How he survived being homeless on Detroit's streets

Published On: Jul 25 2012 08:23:50 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2012 03:04:20 PM EDT


In his second year of college and employed, 22-year-old Marcellus is the road to success. And he doesn’t plan to stop here.

His outlook now is one that he never saw for himself as a teen.

“I just gave myself up to the streets, just became homeless and stayed on the streets,” he said. “The only way I could get by is to not think about it because everyday I’m not getting no sleep. I don’t know where I’m gonna lay my head, I don’t know where I’m gonna get my next shower, I didn’t know where I was gonna get my next meal.”

Marcellus’ problem and so many others’ is what Cass Community Social Services is trying to solve. Their answer is a combination of food, shelter and jobs.

Director Faith Fowler says the key to making the community work is shared responsibility.

The organization hires people who are homeless to transform illegally dumped tires they have collected into doormats and sell them.

“We pick up illegally dumped tires. We've picked up over 20,000 in Detroit at no charge to the city. So,  it’s cleaning up the neighborhoods making them safer cause people set them on fire occasionally,” Fowler said.

Cass Community also has a number of garden which are cared for by the homeless. The shelter occupants grow and cook their own food.

“When you don’t have nothin to do and when there’s nothin to do and you just bored tryin to find somethin to do, that’s when you get yourself in trouble,” Marcellus said. “So, now that I have the right things to do, and I got something to actually wake up early in the morning for, come to work and be productive, it’s definitely different.”

To purchase the doormats featured in the video, visit:


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