In the short year since Devita Davison started Detroit Kitchen Connect, she has helped many of Detroit's burgeoning food entrepreneurs expand operations, bringing them out of their homes and into a licensed commercial kitchen. It's an opportunity that, without the help of a group like Detroit Kitchen Connect
, not every hopeful business can afford. So it's no surprise that Devita and her group would be given a large grant to help grow.
What was a surprise, certainly to Devita, is the fact that Olympian Amy Purdy and American icon Oprah Winfrey would be the people presenting her that grant. And in front of 10,000 or so people, no less.
But there Devita was, Saturday, September 13, standing onstage on the second night of Oprah's The Life You Want
event at the Palace of Auburn Hills. As Oprah leaned into Devita and said that she'd hold her through this, Purdy presented Devita with a $25,000 Toyota Standing O-Vation award for her commitment to supporting local food entrepreneurs.
Oprah's people approached Devita months ago, crafting the story that while they had no plans for the footage, they'd like to come down and create a video piece on the work she and Detroit Kitchen Connect have been doing. Maybe they'd find some use for it somewhere in Oprah's media empire, they said. Months later, they offered Devita tickets to the show at the Palace but, as she tells it, “I found out at 4:59. I got on stage at 5:00.”
The video was played, a check was presented, and the crowd cheered. And while hearing part of your life story narrated by Oprah is no doubt thrilling, Devita is able to keep the focus on the city and the work being done here.
"The story was told in a way that shows Detroit is coming back, but that it's also a city that is doing it from the ground up," says Devita. "It's an initiative accomplished through community capital. It's grassroots."
In that spirit, Detroit Kitchen Connect
will be using some of the money to help community partner Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral in southwest Detroit. The church is in desparate need of infrastructure repairs after experiencing two to three feet of flooding during one of this summer's heavy rainfalls. They plan on buying a better mixer for their bakers, too, along with a new oven. A local food entrepreneur scholarship program will also receive a boost.
Source: Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Detroit Kitchen Connect
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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