Those who donate to CARES of Farmington Hills in the coming months will see their contributions matched up to $10,000, thanks to Farmington Hills-based RF Connect.
Business owner Leonard Kruszewski offered the grant to redo the boiler room in the former church that now houses the nonprofit. CARES provides a food pantry, Bridge card market, and other services to families in need throughout Farmington, Farmington Hills, and surrounding communities.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit this area in March, CARES has served as many as 1,200 families each month with a drive-up pantry. Families leave with 150-175 pounds of food to get them through the month.
Director Todd Lipa said packing boxes with food that guests may or may not want is less efficient, and everyone at CARES looks forward to opening the doors again. Typically, guests fill their shopping carts only with items they know their families will enjoy.
Heating and cooling
Kruszewski first stepped up with a matching grant last year, when the building’s heating and cooling system needed work. The former Servant Church of St. Alexander building was near the end of its life when CARES took over, Lipa said.
“His $5,000 went to almost $70,000 in two and a half months,” he explained. “We got the entire HVAC redone, and that was a blessing, because at the end of last winter, we were really nursing the boiler along.”
The grant will finish off that work and install a fresh-air handling system that will make the building healthier for everyone, Lipa said. Few people have been inside, but more are expected with the recent opening of Busch’s CARES Market.
Kruszewski said he was introduced to Lipa through CARES board member and Farmington Hills city council member Ken Massey. Kruszewski’s former business partner, the late George Riley, was a well known local philanthropist.
“I feel like I am carrying on his legacy,” he said.
Having served on nonprofit boards for the Botsford Foundation in Farmington Hills and Detroit Public Television, Kruszewski said he knows a matching grant program can inspire people to rally around a specific goal.
“I have a faith-based background and how CARES has transformed that church for the community has been a great thing to see,” he said. “It has a mission that inspired me to get involved and help where I can.”
Partnerships support CARES
Lipa said CARES has other building needs, with replacement doors for a handicapped accessible entrance and roof repairs at the top of the list. The nonprofit has partnered with a number of local businesses on improvements over the past several months:
- Z Painting, in partnership with Sherwin Williams, will paint the market and pantry inside and out, and the rectory exterior.
- Paulson’s Audio and Visual is working with manufacturers to supply security cameras on the property.
- RCI Electrical helped bring the building up to code with new lighting, outlets, and plugs.
- Bell Fork Lift donated a Toyota walkie pallet jack and worked with CARES on the purchase of a walkie stacker to more easily move pallets of goods.
- TrueCut Tree Service cleared branches from wires and trimmed trees around the CARES campus.
- Bricco Excavating and Piedmont Concrete helped remedy drainage issues on the property.
- A partnership with AIMS Construction, Barton Mallow, Beaumont Hospital, and T&M Asphalt Paving resulted in parking lot improvements.
- Jeff’s Concrete made sidewalks on the property safer.
- Corrigan Cube, Penske Truck Rental, and Waste Management all assisted with the conversion of clothing closet space to the new Busch’s CARES Market.
- Two Men and a Truck of Farmington Hills pitches in as needed to transport larger food donations.
- Sysco provided a refrigerated truck and fuel, along with about 30,000 pounds of food, to help CARES meet increased needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been blessed because of the number of partners who believe in what we’re doing,” Lipa said.
The nonprofit’s largest goal, he added, is to pay off the property, which was purchased through several backers who covered the $500,000 purchase in 2017. Having that done will not only lift a financial burden.
“Then all of us will know this will be open for a long time to come,” Lipa said.
To donate and learn more about CARES, visit caresfh.org.