Detroit public high school gets major makeover thanks to Arab American Service Day volunteers


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12th Annual Service Day includes dozens of Arab American-led projects across the country

DETROIT—A group of 400 community volunteers and students from eight Dearborn and Detroit high schools teamed up for a major renovation of Detroit Public Schools’ Cody High School for National Arab American Service Day on May 14, 2016.

Several classrooms at the Detroit Institute of Technology (DIT) at Cody High School were in dire need of new ceilings. The old ceilings were unsafe and tiles had been falling down, some striking students. Several bathroom stalls were also missing doors, and the building's exterior and surrounding grounds needed a lot of attention. ACCESS, the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S., partnered with The Greening of Detroit to renovate and beautify DIT at Cody High School and nearby Stein Park for Service Day. Volunteers began the process of installing new drop ceilings in classrooms, painted outdoor courts, planted a community garden and a butterfly garden, cleaned up debris, built a walking path and cleaned up nearby abandoned lots.

"Having these renovations done means the world to our students as they now feel that someone cares about what is important to them. They will now have a sense of ownership and pride, thus promoting the moral of the student body as a whole,” said Thor Hicks, Dean of Student Culture at DIT at Cody High School.

Service Day, now in its 12th year, is a project of the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC). The Arab American-led initiative includes thousands of volunteers and dozens of projects across the country from planting trees and beach clean-ups to serving the homeless and organizing clothing drives. This year, over 2,000 people participated to give back to their neighbors and local communities through almost 20 projects across the country, from New York to California, and from Texas to Illinois.

“Our goal for the Service Day project in Detroit was to create a safe school environment, inside and out, and help instill in students a sense of pride for their school,” said Rachid Elabed, ACCESS Community Engagement Manager. “With the motto of ‘Serving Communities, Connecting People,’ Service Day is truly representative of the Arab American community and its commitment to giving back.”

National Arab American Service Day is about fostering a culture of leadership and community engagement through service and volunteerism. Under its motto of “Serving Communities, Connecting People,” Service Day brings together diverse groups and individuals for one shared goal: responding to their community’s needs. As a project of NNAAC, Service Day has engaged more than 12,000 volunteers for hundreds of service projects since 2005. For more information, visit


About the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a program of ACCESS, is a national consortium of 25 independent Arab American community-based organizations. Its mission is the development of Arab American community-based nonprofit organizations that understand, meet the needs and represent the concerns of Arab Americans at a local level while collectively addressing those issues at a national level. NNAAC leads the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, a multi-year, grassroots campaign that strives to address issues of bias and challenges the growing discrimination and persistent misconception of Arab and Muslim Americans, including refugees.

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