Welcome to Day 4 of HopeSpeaks: 30 Stories in 30 Days. Learn more about the HopeSpeaks campaign and submit your story here!
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By Shirley “Dee Dee” Bickerstaff:
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s was an exciting adventure in the Motor City. I’ve seen the schools go from budding first-class learning facilities and college preparatory institutions to glorified day cares and seasonal detention centers. We once had abundant small family businesses and stores where people knew you and looked out for you and yours. But over time, the city seemed to lose many of its redeeming qualities, replaced by urban blight, the poor economy, crime, and a sense of hopelessness.
Fast forward twenty years, and many people have left. But I stuck around, and I can say I’ve been blessed to see what others missed, and what many felt could never happen.
Detroit has been seriously ill, but like a strong patient, it recovers. And strangely enough, this great city parallels my own life.
In 2008, I had open heart surgery and was down for the count — no insurance and $200,000 in medical bills. In 2009, I had a seizure while driving and totaled my car and another. In 2010, a mysterious eye infection left me dependent on horrid, but helpful, medications.
During this same time, my city was enduring business bail outs, front-page government scandals, and an overall sense of abandonment. Detroit was on the nation’s lips, and the words were even harsher than usual. But the city never stopped; it moved on, just as I did.
Now, in 2011, I look around and see urban gardens, new businesses and revived old businesses. I see community involvement and events everywhere, and many organizations have mobilized to make positive changes in the city. I see people moving into the city and taking a chance on a new life. Everywhere I look, I see hope.
And the thing is, these stories may not be making headlines, but they are changing hearts and lives in the city of Detroit. I thank God for my city’s ongoing recovery, and my own recovery (which is going very well, by the way). I also thank God for my church, Real Church, which has been a key part of my life’s recovery.
And it’s that recovery — of me, and my city, that gives me HOPE!
Photo Credit: Becky Bokern