Detroit Service Retreat – Teens4Unity

From June 22 to 26 a group of thirty teens from all different ages, backgrounds, and states traveled to Detroit to help “color the city” with love, fraternity, and unity. The trip was sponsored by Teens4Unity (T4U) and supported greatly by the Detroit Focolare community.

During their time there, the T4U not only assisted the needy in a local soup kitchen, worked hard in an urban garden, and participated in a demonstration for unity right in downtown Detroit, but also built strong new relationships within the group of teens, strengthened existing friendships, and also created new ones with people they had only just met in the Detroit community. Besides the service projects, the T4U also did sight-seeing in downtown Detroit and had down time for just plain old summer fun and games.


Listen in as the Youth share with readers about their Detroit adventure…

Throughout the trip our group lodged at the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, which, as it happened, was hosting a car show and grill-out on the first day. We were more than welcome (and happy) to eat some hot dogs and hamburgers with them and enjoy the car show. As a group later that night we met to speak about the goal of the trip which was to show people how to love one another and build mutual respect across boundaries of race, age, background, and even language.


On the second day the work began. Bright and early we drove out to St. Vincent de Paul’s Matchan Soup Kitchen to scrub walls, sweep and mop floors, and tidy-up around the outside of the building. Some teens worked in assembling hygiene kits and bags of fruit, veggies, bread, and other donated items for the costumers to receive, while others aided in preparing and serving lunch. The meal we shared with the costumers was truly touching; we shared many stories and jokes and got to know each other as human beings. When the time came for us to depart Matchan, many of our boys and girls were glad to have left smiles bigger than we found them.


On Friday, the Cadillac Urban Garden was more than happy to have our assistance for the portion of the day in an abandoned parking lot-turned-garden. We pulled weeds, watered flowers, cleaned up all around the block, planted flowers and much more. Not only were we helping to relieve the pollution that had been inflicted on the area, but we were supporting a program that provided opportunity to youth of that mostly low-income area who otherwise wouldn’t have it. We enjoyed a nice lunch of pizza and shared our experiences with the youth who helped us and spent the day outside in beautiful not-too-hot weather.



On Saturday, we enjoyed a fun tour of Downtown Detroit. More importantly, however, we spread unity and love by putting on a demonstration, and some new friends helped us out when we accidentally came across a group called Project Dance who tried to spread hope starting after 9/11 using dance as a vehicle.  Next, we took the “People Mover” to the Renaissance Center, checked out the new cars, and waved at Canada across the water from the river walk.



After an outdoor mass and picnic at St. Robert’s on Sunday, it was finally time to pack up and head out. Even though we were all sad to leave our friends and the great city, we knew that we made a difference and hoped that we could see the city soon.