Located in Northwest Detroit, Sinai-Grace Guild Community Development Corporation offers services to families that address basic needs, such as housing support, economic assistance, and food delivery. The nonprofit covers a service area of approximately 36,000 residents, a third of which are seniors.
Executive Director Lisa Campbell joined in 2019 and spends a good portion of her time on improving existing programs, rolling out new ones, and fostering relationships with neighboring companies and organizations.
“We have such a great need that I like to funnel our resources out to the community so they benefit the residents directly and keep our overhead low,” says Campbell. “That means I have to spend time building those [community] partnerships.”
Competition is rarely a consideration in the nonprofit world, as the demand far exceeds the capacity. If Sinai-Grace Guild CDC can’t provide immediate services, then another organization will, and vice versa. But closing the loop on these referrals is often challenging without the tracking or reporting of referrals, and Campbell hopes that the Michigan community network will help solve this challenge.
Building a local network of peer support
When COVID-19 hit Northeast Detroit, Campbell acted quickly to support her residents, many of whom were considered high-risk. She acquired a grant to deliver 500 PPE kits and numerous home-delivered food boxes to senior residents. She and her small staff leveraged local partnerships to ensure that seniors were (and continue to be) supported.
Unlike other organizations, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC doesn’t rely on volunteers. Every member of the team is valuable, providing expertise and local knowledge, to ensure that programs are successfully rolled out and residents are given hands-on support. This requires Campbell to think strategically about partnerships and funding opportunities. She only takes on what her organization is prepared to handle - and this ensures quality care is provided.
“Community development is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Campbell. “There’s more demand than funding resources available.”
For this reason, Campbell is dedicated to providing valuable programs to her residents. Working with partners in the area, she has found a way to meet the most prevalent needs of her residents. Recently, for example, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC partnered with the Hannan Center to provide ongoing food delivery to residents. Partnerships like these are critical, as many senior residents in the neighborhood are battling physical disabilities, chronic conditions, or transportation constraints.
Overview of Sinai-Grace Guild CDC's programs
Every program and partnership is strategic. In order to provide the most optimal outcomes, Campbell considers her team’s capacity, resources, and financial support.
"It takes some time to evaluate the effectiveness of a program,” Campbell explains. “But we do know our weatherization program has been highly successful and something we want to continue. Once you recognize that there’s sustainability in a program, you seek additional funding.”
Current Sinai-Grace Guild CDC programs, which are available to eligible residents in Belmont, College Park, Crary/St. Mary’s, Harmony Village, Hubbell-Puritan, Winship, and parts of Bethune, and Schulze, include:
Live Local Northwest Detroit
This new program aims to revitalize the residential community by providing workers in the area with up to $10,000 to either build or renovate an existing home. Supported by Ballmer Group and DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital, Live Local Northwest Detroit encourages new homeownership, which is a vital social driver.
Northwest Detroit Home Enhancement Program
Earlier this year, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC received a much-deserved grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to provide exterior home improvements to residents. Broken porches, stairs, windows, and damaged siding is a major safety and health concern for residents, which studies have proven.
Seniors Staying Connected
There’s no denying the digital divide in this country, especially among low-income seniors. In partnership with the Hannan Center, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC is providing digital support to those aging at home. With a one-year commitment, participants receive a Google Next Hub Max device with accessories, ISP assistance, and case management services.
My Neighborhood Connections
The Hannan Center is also working with Sinai-Grace Guild CDC on no-cost, membership-based timebank services. For seniors needing base needs, transportation, or other services for optimal health, this program makes that possible.
Home Weatherization Program
In partnership with Walker-Miller Energy Services, this program has been one of the organization’s most successful. With an initial investment of $8,100 per home, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC and the energy waste reduction company have provided much-needed updates to senior homes through the Belmont, College Park, and Winship communities. From installing HVAC systems to replacing water heaters, the program has saved each resident $300 annually on energy bills.
While this program existed when Campbell joined the organization in 2019, she made adjustments and helped drive its ongoing success. By the end of this year, 30 homes will be completed.
The future of the community network
Over the years, Sinai-Grace Guild CDC has partnered with dozens of organizations, from Joy Gem CDC to The Greening of Detroit. The nonprofit continues to work in tandem with nearby organizations to support residents, understanding that individual needs extend far beyond an individual organization’s capacity.
This is why Campbell believes a community referral network can be so beneficial. Rather than simply relying on an email or a phone call, organizations can use the platform to make a digital referral that’s tracked and reported, ensuring the services are conducted and the individual’s need is met. Having worked in consulting in the criminal justice system, Campbell has learned just how powerful a community network can be.
As she continues to expand Sinai-Grace Guild CDC’s reach, Campbell hopes to spend more time in the community. Due to constrained resources and limited time, one of Campbell’s biggest challenges has been conducting community engagement work. She would love to go door-to-door to meet her neighbors, engage with seniors, and approach working families who aren’t aware of Sinai-Grace Guild CDC’s services.
While word-of-mouth referrals have proven valuable for the organization, Campbell is looking forward to being a part of the Michigan community network in order to expand Sinai-Grace Guild CDC’s reach and engage more with local organizations.