August 14, 2017
Students work during the Fitzgerald cleanup portion of PTV in 2016.

University of Detroit Mercy freshmen will kick off their college careers by doing a day of volunteer work in the Fitzgerald neighborhood in Northwest Detroit.

The yearly tradition is part of the Detroit Mercy orientation program, “Prologues, Transitions and Viewpoints (PTV).” Students will work in several areas over two days on Aug. 23 and 24.

Community members and Detroit Mercy faculty and staff are welcome to join in the day of service.

The biggest project will be clearing overgrown alleys in the Fitzgerald neighborhood, which was the top request by neighborhood residents. Detroit Mercy’s Facilities Management staff will arrive early and use heavy machinery to prep the area before students arrive.

A number of businesses and non-profits have helped make the event possible. The heavy duty rental equipment was generously provided by 9 Mile Rent-All. Hardware Express and Resource CDC will both loan tools for the project, while Lowes has provided a discount for other tools and materials. Fitz Forward has generously provided hours of staff time to assist organizing the project.

Students will also clear trash and overgrown weeds from lots, assist with gardens, create activities for senior citizens in the senior homes on Wyoming and work with the Live6 Alliance to create a directory of businesses on Livernois between 7 and 8 Mile.

“The number of students helping in the neighborhood during PTV has grown each year and this would be the largest project that the students will have completed since they've started doing work in this area,” community leader Gaston Nash said. “The students are always eager to help and they always surprise themselves at how much they actually get done.  It will be pretty special to see their reaction to cleaning a half mile alley.”

This year, Detroit Mercy’s Institution for Leadership and Service Director of Service-Learning Tim Hipskind, S.J., expects nearly 400 new students and more than 100 volunteers to work in the neighborhood.

“Our goals for this are to offer first-year students an experience of the Detroit Mercy mission in action and to let them see that there are very positive things going on in Detroit in spite of what are sometimes negative portrayals about Detroit in the media,” Hipskind said. “My own personal hopes are that the students will meet some people in the neighborhood and develop relationships that can be mutually beneficial. And that they will want to go back after PTV to continue those relationships.”

The cleanup introduces incoming Detroit Mercy students to service learning and reinforces the mission of the University.

“I think part of what we are doing during PTV is to really engage the students in the community and to show them that no matter the location or economic status, the people in Detroit are one of a kind and have overcome more than we as students can imagine,” Detroit Mercy Orientation Director Tavala Luciow said. “In addition, I believe Detroit Mercy is trying to really make a lasting impact on its neighbors by showing that we are here in support as well as to get to know one another better.”

Detroit Mercy's Alumni Relations has recruited more than 25 Alumni volunteers, including several "Alumni Captains" who have helped organize the effort.

The event is part of the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project initiative by the city of Detroit to stabilize and strengthen the Fitzgerald Neighborhood, which is the area west of Livernois between Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College. The initiative has received significant funding support from the Kresge Foundation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Enterprise Community Partners and the Speedwell Foundation.

Detroit Mercy hopes many community members and residents will also come out to aid in this important effort. Those interested do not need to register — just show up! For questions and further information, please contact Fitz Forward at 313-731-2174 or To learn more about the Live6 Alliance, please visit

— By Dave Pemberton. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.


Students pose for a photo during the Fitzgerald cleanup portion of Orientation in 2016.