How UAW-Ford is cleaning up and giving back

s part of UAW-Ford’s commitment to Detroit, Community Cleanup Day will bring together volunteers for the second consecutive year to make indoor and outdoor improvements to Sampson Webber Leadership Academy, a Detroit Public Schools Community District school serving kids in pre-K through eighth grade on the city’s west side.

“It’s important to give the kids a safe and clean environment and to teach them the power of teamwork,” says Community Cleanup Day organizer Kevin Fite. “Our goal is to rally the people that live in the area to come help beautify the communities they call home.”

The goal of Community Cleanup Day, which is Saturday, July 29, is to get neighbors involved to work in solidarity with other volunteers to help create a cleaner community.

“The principal, Karla Craig, has planned some projects that she’d like to see us get done that day,” Fite says.

These improvements include painting one of the school’s main hallways, improving the outdoor landscaping and cleaning up around the building’s perimeter.


“There are some bushes on the side of the building that really need to be removed and weeds that need pulling in the playground,”  Fite says. “Once that’s done, we’ll plant some flowers throughout the school grounds.”

To get the job done, it will take a lot of help from the community. Last year, Fite says they had about 150 volunteers, and they hope to meet or exceed that number this year.

“We’ll be there for four hours, but volunteers don’t have to stay the entire time,” Fite says. “Whatever you can do, it’s appreciated.”

Parents, school faculty and staff, UAW-Ford retirees and active employees, volunteers from the Department of Natural Resources, Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López and UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles will all be lending a hand at this year’s Community Cleanup Day.

“The University of Detroit-Mercy Titans basketball team and UAW-Ford college interns will also be helping out,” Fite says.

But Community Cleanup Day isn’t all work – UAW-Ford plans to keep the entire day fun and relaxed. There will be a DJ on site keeping the music going as everyone works, and they will serve complimentary barbecue and other food for the volunteers.

The idea for Community Cleanup Day developed after Settles voiced a desire to make some physical improvements to the school.

“The school really didn’t look like it had any love in quite some time, so he thought it would be a good idea to give it some,” Fite says. “It’s really helped the students, the faculty and the community as a whole.”

UAW-Ford has sponsored other projects for Sampson Webber Leadership Academy over almost four years, including improvements for last year’s Community Cleanup Day.

It has also impacted the school by painting hallways and the cafeteria, installing LED lights, donating and repairing instruments for the school’s music program and sponsoring its championship chess team.

“We’ve sponsored trips for the students throughout the year,” Fite says. “We recently brought some of the kids from Sampson down to our building to enjoy fireworks.”

When the community gets together to make improvements to the school, Fite says, it gives the students and staff of Sampson Webber Leadership Academy more pride in their school, which is evident by the care put into maintaining the improvements made.

“We planted a huge garden out in front last year, and if you go back this year, it looks perfect,” Fite says. “None of the plants are pulled out, everything is growing and thriving. Just to see the kids and the school and staff take care of it, especially because it’s a neighborhood in need, it’s rewarding.”

Get Involved!

UAW-Ford’s Community Cleanup Day will take place on Saturday, July 29. If you’d like to get involved in UAW-Ford’s Community Cleanup Day by either volunteering your time or donating supplies, water or snacks, email Kevin Fite at or call 313-392-7160.

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