Recently, I had the honor of joining my fellow Visteon employees, and some of their families and friends, for a half day of community service with Life Remodeled – a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that invests about $5 million in cash, labor and materials into one Detroit neighborhood each year.
Visteon employees like me have been participating in Life Remodeled since its inception in 2014, and the company has contributed $29,000 to this effort since 2015. This year, we joined more than 10,000 volunteers clearing virtually every blighted alleyway within a four-mile area surrounding the Durfee Innovation Society.
Before: Alley filled with trash and overgrown brush
After: Part of the Visteon team poses with the alley they worked to clear, creating a safe pathway
When 10,000 people roll up their sleeves and work toward the same goal, you see some serious impact. The improvements made through Life Remodeled are credited with significantly reducing crime in targeted communities in virtually every category, while creating workforce development and employment opportunities.
What makes us come back year after year?
I’m not generally a big fan of picking up other people’s trash and I don’t like bugs. I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life. But what I love about working with Life Remodeled is this: What we often find divides us – race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or who we voted for in the last election – all lose their significance as we work together. We are united by our desire to make positive change in the community.
Ray Foster works in our lab. He grew up in the neighborhood and attended Durfee Middle School, which is now the Durfee Innovation Society – a dynamic space for the best and brightest nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies to move in, share resources and achieve greater collective impact. He shares stories of the days when this was a vibrant, thriving community. Ray participates in Life Remodeled with the hope those days will soon return.
Jim Zachar in accounting participates in Life Remodeled with his wife every year, and has been a primary organizer of the Visteon volunteer team. He’s driven by his faith and spends additional personal time volunteering. As he was dripping with sweat from head to toe after ripping out vines and cutting down shrubs in the alley, I chuckled and told him he’d be feeling the aches and pains in the morning.
I think Jim’s response to me said it best. He gave me a smile and said, “It is not easy, but the feeling you have in your heart when you’re done is worth every ache and pain. We get a lot more than we give.”
Amna Kamal is a communications manager at Visteon. She develops and executes strategic communications for the Americas and for various functional groups and initiatives. She oversees the visteon.com website and social media activities, and is often heard saying, “Wait, let me take a quick picture of this for social!”
Amna has a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design from California State University, Fullerton. She volunteers for Scouts BSA, the Detroit Fasting 5K, Tyler Reading Program and Children’s Hospital of Michigan Bingo, and is a member of the board of directors at Crescent Academy International. In her free time, she sleeps.