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History


New Orleans

Camp Restore was established in 2006 in response to the levee failures and subsequent devastation following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. With support from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and numerous nonprofits including Laborers for Christ and Orphan Grain Train, the school facility of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in New Orleans East was converted to house and equip volunteer groups from across the country. A new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, RAI (Recovery Assistance, Inc.) Ministries, was created to manage the camp, with a mission to restore faith, home and community in the name of Jesus.

Since 2006, Camp Restore – New Orleans has housed more than 30,000 volunteers from all 50 states and over 30 countries, contributing more than 1,000,000 hours of service. Great progress has been made in restoring the city. As rebuilding continues, work is now shifting toward strengthening community health and resilience, in partnership with over 150 local nonprofits and churches.

Detroit

Detroit’s story starts as one of innovation, creativity, determination, and engineering all working together to change the world.  Detroit was founded in 1701, but really took off in the early 1900’s with Henry Ford revolutionizing auto industry. As the auto industry grew so did the need for workers. Much of the first wave of new workers came from Canada and Europe. After WWII started immigration was strictly limited, and Mr. Ford began hiring families from the South. There was a Great Migration of African American, white, and Mexican populations into Detroit. Detroit was the place to be, shaping the United States from modes of transportation, to family time, to entertainment. Then the tough times hit. With the end of WWII in 1945, manufacturing began to decline. This was followed by the Riot of ’67 (at the time the worst riot in the U.S. since the Civil War), corrupt government officials, the attacks on 9/11, the recessions of ’07, ’08, ’09, the housing collapse, and more. While most of the U.S. recovered from these events so much of Detroit and the surrounding suburbs are based on auto manufacturing that this was a huge hit to our city. When the rest of the nation hiccups, Detroit gets sick and takes much longer to recover. The city of Detroit became violent and unstable. Residents were desperate to escape the violence, abandoning their houses and leaving the city as soon as possible. The population fell from its height of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 677,116 in 2015. Much of the land is now only 25% populated. Poverty and blight are serious problems.

Lately, however, the tides have begun to change. So many people have left that the violence is dying down. Violent crime is at a 50-year low in Detroit now, decreasing at a rate of 5% per year! The economy is recovering, and immense improvements are happening in the downtown area. The surrounding communities, like ours here at Camp Restore Detroit, are working together to fix our communities, coming out of the ashes to experience a rebirth. The descendants of those who built our city are still here and investing their fortunes into Detroit. Together, once again using innovation, creativity, determination, and engineering, we will all work together to make Detroit the Comeback City!

Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church

Over 95 years ago Mt. Calvary was started when a few people opened its doors in faith. At that point the community surrounding the church was a thriving working-class neighborhood. Mt. Calvary grew and thrived just as Detroit did.  At its height there were 1,800 members at Mt. Calvary and a full school. As Detroit started to suffer, however, the church did as well. Violence escalated and members moved to the suburbs and found new churches. At the same time Mt. Calvary received another setback – the fire marshal would no longer allow the lower grades to meet upstairs which forced the school to close. Eventually only thirty-five members were left, searching and dreaming of ways to reach out and partner with our community to restore Christian hope to our community when approached by Camp Restore and RAI Ministries.

Camp Restore

In 2016, Camp Restore saw a need to help the people of Detroit. They decided to see what options existed to open another Camp Restore in Detroit. When Camp Restore came to Mt. Calvary, they found not only a building that would work but also an amazing group of people, small in numbers but large in heart, passionate about their community and mission. Mt. Calvary was excited—and a bit nervous—to receive the request to become the next Camp Restore location. They have a vision to restore hope, to see the people struggling less, and to see houses built instead of torn down. 2017 saw the first season of campers for Camp Restore Detroit. The mission of Camp Restore Detroit is to demonstrate Christian hope while working together to restore our Detroit community. Today, the community members, Neighborhood Police Officers, Mt. Calvary members, Camp Restore Detroit staff and volunteers, and so many others are working in partnership to revitalize Detroit with a focus on the 9th Precinct. It is amazing to see the connections made and work done in just this short time since Camp Restore Detroit first opened!

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