Historically, Detroit has enjoyed the dubious distinction of being one of the epicenters of substance abuse in the nation. The intersection of drug addiction, homelessness, and mental illness has confounded the traditional treatment paradigm in many urban communities similar to Detroit. Resources and access to traditional treatment services over the years have failed to keep up with demand.
The outreach is the cornerstone of The Ark Association's vision for social change, economic stability, and increasing prosperity within the community. The need for a central location that is easily accessible and readily available is critical to providing the 24/7 supportive structure indispensable for change. The recent closing of the Project Helping Hands programming (The Detroit News, April 28. 2010) created an even greater need. This closing places an even greater burden upon the staff at the NSO's nearby Tumaini Center. The facility is no longer a 24-hour walk-in shelter. They offer assistance but with reduced hours of availability during warmer weather (www.nso-mi.org). That trend persists in many organizations with today's critical funding environment.
As a result, the need remains large and unmet among Detroiters who suffer from addiction and related social/health problems. Our challenge is to take our work to the next level. We would like to increase the referral work to be more hands on and direct. Rather than just offering literature handouts and phone numbers, we want to be able to physically assist the individual in receiving the direct help they need to improve their current situation rather it is homelessness, addiction, joblessness or mental illness. Our future plans include a strategy to address this increase in need.
The Ark is doing research and development, looking at best-practice models, and surveying the community in order to create a successful strategic plan. We are working towards are goal to open the Daniel Doyle Community Resource Center in honor of our first outreach director who faithfully served the homeless for 3 years until losing his battle with throat cancer. In offering a multi-faceted facility, we will assist that individual in improving their lifestyle and becoming productive members of society. The facility will be open 24/7 and would include a drug, alcohol, weapon-free coffeehouse, The Cave, located inside open to the public. There would be free soup served at all times so that no one ever need go hungry. Pool tables, video and pin ball games will add to an atmosphere of safe, clean fun and fellowship to assist individuals with development of social skills. It will host 12-step meetings every three hours; provide educational workshops and job training. The Neighborhood Community Network (NCN) © office will be located inside as well. It is designed to offer a multitude of services offered in-house or through local businesses, agencies or school systems while operating a Time Bank to the members. The NCN staff will be available to assist people wanting to create an "Empowerment For The Future ©" life-plan.