Students improve a corner of Detroit

July 23, 2014

Girls painting wall
Ashlee Washington, top, and Sandra Alias paint the east wall of the building.

On the evening of July 23, 12 student volunteers from University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) performed a community improvement project in Detroit on the northwest corner of McNichols Road and Prairie Street, four blocks west of McNichols Campus. An unsightly, weed-choked and garbage-strewn store location at 7400 McNichols (the former "Appliance Bros.") was cleared of trash and weeds and a 55-foot exterior wall was painted.

See the Fox 2 News segment on the project!

Helped along by the Bagley Community Council (Alicia Biggers and Lisa Williams) and District 2 personnel of the City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods (Sean Davis and Kim Tandy), the project is an example of some of the kinds of service projects that UDM students do in Detroit all year round. (Other UDM student projects include Campus Kitchen, which delivers meals to dozens of Detroit homes every week.)

See photos on Facebook!

Some neighbors of the blighted spot expressed their excitement and gratitude that University students who live, work and study in Detroit made the effort to improve this little corner of the City for the benefit of everyone. The project was also video-recorded by Detroit Lives! for use as part of new UDM TV commercials that will begin airing late this summer.

See below for before-and-after pictures.

The 12 wonderful and hard-working UDM student volunteers were:

Alyssa Burgess
Alyssia Recchia
Ashlee Washington
Brysen Keith
Colton Wirgau
Joe Samayoa
Nicholas Smigiel
Philip Nelson
Sandra Alias
Sean Rucker
Shekinah Adams
Vito Chirco

Before and after

The rear of the building

The male UDM students cleared out a significant amount of broken concrete and furniture, rotted-out doors, plastic sheeting, dumped plywood, a broken mirror and many other kinds of trash from behind the building.  The also replaced a wooden covering on an open window, and weed-whipped the entire area.  A large discarded sofa was also dragged out of tall grass on the other side of the alley.  The refuse was all piled up for a special pick-up scheduled by the City.

Rear of building, before and after clean-up
From left: Joe Samayoa, Sean Rucker, Colton Wirgau and Philip Nelson.

The east wall

The female students, plus Shekinah Adams, brushed loose paint off a 55-foot section of the east wall facing Prairie Street, then painted the wall a solid battleship gray (the color suggested by Sean Davis of District 2).  They painted up to a height of about eight feet, creating a straight line above the graffiti and patchwork paint that they covered over.  A couple of neighborhood residents got in on the act at the end, like a scene out of Tom Sawyer.

The Prairie Street wall, before and after
From left: neighborhood resident, Alyssia Recchia, Alyssa Burgess, neighborhood resident, Sandra Alias and Shekinah Adams.