Let Love Lead … Locally6 min read

What a whirlwind summer at Camp Restore Detroit! Overall, as things wind down and I have a moment to breathe, I am overwhelmed by the blessings we received this summer and the impact that has been made on the East side of Detroit over the last few months. God is good!

When Elizabeth (our former Associate Director) first said, “I think we can open if we pray, plan well, and are careful,” we did not know what to expect. We spoke to community leaders and found that yes, the community was ready to invite volunteers back in and groups seemed ready to come.

We took one group in at a time and followed protocols that were a bit foreign to us—we are a very relational ministry, so social distancing was incredibly strange to all of us!—but we managed and, thankfully, were able to stay open all summer.

So here is a detailed update. In terms of this summer, our theme was “Let Love Lead” and it sure did!!


Garden of Eatin’

So far, 2021 has brought 289 volunteers, who stayed 1,105 nights on campus. These volunteers have worked a total of 6,626 hours! This doubled our pandemic expectations!

Campus Projects

Garden of Eatin’ – The community Gardens received a major overhaul this summer. Summer volunteers put in a fitness trail, a rain collection system, and a farmer’s market stand! We were able to have our very first “You Pick Farmer’s Market” just a couple weeks ago. The Land Bank released their hold on this property upon seeing the progress. We are looking for volunteers to help take care of the garden plants, weed, mow, and water. Click here to volunteer.

White House Turned Blue – The White House turned blue this summer! It has all new windows and doors and is nearly finished being sided. We need the siding finished—including some special fascia. After a couple porches are built, we can turn our attention to the inside! Other than installing HVAC (already promised), we are working on finding volunteers for all of the work that needs to be done here. Click here to volunteer.

Redeemer house

Redeemer House – This house has almost all of the Foamular® put on because that had to be done in order to install the new windows. There is one window left to be put in, a bit of demo work inside and out, siding, porches, and the entire inside, except HVAC, to be done. We are hoping that siding will be donated this week. Any volunteers for this project would be appreciated! Click here to volunteer.

Reflection Gardens – These gardens have been planted and well maintained throughout the spring and summer. The Land Bank released these as well! A special thanks to Brian McNally who has been outside nearly every single day tending to these gardens, which allowed us to dedicate the Reflection Gardens this summer! The amphitheater is many people’s favorite part of campus! Volunteer help maintaining these gardens is always welcome and appreciated. Click here to volunteer.

View from the back of the blue house towards Redeemer house showing cleared lot

Landscaping – There is a very large area of land between the two houses. Volunteers this summer spent a lot of time cutting down trees and clearing this area. We then rented large equipment—thanks to Sunbelt who gave us 50% off everything!—and had volunteers and staff clear out the concrete and blight. It took 6 dumpsters just for the concrete and garbage! The yard waste (a pile as long as 3 cars and as high as two people) was picked up by the city. It is now a dirt field that needs to be leveled and seeded as soon as possible. It will also need a lot of landscaping, sidewalks, and work put into it. We are looking for volunteers, donations, and materials for this. Click here to volunteer.

Dorms – These are so very close to being done! A lot of work went into a final push by volunteers to have this ready for our summer campers. We need new fire exit signs hung as well as a couple lights. We have the signs and lights; we just need an electrician to hang them. Click here to volunteer.

We have come to know our immediate neighbors very well as this work progressed. There is SO MUCH excitement and enthusiasm for the work being done!

Off Campus Projects

Community leaders were certainly busy this summer leading the volunteers in projects. Countless lots were cleared of overgrowth, sidewalks made usable, and parks made enjoyable once again. Volunteers also kept busy planting trees in the Osbourn neighborhood, setting up for community events, building a reading circle at Fischer Magnet School, making benches for the Houston-Whittier Corridor, and so much more! Ongoing projects in need of volunteers include the beautification of our main streets—building and planting flower boxes, painting buildings, cleaning up, making and placing benches. We also have homeowners who have requested help with neighboring properties that need blight removed, including a neighbor whose garage fell down and needs to be removed. Click here to volunteer.

What’s Next? 

God’s plans are so much bigger than ours! All these projects still have so much more to be done but summer is drawing to a close and many of our traveling volunteers are gone. So we have started to ask churches to “Let Love Lead Locally.” We will take day or overnight groups weekdays or weekends to continue moving these projects forward both on campus and off. We have work for volunteers of all ages! We are praying for volunteers, donations, and materials to move these projects forward during the off season. Click here to volunteer

On Saturday, October 16, we are hosting our annual fundraiser as an Open House , both virtual and in person, outside in the gardens! The open house includes a tour of the campus and all these projects, the chance to meet community members, and to get to know Camp Restore Detroit even better. We hope to livestream both a silent auction and the event. This way, if anything has to be changed due to weather or the pandemic, we can still hold the event with all the same pieces—just virtually! It also means that we can include people from both far and near in the event! Click here to volunteer.

Thank you to the following Michigan District churches and ministries that have come to serve the 9th Precinct community in 2021 so far!

  • Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Birmingham
  • St. Paul, Trenton
  • Concordia Student Ministries, Houghton
  • Our Shepherd, Birmingham
  • Trinity, Reed City
  • Shepherd’s Gate, Shelby Township
  • Community Lutheran, Flat Rock
  • Hope, Adrian
  • St. John, Adrian

Let Love Lead … Locally! We look forward to meeting you! To learn more about Camp Restore Detroit, visit our new website. To volunteer, click here.

Photos courtesy of Camp Restore Detroit




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About the Author

Amy Fanta serves Camp Restore Detroit as its executive director.

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Rebecca Gladden - September 7, 2021

Extremely well done!!! What great and exciting life-changing things are happening through the Camp Restore Ministry!! God bless you and God bless Camp Restore! 👈🏾