Letter From

Letter From Detroit

By Donovan Cheff McCarty ’10
Photo by Billy Delfs

When I graduated, I left LMU with a triple major and no idea what I wanted to do. Imagine that. I started a Santa photo program at a mall, where kids come to get their photo taken with Santa and parents come to complain. Unfortunately, that gig lasts only two months every year. So I had to figure out what was next.

 

DEAR LMU,

When I graduated, I left LMU with a triple major and no idea what I wanted to do. Imagine that. I started a Santa photo program at a mall, where kids come to get their photo taken with Santa and parents come to complain. Unfortunately, that gig lasts only two months every year. So I had
to figure out what was next.

I moved back to Detroit and was accepted as an alumnus to SFTV’s Incubator Lab. They gave me guidance and startup capital to create a video production company and shoot a six-episode children’s television series called “Boogah and Hoogah’s Haunted House Party,” which will be finished later this year. I like to say the show is “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” meets “The Munsters,” with music.

I enjoyed my work, but I missed the on-the-ground service that I did on campus as a member of the Ignatians service org. The Ignatians introduced me to people like Bamboo Charlie. Charlie was a homeless man we often visited while delivering lunches in East L.A. When an L.A. businessman allowed Charlie to stay on his land as long as he kept it clean, Charlie did more than that. Using discarded objects, he transformed it into a home that was truly something to behold.

Inspired by service at LMU, I began volunteering as a community organizer in Detroit. I worked with community groups throughout the city to get streetlights turned on and blighted houses knocked down — things that are simple but critically important.

I am in law school now at the University of Michigan, learning how I can make a larger and more conscious impact on the revitalization of Detroit. Last summer, I went to meet some newly minted Lions from across Michigan. I told them that they would love their time at LMU and in Los Angeles, just as I did. But I also asked them not to dismiss Detroit.

Vibrant neighborhoods are scattered across this city, and there is an opportunity for young people to have an immediate positive impact. I like to think of Detroit as Bamboo Charlie might, not as something to be abandoned but as something to be reimagined.

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