Heart of Detroit: Larry and Marilyn Johnson

Published On: Mar 29 2012 05:37:31 PM EDT

they gave up the suburban life to help a neighborhood in need.


You've hear the expression, "It takes a village."

Well, sometimes you have to make the village.

Larry and Marilyn Johnson were well-to-do suburbanites who sold their computer business in the 1990s and began volunteering in shelters.

"What we saw was this recidivism rate that was so high," said Larry. "Every 12 months, 15 months, we'd see the same person come back again. And I'll never forget Marilyn coming to me one time and saying, 'Something, somebody needs to do something about this. Why don't we?'"

The result was Life Builders which started with one house on Detroit's east side and a small group of recovering women. Larry and Marilyn threw themselves in.

"We did life together. We ate meals together. We did outings together. We did church together on Sunday. If people didn't have cars we picked them up and drove them where they needed to go," said Marilyn.

She said they became an adopted family.

The result: No recidivism.

One house led to another, and another and eventually to an entire block. Adult programs and children programs.

The Johnsons were so inspired by a community dedicated to helping each other, that this year they gave up their house in Grosse Pointe and moved onto the very block they have rehabbed.

"I feel peace," said Larry. "I absolutely certain, and I know Marilyn is to, that this is where we're supposed to be."

One house at a time and one person at a time, Larry and Marilyn are reshaping the heart of Detroit.


The views expressed below are not those of Click On Detroit, WDIV, or its affiliated companies. By clicking on "Post," you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and your comment is in compliance with such terms. Readers, please help keep this discussion respectful and on topic by flagging comments that are offensive or inappropriate (hover over the commenter's name and you'll see the flag option appear on right side of that line). And remember, respect goes both ways: Tolerance of others' opinions is important in a free discourse. If you're easily offended by strong opinions, you might skip reading comments entirely.

blog comments powered by Disqus