Carol Palackdharry is an oncologist from Illinois and a member of Southwest Solutions’ Leadership Giving Circle. She brought her 14 year old son Nathan to Detroit on spring break to impart on him the value of giving back to the community. Carol is the sister of Southwest Solutions’ Communications Director, Steve Palackdharry.
“I want my son to see the diversity that’s in the world.” Carol says. “Our world is so small and we’re surrounded by affluent people when the vast majority of the world struggles. The amount of food we waste in a year could feed five families in a year.”
With this in mind, Carol, Nathan and Carol’s mother Rowena bought lasagna, salad and fruit to our Go-Getters Drop-in Center to prepare and serve. It was important for the family that they do more the deliver food; therefore, they asked consumer Betty Chandler to give them a tour of the facility.
Betty is another member of the Go-Getters family. She has been coming to the center for over twenty years and in the early years, she would bring her young son with her to Go-Getters. Since the program is consumer run, Betty’s dedication to the community is especially important. As she shows Carol, Nathan and Rowena around the building she explains her contributions in helping to make sure the laundry room and shower remain tidy, the food pantry is stocked, and donated clothes items are organized and the quarters collected from purchased items are properly managed. Betty leads the family to the computer lab that provides consumers the ability to connect with friends and family on the internet and gain information about health, wellness and employment opportunities. She also shows them the Center’s library and classroom areas.
When they return to the dining room, Betty insists the family meet her friend Lamasa Pace. With pride, Betty share that Lamasa is a great knitter and recently made her a beautiful purple sweater for the winter. Lamasa also knit 75 outfits for babies and donated the items to the local children’s hospital. For over a decade she has been a source of light and energy at Go-Getters, she and her husband play music as part of the community’s ‘band’. As Betty shares Lamasa’s accomplishments, including her participation on the local radio show Mojo in the Morning in which she is affectionately referred to as ‘Kool-Aid Lady, she makes sure to also recognize, Lamasa’s knitting apprentice Rakiyyah Isom. Every day Rakiyyah diligently watches Lamasa as she works to learn her technique so she can make her own quilts and sweaters.
As the room fills with consumers, Carol, Nathan and Rowena hurry to the kitchen to put the final touches on lunch. One by one Nathan calls out consumers’ names and they are greeted with broad smiles as they are handed their lunch trays.
For program director Shirley Cockrel the day was a success. “Any day we have someone bring in food, it’s a good day. When we have people come who care about the work we do and offer support to consumers in recovery, that’s a blessing.”
For over 20 years, Go-Getters Drop-In Center has been a resource and refuge for individuals struggling with homelessness, addiction and mental health disorders. The fellowship is a vital step in the recovery process for men and women as they embark on their journey to a better life. They rely on each other and the services offered, developing bonds that last a lifetime. They are a family that is always ready to welcome other families into their community.
Southwest Solutions is currently participating the 2017 Art Van Charity Challenge to win $100,000 for its homeless services programs, including the Go-Getters Drop-In Center. If you would like to support the campaign please visit our website.