GMPT Grace Centers of Hope -Dale Murrish_a

GMPT Grace Centers of Hope -Dale Murrish_b


During the week of September 9-13, teams from various GM units helped out in the communities where they work worldwide. Here are some of the things GM has recently done in the Southeast Michigan area through teamGM Cares:

In Pontiac, GM workers helped restore the Civil War statue. This video shows the overall efforts across the USA including the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit and our team’s work in Pontiac.

Here’s GM CEO Dan Akerson introducing the teamGM Cares project with more video including Belle Isle and Focus Hope, Habitat for Humanity Detroit, Pontiac Rebuilding Together etc.


Flyer to advertise work day & planned projects

Slide 2 shows the flyer promoting our work day doing painting, gardening & construction projects on Seneca Street in Little Grace Village. Grace Centers of Hope is really turning Pontiac around, one street at a time. They are taking people from homelessness to home ownership. Grace Centers now owns about 80 houses that graduates of their programs rent while working their jobs. It was a pleasure to help people who are helping themselves.

Slide 3 shows two large projects that we worked on: replacing steps on a back porch, and removing a tree that was growing out from under a front porch.

Much planning went into making the work day an effective use of people’s time (slide 4). The Troy Home Depot donated $100 in building materials which increased our donation to Grace Centers. Team members chipped in $10 each for pizza, so there was extra for a donation to Grace Centers after expenses were paid.

Shared lunchtime conversations

Before getting to work, the GM teams mingled and ate at the Little Grace Village Playground Pavilion (slide 5). One GM Powertrain team barbequed; our team had pizza. Three people from GM’s global headquarters in Detroit had signed up on-line and worked with our team.

Many people made new friends and acquaintances that day (slide 6), outside of the normal work environment. Crankshaft designer Dave Bruff and new crankshaft analyst Jeremy Demarest talked together over pizza. Piston ring analyst Zheng Ma spoke with Don Woodward, a Grace Centers of Hope staff member.

People who work in different areas got reacquainted. Slide 7 shows USA Melting Pot club president Weilou Gao getting some pizza. Grace Cao, a frequent attendee of our library meetings, talked with coworkers from other departments.

Grace Centers Overview

Pastor and CEO Kent Clark explained the vision and mission of Grace Centers of Hope (slides 8 & 9). A photo album on picnic table helped tell the story. Some memorable quotes from his talk: “Not a dime of government money… A hand up, not a hand out” and “From homelessness to home ownership.”

Pastor Clark told stories of how donors had pitched in – one fundraiser sought a million quarters from people in metro Detroit to purchase the church building for $250,000. Home values in the immediate area have increased, as the Grace Centers houses are well cared for by residents and the many volunteers who help out. After someone raised the asking price too high and failed to keep up the taxes, Grace Centers bought the house a few years later from a tax auction.

Teams brought materials and tools

The Chevy Traverse is an 8 passenger SUV made in Lansing, Michigan with the most U.S. content of any vehicle sold in America. The Traverse proved to be a capable hauler for the materials, as 2”x6” boards 10 feet long fit inside along with 2’x8’ lattice. Slide 10 shows GM volunteers unloading the lumber at the houses being worked on.

Getting to Work on Two Major Projects

Crankshaft designer Dave Bruff’s team used a chain saw to remove a tree growing in the wrong place – under a front porch! Weilou Gao, Hua Huang, Don Perella, Mike Wang and Peter Zheng helped him take down the tree, clean up and dispose of it in a dumpster with Bruff’s pickup truck. They also installed the new lattice. Slides 11-14 tell the story.

The biggest project was to remove and replace two sets of steps on a Seneca Street back porch. Slide 15 shows Ron Cafferty, Manufacturing Export Compliance, Marcus Chen, crankshaft analyst, and Boris Salov of St. Petersburg, Russia dismantling the steps.

Piston analyst Diwakar Krishnaiah was a construction foreman for the afternoon. His team cut the 2×6’s and 2×8’s to length and installed them with deck screws (slide 16). The steps were primed and painted (slide 17). Lubrication analyst Irina Dmitreva and husband Boris Salov showed off their handiwork in slide 18. Boris had the idea for a hidden 2×6 support for the front vertical board, which had started to rot. So the steps should last a long time!

Telling the Story and Adding Beauty

Film producer Greg Zonca brought a film crew to tell the story of our afternoon’s efforts for an internal GM video (slide 19). Pastor and CEO Kent Clark of Grace Centers of Hope spoke about how our efforts were helping their non-profit organization and the people they serve; GM workers Diwakar Krishnaiah, Zheng Ma and Dale Murrish were also interviewed. Zheng’s interview was featured in the final video of GM’s overall efforts on Faces of GM.

GM teams also added beauty to the playground at Little Grace Village and some of the yards on Seneca Street by doing gardening work (slides 20 & 21).

USA Melting Pot club involvement

Last year we held our USA Melting Pot club picnic at the Troy Historic Village. Since many of our club members work at GM Powertrain in Pontiac, this year we had a teamGM work day at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac.

Diwakar Krishnaiah’s hometown is Bangalore, and Sreedhar Patil lives there now. Allan Zhao and Cherng-Chi Chang both live in Troy, originally from China and Taiwan (slide 22).

Many of our club members speak multiple languages. Yuri Peric, originally from Croatia, was speaking Russian with Irina’s husband Boris, who came the farthest to work with us that day. Yuri lived in St. Petersburg for 12 years as a child. They worked on Diwakar’s team rebuilding the porch steps on the back of a house on Seneca Street.

New Skills and Improved Techniques – Learning from Each Other

Some people learned new home repair skills, and many learned something about painting techniques. Head & block analyst Dezhang Song helped crankshaft analyst Jeremy Demarest tuckpoint a wall (slide 23). Slide 24 shows project organizer Dale Murrish with Jeremy Demarest and John Fisher, who made a run to Home Depot after designing repairs for the gate in the picture.

The GM Powertrain team shown in slide 25 came prepared to paint, including a sprayer! They painted a new porch on the front of a house on Seneca Street.

Unplanned Projects with Leftover Time

Toward the end of the day, our team repainted a wraparound porch on Seneca Street (slides 26 & 29). The residents cleaned and prepped the porch and railings for us, and we left them paint and a brush to finish the job later on – didn’t want to paint them into their house!

John Fisher and Jeremy Demarest did some extra concrete work on a basement wall (slide 27). Volunteers cleaned their paintbrushes at nearby Grace Gospel Fellowship church, located at the corner of Perry and the Woodward Loop (slide 28). Those who helped found it a rewarding experience, and plan to volunteer again next year or sometime sooner.


Slide 29 has a picture of USA Melting Pot club members and friends assisting the Miracle on Seneca Street. Grace Centers is really turning Pontiac around, one street at a time. They now own about 80 houses in town which they rent to graduates of their programs, while taking people from homelessness to home ownership. It was a pleasure to help people who are helping themselves.