Pitch for Detroit 2015

August 20, 2015 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Strengthening Communities through Partnership

 By Hayley Sakwa, Co-Chair, Pitch for Detroit

In 1933, the first Detroit Jewish Community Center broke ground at Woodward Avenue and Holbrook – just a mile away from this year’s Pitch for Detroit funding recipient: North End Detroit’s Bradby Park.

The annual NEXTGen Detroit event, which will be held August 23 on Belle Isle, brings together over 800 members of the Detroit Jewish community of every age to play kickball, enjoy free food and festivities, and support an important Detroit cause. As a recent graduate deeply passionate about engaging my Jewish peers in the revitalization of Detroit, Pitch for Detroit is my favorite day of the year.

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Back in the 30’s, Jews living in the North End Detroit neighborhood faced some of the same challenges that North End residents face today, many struggling to access the resources they needed to support their families. The JCC provided Jewish families with a crucial space to participate in community programs, stay healthy and active, and simply come together.

With thousands of children living in the North End today, Bradby Park provides that same vital space to help kids and families grow and thrive. It offers after-school programs, sports leagues, summer meals, and community events like their Father’s Day picnic – which brings more than 1,000 people to the park each year to celebrate! Despite this energy and involvement, Bradby Park’s indoor space is closed due to disrepair, its sports fields are overgrown, and there is no shaded area to offer shelter on hot days.

Amidst these challenges, the collective goals of the North End Detroit community are being championed through the efforts of dedicated residents like Ms. Patricia Dockery. As a lifetime resident of the area and Executive Director of a non-profit that cares for local at-risk youth, Ms. Dockery is leading the effort to revitalize Bradby Park by identifying public and private partners to bring needed resources to the area. Ms. Dockery is just one of countless Detroiters who are compassionate and relentless in their efforts to support youth and strengthen their community.

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The impact of our philanthropy extends much further when we work with local partners as is the case with Ms. Dockery, because we are able to build on her existing expertise and the energy in the North End neighborhood to address a need that was self-identified by the community. Furthermore, we can build on this relationship in the future as we learn from one another about the similarities of our two communities – and discover how we can work together to revitalize Greater Detroit in a way that lifts us all.

Today, many generations since that first JCC, our Detroit Jewish community is thriving. This affords us the ability to support the needs of our community in many ways, such as hosting Pitch for Detroit. So much more than a kickball tournament, Pitch for Detroit offers us the opportunity to both strengthen our own community and extend its bounds, leveraging our collective power to become a catalyst for change for others.

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I feel so excited and blessed to be a part of Pitch for Detroit for the third year in a row, and I hope you’ll join me this year in supporting both our Jewish community and our Detroit community as we partner with our neighbors in North End Detroit. With your help, we plan to raise $30,000, which will enable Bradby Park to reopen its indoor space to offer kids’ activities during winter months, renovate its baseball and football field, and build a gazebo to offer shade. Plus, the whole day is so much fun! Come by Belle Isle on August 23 to grab food, play kickball, and experience the energy and excitement that I feel every day living in Detroit. There will be music and activities for the whole family.

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To sponsor the event, donate as an individual or play in the kickball tournament, contact Rachel Taubman at taubman@jfmd.org or visit Federation online.

See you on the field!

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