House by the Side of the Road is a 501(c)(3) organization that opened in Washtenaw County in 1970 as a partnership between the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and churches in the area. The House first opened on Hogback between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, but has moved several times over the years. We are currently located at 2051 S. State Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The House was first funded by Washtenaw County. When the county was unable to continue our funding the volunteers at the House took charge of procuring our own funds. Washtenaw County residents have been most generous.
Gemaya Griffin became House Manager in 2021. Gemaya has been both a Board member and volunteer. She stepped up to ensure continued support of our clients when our long-time House Manager and former Board President, Mary Danforth, left Michigan for warmer weather. Our House Manager serves as our Resident Agent, schedules volunteers, and organizes the many tasks crucial to the efficient running of the House.
We serve clients who have limited funds for clothing, bedding, and other household essentials. People come in after family breakup, job loss, fire, or prolonged illness. We also serve those who are homeless, those who are reentering society from prison, people with mental health issues, recent immigrants, migrant workers and more!
All of our clients are unique and special, and each has a story to tell. We are pleased to be able to share with you the story of Ashley:
House by the side of the road
Our wonderful group of volunteers are recruited from all across Washtenaw County. Some have been with the House for many years, including one who has been with us since our opening in 1970! Volunteers receive, sort, and display thousands of donations all for our clients to come and pick out. We are in constant need of volunteers. Would you like to serve one day a week? Contact us at 734-769-4085 or come visit us!
Ashley came with a donation to House by the Side of the Road with items from one of her friends. The friend had recommended that she donate to us. Ashley was surprised to learn that House by the Side of the Road still existed. She used to come to us as a client many years ago. She told us her story!
Ashley became pregnant at 16 while living in Detroit. She moved from a difficult situation to Ypsilanti where her brother and his wife were living. They helped Ashley and her daughter Caroline get settled. Ashley got her GED at Ypsi High School and at age 19 went to Washtenaw Community College in a child care program. She was fully supported by ADC (Aid for Dependent Children), which no longer exists. Her social worker from the DSS (Department of Social Services) gave her a voucher for clothes for daughter Caroline at House by the Side of the Road. She came back to us every season for the next 2-3 years to get pants, underwear, pajamas, boots, etc. for Caroline. She told us that the women who helped her at the House "were so sweet. They were like moms or grandmas." She was always able to find what she needed. She especially liked the handmade blankets and mittens she would get sometimes. She felt like Caroline was properly outfitted for preschool. Caroline is now 38 years old!
Ashley went on to Eastern Michigan University and got a degree as a Social Worker. She is married and has 3 grandchildren. Ashley is now giving back to House by the Side of the Road. She plans to be a volunteer at the House in the future! She told us her heart was warmed when she came with her donation and saw a young mother shopping for her 2 small girls. She was also pleased to see so many helpful volunteers. It brought back positive memories from over 30 years ago!
Debra Dill, President;
Kevin Graber, Vice-President
Ken Westerman, Treasurer