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The Tumaini Center and the Bell Building


SStS Office

17th of July, 2019


Detroit '19

We started our day at Neighborhood Service Organization’s Tumaini Center, learning about the services available to Detroit’s homeless population and their “housing first” approach. We then headed to Bell House, which provides permanent, supportive housing for homeless adults, where we prepared and served lunch and played bingo with some of the residents.

Patrick – At around 8:30 this morning we made our way to NSO’s Tumaini Center. The Tumaini Center is a place where 24/7, homeless people can find shelter and safekeeping. There, Lewis Hickson who works there, gave us a talk all about the Tumaini Center and the homeless people of Detroit. The talk was very interesting, and gave us a different perspective on the homeless people in Detroit. We then toured the facility seeing all of the homeless people, who only had their clothes and a small box of belongings with them. It was shocking how these people were only given a single chair as their operating space, even having to sleep in the chairs. The conditions there seemed somewhat dehumanizing. At 10:30, we drove to the NSO Bell Building. We took a tour of the building, and then we prepared lunch and bingo for the residents. One of our tour guides, Caroline, actually lives in the Bell building. She was very happy to have us there, and it was sad to think about that without the Bell Building, she might be still living on the streets. During bingo, we had conversations with the residents about NSO and their lives. Today was a great experience, and I am excited to go to Forgotten Harvest tomorrow.

Ava – Today we went to two NSO facilities, the Tumaini Center and the Bell Building. At the Tumaini Center, we talked with Lewis Hickson about the history of Detroit, the shelter, and the homeless community. Something that stuck out to me was the fact that 18 year olds were some people affected. It was very strange to think that they were only a year older than me. Another interesting thing that Mr. Hickson talked to us a lot about was how being homeless is generational. If parents are homeless, their children will be homeless as well. It’s hard to break the cycle. After Tumaini, we went to NSO’s Bell Building residency. The environment of the community was very different than Tumaini. Tumaini had a sad, struggling community while Bell Building was hopeful, happy, and friendly. It was astonishing to see how having a safe, permanent place to stay really changes people’s attitudes.



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