Life Remodeled started in 2010 with a handful of radically passionate friends who didn’t have the experience, money or even the social capital necessary to achieve their seemingly impossible goals for their first project. However, within one year of the conception of the idea, their seemingly-insane ambition to “always find a way” rapidly magnetized 500 other like-minded individuals, most whom they’d never previously met, and they achieved every facet of their original vision in only twelve months. To read more about Life Remodeled’s original operating model and how to emulate it in your own organization, download the Life Remodeled playbook.
Life Remodeled Timeline
In May of 2021, Life Remodeled reached 100% occupancy of the DIS. This will be the final year of the Six Day Project in the Durfee/Central community as Life Remodeled is planning to begin serving in a new Detroit community in 2022.
Life Remodeled pivoted to address the needs of Detroiters adversely and disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the disbursement of more than half a million dollars of groceries, fresh produce, gift cards, tablets, we provided a platform to discuss race and equity through a program called Race Remodeled. We also pulled off a successful Six Day Project in a pandemic, mobilizing 2,021 volunteers in blight removal efforts. Life Remodeled also finalized construction of the DIS and received the building’s full certificate of occupancy. Finally, Life Remodeled celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a virtual celebration viewed over 8,000 times online and launched a new organizational logo and brand.
Year three of the minimum five-year commitment brought even more revitalization to the Durfee neighborhood. In addition to continuing with home repairs and another Six Day Project focused on addressing blight in 257 alleyways throughout the community, significant traction and momentum was being sustained around the DIS Project.
Life Remodeled continued their first multi-year commitment to a neighborhood and completed even more home repairs, another Six Day Project where we mobilized 10,397 volunteers on the same blocks and went beyond blight removal and completed multiple beautification projects as a result of feedback from the community. Furthermore, more renovations were completed at the DIS, and tenants began moving into the space.
Life Remodeled began renovating and repurposing the former Durfee Elementary Middle School building (adjacent to Central High School) into the Durfee Innovation Society (DIS). We also repaired 53 homes, mobilized 11,032 volunteers in six days, boarded up 534 vacant houses and removed blight on 367 blocks.
Denby High School students and recent graduate, Hakeem Weatherspoon, lead the way in Life Remodeled taking a deeper dive into community relations. The students designed a “safe place to hang out” and that place – Skinner Park in the Denby neighborhood on Detroit’s northeast side – was the focus project instead of the high school itself. A performance pavilion, new basketball courts, volleyball court, putting green and other amenities are now in place of the former under-equipped and underused Skinner Playfield. Seven suburban Detroit communities created official partnerships with Life Remodeled and sent hundreds of volunteers to Denby, serving among the more than 10,000 volunteers that remove blight on 303 blocks, board up 362 vacant houses and help repair 80 homes of Denby residents.
Building on the success in Cody Rouge, Life Remodeled moved east to Osborn, one of Detroit’s most-blighted neighborhoods. Efforts focused on a new roof, gym, cafeteria, library and main office, among other upgrades to Osborn High School. Most volunteers cleared debris in the 4.5 square mile area around the school, clearing more than 300 blocks and boarding up 472 vacant houses. Pulaski Elementary-Middle School also received a deep cleaning and two new playscapes. Life Remodeled produced a documentary called “Life in Osborn.” View here. Life Remodeled matured as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, receiving the bulk of its administrative funding from foundation grants, leaving fundraising efforts to benefit the annual projects.
Life Remodeled’s stopped building new homes in six days and shifted its focus to multi-million dollar renovations of existing high schools. More than 10,000 volunteers came together for a week in August to invest in Cody High School and the surrounding community,participating in major projects like a new STEM lab, medical simulation lab, revamping of the home economics room and a new $1.2 million synthetic turf football field that allowed the first home games in more than six years at Cody. The volunteers cleared debris, boarded up 254 vacant houses and beautified 303 blocks of the Cody Rouge neighborhood while creating safe pathways for students walking to and from school. Framed by Grace Films produced a documentary called “Cody High: A Life Remodeled Project.” View trailer here.
Life Remodeled moved into Detroit, taking on its first large-scale neighborhood project with one new home and garage constructed, 36 surrounding homes remodeled, 253 board ups of vacant houses and beautification of 65 blocks in Detroit’s North End. The Home Repair program is established, providing critical home repairs to neighborhood residents, which now includes new windows, a new roof, or a new furnace.
Pontiac, Redford, Hazel Park and Farmington Hills
Life Remodeled invested in four new families and built four more new houses in four Metro Detroit cities and beautified the surrounding neighborhoods, each in six days.
Life Remodeled constructed a single-family home from the ground up in six days and provided ongoing, holistic support services for the recipient family. A total of 500 volunteers also helped beautify the surrounding neighborhood.