Detroit Stories Episode 42: 'St. Alexander Still Cares' (PODCAST)

When St. Alexander Parish in Farmington Hills closed in 2014, a former parishioner resolved to carry on its legacy of service

(0:01) Todd Lipa describes growing up at St. Alexander Parish in Farmington Hills. It’s where his large family was baptized, and where his mother was buried in 1968. The parish, led by Fr. Jim Wright, was also a lifeline when the Lipa family fell on hard times, providing food, clothing and a caring support system.

(2:01) When St. Alexander closed in 2014, Lipa realized he was in a perfect position to carry on the parish’s legacy of service. As director of Farmington and Farmington Hills’ Youth and Family Services, Lipa was well-acquainted with the needs of the community.

(4:22) Despite its reputation as an affluent community, Lipa says poverty does exist in the Farmington Hills area. Together with Mayor Ken Massey and former Mayor Jerry Ellis, Lipa set out creating a new nonprofit, CARES — an acronym that stands for Community Action Resources Empowerment Services.

(5:21) On July 1, 2017, the 501(c)3 purchased the former St. Alexander church for its headquarters, and began expanding its services to include groceries, hygiene and household items in a supermarket-style service center, complete with community support services such as AA and outreach coordinators to help guests secure health care, transportation and other needs. Lipa describes the incredible support CARES has received from the community, including local business owners who have donated services.

(8:36) Recalling his own experience growing up in need, Lipa talks about the satisfaction he receives seeing how CARES restores the dignity of those in poverty.

(10:16) Lillian, a CARES client and an immigrant from Nigeria, talks about the help she’s received from CARES. In a new country without any support system, Lillian says the nonprofits volunteers “took us in like family. Taiwan, a single mother of two, discovered cares when she moved with her children to Farmington Hills. She describes her experience with gratitude. “I really, really love CARES,” she says.

(13:45) CARES volunteers Carol and Michelle say Fr. Wright would be proud of how the nonprofit has carried on the mission of St. Alexander in caring for the community.

(14:20) Lipa talks about his vision to expand CARES by partnering with neighborhood health care providers, as well as renovating seven acres of land into a baseball diamond “that anyone, no matter your ability, can play on.” Lipa marvels at how far CARES has come in just five short years, and expresses hope that like St. Alexander Parish, it can continue to be a beacon of Christ’s love for all those in need.

Reporting by Gabriella Patti; narration and script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode is brought to you by the PIME Missionaries - Catholic priests and brothers, evangelizing in 19 countries around the world and celebrating 75 years of service in Detroit. Visit pimeusa.org to learn more.

Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.



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