On the outside, it just looks like some small storage building. The plain red bricks and few windows don’t exactly shout out “Welcome!” to whomever passes by. Step in through the garage door, though, and you’ll find something that might surprise you – hundreds of bicycles, just waiting to be taken home. Frank Wheeler sits inside the shop of Lansing’s Kids Repair Program working on an old bike that was dropped off at the police station just a few days earlier. He’s been retired for a few years now, but that doesn’t stop him from coming in and volunteering whenever he’s got the chance.
John Croffe stands on his porch in Lansing, looking across South Washington Avenue at the army of bulldozers and workers destroying what once stood there. “This neighborhood has waited a long time for this to happen,” Croffe says with a smile. “It was a tough thing to look at.”
What once stood there was the Life O’Riley Mobile Park, and after almost three years of being condemned and vacant, it was torn down recently. The mobile park was the subject of much controversy over the past few years, even when it was being used. According to the Ingham County Health Department’s 2014 Annual Health Report, the 14-acre area was condemned during February of that year due to unsanitary conditions, forcing over 200 people off the property.
Casey Copp loads boxes of pre-made meals into the back of a truck outside Lansing’s Tri-County Office on Aging. It’s a weekly thing for him, as he says he enjoys giving back to his community. “I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now,” Copp said. “It’s nice to know that you’re helping to put a smile on someone’s face and some food in their stomach.”
The only problem is, who knows how long Copp will be able to keep doing this. President Donald Trump’s recent budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year includes increased investments in defense programs. However, these investments will be paid for through cuts to community service programs, such as Meals on Wheels.
For many, Jewish Community Centers and similar organizations represent a place where people from all walks of life can go to feel safe and welcomed, no matter what color, gender or creed. For some, however, those places don’t feel quite as safe anymore. Over the past couple of months, there have been over 100 bomb threats made against JCCs and organizations across the United States. Although there have been no actual incidences of bombings stemming from these threats, there has been widespread vandalism against these centers. In addition to the bomb threats, there have been several incidences of headstones in Jewish cemeteries being toppled over and destroyed.
The campus of Lansing Catholic High School is clean and well-kept. The sidewalks are clear, the windows are intact. Walk a few streets over, though, and you won’t find much like it. The area surrounding the high school is riddled with vacant homes and buildings, something that parents and students definitely notice. “You drive by school and you see houses with boarded up windows and tall grass,” says Steven Izzo, a sophomore at Lansing Catholic.