We’re taught that almsgiving is an opportunity for us to “witness to fraternal charity,” to offer “a work of justice pleasing to God.” (CCC 2462) It’s a foundational call of Christians that is frequently expressed throughout the Gospels, and yet, the Church and Scripture do not explicitly detail how it should be done. There’s no universal standard for what stretches one spiritually, for what pushes someone just enough out of their comfort zone they run to the arms of Christ. For some, a monetary offering is a considerable hardship that may cause an anxious believer to look at the birds in the sky and cling to the belief that “the Father will provide.” For others, a monetary offering is far less of a sacrifice than the donation of time that pulls them from their passions or loved ones, or talent that pushes them into uncomfortably new scenarios. These are the opportunities we’re given in Lent, and in Detroit, a city who’s resurrection is a testament to the charity of Detroiters, there is a wealth of opportunity for those looking to perform these crucial acts of mercy. Here are a few recommendations to get your almsgiving search started.
Cabrini Clinic — Founded in Corktown in 1834 to treat cholera victims, Cabrini Clinic is the nation’s oldest, free medical clinic. Since then, it’s fulfilled its mission to meet the medical needs of economically disadvantaged residents of metro Detroit and beyond. They offer education, prevention and treatment without charge. Cabrini Clinic is always in need of donations (medication, bus passes, clothing, grocery-store gift cards and monetary donations) and volunteers, especially those with a medical background. Learn more about volunteering here.
La Casa Amiga Legal Clinic — Inspired by the corporal work of mercy to “welcome the stranger,” the clinic works with a staff of volunteer legal attorneys to support those who come from different countries, but who are fleeing persecution, violence and poverty. Their services include helping immigrants and their families to reunite, seek Lawful Permanent Residence status, file for citizenship, apply for work authorizations and answer general immigration questions. They offer services in both English and Spanish and welcome all nationalities, languages and immigration statuses. They welcome donations, and those interested in volunteering, particularly those who are bilingual or have a law background can call (248) 338-4250, ext. 3700.
Wayne County Jail Outreach Ministry (WCJOM) — Founded by Deacon Mike Chesley of St. William Church, WCJOM works to help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter society by providing them with education, job training and medical and dental care. They are looking for volunteers and monetary donations as well as clothing and food.
Pope Francis Center — Pope Francis Center does a bit of everything when it comes to serving Detroit’s under-resourced. They provide meals and shower facilities, washing machines and dryers, phones and internet services. They offer bike repair, haircuts and shaves, dental care, legal aid, podiatry and medical care and housing assistance. Inspired by Pope Francis’ deep commitment to the poor, they continue to expand the scope of their services and rely solely on donations and volunteers.
Better WAY Detroit — Founded by St. Cecilia’s pastor, Fr. Marko Djonovic, Better WAY Detroit has found a radical way to engage, and employ homeless persons. BWD participants help community organizations like St. Vincent DePaul-Detroit and Detroit Goodfellows and help clean Detroit parks and neighborhoods of trash and overgrowth. Participants are paid for their work, offered food, counseling, medical care and mental health care and are connected to housing and employment opportunities. Those interested can donate money, goods or services.
Gianna House — Gianna House provides a safe residence for at-risk, pregnant young mothers-to-be and mothers with their newborn infants who are homeless or housing insecure. They provide spiritual, educational, financial literacy and parenting support skills and resources to their young moms as well as other underserved women in the community. There are many ways to support Gianna House whether through much-needed cash donations, or purchasing baby and mother items on their wishlist. They are always looking for community partners, or those who can offer recreational or life skills for the mothers (i.e. yoga or exercise teachers, life skills presentations such as budgeting or buying a car, etc.) and people who are willing to host diaper drives or baby showers.
If you’re interested in serving residencies for at-risk pregnant women, consider supporting Mary’s Mantle in Southfield or Guadalupe Workers in Detroit.
Capuchin Soup Kitchen — Founded by none other than Blessed Solanus Casey during the Great Depression when those affected by poverty started knocking on the monastery’s doors, the Capuchin soup kitchen continues that mission by serving food, clothing and human development programs to Detroit’s needy (over 228,000 a year). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at two Detroit locations and heavily rely on volunteers to support the hundreds that come through their door. Those interested can volunteer or make a donation online.
Deo Gratias Ministries – Hospitality, compassion, and respect for human dignity are a few of the core values of this non-profit founded by Felician Sisters in Detroit. And they seek these by offering a safe place where the disadvantaged can gather for refreshment, social interaction and support. Their services include a cafe open five days a week where guests can get baked goods and drinks free of charge, an art program where they teach students painting and wood burning, a community garden, and a food pantry. Those interested in volunteering can plant in the garden, serve as a barista at the cafe, or stock the pantry. Those looking to support financially can make donations or purchase items from the Sisters’ shop.