| Follow Us:




2995 East Grand Blvd
Detroit, Michigan 48202

Andrea Perkins

By Amanda Lewan
March 28, 2014

In the digitally connected world we live in, all you have to do to support a cause is click. But not everyone’s story is heard online, and not everyone has access to the technology they need to share their stories.

National nonprofit Benevolent launched in Detroit last year to create an inclusive funding support system. The website spotlights low-income individuals by placing their stories online, listing what they need, why they need it, and how much it will cost to get it. Benevolent connects nonprofits, their clients, and small donors who want to give to others. Partner nonprofits are able to ensure the gifts are purchased with the donations to help these individuals, some of them homeless or single mothers struggling with the day to day aspects of life.

Andrea Perkins, Community Engagement Manager of Benevolent Detroit, has always been focused on working with the community. Originally from Detroit, she left to attend graduate school at New York University. She finished school in 2009, when the economy was badly shaken and jobs were sparse, yet she found one in Detroit.

“Crazy thing was that I found a job in Detroit out of all places,” said Andrea. “I couldn’t find one in New York City at the time.”

Andrea returned to work at Midtown Inc., the urban development company led by Sue Mosey, but after a few years she realized she wanted to get more involved with the human services side of Detroit. Benevolent became a perfect fit.

“My job lets me get out of the office and actively be in the community,” says Andrea. “Benevolent is all about sharing these stories. Here’s what people have to stay, and here’s the work we’re doing to help others. I get teary-eyed sometimes. It’s just inspiring.”

Benevolent is located in major urban areas around the U.S. Funding from the Fisher Foundation was able to help bring Benevolent to Detroit. To date, they’ve helped raise over $7,000 in small donations helping 14 individuals in Detroit. Donations supported vital needs like beds, winter clothing, work uniforms, computers, and more.

To Andrea, these are basic needs that most can’t image lacking. The stories she hears are the hardest and most enjoyable part of her job. One homeless Detroiter was struggling to keep up with his hygiene. He was job hunting, but believed he couldn’t find work because of this. Benevolent was able to help him raise money, and then receive assistance services through a partner nonprofit.

“Here’s someone who was trying to get ahead and move past where they were, but one aspect was holding them back,” Andrea says.

She believes the most important work of Benevolent is shedding light on the struggles of real life for those in our community. Allowing others to share stories on Benevolent helps break down stigmas and strengthen Detroit.

“A website like this links everyone together. Detroit is coming together as a community. To me, it’s the perfect timing for us to be here,” says Andrea.

It helps Detroiters support their neighbors, ones they may not know are suffering to get by. “It’s important that we come together and support each other in our community. We are only as strong as our weakest link. We’ll forever be a bit behind without a strong community.”

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts

Twitter Feed

Related People

  • Elizabeth Garlow
    Elizabeth Garlow is the Executive Director of Michigan Corps, an organization that  connects michigan citizens globally to opportunities to help advance social innovation in the state.

Related Resources

  • Black Family Development Inc.
    Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI) is a private, non-profit comprehensive family counseling agency that was created in 1978 by the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW).
  • Matrix Human Services
    The mission of Matrix Human Services for the past 106 years is to break the generational cycle of poverty gripping the city of Detroit.