Every Saturday for the past 17 years Karen Gates and her crew of dedicated volunteers at The Ark Association set up in front of the Michigan Central Station to serve the homeless.

Founded in September, 2007, the mission of The Ark Association is simple but profound – to offer hope rising above adversity, meet people at their point of need and walk with them to a place of opportunity.

By providing food, clothing and hope to Detroit’s hungry and homeless for close to two decades, they have done just that.

Photo: Facebook/The Ark Association

When the vehicle used by the Detroit based nonprofit to facilitate these giveaways recently broke down at Roosevelt Park, it looked as if their ability to provide this service that the homeless in the community have come to rely on, would come to a halt.

“Every Saturday I know where to come. I can get some companionship, some love, and some food,”

one homeless man shared with reporter Bethany Moore of WXYZ Detroit News 7

Photo: Facebook/The Ark Association

To avoid disruption, the Detroit-based non-profit reached out to local media to ask the public for help. “It would be very difficult obviously with everything I said that happens with that short period of time to bring it all together if we don’t have the reliable transportation,”CEO Karen Gates told WXYZ Detroit News 7

On Saturday, July 28th, Ford Motor Company responded to this request, delivering a 12-passenger Transit van to help Gates and her team continue their mission.

The delivery occurred during a neighborhood celebration at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) in Southwest Detroit.

With last month’s announcement of Ford’s acquisition of the iconic Michigan Central Station, the decision to support The Ark’s mission of serving the Corktown community in front of the iconic landmark was not a difficult one.

“Ford is continuing to be a good neighbor and responding to an urgent need that will make people’s lives better,” said Shawn Wilson, multicultural manager, Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Our goal is to strengthen communities and many of the people served by The Ark would also benefit from the food hub, tax, legal and other free services provided at the FREC.”

Photo: Ford Media Center

The Ford Volunteer Corps has worked some 10,000 community service projects in the local area over the past 10 years. With contributions of nearly $20 million a year for education, arts, culture, hunger relief and more in and around the city of Detroit, Ford and Ford Fund are committed to bettering the communities they occupy.

We salute Karen Robak Gates and The Ark Association for their commitment to community.

Read Next: Ford Resource and Engagement Centers: A Neighborhood Strategy for Social and Economic Mobility


The Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) is a client-directed community center where people can learn new skills, obtain needed services, develop new talents and celebrate community. Made possible by grants from Ford Motor Company Fund, The Ford Resource and Engagement Center brings together non-profit partners to serve the surrounding community. 

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