From a young age, Roseville entrepreneur Robert Durham understood the pivotal role that youth outreach services and after school programs can play in the lives of children.
As a young man growing up in Detroit, Durham joined a youth basketball program through R.E.A.C.H, a nonprofit that provides support to at-risk youth and families through public outreach, athletics and academic and personal enrichment programs.
“The basketball program I was a part of took tens and tens of thousands of kids off the streets, helped them get into great high schools and eventually get a college scholarship to go to college,” said Durham, now 39. “I traveled all around the country; I got to see things I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t a part of that program.”
That experience is a big part of what led Durham, owner of Juggernaut’s Moving & Storage in Troy, to set aside 25 percent of his company’s earnings to support children and families through special events and activities, backpack giveaways, holiday gift baskets and more.
After an especially successful year in 2022, Durham was able to use those funds to create the Juggernaut’s Kids Foundation, and just last month held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the foundation’s new 1,100-square-foot headquarters and anti-bullying center in Roseville.
“I have 65 kids in the program now that we’re helping, and so far the feedback has been awesome,” said Durham. “Kids can come and talk about their problems, (talk about) being bullied, get help with their homework. Sometimes kids don’t have both parents in the home, but they can come to our program and we can try and give them the guidance they need to make them open up a lot more.”
What does the anti-bullying center offer?
The new foundation headquarters, located at 30771 Utica Road in Roseville, features everything from computers, TVs and gaming stations to homework stations, board games and even a “podcast room” where students can utilize audio and video equipment.
“Soon we will start hosting classes for resume building, classes on the proper way to write emails and things like that,” Durham said. “We’re also adding [new] things weekly as we go.”
As a non-profit organization, the Juggernaut’s Kids Foundation works with local school districts and counselors to make connections with students and parents who may benefit from its services. With support from a team of local volunteers as well as a licensed therapist and social worker, students ages 6 to 17 are welcome to visit the center during operating hours to enjoy its amenities, engage with peers or get paired with a “big brother” or “big sister” mentor.
Parents have the option of accompanying their children at the center or dropping them off, and all services are provided for free. Durham also noted that they host events throughout the year appropriate for younger children as well, like a day at the Detroit Zoo, a bounce house day and more.
The center’s current hours are 3:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, but Durham says they will open their doors “any time, any day, 24/7” for a child or parent in crisis. Come springtime, Durham says the center will be open seven days a week.
More than anything, Durham wants to create a safe space for kids to learn, feel heard and have fun, especially after such a tough few years in the wake of the pandemic.
“I have kids of my own, I’ve seen the toll [COVID-19] took on my kids,” he said. “If we show these kids that they have somewhere to come to feel safe, to have fun and to put smiles on their face, I think our program will help a lot of kids.”
What’s next for Juggernaut’s Kids Foundation?
Durham has big plans for the future of the foundation, including a potential second location as early as this summer.
“I’m hoping to open up more foundations around the state of Michigan, and then hopefully sometime in the near future go nationwide with the program,” he said.
Durham plans to apply for grants this year to help cover the cost of a second location — which he says will likely be in Madison Heights, with discussion of a third location in Eastpointe by as early as Thanksgiving — but says he’s prepared to continue using funds from his moving business to keep everything afloat.
In the meantime, he is always looking for more volunteers to help out at the center and at special events, like an upcoming Easter Egg Hunt in Roseville for 200 kids, with more details to come.
“We only have four volunteers at the moment, so hopefully we get more people involved after we bring awareness to the program,” he said. “We try to help every kid that we can.”
For more information about Juggernaut’s Kids Foundation, visit juggernautskids.org.
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