The Things Money Can’t Buy – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

The Things Money Can’t Buy

Lately, as the program has been winding down, may people have asked me what I have learned from my internship and from being in Detroit.¬†While I have seen so much growth, potential, and positivity in the communities I have been serving, I have also seen many of Detroit’s most pressing issues up close and learned that they cannot be solved solely by throwing money at them, especially when many of those issues are complex, deeply rooted, and systematic.

At the non-profit I’m working at this summer, money is never an issue. Our non-profit is privately funded by a donor, and for the most part any program we wish to implement, resource we want to offer, or event we wanted to put on (within reason) can be made possible with one phone call to the boss. At first I thought that having money so easily accessible would make helping people in our neighborhoods a breeze. As time went on, I noticed this wasn’t the case. Neighbors didn’t trust us. Even when they knew all of the resources we had to offer, they were weary of our intentions. They had seen people and come in with money and impose on them the solutions that the people with money saw fit for their situation, rather than being asked “How can we help you?”

In experiencing this first-hand and developing ways to work through it, I realized that there really are just some things that money can’t buy. Solving many of the issues that are plaguing communities is going to require us to invest more than just our money. It is going to take investments of our time, and our attention. It is going to take us committing ourselves wholeheartedly to the people, and establishing relationships in which communities and us people serving in them can learn and grow from each other.


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