In 2002, a commercial-quality GE Monogram range (we’ll affectionately rename “her” GEM) with her six burners, built-in griddle, full-capacity oven and a side baking oven was installed in a Rochester Hills home. Can you imagine over the years the gatherings that surrounded GEM? Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, hearty morning breakfasts, lunch dates with friends… little did GEM know that was just the beginning of her ability to bring people together.
While GEM was working faithfully in Rochester Hills, a woman named Stephanie Maurice was graduating at nearby Rochester College, and accepting a position in development with Detroit’s Mariners Inn, an organization that serves as an anchor for those struggling to navigate the treacherous waters of homelessness and substance abuse. Stephanie would also eventually join the alumni board of Rochester College.
In the spring of 2016 Rochester College’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship visited ReStore Pontiac, a home improvement outlet and donation center that supports the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County. This new Rochester College major leads students through projects with local nonprofits in order to help the students prepare for careers leading organizations and solving social issues. The ReStore manager was so impressed with the students in the class that she offered to hire one of them for a new position she was creating. Student Devan Watkins was inspired by ReStore during the class so she immediately applied, and was hired for the part time position.
In the fall of 2016, Rochester College’s Social Entrepreneurship majors moved on to their next assignment at Detroit’s Mariners Inn. Fittingly, the Mariners Inn project was in collaboration with Stephanie Maurice, Rochester College’s Alumni Board Member. During one of the tours the need for new kitchen equipment was brought up, to feed the many individuals served by Mariners Inn each day.
In the winter of 2016, as Devan moved between her part-time ReStore Pontiac job and her class project with Mariners Inn, GEM was moved suddenly from her Rochester Hills home, loaded onto a big truck and donated to ReStore Pontiac.
Devan, having seen GEM’s arrival at ReStore Pontiac, and in a moment of brilliant social entrepreneurship, realized this high-end kitchen equipment could make a big difference. She and Jaymes Vettraino, Rochester College’s director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, contacted Mariners Inn about the equipment. On December 8, 2016, Mariners Inn purchased GEM – the commercial quality, six burner range – for a small fraction of her retail cost. She will now be serving 500 men PER DAY at Mariners Inn as GEM does what she does best – bring people together.
One last little bit of joy: Remember the family in Rochester Hills that donated GEM? Their grandfather had been a member of Mariners Church of Detroit, the original supporting congregation of Mariners Inn. As GEM’s donor, who has been donating to ReStores for 10+ years said, “Hearing that the stove went to Mariners Inn made my day… I’m really glad it is being used to help others versus being put to scrap!”
About the Center for Social Entrepreneurship
During the Fall 2015 semester, Rochester College began offering a BBA with a Social Entrepreneurship Major. From its inception the Social Entrepreneurship academic Major has been rooted in the Mission of the College: Rochester College cultivates academic excellence, principled character, servant leadership, and global awareness through a rigorous educational experience that integrates liberal arts and professional studies within an inclusive Christian heritage. The foundations of the Major are the academic and professional studies courses essential to understanding business management. Upon this foundation students learn to apply business principles to servant leadership and social value organizations. Students interested in serving non-profit organizations, local government or for-profit businesses with a social good component are encouraged to explore their personal vocation while completing their academic studies. For more information visit www.rc.edu/socialentrepreneurship.
About Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County
Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County is a non-profit organization that works with local families to achieve strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Since 1996, Habitat Oakland County has built and renovated homes in partnership with 200 families, with 80 more planned for 2017. Donate, volunteer or learn more at www.habitatoakland.org. Shop. Donate. Volunteer at ReStores of Oakland County in Farmington and Pontiac www.habitatoakland.org/restore.
About Mariners Inn
Mariners Inn serves as an anchor for those struggling to navigate the treacherous waters of homelessness and substance abuse through a wide range of social service programs that achieve the best possible outcomes for adults, families, and youth affected by addiction. Mariners Inn is a nationally acclaimed treatment center providing substance abuse treatment, shelter, and supportive services to Southeast Michigan’s homeless men. Mariners Inn holds the most prestigious three-year accreditation through the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). For more information, please visit www.marinersinn.org.
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