Conner Creek expansion underway – Grosse Pointe News

Photos of Renée Landuyt
From left, Lt. Pamela Boateng and Lt. Henry Boateng, officers, Salvation Army Detroit Conner Creek Corps Community Center; Bill Shelmon, Executive Project Manager, Advanced Product Planning Office, Toyota Motor North America; Gary Gray, Chief of Staff to Councilwoman Latisha Johnson; Derek Brown, Salvation Army Advisory Board of Metro Detroit and Salvation Army Advisory Board of Detroit Conner Creek; John J. Latella, Salvation Army National Advisory Council and Salvation Army Detroit Conner Creek Capital Campaign; Maj. Timothy Meyer, general secretary and commander of Metro Detroit, Eastern Michigan Division of the Salvation Army; Lt. Col. Theresa Turner, Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division; Lt. Col. John E. Turner, Eastern Michigan Division of the Salvation Army; Commissioner Heidi Bailey, Salvation Army Central Territory; and Commissioner Brad Bailey, Salvation Army Central Territory.

Earth was laid Tuesday, June 14 for an expansion project at the Salvation Army’s Conner Creek Corps, 3000 Conner, Detroit.
The ceremony marks the first addition to the building — a former Chrysler union headquarters — since the nonprofit purchased it in 2015.
“I said at the time that it was the perfect place, the perfect building for us,” said Richard Strowger, a resident of the town of Grosse Pointe who sits on the Conner Creek advisory board. “The only thing he needed was more space for athletics, for a basketball court.”
That need — and many more — will be met upon the 2023 completion of the $6.8 million expansion project, which will nearly triple the space from 7,900 square feet to 23,038 square feet.
“There are 13 body centers in metro Detroit, but only three in the city, of which Conner Creek is one,” Strowger said. “If you look at the east side of the city of Detroit, you’ll find that the median household income is $34,000. The poverty line is 43%. Family households headed by single mothers account for 70%. The percentage of third-grade students who can read and do calculations is 13%. Fifty percent of high school students graduate.
“A community center that can provide services to this population is a critical need,” he continued, “not to say that there aren’t other nonprofits operating in the area. , but the Salvation Army is uniquely suited to meet those needs.”

Grosse Pointers involved in the project include, as of then, Robert Brown, Gary Marowske, Richard Strowger, Kurt Tech and Polly Tech.

The Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865, to meet human needs without discrimination. The organization first came to Detroit in 1888. Its location in Conner Creek provides social services, a church, food aid, shelter, vacation assistance and more to the populations it serves – who , in addition to Detroit’s east side, includes Grosse Pointe and Harper’s Woods.
The increased capacity in Conner Creek will allow for increased meeting space for the community, as well as more space for social services, including financial literacy training, medical clinics, GED courses and cooking classes, among other programs.
“Our senior lunch program, which is oversubscribed, we can always use more space for that,” Strowger said. “We will also have more programming space for youth sports and senior fitness.
“…Conner Creek has always had a pantry, where people on the east side can go, free of charge, pick out whatever they need from the shelves,” he added. “This project includes an expanded pantry – with in-room grocery carts. … These are foodstuffs that come from Forgotten Harvest and other places and are supplemented with monies the military donates for s Ensuring there’s a wide range of groceries available. From food insecurity to computer classes and basketball games, it’s all part of 3000 Conner’s expansion.
An initial estimate for the project – for which a fundraising campaign was launched five years ago – was $4.3 million. The latest cost estimate is $6.8 million, of which $5.8 million has been raised.
“The increase was partly due to inflation, but also, when the plan was presented to a specific donor who asked to remain anonymous, when we described to him that the key element of the expansion was a new college size basketball court, she asked why wouldn’t we want a high school size basketball court, we told her it was a question of cost.
The donor, he continued, not only convinced the Salvation Army of the need to expand the basketball court, but also funded it.
“Part of the $2.5 million (difference in estimate) is the expansion of the project itself based on his philanthropy,” he added. “We have raised $5.8 million to date. We are $1 million short, but we are at a reasonable point where we can start construction. The estimated completion and opening date is 2023.”
Major donors who “did the heavy lifting,” not counting the anonymous donor, Strowger said, include the Ford Motor Company Fund, Cynthia and Edsel Ford, Toyota Motor North America and the Matilda R. Wilson Fund.
“I’m thrilled that this project is moving forward,” Strowger said. “…It’s close to my heart and my base of operations.”
Those wishing to donate to the Conner Creek expansion project can call Salvation Army Eastern Michigan District Development Manager John Hale at (248) 361-0341.
“The negative statistics speak for themselves,” Strowger said. “If you had a residential neighbor in need, most people would feel sympathetic and do what they could to help. It’s no different just because there’s a border between Grosse Pointe Park and the city of Detroit.


Sean Cotton, Owner and Publisher
Jody McVeigh, Editor-in-Chief

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