One thing I’ve learned from NSO and from listening to the other fellows, is just how much love Detroiter’s have for their community. I’m really glad that so many of the fellows grew up in or around Detroit, because it has been really interesting to hear their first-hand accounts of what it is like to see all of that change happening around you. I feel like it would be easy to want to leave Detroit after it looks almost unrecognizable to those who grew up there, but I have noticed the exact opposite. Everyone that I have spoken to seems to really love their Detroit community, and truly want to see it improve.
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely impacted how NSO operates, especially concerning my project regarding food insecurity. Prior to 2020, I would say that food insecurity was not a main focus of the organization. NSO’s Homeless Recovery Services was operating as a walk-in clinic, where the staff could provide snacks to the consumers. However, due to social distancing requirements, they have had to completely shift the way they provide services. Now, the clinic more closely resembles an emergency shelter, and instead of giving out snacks, NSO must provide 3 meals a day for the 61 individuals in the shelter. In turn, this change has brought the issue of food insecurity to the forefront of Homeless Recovery Services which may not have happened without the pandemic.
So far, there has not been an opportunity to talk to community members, and as of right now, it does not seem I will have an opportunity to do so. However, almost all of the leadership at NSO has grown up in Detroit or lived there for many years, and it has been extremely insightful to hear their stories and personal connection to the cause.