
4. ABRC Staff Office -Office Chair and Desk, Telephone, Computer Paper, Computer
5. Miscellaneous Lockers – Many of the youth we serve are staying in shelters or on the street. Lockers will be helpful so they can keep their personal belongings; storage units.
6. Gift Cards to chain stores such as Meijer, Walmart, McDonald or Target
7. Nonperishable food items: mac & cheese, soup, ramen noodles, tuna, breakfast bars, snacks etc.
8. Clothing: socks, scarves, hats, gloves
9. Hygiene Products: (deodorant, sanitary napkins, shaving cream, perfume, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer etc.)
10. Hand and foot warmers
11. School Supplies (notebooks, highlighters, pens, pencils, index cards)
12. Bus Passes - They can can be purchased at CVS for $4. * HUGE NEED