Heathens, Pagans, and Burners put ethos before egos in Detroit

On August 14th, Detroit was again the site of the powerful Street Store phenomenon. In the shadow of the Masonic Temple, volunteers from various areas of  Southeastern Michigan came together to put forth their hearts and hands in providing good clothing and material needs in service to the homeless residents of Detroit. This time, the event was at Cass Park, 600 Ledyard Street.

Matt Orlando and Kyle Coviak added their hands and hearts to the Street Store Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved
Matt Orlando and Kyle Coviak added their hands and hearts to the Street Store Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved

Matt Orlando, of Ancient Faiths Alliance and Northern Mist Kindred pitched in to lend an arm. A busy man, he found time to come in and put feet to the street to get to know the people who may not get to speak to candidates up “close and personal”. He is running for Representative to U.S. Congress under the Libertarian ticket this election. And though the folks who live in this district are not his constituents, he expressed his belief that people don’t stop having needs at the edge of a voting boundary.

The good Reverend Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb, of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry dashed off before I could get an image of her dropping off a fresh batch of clothing. She put out a call on the Pagans In Need Facebook page for men’s clothing in larger sizes in the week leading up to the event. Though sick, she still made it a priority to drop and dash back for some needed recovery time.

 

Modest beginnings lead to big things. These racks below look like they are very thin. However, within minutes they were groaning under the weight of hundreds of donated, clean garments. Bins and boxes waited in readiness as they were continuously emptied by all who came.

Burners Without Borders set up the store across from the Wobbly Kitchen Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved
Burners Without Borders set up the store across from the Wobbly Kitchen Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

 

Kyle Coviak, of the GLWC of Michigan, and Ancient Faiths Alliance, also hit the park site with strength and energy. He is known as one of the faces of volunteerism in the local spiritual communities. Working in tandem with a system of constant flow, he kept the clients happy and the lines stocked with clothing and home wares. Neat and tidy is his watchword and it showed.

 

Lifting and loading. Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved
Lifting and loading. Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

*Full disclosure: He is my husband, and at this time we shall all ask for prayers, as I am definitely NOT neat and tidy. His struggle continues.*

 

In addition to these items, hygiene kits were available as well.  Food items were on hand and ready to go. This seemed to work hand in hand with the mission of the good folks across the green.

The Wobbly kitchen, as a gathering and an institution, is all about good feelings, good folks, and food. The smells coming from the buffet were mouth-watering, and the music was jamming. If you want to see more, catch them the 2nd and 4th Sundays.

The Burners Without Borders Detroit chapter plans to do this again. If you want to volunteer, you can go to their WordPress to keep yourself in the loop. The place may change, but the mission remains the same. Be a part of a growing momentum and give of yourself. It feels good. And you might just get to share ice cream at the end.

Burners Without Borders Detroit, Matt Orlando, Kyle Coviak Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved
Burners Without Borders Detroit, Matt Orlando, Kyle Coviak Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

 

Detroit Pagans, the Street Store needs you

Burners Without Borders rock the Street Store

In the heat of the morning, a small crew of volunteers came together to transform an empty sidewalk into a happening.  Atheists, agnostics, Pagan ministers, and more were on site to help Burners Without Borders make the Street Store happen this last weekend in the Cass Corridor area of Downtown Detroit.

Setting up with Rev. Gerrybrete of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry - Image Kenya Coviak
Setting up with Rev. Gerrybrete of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry – Image Kenya Coviak

Volunteers with joyful hearts and focused hands created a show room of apparel and material resources for homeless shoppers in the free pop up event.

The Street Store Burners Without Borders - Kenya Coviak
The Street Store Burners Without Borders – Kenya Coviak

The heat of the blazing summer sun seemed to show the inner shine of benevolent energy.

Shoppers come by foot and bicycle.
Shoppers come by foot and bicycle.

The two sides of Detroit ironically next to each other.

A poetic symbol of gentrification and division
A poetic symbol of gentrification and division

In the shadow of new developments, residents who receive none of the fruits of the “new Detroit robber barons” came together with the spirit of the old Detroit unity.

 

Madeline Frost and Danielle Doxie Kaltz in mission of compassion
Madeline Frost and Danielle Doxie Kaltz in the light of compassion

The architecture of a city embattled but still here stands sentry as its streets filled with hope.

Service with a smile
Service with a smile
Food was freely available
Food was freely available

Hundreds of articles of clothing, hygiene kits, water, and food items available to homeless citizens this day.

A view of the display wall.
A view of the display wall.
Hygiene kits - part of standard for Michigan's Burners Without Borders events
Hygiene kits – part of standard for Michigan’s Burners Without Borders events

The work doesn’t stop here though.   Burners Without Borders never stops here in Detroit.  Soup kitchens, charitable events, hat and glove drives, and a backpack program are a few of the programs that make up a tapestry of outreach and support that blankets Southeast Michigan with compassion.