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     Inkster Booker Rec Center
          ​partner with Starfish

By:  Shelby Jefferson- Telegram​ Staff Reporter
The Booker T. Dozier Recreational Complex is a huge staple within the community. Likewise, the nonprofit organization, Starfish Family Services, offers assistance to thousands of local children and their families on an annual basis. So what happens when these two entities come together to make a difference for local youth? A powerful collaboration sure to make a long lasting impact in Inkster for years to come.
After holding several meetings with Booker Dozier Supervisor Craig Lewis, Starfish CEO Ann Kalass requested a list of needs from the center, further expressing an eagerness to help with future projects, including their upcoming children’s summer programs. With that, Starfish provided essential supplies for attending campers including science kits, timers for chess instruction, puzzles, board games and fundamental arts and crafts. In addition, the agency will host the Happy Feet Soccer Camp and Jr. All Star Flag Football Camp on a field located outside its premises.
“The kids in this community deserve to have options for outdoor activities, as well as art and enrichment opportunities. We’re very happy to form this partnership to help everything fall into place,” said Starfish CEO, Ann Kalass. “The Starfish mission focuses on children, and we’re concerned that kids have options for the summer. We’ve been meeting with [Craig] for a few months to see how we can support him, and we figured our fields could be used for flag football and soccer. [Craig] has been doing a good job bringing all of this together with limited resources, so we just want to do what we could to help give these kids and families some additional opportunities.”
Beyond the summer children’s programming, the partnership between Booker Dozier and Starfish will likely continue in the future. The center currently hosts Starfish’s “Barbershop Talks”, an event designed to celebrate committed fathers throughout the area, and will likely expand to include after school programming throughout the 2015-2016 academic year. And to top it all off, the collaboration recently allowed for Starfish and Booker Dozier affiliates to team up with community members to beautify the complex’s exterior. For Kalass, these types of alliances also signal that the city is headed in the right direction.
“A group of Starfish staff and volunteers recently get together with residents to plant flowers, and paint the sign out in front of the Booker Dozier Complex,” she said. “My sense is that this reenergized spirit of organizations working together signals that it’s a new day in this community. I think that’s probably the best message.”
Booker Dozier supervisor Craig Lewis expressed very similar sentiments.
“I really feel that a partnership like this is very important to our community,” he said. “Starfish is doing something very positive by using the revenue they’ve obtained to put resources back into our kids. I think that this is a great collaboration, and really should have been fostered a long time ago.”