Challenge #4 with Manistique Community Treehouse: COVID-19 Nonprofit Support

Manistique Community Treehouse is a nonprofit that is extremely active on the 200-300 Block of Manistique Street in Jefferson-Chalmers. Its mission is to help the youth and community gain mental and physical well-being along with a well-rounded view of life with an understanding of their environment and culture. They empower youth with independence and collaboration skills.

Fellows hold a Zoom meeting with Ms. Tammy Black during our virtual project collaboration with Manistique Community Treehouse Center.

When we first spoke with Ms. Tammy Black, founder and president of Manistique Community Treehouse Center, it was quickly apparent this woman was a driving force in her community. Each time we had the opportunity to speak with her, she was either just coming back from passing out groceries to her neighbors that were homebound, or about to attend a community meeting. Ms. Black is the heart behind Treehouse, and it is clear the love she has for her community. 

The long term goal of the Treehouse is to build a physical treehouse to host an oasis for nurturing and growth, where the community can go to connect with nature and one another. They hope that it will become an active community-run center for occupational therapy and focus on improving concentration, health and wellness, improving confidence and building social skills. 

When interviewing John, a community member that has been very involved with Manistique Community Treehouse since the beginning, his outlook on the current stay-at-home order was to pull the entire community together and face this head-on as a community, sharing that the Treehouse needs to  “let them [the community] know that there is still life out there.”

Our team – Adit, Charnae, Elena, Kaitlin L. and Kaitlyn M. – codesigned the project to assist Ms. Black in the most effective way given our modified project timeline. In the process, we created an art solidarity project, to help the community feel closer while still apart, and a street ambassador program that will extend beyond COVID-19’s reach and turn into a long-term program with volunteers in the neighborhood. This program will embrace the community with positivity and support as well as assist in the distribution of pertinent news, information, goods, and services to residents.