Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Dawn Wolfe
DETROIT – On Dec. 17, roughly two hundred people walked through a red-carpeted entrance into the realization of a dream. After four years of working and “literally [saving] every penny that we could,” according to Executive Director Cindy Bolden Calhoun, the staff of Community Health Awareness Group was able to officially dedicate a building that is as large as its mission.
“For so long I really wanted my staff to have a place where they were proud to come in and come to work and where they were comfortable and where they could serve people to the best of their ability. And I feel that this building and this space is ours and it will allow us to do that,” said Bolden Calhoun.
The interior of the new space felt like a Christmas present. During the Open House CHAG staff led tours past doors that were decorated for the season, and a large Christmas tree greeted visitors to the second floor.
According to Bolden Calhoun, the CHAG staff all pitched in to help give themselves and their clients this present by raising over fifteen thousand dollars for AIDS Walk Detroit this past fall. During the dedication later that evening, Bolden Calhoun awarded plaques of appreciation to each staff member who raised one thousand dollars or more for the building.
The dedication service itself served several purposes. CHAG was honored by the city, as a representative from Detroit City Council member Jo Ann Watson’s office presented CHAG with the Spirit of Detroit award. Council member Alberta Tinsley-Talabi came in person to present a resolution from the city.
“We know the work that you do here,” said Tinsley-Talabi during her remarks.
Two areas of the new building were each dedicated to people who gave of themselves to the agency and who are now deceased. The building’s board room was dedicated to Belinda Mack Howard, and the new Community Center, where the dedication took place, was named “Veronica’s Place” in honor of Veronica Mitchell.
“They’re our angels, and that’s how we’d like to remember them,” said Bolden Calhoun.
During a moving candlelight memorial ceremony, participants remembered Mitchell, Mack Howard, and the people who have been lost to HIV/AIDS. Kymberli Moore of CHAG read a pre-Kaddish poem, and Lydia Meyers was joined by her family to say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of peace for the dead. Board Chair Dr. Silas Norman also led participants in a prayer of thanks and re-dedication to the agency’s mission.
That mission may be expanding with the new space, according to Bolden Calhoun.
“We are looking now to focus on health disparities within the African-American community and our mission is broad enough for us to address whatever health concerns there are among African-Americans.”
She added, “We want to take the skills that we’ve learned in HIV – how to do outreach, how to go into communities, how to mobilize, how to help people to advocate for themselves – we want to be able to teach people that as it relates to other health issues.”
CHAG’s new location is at 1300 West Fort Street in Detroit. For more information on the organization’s programs, or to volunteer and/or make a donation, call 313-963-3434.