Kenyetta Campbell’s efforts at community building in Cody Rouge on Detroit’s west side cover 14 years and she can point to several successes. Two summers ago, she witnessed a game changer in her neighborhood.
“The experience that I personally had with Life Remodeled has truly been a blessing. I’ve never witnessed a project of this magnitude,” said the executive director of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance. “The Life Remodeled Project really took us to scale and opened up a lot of doors for Cody Rouge.”
The 2014 project was a seminal event for Life Remodeled, too. It was the first time the Detroit-based non-profit worked to improve public schools while tackling neighborhood blight and remodeling homes. A record 10,000 volunteers participated during the week, two days of which coincided with the city’s greatest rainfall since 1925.
Classrooms renovated at Cody High School, including the addition of a state-of-the-art medical simulation lab, led to more opportunities. This year, the first students at Cody’s Medicine and Community Health Academy were able to graduate as fully certified firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
And the neighborhood?
“I think we’ve been able to sustain the effort through working with residents and other community-based organizations,” Kenyetta said.
Overgrown lawns on properties closest to the schools are being mowed, allowing safe pathways established during the Life Remodeled project to remain useable. “We had safe routes before Life Remodeled, but they weren’t safe,” she said. “Now, kids can walk down those blocks and know that residents are looking out for them.”
The big project at Cody, a new high school football field valued at $1.2 million and named Hope Field by the project’s largest benefactor, has been a catalyst to transform surrounding Stein Park into a community gathering place. Police Athletic League and other teams play there. And state money will allow a running track to be constructed around the football field in 2017.
Cody Rouge has seen crime in 10 of 11 categories fall in the last year. A Kresge Foundation grant will pay for lights to be installed at Hope Field. Is Cody now safe enough for night high school football games?
“That’s a good question,” Kenyetta said. “I believe we are on the right path to make that happen.”