By Anjana Schroeder, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications
Why did you become an Ambassador?
I’ve been in the cleaning business for a long and I’m used to it and don’t mind cleaning. I’m not a clean freak or anything but it’s easy. I also love being outside — I’m a nature person. I love walking, being around people, talking to people...this job suits me perfectly and I’m very happy doing it and the pay’s not bad either. I’ll be 62 years old in July and my job give me good exercise. But in all honesty, when you love what you’re doing, you’re not even thinking about time. Interacting with people is exhilarating – they give something to me and I give them something in return. I won “Ambassador of the Year” three years in a row – 2016, 2017, 2018 – and I have won “Ambassador of the Month” several times. I’m just happy with what I do and I’m here to stay. I’m good at what I do and I put my all into what I do. I grew up in an environment with a lot of good hostesses and a lot of important people came over to our house. I was taught to cater to people, to be pleasant, and treat people with the utmost of hospitality. So, it’s rooted in me to be kind and helpful.
How did you become an Ambassador?
I was kind of down on my luck for a little while. I’m a recovering addict and I went to Goodwill for help. I’m also a veteran and Goodwill’s veteran services helped me. I was a trainee with Goodwill and I was hired in by Block by Block (DDP’s vendor).
What positions have you had on the Ambassador team?
I’ve done just about everything as a general Ambassador. I’m not a driver, but as far as cleaning, I’ve done it all and worked all over Downtown.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping people. From simple things like giving directions to bigger things like putting a band aide on a person’s foot after they stepped on a piece of glass. They couldn’t do it themselves and no one else would do it, so I put on my gloves and put the band aide on her foot. She was so happy and grateful. Aside from opening doors and carrying groceries into apartment buildings, and giving directions, the kids love me — and I honestly feel like a kid when I’m out there. I’m excited just talking to you about my job.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I love being outside, no matter the weather! They give us the proper attire for the job. There a state park right there (pointing to Miliken State Park) where I see all kinds of animals. I saw a beautiful pheasant the other day; and in the summer, I see turtles, snakes, frogs. When I was a kid, I loved catching those sorts of things and beng able to see and do that today brings out a child-like joy. Every night my wife asks how am I doing and I say “I’m doing great!” And she doesn’t believe me. I might be tired a lot of times, but I’m feeling good because I spent my energy for a worthy cause.
Share your favorite memories during your time as a BIZ Ambassador.
Putting that band aide on the woman’s toe who cut herself…she couldn’t bend down to put it on herself…so, I offered to help. I love the events in all of the DDP Parks and Public Spaces. I’ve met a lot of people. I met Roger Penske and his wife along the Riverfront – they were so nice and it was such a special moment! Another special moment was meeting Dan Gilbert at the Cadillac Lodge. The other Ambassadors didn’t believe me, so I put him on my radio and he took a moment to encourage and thank all of us. You’d never guess he was a billionaire – he was so kind and I’ll remember that moment, and all of these moments, forever.
Did you grow up in Detroit?
Yes, I was born in Herman Kiefer Hospital and now I stay on the west side of Detroit, near Grand River and Greenfield.
What is your favorite spot in Downtown Detroit?
The Riverfront/River Walk, which is where I’m usually stationed. I love nature very much and I love being outside so much. Detroit has everything — it is a place where people come to vacation. This space used to be a wilderness and the animals are still around the city. Milliken State Park is right here in the city – there are pheasants, swans, beavers, birds, snakes, turtles, everything right in that little area. I’ve even seen eagles and that’s exciting!
What have you missed the most being Downtown during the pandemic?
The events. People aren’t as jovial as they normally would be, but that’s where I come in because my attitude and mood gives them a positive spin on the situation. I miss not wearing a mask! I’m used to it now, but I miss not wearing one. Taking my wife out to dinner because now it’s mainly takeout. We can’t sit at a quaint table in the back and she doesn’t want to either, because of the pandemic. But we spend a lot of time with each other at home because of the pandemic. We have to see the silver lining.
Anything else you want say/share?
Keep your head up, stay strong, stay safe. Together we can pull through this. I got my second vaccination shot and I hope that everybody gets theirs. Try to be more understanding of each other and try to help each other in this unstable time we’re in. Treat people the way you want to be treated. With love, we can get through anything.
What has kept you smiling and positive?
Meditation helps me and I’ve learned how to find happiness from within myself. I listen to my feelings and take care of myself. If I can’t love myself, there’s no way I can love others. Once I take care of me, I can take care of you and everyone else I encounter.