Celebration of a Life

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FH Walk 2010

Eleanor Josaitis at the 2010 Focus: HOPE WALK (credit: Focus: HOPE)

For 37 years the Focus: HOPE WALK has celebrated the people of Detroit and their purpose for improving lives, rebuilding neighborhoods and supporting families.

This Sunday the walk will also celebrate the vision and legacy of an amazing woman:  Eleanor Josaitis.

On Sunday, October 9, beginning at 12:30 p.m., the first Focus: HOPE WALK following the passing of co-founder Eleanor Josaitis in August will take place.  The WALK will be a celebration of her life and a strong statement of what she believed in: people or all races and ethnicities coming together for a common purpose in unity and harmony.

The 4-mile WALK will offer plenty of activities for friends, families and neighbors to enjoy together. There will be ethnic and American food, a great range of music, and children’s activities. Registration will begin at 11 a.m.

“Eleanor Josaitis and Father Cunningham started this WALK to bring people together for such critical issues as justice, civil and equal rights,” said Focus: HOPE CEO William F. Jones, Jr. “Those are still relevant issues, but we are now also expanding the ways we help people through workforce development, job training and neighborhood revitalization.”

Josaitis and fellow co-founder Fr. William Cunningham established the first Focus: HOPE WALK in 1974 as a way to promote civil and human rights, equal opportunities, and unity in the fight against racism, poverty and injustice. It has evolved over the years as an event that draws those past and present who have been touch by the organization’s reach in both direct and indirect ways. This year, many participants anticipate their involvement in the WALK will include sharing fond memories of Josaitis’ direct impact.

“This was perhaps the event she looked forward to the most each year,” said Bill Wenzell, manager of volunteers and community outreach who is one of the organizers of the WALK “It’s hard to imagine it without her but I know she’ll be watching over all of us. I think we will all enjoy walking together this year in the spirit of unity that Eleanor advocated.”

Brina Talley is a current Focus: HOPE engineering student who is a design engineer at Focus: HOPE and will be receiving her degree in manufacturing engineering from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield next spring. Talley knew Josaitis well as a motivator who had an active role in helping to turn around her life, including moving from a low-income apartment in high-crime area of Detroit to owning a home with her four children.

“When I was ready to quit, Eleanor wouldn’t let me,” Talley said. “She often was my main support to keep me going. She was very inspirational and I want to honor her at this WALK.”

Supporters can register online at www.focushope.edu or starting at 11 a.m. the day of the WALK. The suggested registration fee is $10 for adults, which includes the food. For a $20 contribution, walkers will receive a WALK t-shirt. Proceeds will benefit the Eleanor M. Josaitis Fund for Focus: HOPE which will be used to support the organization’s education, food and community development programs.

Thanks to Kathy Moran (Focus: HOPE) and Mike Scott (MCCI) for sharing this story and photos.

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