Well, It Finally Happened

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Author: Sister Nancyann Turner - Capuchin Soup Kitchen Children Program Manager

For years and years I have taken the French Street exit off of 1-94 on my way to work at Conner Kitchen. Initially, I chose it over Conner because of the many beautiful trees that lined the street; a school, a church and many homes made the street a pleasant road on which to drive. Gradually, houses started deteriorating, the church discontinued and the school closed and was boarded up.

Still, I continued driving this two block stretch from 1-94 to Warren just out of habit. Last week I was startled by the disappearance of many houses in this already sparse neighborhood. All the familiar (although empty) houses I knew were down—huge heaps of rubble, gigantic mounds of doors and stairs, posts and windows, boards and glass were all piled high within familiar orange plastic fencing. It had finally happened. Even though I know it is good to clear away blight marring the renewal of neighborhoods, I was surprised how very sad and sobered I felt at the demolition of these eight houses.

I started wondering who the first families were that occupied homes on this street. I wondered who the most recent occupants were and why they had to leave. What were their dreams…what were their disappointments…where are they now?

Homes are so important to the families I serve. Despite much neighborhood blight, I know so many who work diligently to keep their surroundings beautiful. I know a grandmother who lives not far from the kitchen. Her street is pretty bad but she has flowers all over with a beautiful white picket fence outlining her amazing yard. I know another mom who inherited a second lot and grows enough tomatoes to feed the whole neighborhood. I know another family who is repairing an abandoned house and eventually, hope it will be a home for a needy family with ten children.

I pray that more and more new and old houses in Detroit will become homes…homes with heart, with beauty and gardens, with children. I pray for homes that will be safe and peaceful. I pray that all of us will have a precious home—a home with a heart and a hospitality with grace.