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In Cody Rouge, GM volunteers help brighten a neighborhood

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

For a week every summer, General Motors works with the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance to help clean up and transform this westside neighborhood. From July 24-28, over 2,500 volunteers from GM—along with the Skillman Foundation, DTE, and Quicken Loans—worked in Cody Rouge on various community clean-up efforts, and Curbed tagged along to check out a few of the places on their list.

The effort is part of a new 10-year vision in the Cody Rouge community. Priorities include neighborhood stabilization, safety, and youth development. The big program introduced this year is a STEM Camp for 2nd-5th graders in the neighborhood.

Many of the improvements we could see occurred within Dixon Elementary, Mann Elementary, and Cody High School. Lockers and classrooms received fresh paint, planter boxes were created, playgrounds were cleaned up, and Herman Miller office furniture from the GM Tech Center is repurposed in new study rooms in Cody High.

Volunteers also worked on backyard cleanups for residents who demonstrated that need. Volunteers met with homeowners and chatted about the projects, giving them more of a chance to connect with the community. In addition to cleaning up yards, volunteers boarded up 65 vacant homes throughout the neighborhood this year, down from over 300 in past years. The business corridor on Joy Road also saw cleanup efforts from volunteers.

We also visited revitalization efforts in Rouge Park, at the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center stables. Volunteers painted fences and benches, repaired hinges and gates in the fences, and took on landscaping and lawn care around the stables. New mats were laid down inside for the horses. The Center was the home for the Old Detroit Mounted Division; it’s now maintained by the Buffalo Soldiers and Friends of Rouge Park.

More on the community-led, public-private partnership can be found at the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance.