There’s a fine line between skeptical and cynical.
For Andre McCullough, when a do-gooder moved into his neighborhood, he drew that line a bit more distinctly.
“I wasn’t skeptical,” Andre clarified. “I didn’t want him there.”
If you’re a lifelong Detroiter, doubt can quickly give way to contempt when strangers show up uninvited, saying they want to serve the very community you’ve dedicated your life to protecting.
“We actually fought. We went as far as we could to see if we could stop the process from happening,” Andre said. “But the fortunate part about it is that we couldn’t stop the process.”
That do-gooder happened to be Chris Lambert, Founder and CEO of Life Remodeled. Chris was in the process of finalizing plans to convert the former Durfee Elementary-Middle School into Durfee Innovation Society, and Andre had concerns.
But then, his contempt gave way to empathy.
“I put a non-profit together 20 years ago,” Andre explained. “And I did my best to bring services to the community. I won’t get into the type of injustice I faced when I went up against the opposition, but I finally realized Chris was dealing with the same thing.”
So, Andre took a different approach.
“The first thing to understand about politics, is that you have to sit down at the table,” he said. “And that’s what we did.”
“As the process went forward, I felt like the best thing I could do is make sure the community got the best out of it that they could possibly get.”
So, being semi-retired, Andre joined the Life Remodeled Community Advisory Council to lend his time to the cause.
“I came up in an era when we had woodshop, metal shop, band, art class, home economics,” he explained. “And then our governments decided kids didn’t need these things anymore. So, they cut it out. And that’s what has hampered us as a community and a society: The lack of workmanship, entrepreneurship.”
“But DIS is trying to cover all of that.”
“Kids want to be part of something they can enjoy and talk about and have memories of,” Andre continued. “And when you got something the kids enjoy, their parents follow. Adults who have been displaced in the workforce because of a lack of training can also participate in programs to help them find new directions. It’s just a well-rounded building.”
Today, Andre is grateful for his neighbor — and his seat at the table.
“I’m glad it’s here. I’m glad I’m part of it. I plan to be a part of it for life,” he said.
“I mean, what more could I ask for? I got everything I was looking for to help my community over the last 30, 40, 50 years. Life Remodeled is bringing that to fruition. We’re helping each other.”
“So, it’s all good… It’s all good.”
In other words… We all really do need somebody to lean on.