Manistique Community Treehouse serves the Jefferson Chalmers community during the pandemicThe Nonprofit Journal Project

When COVID-19 hit in March, the Manistique Community Treehouse was getting ready for our spring gala event. The gala was planned to fundraise for four shipping containers to have an office space, a space for community, and a space for our hip-hop ballet classes for kids and other classes. Thank God, people who had prepaid told us to keep the money when we canceled the gala.

The Manistique Community Treehouse is a project of Community Treehouse Center supported by the Manistique block club 200 300 blocks and the community. Our mission is for youth, seniors and veterans, and individuals to gain mental and physical wellbeing.


We’ve been working to start the groundbreaking for the shipping containers for office space. We were hoping to break ground in June, but it’s been pushed back to later this year, we hope. In the meantime, we’ve been practicing social distancing and plan to have hand sanitizing stations and temperature checks for programming.


The worst thing that has happened was that we lost someone very important to our organization, Miss Betty Mills, to COVID-19 right at the very beginning of the pandemic. She was my right-hand person. That’s been very hard to get used to.


We knew when the pandemic began that people were going to need food, need masks, so the very first week of the pandemic we started a project called the resource table at the community treehouse where people could give and take food and personal protective equipment.


We also began a group on special media for neighbors to talk about how to implement social distancing and community support. Out of that we provided soap to one of our local senior buildings and began a campaign to put hearts in our windows during the shutdown to show we care. With help from Michigan Community Resources and Challenge Detroit, we are implementing a street ambassador program to help block club captains.


All the while, we are continuing to empower our residents through our program to install 25 solar panels on homes in Jefferson Chalmers as well as to train our residents in building wealth through financial literacy. We have a program to connect kids and seniors to learn and invest in the stock market together.


I think the biggest thing about how the pandemic has changed what we’re doing is how we communicate. We’re relying more on streaming now. So I think it's made us aware of still being able to accomplish our goals, despite the challenges.

Tammy Black is the creator of the Manistique Community Treehouse project and a mother of 6 kids. Stay tuned for her next entry in our Nonprofit Journal Project, an initiative inviting nonprofit leaders across Metro Detroit to contribute their thoughts via journal entries on how COVID-19 is impacting the nonprofit sector--and how they are innovating. This series is made possible with the generous support of our partners, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Co.ACT.

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