By Anjana Schroeder, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications
Why did you become an Ambassador?
I became an Ambassador two years ago because I like serving people. I like doing things for people. I like improving things for people learning new things and helping others with the things that I have learned. On my journey since becoming an Ambassador, I’ve met some wonderful people. I started on the afternoon shift at Cullen Park, and I moved to mornings at Campus Martius Park.
How did you become an Ambassador?
It was a Sunday. Me and my son, he ran cross country, played football and basketball, we were running the Riverfront when we met an Ambassador (Dejuan) who was working in the Cullen Park bathroom. We got to talking and we ended up making plans for me to come to the BIZ Headquarters. I met everyone and quickly realized I need to become an Ambassador and have been here ever since.
What positions have you had on the Ambassador team?
Crew Leader, Ambassador (floater) – trash truck operator. It’s a blessing to see how things really work behind the scenes.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Meeting people and knowing they appreciate the work that, not only me, but other Ambassadors do in the field – the cleaning, the hospitality and warmth we provide, being informative and helping people learn about the city. The programs, events, stuff you can plan with your family — outings, restaurants, suggestions. The main thing for me is about the serving and being in the background.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Seeing the people happy, out and enjoying themselves. I love to see the benefits that the work of this program is having on the city. I’ve met a lot of people who are less fortunate than most of us and you can talk with them and make a little difference in their life. They also help you look at your own life with a little perspective.
Share your favorite memories during your time as a BIZ Ambassador.
The most recent one is a woman and her husband from Ohio who had been coming to Detroit during Grand Prix prep. They always come and talk to me, go to the same restaurant, stay at the same hotel – and the day before they leave, they bring me a paczki from the bakery in Greektown. This year, she told me that she wrote in her diary the day they met me, what we all talked about, including all the restaurant recommendations, and how nice I was to them. I’m always happy to help and be a friendly face.
Did you grow up in Detroit?
I’m from Montgomery, Alabama but I’ve been here since I was 8 years old and grew up on the west side of Detroit. I do go back every couple of years to visit family.
What is your favorite spot in Downtown Detroit?
[smiling] Campus – it’s the heart of everything. You don’t have to go anywhere else – everything is right there. We have Movie Night in the D, nice restaurants like Parc and Fountain Detroit, the Beach, Downtown Street Eats Food Trucks every weekday, the Nike Store, Under Armor, nice places to eat, and it’s only eight minutes away from Corktown.
What have you missed the most being Downtown during the pandemic?
The people – how we all had to be distant, had to stay away – it was an unwanted feeling. The emptiness was almost like something from the movies. But we’re seeing more people coming down now and it’s better.
Anything else you want say/share?
The people that I’ve met within DDP have shown me that they’re family, even if you don’t have family. They gave me the feeling when I walked into the job that I wasn’t just going to be an Ambassador. They showed me that they invest in the individual. I enjoy it here. I appreciate the time, the people and the time I have shared with everyone. I appreciate how the company is growing and how its impacting people and businesses. And what we’re doing out in the field, people still appreciate and we’re not doing it in vain – things are going to get better. Ambassadors are out here every day and we’re doing it for the people. I appreciate all that I’ve learned from and through this company.
What has kept you smiling and positive?
I just kept praying and didn’t stop. During all of this, my mother caught COVID-19 and stayed in the hospital for 21-days. I had to not let the state of my mind about the situation overcome me or become me. I just kept going and tried the best I can for the people that were out here still. We all just tried to keep things safe and as normal as possible.