They were looking for help. The Ferndale Resource Fair Brought Hope

Ferndale – Paper bags filled with hand warmers, beanies and socks were lined up on a table in the tent set up outside the Baymont Hotel on Eight Mile on Sunday afternoon, along with piles of winter clothes hot items to be picked up by families and others who come to the Homeless Resource Fair inside.

Dozens of people showed up in the freezing cold for clothes, a hot meal, housing and employment assistance and free health checks at the fair hosted by New Era Detroit, which also bought an overnight stay about 40 families at the hotel.

“It’s so cold that people are having trouble walking to their vehicles right now, let alone sleeping on the streets,” said Zeek Williams, the association’s founder.

The group, formed in 2014 to “restore black unity in black communities in Detroit as well as across the country,” has partnered with local organizations to help the families they serve find long-term solutions. while meeting their short-term housing needs, according to Williams. .

The organization relies primarily on donations to secure essential supplies for the communities it serves, Williams said, and has adopted the term “mudroots” for the type of outreach work it does.

“Mudroots allows us to go beyond the basics,” Williams said. “(It’s about) being able to go underground a bit, start from the heart of our problems and build from there.”

Raymond Williams, 31, came to the resource fair with his 2-year-old son, Adonis, and said he thought the job resources would help him care for his son.

Williams lost his job as a maintenance worker nearly three years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and with that he lost his house and his car. He said he would spend the night at the hotel and start the job search the next day.

He hoped to find a job with an energy supplier.

“I would love to get on the lines,” Williams said. “It’s good money.”

For the Sunday resource fair, the nonprofit teamed up with local organizations such as Unified, which provided free condoms and on-site rapid HIV testing, as well as information about PrEP, a daily pill that can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting it, and Focus: Hope, which provide work, housing and food assistance.

A tent was set up in the parking lot of the Baymont by Wyndham hotel in Ferndale where people could pick up free winter clothing provided by New Era Detroit, a nonprofit created in 2014 to raise awareness and support the city's black communities.

The other organizations have been enlisted to help New Era in its goal of providing holistic, long-term services to the nearly 200 people who have come forward, according to Nilajah Alonzo, who works on the association’s administrative team in Detroit, including those looking for a hotel. Well.

Inside the hotel’s meeting room on the ground floor, Alonzo ushered Williams and others in and led them through the tables set up with representatives from each of the organizations.

After one person walked around the room and spoke with representatives, she said goodbye to them on the way out and handed them a paper bag containing vegan chili from SevaTruck.

Alonzo said that in addition to helping partner organizations, New Era secured pledges from five employers who needed truck drivers, home helpers and movers to provide jobs for people who Sunday, as well as an event planner who said she needed a 360º photo booth attendant.

“I thought it was awesome, unexpected work,” Alonzo said.

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