On a fine Friday afternoon five years ago, I had a fresh haircut, a strong sense of accomplishment and a needle in my arm delivering isotonic fluids to treat a severe case of dehydration. Though semi-annual haircut hadn’t solved my medical problem, it probably helped me convince the ER staff that I wasn’t having a bad trip.
‘Twas a good trip! I had been spending long days at the Adams Butzel Center (ABC) getting ready for Finale Friday, the culmination of Summer in the City’s 15th year. In addition to hundreds of teens, we had volunteers from Wayne State, City Year, Quicken Loans, the Tigers and Red Wings.
Maybe I should have spent more time out of the sun drinking non-caffeinated beverages and less time running around meeting, greeting, motivating and distracting volunteers. But Summer in the City had made me a Snapchat filter, possibly the highest honor young people could bestow on an elder millennial in the mid-2010s. And SITC alum Stephanie Steinberg wrote about us for the Detroit News. The Red Wings designed murals so fans could pick their favorite and had received votes from all 50 states.
Plus, I had a special connection to the place, dating back even earlier than the post-war winters my father-in-law used to skate at Butzel Field. As I boasted to many volunteers then and since, the facility is named after my mom’s mom’s second husband’s first wife’s father’s brother Fred.
Jack Adams, the namesake of the ice rink, and I have combined to win the Stanley Cup nine times. Adams is the only person to have won as a player, coach and manager, whereas my wife’s fake uncle twice held the Cup (Buddy’s Pizza 1994, Big Daddy’s 1997).
Notwithstanding my visit to the hospital and Paws being a diva about his dressing room, Finale Friday '16 was a big success. We have been back to Meyers and Lyndon many times since – to do camp activities when USY on Wheels would roll through Detroit and to incorporate the beautiful game into our mural when Detroit Parks and Recreation made ABC a hub for their citywide youth soccer initiative.
Adams Butzel has been undergoing some exciting – and some less exciting but still important – renovations that bode well for its sustainability as a community asset, brimming with activity year round. Before ABC reopens next month, we are returning to refresh the mural on the front of the building so it continues to welcome neighbors and beckon passersby.
I hereby affirm that I will remain adequately hydrated for the duration of the project and will refrain from injuries including but not limited to extension ladders, 5-gallon buckets and anterior cruciate ligaments.
But I need your help. Before Summer in the City gives way to Fall in the Latte, it’s all hands on deck and brushes on wall this Saturday. We’ll be there all day and would love to see you and your opposable thumbs at any point for however long.
Jack Adams once said, “If it's free, it's advice; if you pay for it, it's counseling; if you can use either one, it's a miracle.” My free advice is the same as Tom Sawyer's: Painting is fun. Also drink lots of water.